Sunday, April 03, 2005

EC - F-86 Sabre Jet! (Toth)

F-86 Sabre Jet!
art by Alex Toth, story by Harvey Kurtzman
Frontline Combat #12 (1953)

Alex Toth only did three stories for EC, for the Kurtzman war titles. Apparently he didn't quite fit in with the EC way of doing things.

The results of the collaboration are interesting in this story (the better of the two I have. I have to pick up the one where Kurtzman inks Toth's pencils sometime, just to see what it looks like). It's an aviation based story, which is always a popular theme with Toth ("The Tally", "Burma Sky", "Lone Hawk", BRAVE FOR ADVENTURE), with a very tight focus on the planes and the sky. We never see more than the heads of the pilots. The story follows a mission of one of the planes of the title in Korea, facing an enemy squad of MIGs and an intense two page sequence where the pilot is lost in a cloud bank, struggling between believing his instincts and the equipment readouts.

It's a very strong story, and Toth's particular style fits it nicely. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done if he'd worked more with EC. The reprints of the stuff he was doing with Standard at the time are pretty, but this shows a lot more of his later style.

I'm curious what the black and white version of this story looks like, as a lot of the colouring of the clouds are just areas of colour with no ink line. This is definitely a story where Toth took his economy of line style to an extreme, and is an interesting contrast with the usual EC standard, where most of the artists were into lush rendering, highly illustrative artwork (this is an all Air Force issue, and you can compare the simple but effective rendering of Toth with the extreme detail that Evans, Davis and Wood give to the planes and copters in their stories).

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