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Neal Adams

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Neal Adams
Adams in 2019
Born(1941-06-15)June 15, 1941
New York City, U.S.
DiedApril 28, 2022(2022-04-28) (aged 80)
New York City, U.S.
Area(s)Writer, Penciller, Inker, Editor, Publisher
Notable works
The Brave and the Bold
Detective Comics
Green Lantern/Green Arrow
Strange Adventures (Deadman)
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
AwardsAlley Awards
  • Best Cover (1967)
  • Best Full-Length Story (1968, with Bob Haney)
  • Best Pencil Artist (1969)

Shazam Awards

  • Best Individual Story (1970 and 1971, with Dennis O'Neil)
  • Best Pencil Artist (Dramatic Division) (1970)

Inkwell Awards

  • Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (2019)
Spouse(s)Cory McGuire
(m. 1963; div. 19??)
Marilyn Susser
(m. 1977)
Children5, including Josh Adams

Neal Adams (June 15, 1941 – April 28, 2022)[1][2][3] was an American comic book artist. He was the co-founder of the graphic design studio Continuity Associates, and was a creators-rights advocate who helped secure a pension and recognition for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. During his career, Adams co-created the characters John Stewart, Man-Bat, and Ra's al Ghul for DC Comics.

After drawing the comic strip based on the television drama Ben Casey in the early 1960s, Adams was hired as a freelancer by DC Comics in 1967. Later that year, he became the artist for the superhero character Deadman in the science fiction comic book Strange Adventures. Adams and writer Dennis O'Neil collaborated on influential runs on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow in the early 1970s. For Batman, the duo returned the Batman character to his gothic roots as a contrast to the Batman television series of the 1960s.[4] During their Green Lantern/Green Arrow run, O'Neil and Adams introduced a mature, realistic tone through stories such as "Snowbirds Don't Fly", in which Green Arrow's young ward Roy "Speedy" Harper is revealed to have become addicted to drugs.[3] The duo created and introduced the Green Lantern character John Stewart in 1971.

Following his runs on Batman and Green Lantern, Adams drew other books for DC such as Superman vs. Muhammad Ali in 1978. In addition to his work with DC, Adams simultaneously freelanced for Marvel Comics on books such as Uncanny X-Men and The Avengers. In 1971, Adams established the art and illustration studio Continuity Associates with Dick Giordano. In 1984, Adams founded his own comic book company Continuity Comics, which was in business until 1994.

Adams was inducted into the Eisner Awards' Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998, the Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame in 2019.

Early life[edit]

Neal Adams was born June 15, 1941, on Governors Island, New York City,[2][5][6] to Frank Adams, a writer for the military, and Lilian, who ran a boardinghouse.[7] Raised in a military family, he grew up in a series of army bases, ranging from Brooklyn to Germany.[8] with his father largely absent from his life.[7] Adams attended the School of Industrial Art high school in Manhattan,[9][10] graduating in 1959.[11]


Early work[edit]

After graduation in 1959, he unsuccessfully attempted to find freelance work at DC Comics,[11] and turned then to Archie Comics, where he wanted to work on the publisher's fledgling superhero line, edited by Joe Simon. At the suggestion of staffers, Adams drew "three or four pages of [the superhero] the Fly", but did not receive encouragement from Simon.[12] Sympathetic staffers nonetheless asked Adams to draw samples for the Archie teen-humor comics themselves. While he did so, Adams said in a 2000s interview, he unknowingly broke into comics:

I started to do samples for Archie and I left my Fly samples there. A couple weeks later when I came in to show my Archie samples, I noticed that the pages were still there, but the bottom panel was cut off of one of my pages. I said, "What happened?" They said, "One of the artists did this transition where Tommy Troy turns into the Fly and it's not very good. You did this real nice piece so we'll use that, if it's OK." I said, "That's great. That's terrific."[12]

That panel ran in Adventures of the Fly #4 (Jan. 1960).[12] Afterward, Adams began writing, penciling, inking, and lettering[9] humorous full-page and half-page gag fillers for Archie's Joke Book Magazine.[12] In a 1976 interview, he recalled earning "[a]bout $16.00 per half-page and $32.00 for a full page. That may not seem like a great deal of money, but at the time it meant a great deal to myself as well as my mothers ... as we were not in a wealthy state. It was manna from heaven, so to speak." A recommendation led him to artist Howard Nostrand, who was beginning the Bat Masterson syndicated newspaper comic strip, and he worked as Nostrand's assistant for three months, primarily drawing backgrounds at what Adams recalled as $9 a week and "a great experience".[9]

