Alex Toth

Alex Toth

Overview
Alexander Toth was an American professional cartoonist
Cartoonist
A cartoonist is a person who specializes in drawing cartoons. This work is usually humorous, mainly created for entertainment, political commentary or advertising...

 active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth's work began in the American comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 industry, but is known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. was an American animation studio that dominated North American television animation during the second half of the 20th century...

 throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends
Super Friends
Super Friends is an American animated television series about a team of superheroes, which ran from 1973 to 1986 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup...

, Space Ghost
Space Ghost
Space Ghost is a fictional superhero created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth for CBS in the 1960s. In his original incarnation, he was a superhero who, with his sidekick teen helpers Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey, fought supervillains in outer space...

, The Herculoids
The Herculoids
The Herculoids is a Saturday morning animated television series that was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The show debuted on September 9, 1967 on CBS...

, and Birdman
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio is an animated science fiction TV series created by Alex Toth and produced by Hanna-Barbera. It debuted on NBC on September 9, 1967, and ran on Saturday mornings until September 6, 1969...

. Toth’s work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spinoffs on Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (United States)
Cartoon Network is an American cable television network owned by Turner Broadcasting which primarily airs animated programming. The channel was launched on October 1, 1992 after Turner purchased the animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1991...

: Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is an American animated television series comedy created by Williams Street and produced by Cartoon Network Studios that aired on Cartoon Network during its Adult Swim late night programming block. The series' pilot first aired in 2000, and later became a series in...

.

He was inducted into the comic-book industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.

Toth's talent was noticed early on as a teacher from his poster class in junior high took time to urge that he devote himself to art.
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Encyclopedia
Alexander Toth was an American professional cartoonist
Cartoonist
A cartoonist is a person who specializes in drawing cartoons. This work is usually humorous, mainly created for entertainment, political commentary or advertising...

 active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth's work began in the American comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 industry, but is known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. was an American animation studio that dominated North American television animation during the second half of the 20th century...

 throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends
Super Friends
Super Friends is an American animated television series about a team of superheroes, which ran from 1973 to 1986 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup...

, Space Ghost
Space Ghost
Space Ghost is a fictional superhero created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth for CBS in the 1960s. In his original incarnation, he was a superhero who, with his sidekick teen helpers Jan, Jace, and Blip the monkey, fought supervillains in outer space...

, The Herculoids
The Herculoids
The Herculoids is a Saturday morning animated television series that was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The show debuted on September 9, 1967 on CBS...

, and Birdman
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio
Birdman and the Galaxy Trio is an animated science fiction TV series created by Alex Toth and produced by Hanna-Barbera. It debuted on NBC on September 9, 1967, and ran on Saturday mornings until September 6, 1969...

. Toth’s work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spinoffs on Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (United States)
Cartoon Network is an American cable television network owned by Turner Broadcasting which primarily airs animated programming. The channel was launched on October 1, 1992 after Turner purchased the animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1991...

: Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is an American animated television series comedy created by Williams Street and produced by Cartoon Network Studios that aired on Cartoon Network during its Adult Swim late night programming block. The series' pilot first aired in 2000, and later became a series in...

.

He was inducted into the comic-book industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.

Early life and career


Toth's talent was noticed early on as a teacher from his poster class in junior high took time to urge that he devote himself to art. Enrolling in the High School of Industrial Arts, Toth studied illustration and sold his first paid freelance art at the early age of 15. Toth launched his career at the age of 15, illustrating true stories for Heroic magazine through a comic-book packager named Steve Douglas. Although he initially aimed to do newspaper strips
Comic strip
A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

 (“It was my dream to do what Caniff, Raymond
Alex Raymond
Alexander Gillespie "Alex" Raymond was an American cartoonist, best known for creating Flash Gordon for King Features in 1934...

, and Foster had done”), he found the industry “dying” and instead moved into comic books.

After graduating from the High School of Industrial Art in 1947, Toth was hired by Sheldon Mayer
Sheldon Mayer
Sheldon Mayer was an American comic book writer, artist and editor. One of the earliest employees of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson's National Allied Publications, Mayer produced almost all of his comics work for the company that would become known as DC Comics.He is credited with rescuing the...

 at National/DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

. He worked there for five years, drawing the Golden Age versions of The Flash, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern
Green Lantern
The Green Lantern is the shared primary alias of several fictional characters, superheroes appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The first Green Lantern was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Martin Nodell in All-American Comics #16 .Each Green Lantern possesses a power ring and...

 and The Atom
Atom (comics)
The Atom is a name shared by several fictional comic book superheroes from the DC Comics universe.There have been five characters who have shared the Atom codename. The original Golden Age Atom, Al Pratt, was created by Ben Flinton and Bill O'Connor and first appeared in All-American Publications'...

