Monday, October 4, 2010

Toth Inhibited

Regarding my last post:  Marc Miyake and Bosch Fawstin reminded me of this Toth interview that first appeared in the Anvil Anthology and was later reprinted in The Jack Kirby Collector:

TOTH- "...I inked a page of Jack Kirby's once, and I really didn't want to do it, but I did it, because it... wasn't the polished page. I loved the pencils. Beautiful pencils. But I always had the feeling that nobody should ever have inked Kirby except Kirby. I found that out when I tried to ink that page, because I told the fellow that I was doing it for, I said, "you're gonna be very disappointed. You're hoping to see a blend of Toth and Kirby and it just ain't gonna happen because I'm very inhibited about this and there's only one way to ink this page, and that's the way Kirby would ink it, so there's no way to disagree with him, on the page. 

Hmmm, I think Toth is making excuses for his inking style and his inability to wrap his mind around the assignment.  Mr. Toth continues:

TOTH: You've got to go along with what's there, even though this is not a polished page in pencils." But I knew what he was getting at. I wasn't going to pop in a lot of blacks because that's the way I do it, it wouldn't work

Personally, I think Toth tends to use blacks too much, sometimes as a crutch, and it's a gimmick that can attract too much attention to itself, thereby distracting the reader from the flow of the story.

I also find Toth's assertion that the inker has to "go along with what's there" to be rubbish.  Look at what Frank Miller (another black ink "gimmick" guy) can do with Kirby's pencils:

The Kirby purists who don't like it when Vince Colletta simplifies Kirby's background buildings will freak out when they see what Frank Miller has done to the backgrounds here, but Miller has done what Toth said couldn't be done, he's defied Kirby's line.

Here's another Kirby/Miller combination from "Satan's Six":

Whether the Kirby/Miller combination works is purely subjective, it's a little too gimmicky for me.   It makes for an interesting change of pace, but I certainly wouldn't want a steady diet of it.  

TOTH: So I was very inhibited and I totally submerged myself as much as I could and tried to do it the way he might.

Another master of shadow and light was Wally Wood:

 Wood, like Miller, doesn't seem at all "intimidated" by the idea of bringing his own style to Kirby's work.  Here, in my opinion, the combination works beautifully, unlike Toth's attempt (below) which fails miserably.

Interviewer: How did you feel the piece came out?

TOTH: I just never wanted to see it again.

Join the club, Alex....join the club.


  1. I love Toth but his methodology just does not mesh with Kirby.

    Toth had his own thing as Kirby did and they are almost polar opposites. Neither was into the realism camp like Neal Adams but Toth played with light and shadows of simple shapes where Kirby played with Raw Power.

  2. Well, the strange thing here is that Toth did not even really try. Toth is wrong when he says "there's no way to disagree" with Kirby's line. Obviously, other inkers have done this with success, Wally Wood being the prime example.

  3. HE probably over thought it. At that point he just inked what was there. Shame really because I bet he could have done an amazing job if he injected his own charm into the piece.

  4. Toth and Kirby are two of the three greatest cartoonists, (the third being Eisner), but, as MilkManX said, they are polar opposites... there is no way a combination of the two could work. Neither one of them was capable of doing what the other did, and we're fortunate to have had them both, doing such radically different art in the comic book medium.

  5. I disagree with everyone including Toth. I think what he did works very well and even anticipates Williamson's work on Romita Jr.