Alex Toth was the master craftsman of comics. He was outspoken, gifted, studious, prolific, and uncompromising. He drew a lot and he said a lot – more than we can comfortably fit into our upcoming three books devoted to this great artist. But we can share some of that additional material with you in this space, so – here is our latest in a series of Talkin’ Toth:
ALEX ON ANIMATION, EXCERPTED FROM A 1981 LETTER –
I wonder why it is that the best of any artform is found at its very beginnings? Before the worst of organized commercialism throttles it of its originality, joy, freshness – Disney, the Fleischers, Harman-Ising, Chuck Jones/Friz Freling/Bob Clampett’s WB Studios, Tex Avery, etc.—all refined and expanded the animation form (Hanna+Barbera at MGM, too)—true! WW II crimped most of ’em—I guess TV did the rest—the ’50s left only Disney doing features, thriving to the ’60s –
Bakshi’s outrageous excursions, rotoscopy and all—banality, sheer shock, noise, insult and injury—still manage to pump fresh blood into the medium—where he goes from here is an unknown—but he’ll always provoke interest—and box office!
I’m admiring of Winsor McCay’s solo films (Lusitania/Flying House in particular—beautiful straight-ahead animation, self-taught, original, so well-drawn)—as I am of his Nemo Sunday page artistry—
And corny or not, I get a kick out of Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell live/cartoon combination films—as, too, Gulliver and Mr. Bugs/Hoppity Goes to Town—especially the rotoscope work! Still held charm and warmth—old-fashioned virtues, worthy…
A Koko the Clown model sheet from the Fleischer Studios
Despite exiting animation and its care-killing TV schedules, I love its storytelling medium (as I do adventure strips)—its ability to give life to any story form (and/or personal statements)—surprisingly, during our current space-film craze, it was overlooked as an alternative to $30-$40 million dollar live-action epics – but its many forms were tapped as SP/FX inserts in those films—All I’ve heard is that Canada’s film board talents are at work on a Heavy Metal animation feature—a mix of fantasy/sci-fi, etc., and styles of art based on original strip art—Am curious to see the results…
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Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth will be on sale in March.
A new interview about the book with editor Dean Mullaney is on the Westfield Comics blog.