September 27th, 2010


TV vs. Comics

Alex Toth drew a lot of great TV and movie adaptations for comics in the late '50s, including several issues adapting the ZORRO TV show. These were among the best-drawn comics ever (here's a good essay about the comic, and here's a full story), and it's fun to compare Toth's ZORROs with their TV counterparts. Most of the dialogue in the comics was taken verbatim from the corresponding TV episodes, but Toth's visual approach is (ironically) more filmic and sophisticated than that of the show. He used unconventional angles and dramatic lighting, whereas the show's lighting is indifferent, and the actors were usually photographed at eye level, like a sitcom. Comparing these disparate approaches to the same material is a lesson in visual narrative.

Below are two episodes of the show that you can watch (in 10 minute chapters) at YouTube. These were condensed into one comic story, "Gypsy Warning," which was reprinted in vol 2 of Eclipse's ZORRO collection, and also appears in Image's collection of the same material (which newcomers to the material can must buy, for $15 or less). Crack open the book and follow along with the episodes, noting changes Toth made in how shots are staged and lit.

Quintana Makes A Choice

Zorro Lights A Fuse

Incidentally, Suzanne Lloyd, who played the femme fatale in these episodes, is still alive and looking well, over half a century later.