Having "not left Archie Comics under the best of circumstances",[9] Adams turned to commercial art for the advertising industry. After a rocky start freelancing, he began landing regular work at the Johnstone and Cushing agency, which specialized in comic-book styled advertising.[13] Helped by artist Elmer Wexler, who critiqued the young Adams' samples, Adams brought his portfolio to the agency, which initially "didn't believe I had done those particular samples since they looked so much like Elmer Wexler's work. But they gave me a chance and ... I stayed there for about a year".[14]

Ben Casey[edit]

Premiere of the Ben Casey strip, November 26, 1962. Art by Adams.

In 1962, Adams began his comics career in earnest at the Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicate. From a recommendation, writer Jerry Caplin, a.k.a. Jerry Capp, brother of Li'l Abner creator Al Capp, invited Adams to draw samples for Capp's proposed Ben Casey comic strip, based on the popular television medical-drama series.[12] On the strength of his samples and of his "Chip Martin, College Reporter" AT&T advertising comic-strip pages in Boys' Life magazine, and of his similar Goodyear Tire ads,[15] Adams landed the assignment.[12] The first daily strip, which carried Adams' signature, appeared November 26, 1962; a color Sunday strip was added September 20, 1964.[16] Adams continued to do Johnston & Cushing assignments during Ben Casey's 3+12-year run.[17]

Comics historian Maurice Horn said the strip "did not shrink from tackling controversial problems, such as heroin addiction, illegitimate pregnancy, and attempted suicide. These were usually treated in soap opera fashion ... but there was also a touch of toughness to the proceedings, well rendered by Adams in a forceful, direct style that exuded realism and tension and accorded well with the overall tone of the strip".[16]

In addition to Capp, Jerry Brondfield also wrote for the strip, with Adams stepping in occasionally.[18]

The ABC series, which ran five seasons, ended March 21, 1966, with the final comic strip appearing Sunday, July 31, 1966.[16] Despite the end of the series, Adams has said the strip, which he claimed at different points to have appeared in 365 newspapers,[14] 265 newspapers,[19] and 165 newspapers,[20] ended "for no other reason that it was an unhappy situation":

We ended the strip under mutual agreement. I wasn't happy working on the strip nor was I happy giving up a third of the money to [the TV series' producer,] Bing Crosby Productions. The strip I should have been making twelve hundred [dollars] a week from was making me three hundred to three-fifty a week. On top of that, I was not able to express myself artistically when I wanted to. But we left under very fine conditions. I was even offered a deal in which I would be paid so much a month if I would agree not to do any syndicated strip for anyone else, in order that I might save myself for anything they have for me to do.[14]

Adams' goal at this point was to be a commercial illustrator.[12] While drawing Ben Casey, he had continued to do storyboards and other work for ad agencies,[12] and said in 1976 that after leaving the strip he had shopped around a portfolio for agencies and for men's magazines, "but my material was a little too realistic and not exactly right for most. I left my portfolio in an advertising agency promising they were going to hold on to it. In the meantime I needed to make some money ... and I thought, 'Why don't I do some comics?'"[21] In a 2000s interview, he remembered the events slightly differently, saying "I took [my portfolio] to various advertising people. I left it at one place overnight and when I came back to get it the next morning it was gone. So six months worth of work down the drain. ... "[12]

He worked as a ghost artist for a few weeks in 1966 on the comic strip Peter Scratch (1965–1967), a Hardboiled detective serial created by writer Elliot Caplin, brother of Al Capp and Jerry Capp, and artist Lou Fine.[22] Comics historians also credit Adams with ghosting two weeks of dailies for Stan Drake's The Heart of Juliet Jones, but are uncertain on dates; some sources give 1966, another 1968, and Adams himself 1963.[18] As well, Adams drew 18 sample dailies (three weeks' continuity) of a proposed dramatic serial, Tangent, about construction engineer Barnaby Peake, his college-student brother Jeff, and their teenaged sibling Chad, in 1965, but it was not syndicated.[23] Adams later said that Elliot Caplin offered Adams the job of drawing a comic strip based on author Robin Moore's The Green Berets, but that Adams, who opposed the Vietnam War, where the series was set, suggested longtime DC Comics war comics artist Joe Kubert, who landed that assignment.[20]

Silver Age splash[edit]

Strange Adventures #207 (Dec. 1967): One of Adams' earliest DC Comics covers, and his first for his signature character Deadman, already shows a mature style and a design innovation for the time. It won the 1967 Alley Award for Best Cover.