. For a brief time in 1950, Toth was able to realize his dream of working on newspaper comic strips by ghost illustrating Casey Ruggles with Warren Tufts
Warren Tufts
Warren Tufts , born Chester Tufts, was an American comic strip and comic book artist-writer best known for his syndicated Western adventure strip Casey Ruggles which ran from 1949 to 1954....

.

In 1952 Toth ended his contract with DC Comics and moved to California. It is during that time that he worked on crime, war and romance comics for Standard Comics
Standard Comics
Standard Comics was a comic book imprint of American publisher Ned Pines, who also published pulp magazines under a variety of company names that he also used for the comics...

.

In 1954, Toth was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, he wrote and drew his own weekly adventure strip, Jon Fury, for the base paper, Depot Diary.

Animation



Returning to the United States in 1956, Toth settled in the Los Angeles area and worked primarily for Dell Comics
Dell Comics
Dell Comics was the comic book publishing arm of Dell Publishing, which got its start in pulp magazines. It published comics from 1929 to 1973. At its peak, it was the most prominent and successful American company in the medium...

 until 1960. In 1960, Toth became art director for the Space Angel
Space Angel
Space Angel was an animated science fiction television series produced in the United States from early 1962 through 1964. It used the same Synchro-Vox lip technique as Clutch Cargo, the first cartoon produced by the same studio, Cambria Productions....

animated science fiction show. This led to his being noticed (and hired) by Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. was an American animation studio that dominated North American television animation during the second half of the 20th century...

, where he worked as a storyboard and design artist until 1968 and then again in 1973 when he was assigned to Australia for five months to produce the TV series Super Friends
Super Friends
Super Friends is an American animated television series about a team of superheroes, which ran from 1973 to 1986 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup...

. He continued to work in comic books, illustrating contributions for the Warren
Warren Publishing
Warren Publishing was an American magazine company founded by James Warren, who published his first magazines in 1957 and continued in the business for decades...

 magazines Eerie, Creepy and The Rook.

Death


Toth died at his drawing table on May 27, 2006 from a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

. He was cremated. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. The following week, Adult Swim
Adult Swim
Adult Swim is an adult-oriented Cable network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am ET/PT in the United States, and broadcasts in countries such as Australia and New Zealand...

devoted bumps
Commercial bumper
In broadcasting, a commercial bumper, ident bumper or break-bumper is a brief announcement, usually two to 15 seconds that can contain a voice over, placed between a pause in the program and its commercial break, and vice versa...

 to Toth which simply read “Alex Toth 1928-2006.” The words then faded out without showing the Adult Swim
Adult Swim
Adult Swim is an adult-oriented Cable network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am ET/PT in the United States, and broadcasts in countries such as Australia and New Zealand...

 logo.

Legacy


Toth did much of his comics work outside the mainstream of superhero comics, concentrating instead on such subjects as hot rod racing, romance, horror, and action-adventure. His stint on Disney’s Zorro
Zorro
Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by New York-based pulp writer Johnston McCulley. The character has been featured in numerous books, films, television series, and other media....

is highly regarded and has been reprinted in trade paperback form several times. Also, there are two volumes of The Alex Toth Reader, published by Pure Imagination
Pure Imagination (comics)
Pure Imagination is a comic book, magazine, and comics-related book publisher run by Greg Theakston since 1975.While briefly doing some original comics in the 1990s, as well a publishing a few "girlie" magazines, its main focus has been in publishing books to preserve the great works of several...

, which focuses on his work for Standard Comics
Standard Comics
Standard Comics was a comic book imprint of American publisher Ned Pines, who also published pulp magazines under a variety of company names that he also used for the comics...

 and Western Publishing
Western Publishing
Western Publishing, also known as Western Printing and Lithographing Company was a Racine, Wisconsin firm responsible for publishing the Little Golden Books. Western Publishing also produced children's books and family-related entertainment products as Golden Books Family Entertainment...

