Too Much Toth

Posted by on September 17th, 2010 at 9:28 AM

At HU, I talk about muchness, minimalism, and comparing comics to illustration in light of the panel below by Alex Toth and commentary by Matt Seneca.

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2 Responses to “Too Much Toth”

  1. patford says:

    The key word in what Domingos said was “just.”
    There isn’t anything at all derogatory about the term virtuoso.
    It has a standard OED definition which has nothing to do with showing off.
    Not every great artist is a virtuoso, but the vast majority of them are.
    On the other hand being a virtuoso alone does not make a great artist
    (almost any “first chair” member of a high quality orchestra could reasonably be called a virtuoso.).
    It’s true that Toth illustrated mostly junk, but as opposed to what?
    Putting aside alternative/art comics, and looking only at the mainstream arena where Toth operated the stories he drew were poor compared to what?
    Aside from the writer/artists in mainstream comic books (Barks, Stanley, Kirby, Kurtzman…) where are the good stories which Toth didn’t illustrate?
    To condemn the scripts Toth illustrated is to condemn the bulk of mainstream comic book writing.
    The condemnation isn’t an unreasonable one; it’s one I agree with completely.
    The fact is that while Toth worked with “junk” scripts; the scripts he worked with were mostly better than the very low industry standard.
    The stories Toth did for Standard, Dell, and later Warren, are in most cases at least readable. This isn’t to necessarily say the scripts are worth reading aside from a platform from which to enjoy Toth’s abilities, but they are at least not sleep inducing like almost any super hero comic book, or even the majority of the E.C. comics of the 50’s which are tedious to plow through.
    It’s worth noting that the best scripts Toth ever worked with were his own. Things like his 60’s “Car-Toons,” and the later “Bravo” work were the kind of light entertainment Toth felt an affection for, and those stories he wrote himself are the best scripts he ever worked with.

  2. patford says:

    Some of the topics being covered here in tangent are dealt with at length in “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana” by Umberto Eco.
    The main subject of the novel is the way the mind reads/processes/stores/remembers words and images.
    The book deals also with the social status of what might be called lowbrow art. The narrator Yambo dealing with comics, boy’s, and adventure literature describes the distinction between common ordinary throw away pulp, and something which he sees as having more value like Stevenson.
    When Yambo’s wife scolds him, “…you felt oppressed by…Homer, Manzoni, and Flaubert, and now you’ve entered the encyclopedia of pulp literature. It’s not a step forward.”
    Yambo returns, “Yes it is. First of all Stevenson is not pulp literature, and second it’s not my fault if the guy I’m trying to rediscover devoured pulp literature.”
    The book which is subtitled “an illustrated novel,” also has much to say about how the images attached to text alters the text in that the reader has visual reference as opposed to purely imagined images.
    In a medium like comics it’s the images alone that in some instances are the only thing the mind reads, and remembers. Text with attached images simply can’t read the same way as the same text minus the images.
    Yambo (Eco) mentions the iconic images of the masculine hero, and the powerful eroticism of feminine sexuality found in Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon (a perfect example of a poorly written comic strip with powerful images).
    Eco also neatly captures the common attitude seen where people elevate something they read as a child, and uncritically dote on it’s memory.
    “You read a story as a child, and you cultivate it in your memory, transform it, exalt it, elevate the blandest thing to the status of myth.”