R.I.P., Neal Adams

The Batman got a chance to feel what it was like to be me in 1969. From “The Secret of the Waiting Graves,” drawn by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, story by Denny O’Neil, © 1969 National Periodical Publications, Inc.

The inimitable Neal Adams has finally stepped away from the drawing board. He was 80.

Adams was, in a word, a legend. I devoured comic books from my early childhood through college, from Superman to the X-Men, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers to Mr. Natural, and I’d never seen anything like his art. When Adams took on a character, he nailed it.

“Yeah, that’s how [insert your hero here] is supposed to look,” I’d think. And if some other artist took over, I’d be all like, “Nope.”

Adams helped put the dark back in the Dark Knight, a.k.a. The Batman; made the Green Lantern-Green Arrow series actually worth a look (a not inconsiderable chore); and fought Frank Frazetta to a draw when it came to depicting Conan the Barbarian.

The Batman may have been his crowning achievement, but Adams didn’t limit himself to Gotham City. He drew for both DC and Marvel, tackling Deadman, the X-Men, the Avengers, Superman, even the gleefully blasphemous Son O’ God Comics for National Lampoon. He was like the Buddhist deity Avalokiteshvara, with a pen in each of his one thousand hands. And like Chickenman, he was everywhere.

He was also a pain in the ass, which as you may imagine only further endeared him to me. He worked to see that creators were treated better than Manpower temps and helped win some long-overdue recognition for “Superman” visionaries Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, without whom we’d all have been stuck reading “Archie” comics … another title Adams had a hand in early on.

Peace to him and to his family, friends and fans.

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7 Responses to “R.I.P., Neal Adams”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    The talent in this world amazes me every day. Most talents are never well known.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Everywhere you look someone is doing something fascinating. People like Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams took comics from silly-ass throwaways to real works of art. That this art form came to dominate global cinema is not necessarily their fault. I tried to watch the latest cinematic take on The Batman and couldn’t make it to the end.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      These constant remakes and sequels are just annoying. The Avenger character origin movies were watchable. And the first Avenger movie was OK too, After that, the sequels didn’t make it for us at all. Same thing with the X Men bunch. Ditto for Batman. We moved to more original animation movies. In them the computers earn their keep with story instead of stunts. Sing and Sing 2 for example. Or Coco. Or original story telling like Knives out and Ford vs Ferrari.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The repetition is irksome, and so is the careful assembly of Tab A into Slot B to make sure all the pieces of the Marvel or DC Universe mesh smoothly. The comics started going sideways when The Big Two started adding parallel universes to help them write their way around and/or out of dead ends. The movies just took that ball and ran with it. Wait until “The Flash” movie comes out next year. Multiple Flashes and a couple-three Batmen. At least none of them are Val Kilmer or George Clooney, as far as I know. Ay, Chihuahua.

      We’ve been binge-watching oddball series on TV. “Russian Doll,” first season really interesting, second less so, but Natasha Lyonne is killer. “Atlanta.” “Station Eleven.” “Better Call Saul.” “Barry,” with SNL alum Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, and the insanely great Stephen Root. I would watch that dude reading from a Taco Bell menu. “Better Things,” which I had my doubts about at first but was a refreshing departure from the norm.

  2. Crandew Says:

    Great post! Neal Adams will always be my favorite comic book artist. RIP

  3. Pat O’Brien Says:

    If I might, by your leave Patrick, flash back to your last post, we watched the “Northern Light” episode of the Northern Exposure series. We have been binge watching the series now for three weeks. We have seen clips from that episode many times here at the Mad Dog’s place, but the entire episode was TV magic.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      O, that was a good one, was it not? That series was something else, a hint of what TV would become. Now that the comics people have taken over Hollywood most of the talent wants to work on the small screen.

      Have you watched “Reservation Dogs” yet? One season in the can, another in the works. One of my favorite modern comics, Bill Burr, had a small role in the first season, and another, Marc Maron, apparently has something to do with No. 2. The series is very imaginative, and largely made with Native/Indigenous talent in front and behind the cameras.

      Taika Waititi (“Boy,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) has a hand in it, as does Dallas Goldtooth, a member of the Native comedy troupe the 1491s, who plays a goofy sort of spirit guide. The young folks in the lead roles are top notch too, especially Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor. I think you’d get a whiff of “Northern Exposure” from it, maybe a hint of early Sherman Alexie too.

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