Turning to comic books, Adams found work at Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror-comics magazines, under editor Archie Goodwin.[24] Adams debuted there as penciler and inker of writer Goodwin's eight-page story "Curse of the Vampire" in Creepy #14 (April 1967). He and Goodwin quickly collaborated on two more stories, "Fair Exchange" in Eerie #9 (May 1967) and "The Terror Beyond Time" in Creepy #15 (June 1967), and Adams as well reapproached DC Comics.[25]

With DC war comics stalwart Joe Kubert now concentrating on the comic strip The Green Berets, Adams, despite his opposition to then-current U.S. military involvement in Vietnam,[20] saw an opening:

I really didn't like most of the comics [at DC] but I did like war comics, ... so I thought, 'You know, now that Joe is not working there, they've got Russ Heath and they are plugging other people in where Joe used to be. Maybe I could kind of shift into a Joe Kubert kind of thing and do some war comics, and kind of bash them out [quickly]'. ... So I went over to see [DC war-comics editor] Bob Kanigher and I showed him my stuff, and I did have that feeling that they were missing Joe – a guy who could draw and do that rough, action stuff. So he gave me some work".[20]

Adams made his DC debut as penciler-inker of the 8+12-page story "It's My Turn to Die", written by Howard Liss, in the anthology series Our Army at War #182 (July 1967). He did a smattering of additional horror and war stories, respectively, for the two publishers, and then, after being turned down by DC's Batman editor Julius Schwartz, approached fellow DC editor Murray Boltinoff in the hopes of drawing for Boltinoff's Batman team-up title The Brave and the Bold.[20] Boltinoff instead assigned him to The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #101 (July–August 1967) and its full-length story "Jerry the Asto-Nut", written by Arnold Drake.[26][27] It became the first of a slew of stories and covers Adams would draw for that series and The Adventures of Bob Hope, two licensed titles starring fictional versions of the TV, film and nightclub comedians.[28]

During this period near the end of the industry revival historians call the Silver Age of comic books, Adams was soon assigned his first superhero covers, illustrating that of the Superman flagship Action Comics #356 (Nov. 1967) and the same month's Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #79 (Nov. 1967), featuring Superman and a mysterious new costumed character, Titanman. Also that month, Adams drew his first superhero story, teaming with writer Gardner Fox on the lighthearted backup feature "The Elongated Man" in Detective Comics #369 (November 1967), the flagship Batman title. Shortly afterward, he drew Batman himself, along with the supernatural superhero the Spectre, on the cover of The Brave and the Bold #75 (Jan. 1968) – the first published instance of Adams' work on what would become two of his signature comics characters. 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).[29]

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",[30] written by Arnold Drake, with George Roussos inking Adams' pencils. 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,[31] 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".[32]

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. Adams recalled that Infantino "was appointed art director, and decided I was going to be his spark plug. I also thought it was a good idea, and was promised a number of things which were never fulfilled. But I thought it would be an adventure anyway, so I knuckled down to things like 'Deadman', The Spectre and whatever odd things would come my way. I was also doing large amounts of covers".[33]

Adams was called upon to rewrite and redraw a Teen Titans story which had been written by then-newcomers Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. The story, titled "Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho!", would have introduced DC's first African American superhero but was rejected by publisher Carmine Infantino.[34] The revised story appeared in Teen Titans #20 (March–April 1969).[35]

Adams' art style, honed in advertising and in the photorealistic school of dramatic-serial comics strips,[36] marked a signal change from most comics art to that time. Comics writer and columnist Steven Grant wrote in 2009 that,

Jim Steranko at Marvel and Neal Adams were the most prominent new artists of the late '60s to enter a field that had been relatively hostile to new artists ... and breaths of modernism, referencing advertising art and pop art as much as comics. Despite vastly different styles, both favored designs that drew on depth of focus and angularity that put the reader in the center of the action while slightly disorienting them to increase the tension, and placed special emphasis on lighting and body language as emotion cues. Not that these things were unknown in comics by any stretch, but publishers traditionally deemphasized them. As well, both were hugely influential on how a new generation of artists thought about what comics should look like, though Adams was arguably more influential; his approach was more visceral and, more importantly, he ran a studio in Manhattan [Continuity Associates] where many young artists started their professional careers.[37]

First Marvel Comics work[edit]

X-Men #63 (Dec. 1969). Cover art by Adams and Tom Palmer.

