Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Set in the 1930s, the adventure series Bravo For Adventure by the legendary Alex Toth occupies a unique position in his body of work as the only project of personal significance that was both written and drawn by him (other than his post-war strip Jon Fury). A complete collection of all the Bravo material was published in a large hardcover volume in 2015.
Alex Toth’s Bravo for Adventure Artist’s Edition is an even larger (430 x 304 mm) hardcover book containing every page of the original artwork produced by Toth for this series, photographically scanned in colour at very high resolution and reproduced actual size, on heavyweight paper. This process produces the sensation of looking at Toth’s original drawings exactly as created by him with all the pencil marks, corrections, different pens and ink colours and other artefacts visible. These handmade traces are not visible when printed at reduced size, so it’s a very different experience to look at his comics art in its raw state.
Presented here are the 48 inked pages comprising the first Bravo story from 1984, a four-page ‘intro’ story, the 17 pages of the second story, two splash pages that were discarded or later reworked, and 60 pages of Toth’s colour guides, painted in watercolour, markers and colour pencil onto stats of the art. There are two versions of these guides, showing a different approach to the mood of the pages, with a second incomplete set using a limited palette for a more ‘period’ look. There are also several pages in greytones from the version published in France.
Of special interest to fans are the 26 pages of partially-inked and lettered pencils and notes, which show Toth’s attempts at coming up with more stories. There are unfinished pages for stories involving Jesse Bravo, a plane called The Condor, and an alternate hero Noah Chance, written and rewritten in different configurations. These are fascinating to look at in their various stages of completion, giving some insight into Toth’s working methods.
If you already have the Bravo For Adventure book from 2015, you could live without this volume. That first collection already contains some sketches, notes and a few colour guides presented alongside the art in an excellent, oversized format. Unless you are curious about those unfinished stories you won’t really need this book as well; but you will definitely want it, as a superbly assembled presentation of Alex Toth’s brilliant original art and maybe the only one you’re ever likely to see.