Monday, June 05, 2006
"We stand on the shoulders of Giants, oblivious to our footing..."
A giant among artists has passed forever from our midst...
I loved Alex Toth's work before I ever knew his name.
His creations and his unique renditions of other classic characters filled my head with possibilities and purpose in my younger, more difficult years. Space Ghost, The Superfriends, The Herculoids, Johnny Quest... these shows inspired me and galvanized me into artistic action. These old shows filled my personal creative pantheon and I worshipped unknowingly under Mr. Toth's great shadow.
As I grew older and learned his name and who he was, my respect and admiration remained unabated. It was , however, tempered by a strong desire to avoid emulation and to forge my own Cartooning/ Illustration style. As a young teen, I actually worked against Alex Toth's style... trying to glean knowledge from his masterful figurative simplicity, all the while trying desperately to forge my own unique hand.
As a young adult, I came to understand how profound Toth's influence was on the comic book industry... my private idol was one of the titans of the Cartooning world as well, inspiring scores of imitators as well as devotees. It was shocking to see how many people had been influenced by this one man's work... and for a young aspiring artist, more than a little intimidating.
As a functioning freelance Illustrator, I bring a little bit of what Mr. Toth taught me to everything I do. I've read all his books, scrutinized his past work, and endeavored to learn his unique approach to story-telling... all in order to somehow infuse my own humble work with a shadow of his greatness.
I never met the man. I was always too frightened to send him a sample of my work as well... afraid that he might comment upon my lazy figure work with disdain. "When I'm just a little better"... was my mantra. "Next strip will be the one I send him"....
We always figure that there will be that distant day when all the signs are right... that special tomorrow when we will finally do that thing that we've always meant to do.
I guess that I just figured that he would always be there. Guys like him seem immortal... bigger than life to mundane folks like me... we just assume that they will be there when we work up the courage to reach out to them. On this May 27th, I realized that I had cheated myself of something special out of petty cowardice.
In closing let me say this,...
We all have our idols... those people that stand out to us above all others. Alex Toth was one of those people for me. He was my early foundation... the linchpin in my initial artistic inspiration. I will never forget that no matter how high I may rise in my field, I stand on the shoulders of giants that have gone before. I owe him a great debt. He inspired me in ways that my own Father could not.
I will try to keep his spirit alive in my work... as will all the other artists that have been touched by his artwork and profound achievements in the Illustration and Cartooning fields. Though each of us are but single shadows of his great artistic contribution, together we are legion... and our combined output and mutual admiration for Alex's work will assure his immortality.
Thank you, Alex Toth.
I will remember....