There’s been some very nice analytical articles on Alex Toth lately , by Jesse Hamm and Paul Fricke occasioned by some great reprint books and the bio of him, and it’s been making me wonder about focusing on Jack Kirby’s work, Toth is such a more elegant artist then Kirby, every line is literally a precise controlled thought out line. He’s a much finer craftsman then Jack meticulously telling his stories and relentlessly experimenting with the comics form and being an artist. But in the end Kirby’s work is more emotionally satisfying and powerful to me then Toth’s. I don’t look at a Toth page and shake my head in disbelief that someone can make a drawing like this. Intellectually I understand what makes Toth good, I actually can’t say that I understand why Kirby’s pages work so well.
Jack took basic shapes and decorated them. Pattern and form, he didn’t give into the ease of Peter Max and do flat designs which is the tendency for people who do pattern work, it’s one of the things that makes his work visually weird. He was a narrative artist so abstraction isn’t the point but the work has some visual connection to the power of abstraction. Light source is never an organizing principle for Jack’s work. The shading just seems a way to generate shapes that decorate the form and make the surface exist as three-d but it doesn’t even feel like he is drawing things. That’s one of the things that takes him out of normal drawing in the Caniff tradition. Toth never ever broke with that history. Kirby in some sense was responding to the times with design and weird things going on in his work.
And then there is the collage to think about in all of this, the brain continues to be boggled