IDW Publishing; $24.95

Now in paperback, this Harvey Award-winner for Best Biographical Book has been updated to clarify Toth’s early married life in the 1950s and include the first appearance of the recently discovered final page of Jon Fury, Toth’s strip created for the US Army.

Quite frankly, this book was a masterpiece even withouth the updates.

With Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles, IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics imprint redefined the standards for art retrospective books. Numerous times since its publications we have referred it to other fans, collectors, dealers, and historians as “the Gold Standard” of such efforts.

In this one, authors and editors Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell again upped the ante with Genius, Isolated, the first volume of three comprising their comprehensive new biography The Life And Art Of Alex Toth.

Compiled with complete access to the family archives and with the full cooperation of Toth’s children, the book features all manner of the great artist’s early comic book work, including numerous complete stories, samples, roughs, full pencils, and more. It also spotlights a previously unknown, unfinished, and unpublished penciled story from the early 1950s that displays Toth’s talent as a storyteller as effectively as the gray-toned compilation of his Zorro work that Mullaney produced at Eclipse Comics in the 1980s.

The refreshing thing about the book is that it neither purifies this artistic hero into some kind of saint nor casts the notoriously prickly personality as more negative than he was; it seeks and most often finds context for the man, but does not laud insensibly or make excuses.

Toth’s work, of course, speaks for itself, and this book is packed with it. He was the artistic equivalent of Hemingway, an craftsman whose deceptively simple line work has duped generations of artists into thinking “I could do that!” One of the keenest storytellers to ever ply the trade, this book captures Toth’s budding and quickly established abilities and conveys them well.

Unlike Noel Sickles, whose work was known to serious artists but lost to many fans until the Scorchy Smith volume, Toth is a very well documented subject in terms of the art... but there’s been nothing like this book on him as both man and artist before.

Buy it now.  

– J.C. Vaughn