WOW! It's a dream come true for long suffering fans of the work of Alex Toth: over 370 pages of full color comics all scanned directly from the original 1950s comics published under the banner of Standard Comics in Toth's glory days of 1952 through 1954; and not only that, this 432 page softcover includes a heavily illustrated 30-page vintage interview with Toth from 1968; and, that's not all – there are also fourteen pages of notes by editor Sadowski (who, we must add, is also responsible for this volume's knock-out design and production) plus full color scans of the original black and white artwork for two complete stories (as well as a stray page or two)! While this book is a total no-brainer for all Toth initiates, we feel confident, despite it's relatively hefty price tag, in unreservedly recommending this volume to any student, practitioner and/or aficionado of comics: Toth is one of the few great masters of the comic book story, and Setting the Standard is – by far – the single best collection of his comic book work ever published.
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A visual feast if ever there was one, Action! Mystery! Thrills! delivers on the promise of it's title. Prepare for your eyes to buldge and your brain to pop as you try to absorb page after glossy page of these attention grabbing covers from the golden age of comics, when a daily struggle for survival took place on the comic racks of the USA, where the cover image could mean the difference between life or death for a comic book title; with so many to choose from, the cover had to grab the attention of the potential buyer and hold it long enough to pry that thin dime from his or her fingers and hand it to the clerk to plunk it into the till. The covers chosen for this collection collectively separated millions of dimes from their prior holders and sent a penny or two per to the publishers who could then live to fight another day – at least until the comics code came along... People bandy about the label "extreme" a lot these days, but there's nothing out there now to compare to the extremity of the images on display here. Pistols, knives and rayguns abound in full phallic splendor, along with women in bondage, unintentional homoerotica and racial caricatures that will have you shaking your head. The unifying factor underlying all of these cover images is a high energy, dynamic composition supported by an equally energetic use of color and contrast that taken together defined the comic book aesthetic that in turn was a defining element of the "American Century" that has been essentialized in works ranging from Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol's Pop Art imagery to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and hundreds if not thousands of European and Asian artistic commentaries on American culture which have used comic book imagery as a shorthand for American values. It all starts here. NOW ON SALE - DEAL!