Coming up in the next big Heritage Auctions next week (16th – 18th May) is the art for a complete strip by the much-acclaimed Alex Toth titled “Nightmare“, an unfinished and unpublished eight-page story drawn for DC Comics in 1970.
Alex Toth was an American cartoonist, active from the 1940s through the 1980s, whose work began in the American comic book industry, but he is also known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
How and why this story went unfinished and unpublished on DC’s inventory shelf for so many years is incomprehensible to both the auction house and us, and it’s prompted renewed pleas for an Artist’s Edition of Toth’s work, similar to the many already released by IDW, although publishers have previously suggested such a project would be commercially unviable.
This story is stuffed-full of amazing Alex Toth art (who was clearly inspired by Steve Ditko in places), rendered in graphite and partially inked on DC Bristol board.
There are stamps along the top margin of the title/splash page indicating this story originally went into DC’s inventory in 1970, and was rolled over every year until 1976. Another note in the top margin indicates that Gerry Conway may have been the writer for the tale. The boards are lightly toned and in very good condition.
“It’s a real oddity which I had no idea existed,” commented comics archivist, author and artist David Roach. “… Looking at the various bits of text at the top the story was written by Gerry Conway and commissioned by Dick Giordano – which means it was intended for House of Secrets or The Witching Hour.
“The inks are really interesting and tricky to place, it’s perhaps too loose for Giordano himself, but I’m wondering it it’s maybe Mike Peppe, prior to his going in with a pen perhaps?
“Why it was partly inked but never finished, and why it was inventoried for six years and then abandoned, who knows? I mean, it’s Alex Toth and naturally it looks fabulous.
“I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Wouldn’t it be great if the strip was finally inked and published though?”
The auction includes other work by Toth, alongside art by artists that include Neal Adams, Carl Barks, Frank Frazetta, Dave Gibbons, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Wally Wood and many more.
With thanks to David Roach for spotting this