Alex Toth passed away last year at the age of 77. Along with Will Eisner and Jack Kirby, Toth is considered one of the giants of adventure comics. Toth began his career at age 15, creating illustrations for Heroic magazine. He graduated from the High School of Industrial Arts in 1947, and soon was working at DC Comics on The Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom. He left DC in 1952 and was drafted into the Army in 1954.
After his stint in the service, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked for Dell on the highly regarded Zorro comics. He began working in animation for Dick Brown on Space Angel, and in 1964, he joined Hanna-Barbera as a designer and storyboard artist on Jonny Quest, The Herculoids and Super Friends. His designs for these shows are masterful and imaginative.
The pity is that the actual animation on these shows isn’t even close to being in the same league. Realistic designs like these are very difficult to animate, and require a draftsman of Toth’s calibre to be able to pull off convincingly. But the late 60s was the wrong time for such a challenge. Hanna Barbera was in a mad race with Filmation to see who could put out the cheapest factory-made programming on the tightest schedule. Toth’s imagination and skill were left behind in the dust. Instead of respecting what could have been, Toth’s designs are now taken completely out of context and subjected to ridicule in current TV programs.
Animation Resources supporter, Kent Butterworth brought us a few original Toth drawings to digitize, and I’ve supplemented them with some xeroxes belonging to the family of Carlo Vinci.
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.