[Header photo by Gage Skidmore]
Neal Adams in 2013
Photo by Luigi Novi
By The Hollywood Reporter, legendary American cartoonist and comic book writer Neal Adams has died. His widow, Marilyn Adams, informed the Journalist that Neal died Thursday, April 28 in New York from complications of sepsis. He was 80 years old. Best known for his work on ‘Batman’, ‘Green Lantern/Green Arrow’, ‘X-Men’ and many more in the late 60s and early 70s, Adams was also a creator rights activist vocalists, an educator, and a filmmaker/screenwriter.
Adams was born on Governors Island, New York on June 15, 1941. Raised in a military family, he grew up on various military bases, ranging from Brooklyn to Germany. He attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan, graduating in 1959. He unsuccessfully applied to draw for DC Comics and instead began his professional career drawing gag panels for Archie Comics. He turned to illustrating advertisements, and his artistic strength landed him the job of illustrating the comic strip “Ben Casey” – based on the television medical drama of the same name – in 1962.
“Ben Casey” ended a few months after the TV show in 1966, and Adams worked as a ghost artist on various other tapes until he landed assignments at Warren Publishing and DC himself that year. next. He specialized in horror and war stories, but what he really wanted to draw were superhero comics, and after a few Superman covers, he started collaborating with the writer Gardner Fox on an Elongated Man backup feature in the pages of “Detective Comics”. ”
By the end of the year, Adams was drawing the Deadman comic in “Strange Adventures” and also began storyboarding it in 1968; the comic was a success, earning him several awards, including an induction into the Alley Awards Hall of Fame. He also began working for DC rival Marvel on the “X-Men” series, where he first collaborated with writer Dennis O’Neil. The two teamed up with DC again for a run on both “Detective Comics” and “Batman,” which took the Caped Crusader back to his darker roots with stories like “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” and ” Daughter of the Demon” (which marked the first appearance of supervillain Ra’s al Ghul.)
‘Green Lantern/Green Arrow’ #76
During this time, Adams and O’Neill simultaneously collaborated on a series of topical and socially conscious stories in “Green Lantern/Green Arrow”, where they introduced John Stewart, the first African-American Green Lantern. Adams also continued to freelance for Marvel, portraying the “Kree-Skrull war” in the pages of “The Avengers.” His interior work became less frequent as the decade progressed as he concerned himself with the question of creators’ rights: however, he would contribute to two other iconic titles before the end of the 70s, namely the first crossover DC/Marvel, “Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man” (where he redrew much of Ross Andru’s art with John Romita Sr.) and (in another collaboration with O’Neil), “Superman vs. .Muhammad Ali”.
In 1971, Adams and Dick Giordano founded the studio Continuity Associates, which provided storyboards and animatics to production and advertising companies. In 1984 he started a publishing company, Continuity Comics, which is now probably best known as the birthplace of “Bucky O’Hare” by Larry Hama and Michael Golden. Continuity Comics went bankrupt in 1994, but Continuity Associates (now known as Neal Adams Continuity Studios) remains active. In 2005, he began sporadically returning to Marvel and DC with miniseries like “Batman: Odyssey” and “The First X-Men”, which he would write and draw; none of these new series were particularly well received.
As an advocate for creators’ rights, Adams notably helped Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receive credit and compensation for creating Superman in 1975. He was president of the Academy of Comic Book Arts, which was eventually dissolved because Adams wanted it to behave like a union. . In 1978, he founded a union known as the Comics Creators Guild. In 2008, Adams (who was Jewish) worked with the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies to lobby the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum to return the Dina paintings. Babbitt, an artist and Holocaust survivor who had been forced to work. for Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. (Babbitt sadly died in 2009 without having her paintings recovered.) Adams and Rafael Medoff, the director of the Wyman Institute, would go on to work together on several educational comics.
During his lifetime, Adams was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame, the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame at the Harvey Awards, and the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame at the Inkwell Awards. He was married twice: his first wife was comic book colorist Cory Adams, with whom he had a daughter, Zeea Adams, also a colorist. He and Marilyn had three sons, Jason, Joel and Josh Adams, the latter two of whom are also comic book artists. In a statement to JournalistJosh said of his father’s legacy, “[When] I’ve sat at tables at conventions next to the same people I’d see treat my dad with such respect, [it was then] I understood: it was also their father. The most undeniable quality of Neal Adams was the one I had known of him all my life: he was a father. Not just my dad, but a dad to anyone who got to know him.