While continuing to freelance for DC, Adams in 1969 also began freelancing for Marvel Comics, where he penciled several issues of the mutant-superhero team title X-Men and one story for a horror anthology title. The Marvel "Bullpen Bulletins" column of Fantastic Four #87 (June 1969) described Adams as having "one foot planted in our Marvel doorway. We're guessing your ecstatic comments, when you see the way he illustrated our latest X-Men bombshell, will transform him into a Marvel madman from head to toe." Such freelancing across the two leading companies was rare at the time; most DC creators who did so worked pseudonymously.[38] Adams recalled in 1976:

The first time I got away from DC was when I went to Marvel to do the X-Men. It didn't stop me from working at DC; they were a little annoyed at me, but that was a calculated plan. ... If people saw that I would do such a thing, then other people might do it. Beyond that, it seemed like working for Marvel might be an interesting thing to do. It was, as matter of fact. I enjoyed working on the X-Men. [The company was] more friendly, a lot more real and I found myself delighting in the company of Herb Trimpe, John Romita and Marie Severin. I found them to be people who were not as oppressed as the people at National [i.e., DC Comics] were.[39]

He teamed with writer Roy Thomas on X-Men, then on the verge of cancellation,[40] starting with issue #56 (May 1969).[41] Adams penciled, colored, and, according to Thomas, did most of the plotting, including the entire plot for issue #65.[42] In that issue, his final work on the series, Adams and writer Dennis O'Neil, in one of that creative team's earliest collaborations,[43] revived the Professor X character.[44] While working on the series, Adams was paired for the first time with inker Tom Palmer, with whom he would collaborate on several acclaimed Marvel comics; the duo's work here netted them 1969 Alley Awards for Best Pencil Artist and Best Inking Artist, respectively. Thomas won that year for Best Writer. Though the team failed to save the title, which ended its initial run with #66 (March 1970), the collaboration here and on the "Kree-Skrull War" arc of The Avengers #93–97 (Nov. 1971 – May 1972) produced what comics historians regard as some of Marvel's creative highlights of the era.[45][46][47][48] Adams also wrote and penciled the horror story "One Hungers" in Tower of Shadows #2 (Dec. 1969), and co-wrote with Thomas, but did not draw, another in Chamber of Darkness #2 (Dec. 1969). Thomas and Adams collaborated again along with scripter Gerry Conway and penciler Howard Chaykin to introduce the series "The War of the Worlds" and its central character, Killraven, in Amazing Adventures vol. 2 #18 (May 1973).[49]


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 (including the Don Glut-scripted "Goddess from the Sea" in Vampirella #1, Sept. 1969), Adams had his first collaboration on Batman with writer Dennis O'Neil.[50] The duo, under the direction of editor Julius Schwartz,[51] would revitalize the character with a series of noteworthy stories reestablishing Batman's dark, brooding nature and taking the books away from the campy look and feel of the 1966–68 ABC TV series.[52] Their first two stories were "The Secret of the Waiting Graves" in Detective Comics #395 (Jan. 1970) and "Paint a Picture of Peril" in issue #397 (March 1970), with a short Batman backup story, written by Mike Friedrich, coming in-between, in Batman #219 (Feb. 1970). Adams introduced new characters to the Batman mythos beginning with Man-Bat co-created with writer Frank Robbins in Detective Comics #400 (June 1970).[53] O'Neil and Adams' creation Ra's al Ghul was introduced in the story "Daughter of the Demon" in Batman #232 (June 1971)[54] and the character would later become one of Batman's most common adversaries. The same creative team would revive Two-Face in Batman #234 (Aug. 1971)[55] and revitalize the Joker in "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!" in Batman #251 (Sept. 1973), a landmark story bringing the character back to his roots as a homicidal maniac who murders people on a whim and delights in his mayhem.[56][57]

Green Lantern/Green Arrow and "relevant comics"[edit]

Green Lantern/Green Arrow#76 (April 1970). Cover art by Adams.

