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Alex Toth

3 novembre 2008

Born June 25, 1928New York City,New York
Died May 27, 2006Burbank, California
Nationality American
Area(s) Artist, Animator
Notable works Super FriendsSpace Ghost

Alex Toth (June 25, 1928May 27, 2006), pronounced with a long “o,” was an acclaimed professional cartoonist active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth’s work began in the American comic book industry, but is best known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman. Toth’s work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spinoffs on Cartoon Network: Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.


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 free-lance art at the early age of 15. Toth launched his career at the age of 15, illustrating true stories for Heroic magazine through Steve Douglas’ Famous Funnies shop. Although he initially aimed to do newspaper strips (“It was my dream to do what Caniff, Raymond, and Foster had done” [1]), he found the industry “dying” and instead moved into comic books.

Dr. Mid-Nite e Black Canary by Alex Toth

Dr. Mid-Nite e Black Canary by Alex Toth

After graduating from the High School of Industrial Art in 1947, Toth was hired by Sheldon Mayer at National/DC Comics. He worked there for five years, drawing the Golden Age versions of The Flash, Dr. Mid-Nite, Green Lantern and The Atom. 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.

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.

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.

Space Ghost, one of Toth's most famous designs.

Space Ghost, one of Toth’s most famous designs.

Returning to the United States in 1956, Toth settled in the Los Angeles area and worked primarily for Dell Comics until 1960. In 1960, Toth became art director for the Space Angel animated science fiction show. This led to his being noticed (and hired) by Hanna-Barbera, 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. He continued to work in comic books, illustrating contributions for the Warren magazines Eerie, Creepy and The Rook.

Contributions to the comics medium

Toth’s contributions to the comics medium are not widely known among casual fans. He did much of his comics work outside the current mainstream of superhero comics, concentrating instead on such subjects as hot rod racing, romance, horror, and action-adventure. His stint on Disney’s Zorro 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, which focuses on his work for Standard and Western publishing. Otherwise, the bulk of his shorter stories can be difficult to locate. Nonetheless, he is widely regarded as an “artist’s artist” and is often lumped among such greats as Will EisnerJack Kirby as one of the undisputed masters of the sequential storytelling medium. and Journalist Tom Spurgeon 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.”[2] He was formally inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.

Toth was known for his exhaustive study of other artists and his outspoken analysis of comic 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!”[1]. In general, 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.”[3]

In the past few years he contributed to the magazines Comic Book Artist and Alter Ego writing columns titled “Before I Forget” and “Who Cares? I Do!” respectively. In 2006 Billy Ingram and James Counts of TVparty[4] produced a book titled Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book cataloguing his correspondence with John Hitchcock, published by Octopus Press.

The Alex Toth Doodle Book

The Alex Toth Doodle Book


Toth died at his drawing table on May 27, 2006 from a heart attack.[5] The following week, Adult Swim devoted bumps to Toth which simply read “Alex Toth 1928-2006.” The words then faded out without showing the adult swim logo, a style the network only uses when mourning the passing of one they deem to be an important person.

Awards & recognition

Alex Toth Glamour

Alex Toth Glamour


External links

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