Review of Zorro, by Alex Toth

It was in the surreal town of Amanece que no es poco, mythical comedy by José Luís Cuerda, where he felt true devotion to Faulkner. Well, in La casa de El by Faulkner I don’t have it very clear, but for Alex Toth we have devotion, reverence, admiration and veneration. The legendary cartoonist left some of his golden pages for cartoon fans, and thanks to the Moztros publishing house, Spanish readers are reunited with the master in the fast-paced action of ‘The Fox’.

ALEX TOTH, MASTER OF MASTERS

It is curious how Toth is not remembered with such emphasis if we compare the predicament that some of his contemporaries have. If this is so, as many critics and popularizers have pointed out, it is because Toth does not have an identifying work, such as Kirby’s 4F or Steranko’s Nick Fury, to give a couple of examples of visual innovation in between. Toth was a free spirit, obsessed with experimenting with the possibilities of comics, which led him to deal with all kinds of themes and to be a kind of nomad in the middle.

However, if you have to choose a work from all of Toth’s production that is truly identitarian and transcends time, it is his contribution to the mythology of the original masked vigilante, The Fox. The funny thing is that it is not, far from it, the best work of the legendary author, but it may be the closest thing to a perishable stay in a specific title.

In those distant 50s, Zorro experienced a new injection of popularity in the viewer’s imagination thanks to the television series produced by Disney. The production company has always been one step ahead when it comes to squeezing success, so it didn’t take long for them to launch vigilante adventures in other formats. If television was the novelty, the comic was already entrenched among children and young people, so the escapades of Diego de la Vega and his alter ego ended up captured in vignettes.

REBEL WITH A CAUSE

This is where Alex Toth, a cartoonist with a proven career behind him, is in charge of the serial, both in the script and in the artistic field. The fast-paced action of the television episodes, full of sword duels and life or death chases, meant, a priori, a good field to bring out the kinetic brilliance of Toth’s style and the total dominance of narrative and characters on the page. .

The Fox Thoth
The fast-paced action of El Zorro

It could not be otherwise, problems do not take long to appear. The inference of the producers of the series is palpable in every aspect of the creative process, which drives Toth crazy. To begin with, they demand total fidelity to the scripts of the series, which weighs down the artist’s own ideas, which he considers (and rightly so) to be too linear and repetitive. In addition, this circumstance forces Toth to focus too much on the dialogues, which take away space from the action scenes where the artist could show off.

Alex Toth ended up leaving the serial after only 16 deliveries, tired of dealing with too narrow a view of the possibilities of the collection. Even so, and against all odds, he left behind a work that, yes, it is true, could have been something more; yet traces of his genius are seen on every page, even in the seemingly bland and punchless scenes.

The sense of rhythm, of the sequential narration with not a few cinematographic elements borrowed for the occasion, the total control of the spaces and of the protagonists as owners of the vignette, turn the reading of El Zorro into a visual delight that continues to impress despite the time that has elapsed. Toth’s unmistakable style, almost expressionist, of shadows and lightness in the line that contrasts with the powerful inks, is an inexcusable pillar for understanding the evolution of comics as a means of artistic expression.

THE FOX, VISUAL DELIGHT

There is no doubt that it is thanks to this graphic demonstration that El Zorro has transcended to this day. Toth’s own criticism of the structure of the serial is totally true.. The episodes have few surprises; the totally naive vision of the adventures of this Zorro, although it is totally a daughter of his time, subtracts emotion from the whole.

This is no excuse to enjoy the wonderful action scenes. I also confess my total enthusiasm for classic swashbuckling movies. For me, the old easy-going pirate or vigilante movies are just as exciting as Marvel’s most colorful and unleashed production. They are the very face of entertainment without complexes, with the movement and the succession of events in a vertiginous way as a primordial element.

So, when Toth takes his references out for a walk, the foils are drawn and the dance begins, El Zorro reaches his true nature, despite even the restrictions imposed by the bosses. Without the need for many artifices, in an almost organic way, the brilliant cartoonist achieves visual effects that captivate the reader’s senses.

Toth did achieve his ideal of adventure comics in the indispensable Bravo for adventure, where he enjoyed total creative freedom. But it is in El Zorro where the graphic laboratory begins that forced Toth to look for solutions for all the impediments that he found in his own journey. I even keep, as an example of this artist’s capacity for experimentation, with his contributions to Warren’s horror titles.

The Moztros publishing house compiles in an essential volume all of Toth’s work on Zorro, which has marked the imagery around the character ever since. An extra is included for the occasion in the form of an adventure perpetrated by Howard Chaykin (another legend of the medium and a fervent admirer of Toth) with Eduardo Risso at the pencils. Deluxe.

Zorro is visual power and hallmark of a unique artist, whose echoes of his work still resonate in the ninth art. pure comic book history

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Review of Zorro, by Alex Toth


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