By Darryl Ayo
Bear with me.
I just picked up a tiny bit of Alex Toth and I’m going all out right about now.
I’ve always respected Alex Toth as one of the best cartoonists, but I’ve always been shy to dive into his work because I wasn’t certain about the quality of the reprint books on the market. However I just realized that a fellow only lives once and there’s no time like the right-now to dive into the black.
The deep, deep black.
One of the best things about Toth is that on top of being in the running for top five cartoonists to ever work, he was one of the most defiantly opinionated persons to comment on the art form. Bring out your reading spectacles and go to lunch on this essay that Toth wrote about the culture of modern comic books:
I am not posting this to say that I agree with 100% of the sentiment. I’m not against the idea of “mature readers comics,” for example. But I do feel a certain kinship with his frustration when I look at the comic market, comic culture and how exclusionary it feels, particularly with regards to potential new readers.
So here’s my feelings, just for one day, just for today, just for right now, not tomorrow, not yesterday or the day before, just at this moment:
As much as people inside of comics culture bemoan the erosion/deterioration of the artform, with the mild rises and steep declines along the way, very few people have been willing to put their pen nibs where their mouths are. I read modern mainstream comic books and I enjoy them for what they are. But when even mildly prompted, I will let a person know in a hurry my disgust for what the big companies have done with their formerly childrens’ entertainments. You’ve got beloved childrens’ characters cutting bad guys in half or being dismembered themselves and since these mainstream comic books operate on a universal storytelling continuum principle, a large part of these stories are turned from open, welcoming entertainments for the public, into seedy, self-serving pornography for a tiny niche.
The oddest thing about superhero comics is that it appears to me that the average superhero professional doesn’t even want to make the dang things. If you want to have a scene where a character tears another in half lengthwise, you don’t really want to be in superhero comics. If you want to have graphic sex scenes, you don’t really want to be in superhero comics. If you want to have people standing around all day, talking about their feelings, and not taking a whole lot of action, you don’t really want to be in superhero comics either.
Since DC Entertainment was talking up a mean fight about renovating their superhero line to make it palatable for new readers, you’d think that the first thing they’d do is dump their brutality-rape-murder heroes and bring it back to nice, clean fun. Somehow I doubt that this will be the case, but it’s mid-July as of this writing, the new line launches in September. Let’s wait and see if they mess this up as well.