. He is widely regarded as an "artist's artist"; Brian Bolland
Brian Bolland
Brian Bolland is a British comics artist, known for his meticulous, detailed linework and eye-catching compositions. Best known in the UK as one of the definitive Judge Dredd artists for British comics anthology 2000 AD, he spearheaded the 'British Invasion' of the American comics industry, and in...

 has cited Toth as one of his idols.

Journalist Tom Spurgeon
Tom Spurgeon
Tom Spurgeon is an American writer, historian and editor in the field of comics, notable for his five-year run as editor of The Comics Journal and his blog The Comics Reporter, which he launched in 2004 with site designer Jordan Raphael.-Books:...

 wrote that Toth possessed "an almost transcendent understanding of the power of art as a visual story component," and called him "one of the handful of people who could seriously enter into Greatest Comic Book Artist of All-Time discussions" and "a giant of 20th Century cartoon design."

Toth was known for his exhaustive study of other artists and his outspoken analysis of comics art past and present. For example, in a 2001 interview he criticized the trend of fully painted comics, saying "It could be comics if those who know how to paint also knew how to tell a story! Who knew what pacing was, and didn't just jam a lot of pretty pictures together into a page, pages, and call it a story, continuity! It ain't!". Toth lamented what he saw as a lack of awareness on the part of younger artists of their predecessors, as well as a feeling that the innocent fun of comics' past was being lost in the pursuit of pointless nihilism and mature content.

In the 1990s and 2000s, he contributed to the magazines Comic Book Artist
Comic Book Artist
Comic Book Artist was an American magazine founded by Jon B. Cooke devoted to anecdotal histories of American comic books, with emphasis on comics published since the 1960s...

and Alter Ego, writing the columns "Before I Forget" and "Who Cares? I Do!", respectively. In 2006, the book Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book (Octopus Press) cataloged his correspondence with John Hitchcock, and included personal anecdotes and previously unseen sketches.
  • Toth, a character in Supreme Commander
    Supreme Commander
    Supreme Commander may refer to:* Commander-in-chief, a military rank**Supreme Allied Commander, title held by the most senior commander within certain multinational military alliances...

    , was named after him.

Awards and recognition

  • Wizard Magazine named Alex Toth number seven in its list "The 10 Most Influential Comic Book Artists of All Time"
  • Inkpot Award
    Inkpot Award
    The Inkpot Award, bestowed annually since 1974 by Comic-Con International, is given to some of the professionals in comic book, comic strip, animation, science fiction, and related pop-culture fields, who are guests of that organization's yearly multigenre fan convention, commonly known as...

     from the San Diego Comic Con, 1981
  • He was inducted into the comic-book industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.

Related Books

  • Alex Toth edited by Manuel Auad (Kitchen Sink Press, 1995)
  • Toth: One For The Road edited by Manuel Auad (Auad, 2000)
  • The Comics Journal #262 (Aug-Sep 2004) inc. article + interview + "War on the Streets", "The Burner", "The Armored Car Murders", "I Played With Fire!"
  • The Toth Reader (Pure Imagination, 2005)
  • The Alex Toth Reader (Pure Imagination, 2005)
  • Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book by Alex Toth and John Hitchcock (Octopus, 2006)
  • Alex Toth: Edge of Genius Volume 1 (Pure Imagination, 2007)
  • Alex Toth: Edge of Genius Volume 2 (Pure Imagination, 2008)
  • Alex Toth in Hollywood Volume 1 (Pure Imagination, 2009)
  • Alex Toth in Hollywood Volume 2 (Pure Imagination, 2010)
  • Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell (IDW, 2011)
  • Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 (Fantagraphics Books, 2011)

External links


  • “Official Alex Toth website”
  • Online eulogy from Tom Spurgeon
    Tom Spurgeon
    Tom Spurgeon is an American writer, historian and editor in the field of comics, notable for his five-year run as editor of The Comics Journal and his blog The Comics Reporter, which he launched in 2004 with site designer Jordan Raphael.-Books:...

    ’s The Comics Reporter featuring numerous quotations, images, and links
  • incomplete index of comic-book work at the Grand Comics Database
  • “Comic artist Alex Toth dies at 77”, BBC News
    BBC News
    BBC News is the department of the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online...

    , 5 June 2006
  • Obituary in The Guardian
    The Guardian
    The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

    , June 23, 2006