Neal Adams is a legendary comic book and commercial artist known for helping to create some of the definitive modern imagery of Superman, Batman, and Green Arrow; the co-founder of the graphic design studio Continuity Associates; and as a creators-rights advocate. Neal is best known to comic book fans for his work on Batman, The X-Men, The Avengers, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Superman, The Spectre, and Deadman, as well as his own comic company Continuity Comics, which published Megalith, Bucky O’Hare, Skeleton Warriors, CyberRad, and Ms. Mystic. Neal was inducted into the Eisner Award’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998, and the Harvey Awards’ Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999.
Neal Adams career has spanned almost 55 years. His early work was for Archie Comics (Adventures of the Fly, Archie’s Joke Book Magazine), the Ben Casey comic strip (artist from 1962-1966), and Warren Publishing (Eerie, Creepy). In the early 1960’s Neal also started doing commercial art for the advertising industry, working with the Johnstone and Cushing agency, which specialized in comic-book styled advertising.
Neal began working with DC Comics in 1967 on titles such as Our Army at War, The Adventures of Jerry Lewis, and The Adventures of Bob Hope. Adams was soon assigned his first superhero covers, Action Comics and Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane, and did his first superhero story (an Elongated Man story) in the pages of Detective Comics #369. Shortly afterward, he drew Batman for the first time, along with the supernatural superhero the Spectre, on the cover of The Brave and the Bold #75 (Jan. 1968). The first instance of Adams drawing Batman in an interior story was “The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads” in World’s Finest Comics #175 (May 1968).
Another signature character, in what would prove Adams’ breakout series, was the supernatural hero Deadman, who had debuted in DC’s Strange Adventures #205 (Nov. 1967). Adams succeeded co-creator artist Carmine Infantino with the following issue’s 17-page story “An Eye for an Eye”, written by Arnold Drake. Adams went on to draw both the covers and stories for issues 207-216 (Dec. 1967 – Feb. 1969), and taking over the scripting with #212 (June 1968). The series became a fan sensation, winning many awards and being almost immediately inducted into the Alley Award Hall of Fame, with Adams himself receiving a special award “for the new perspective and dynamic vibrance he has brought to the field of comic art”. Adams concurrently drew covers and stories for The Spectre #2-5 (Feb.-Aug. 1968), also writing the latter two issues, and became DC’s primary cover artist well into the 1970s.
While continuing to freelance for DC, Adams in 1969 also began freelancing for Marvel Comics, where he did seminal runs on the X-Men and The Avengers (The Kree Skrull War), as well as work on Tower of Shadows, Chamber of Darkness, and Amazing Adventures.
Continuing to work for DC Comics during this sojourn, while also contributing the occasional story to Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror-comics magazines, Adams had his first collaboration on Batman with writer Dennis O’Neil in Detective Comics #395, which led to a legendary run with the character, and the creation of Ra’s al Ghul, Talia, and numerous other characters. Neal introduced the Man-Bat (with writer Frank Robbins) in Detective Comics #400.
Neal and Denny were paired next to revitalize longstanding DC characters Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Rechristening Green Lantern as Green Lantern/Green Arrow with issue #76 (April 1970), O’Neil and Adams teamed these two very different superheroes in a long story arc in which the characters undertook a social-commentary journey across America. A few months earlier, Adams updated Green Arrow’s visual appearance by designing a new costume and giving him a distinctive goatee beard for the character in The Brave and the Bold #85 (Aug.-Sept 1969). It was during this period that one of the best known O’Neil/Adams stories appeared, in Green Lantern #85-86, when it was revealed that Green Arrow’s ward Speedy was addicted to heroin. Following issue #89, the adventures of both super-heroes continued on the pages of The Flash #217-219 and #226 (1972-1974).
After Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Adams’ did work on Superman, Brave and the Bold, Weird Western Tales, House of Mystery, Action Comics and Justice League of America. He worked on the first intercompany superhero crossover Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, redrawing several of the Superman figures in the book. The last complete story that Adams drew at DC before opening his own company, Continuity Associates, was the oversize Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978) which Adams has called a personal favorite. After this, Adams’ production for DC and Marvel was mainly limited to new covers for reprint editions of some of his work, such as Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War, X-Men: Visionaries, Deadman Collection and The Saga of Ra’s al Ghul, which were variously published as reprint miniseries or trade paperback collections. In 1990, he designed a new costume for DC’s Robin character and drew a miniposter included in the first issue of the Robin limited series.
During the 1970s, Adams formed the art and illustration studio Continuity Studios with Dick Giordano (formerly Continuity Associates, originally known as Continuity Graphics Associates). Still in business after more than thirty years, the company has showed that the graphic vernacular of the comic book could be employed in profitable endeavours outside the confines of traditional comics. At its founding in 1971, Continuity primarily supplied motion picture storyboards and advertising art. As times changed, Continuity adapted its services to offer animatics, 3D computer graphics, and conceptual design. Over the years, Continuity has also served as an art packager for comic book publishers, including such companies as Charlton Comics, Marvel Comics, Adams’ own Continuity Comics, and the one-shot Big Apple Comix. The company served as the launching pad for the careers of a number of professional cartoonists. Notable names who worked at Continuity include Terry Austin, Pat Broderick, Howard Chaykin, Larry Hama, Bob Layton, Val Mayerik, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Michael Netzer (Nasser), Carl Potts, Joe Rubinstein, Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Greg Theakston, and Bob Wiacek. When doing collective comics work, the artists were often credited as “Crusty Bunkers.”
In the 1970’s, Adams was also politically active in the industry, and attempted to unionize its creative community. His efforts, along with precedents set by Atlas/Seaboard Comics’ creator-friendly policies and other factors, helped lead to the modern industry’s standard practice of returning original artwork to the artist, who can earn additional income from art sales to collectors. He won his battle in 1987, when Marvel returned original artwork to him and industry legend Jack Kirby, among others. Adams notably and vocally helped lead the lobbying efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving decades-overdue credit and some financial remuneration from DC. During this time Neal also illustrated paperback novels in the Tarzan series for Ballantine Books.
With the independent-comic publishing boom of the early 1980s, Neal worked with Pacific Comics and other publishers, and founded his own Continuity Comics as an off-shoot of Continuity Associates. His comic-book company’s characters include Megalith, Bucky O’Hare, Skeleton Warriors, CyberRad, and Ms. Mystic.
In 2005 Adams returned to Marvel (his last collaboration for this publisher had been in 1981 drawing a story for the Bizarre Adventures magazine) to draw a story for the Giant-Size X-Men #3. The following year Adams (among other artists) provided art to Young Avengers Special #1. In recent years he has penciled The New Avengers vol. 2, #16.1 (Nov. 2011), and penciled /plotted The First X-Men miniseries. In 2011 Adams returned to DC Comics as writer and artist for Batman: Odyssey.
Neal Adams will be appearing Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He will be located at Booths # 524, 526, 625 and 627 in the exhibition room.
NEAL ADAMS: SPOTLIGHT Q&A :: Flamingo Ballroom 1 & 2
Neal AdamsSaturday June 27, 2015 :: 3:00 pm to 3:45 pm