Sunday, December 02, 2018

Feel The Love

Sunday Toth Treasures.

Moving on from DC's Dale Evans Comics to another run of books that had a lot of never reprinted Alex Toth stories. Romance Trail was DC's answer to the booming romance genre (alongside their 'regular' romance series), a book combining romance and western. And they weren't even the only ones doing this genre. Prize had not one but two romance western titles. I had four of the six issues and before selling them on eBay I scanned all of Toth's stories. They are not as spectacular as the Sierra Smith stories, since he usually did not ink himself. The first story here is inked by Bernie Sachs and I remember reading somewhere that Toth hated it so much that he used one of the inked originals to wipe his brush clean. Storytelling-wise it is interesting, as you see Toth here trying to invent a new style, using more close-ups and more symbolism, to replace the action of his other stories. He would further develop this later on, when he did romance work for other publishers, such as Standard and Fawcett. In fact, the symbolic tricks he devised, were picked up there by other artists (such as Mike Sekowsky, Ross Andru and VInce Colletta), who would use it so much it seems a little bit old hat here.

Don't miss the bonus at the end. In some of these books, Toth also did a one page illustrated poem or song. The one in this set from Romance Trails #2 is inked by John Giunta.


Smurfswacker said...

I think the close-ups weren't just Toth trying out new approaches. The dialogue is so heavy in some panels there's barely room for a head, much less a body. The final story page is amazing...I hope the letterer got double pay for that one!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Yes, I should have added that. Part of it was out of necessity. But there was some invention involved, which is the point I wanted to make.

comicstripfan said...

I echo Smurfswacker’s point about the extensive narration and dialogue. And it makes one recall studies on the history of the development of the comic book, and how comics dealing with westerns and romances (or both as per this sample) to some extent evolved from the “pulp” novels of earlier times. This is an interesting sample illustrating a “transition” from works still emphasizing the text of the pulps over the illustration, to those later comics which would emphasize drawing more. Toth’s genius is reflected in how successfully he deals with this.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I think it goes deeper than that. It seems to me this is also about developing what is or can be the strenght of the genre in comic book form. A writer once said that boy comics center around action and girls comics center around emotions. In the beginning of the romance genre, writers still had to learn how to convey emotion without a barrage of words. In fact, one of the greatest action artists of all time, Jack Kirby, never really learned how to turn this around when he was doing them for Prize or even for his own company Mainline, even when he was in the room wth the writers hacking away at it. Tot developed a style using close-ups, close-shots and symbolism, which was later adopted wholesale by DC.