Monday, 10 May 2010


Watch the design skills of the legendary Alex Toth in action.

Here, Toth had to squeeze a complex, vertical scene (an unscrupulous dealer in antiquities negotiating with a smuggler) into a tiny, horizontal space. He had to juggle an excess of dialogue. He needed to convey details about the nature of the character (so a drawing of small figures in a room would not do).

Many people think the artificial constraints of the comics medium-- size limits, word balloons, panel borders-- deprive artists of the freedom necessary for a legitimate art form.

But in any art medium, freedom (in the words of Sartre) is merely "what you do with what's been done to you."

I love Toth's imaginative solution to his challenges. Rather than whining about all that text, or using his constraints as an excuse for a weak drawing, look how Toth seizes on those constraints and incorporates them in a beautiful design, especially the aggressive way he loops the connections between those word balloons and the speakers.

This is a lovely drawing by a talented, tough pro.

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