“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society, or by offering solutions to get us out of the mess we’re in…But it’s going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do.” - Jean 'Moebius' Giraud

Saturday, August 11, 2007

SPACE GHOST_90 minutes

Well, sort of. After all was said and done, it probably totaled to about 3.5 hours from start to finish, but there's a pretty good reason why. The reason has a primer, so bear with me.

If you can, go and buy the "Space Ghost and Dino Boy: The Complete Series (1966)" - not necessarily for the cartoon itself. I mean, I'm sure it's a hoot and all, but the reason why *I* bought it was because of the supplemental disc that has an AWESOME Alex Toth retrospective. If you're unaware of Toth's contribution to the series (along with the other classics he's helped create for Hanna Barbera) it would do you well to go check out his Wikipedia listing. Just click on his high-lighted name above and read along.

So about the retrospective - it's a small documentary that reflects on his life, his contribution and long-lasting impact to the medium of comics and animation . Throughout the segment it has people speaking about him; from well renowned professionals of the industry to close family members. And the level of candidness in which these interviews were conducted shows how personal and how connected these people truly were to this brilliant, talented illustrator - they speak not only of the accomplishments of a legend, but also the frailties of the man. Really, really touching stuff. One of the most poignant moments is when Mark Chiarello (Art Director for some of DC Comics' nigh-profile projects) speaks about Toth's last days and how he had tried to re-establish their strained relationship by writing him a letter, only to have Toth pass a few days later. Then about a week after that, Chiarello receives a reply back from his old friend - postmortem. It's eerie and touching at the same time and only really hit upon very briefly in the documentary. As a creator and illustrator, one can only hope to have that kind of longevity and resonance. Toth does. And to top it all off they showed different samples of his artwork! Not enough, in my opinion, but whatever! The images were just so awe-insipiringly simple that I got this exhilarating creative charge.

It is to say that I was genuinely inspired.

So much so, that I decided that Space Ghost was going to be my next 90 minute exercise. Now I don't typically start and stop on my warm-up images (well, lately I've been hitting a couple of those speed bumps, but I've since gotten over that), but this one took me a couple of tries because I just wanted to draw the character with some justice. Some of the earlier versions were terribly posed with no weight or tension to their bodies, or the compositions were terrible, or I couldn't get that signature SG head right or that's not Toth would do it or...well, you get what I'm saying - they just weren't working. I guess thinking about all of those Toth images was, to a degree, intimidating because all you wanna do is to do it as well as he did. Then, after try #4 I realized, "Screw this. All I can do is try my best. I'm never going to be as good as that guy so why don't I just draw for fun?!"

And there it was. I turned off and above is the result of that attempt. Not great. Not terrible. Nowhere as good as the original. But there it is. Anyway - go get the DVDs. Get a book called 'Alex Toth: Black and White. Get inspired.


Nexxorcist said...

wow... inspiring post. i think i am gonna pick it up, just for the alex toth introspective.

arnie said...

just gotback from the vid store.... simply an awesome man.
also, spaceghost actually inspired a character of me own..

peace out

jason s said...

Great stuff as usual! Keep up the great work!

Michael said...

looks like a dvd to own

really enjoy your take on spaceghost tho!

John Beatty said...

"That's Hot!" ;-)

Really a nice work! The DVD sounds like a must pick up also. I'm a big fan of Toth.

Again, Eric...you keep impressing!!!


Chris Sims said...

Alex Toth is a friggin LEGEND! If I come across this I'll have to get it.

You should contact hanna Barbera to see if you can get a side job in their marketing department or something. You probably just sold 20 copies of the dvd just by word of mouth.

spleenal said...

just found your blog. very nice work.
excellent fresh style

davidjamescole said...

also be sure to check out http://www.tothfans.com as well. the layout of the site isn't the greatest in terms of user-friendliness, but it's a great catalog of his work.

B_Steelo said...

oohh props for that insight.