Batman's enduring makeover was contemporaneous[43] with Adams and O'Neil's celebrated and, for the time, controversial revamping of the longstanding DC characters Green Lantern and Green Arrow.[58]

Rechristening Green Lantern vol. 2 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.[58] 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).[59] A major exemplar of what the industry and the public at the time called "relevant comics",[60] the landmark run began with the 23-page story "No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" and continued to "... And through Him Save a World" in the series' finale, #89 (May 1972). 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.[61][62] Wrote historian Ron Goulart,

These angry issues deal with racism, overpopulation, pollution, and drug addiction. The drug abuse problem was dramatized in an unusual and unprecedented way by showing Green Arrow's heretofore clean-cut boy companion Speedy turning into a heroin addict. All this endeared DC to the dedicated college readers of the period and won awards for both artist and writer. Sales, however, weren't especially influenced by the praise, and by 1973 the crusading had ceased. I remember dropping in on [editor] Julius Schwartz about this time and asking him how relevance was doing. 'Relevance is dead', he informed me, not too cheerfully.[52]

After Green Lantern was cancelled, the adventures of both super-heroes continued in the pages of The Flash #217–219 and #226 (1972–74).[63]

Other work for DC[edit]

After Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Adams' contributions to DC, apart from his work on Batman, were sporadic, limiting to draw a Clark Kent back-up story in Superman #254 (1972) and sharing credits with Jim Aparo pencilling the Teen Titans in The Brave and the Bold #102 (1972). Adams also drew a few stories for Weird Western Tales and House of Mystery and covers for Action Comics and Justice League of America as well. Adams worked on the first intercompany superhero crossover Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man. Several of the Superman figures were redrawn by him.[64]

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.[65][66] 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[67] or trade paperback collections. In 1988, he designed a new costume for DC's Robin character Dick Grayson.[68] DC loved the redesign and adopted it to the comics years later when they introduced new Robin Tim Drake. a miniposter included in the first issue of the Robin limited series.[69]

21st century[edit]

Adams at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience

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 an eight-page story for the Giant-Size X-Men #3.[70] The following year Adams (among other artists) provided art to Young Avengers Special #1.[70]

In 2010, Adams returned to DC Comics as writer and artist on the miniseries Batman: Odyssey.[71][72] Originally conceived as a 12-issue story, the series ran for six issues,[70][73] being relaunched with vol. 2, #1 in October 2011.[74] A total of seven issues were published for the second series until its end in June 2012.[70]

Apart from those assignments for DC, Adams penciled The New Avengers vol. 2, #16.1 (Nov. 2011) for Marvel Comics.[75] In May 2012, Marvel announced that Adams would work on the X-Men again with The First X-Men, a five-issue miniseries drawn and plotted by him and written by Christos Gage.[76][77] Adams produced short stories for Batman Black and White vol. 2 #1 (Nov. 2013)[78] and Detective Comics vol. 2 #27 (March 2014).[79]

In February 2016, Adams revisited some of his most notable covers done for DC Comics in the 1960s and 1970s,[80] replacing the original characters with some of the New 52 ones.[81] Later that same year, Adams wrote and drew the six-part Superman: Coming of the Supermen miniseries.[82] In 2017, Adams wrote and drew a Deadman limited series.[83][84] He drew a new five-page story titled "The Game", which was written by Paul Levitz, for the Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman hardcover collection.[85]

In August 2020, Adams and writer Mark Waid released Fantastic Four: Antithesis, a four issue miniseries starring the Fantastic Four in a battle with a new cosmic threat.[86] This would be his final work as an interior artist.[87][88] Adams' final work as a writer (in addition to providing the artwork) would be Batman vs Ra's al Ghul, a miniseries that was originally published in November 2019 before the final two issues were delayed to March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[89]

Film, TV and theater[edit]

Adams' pencil drawings on his later Batman stories were frequently inked by Dick Giordano, with whom Adams formed Continuity Associates,[90] a company that supplied storyboards for motion pictures and interior artwork for comics publishers.

In the early 1970s, Adams was the art director, costume designer, as well as the poster/playbill illustrator for Warp!, a science fiction stage play by director Stuart Gordon and playwright Lenny Kleinfeld under the pseudonym Bury St. Edmund.[91]

In 1980, Neal Adams directed and starred in Nannaz, later released by Troma under the title Death to the Pee Wee Squad. The film co-starred Adams' children Jason and Zeea as well as fellow comics professionals Denys Cowan, Ralph Reese, Larry Hama, and Gray Morrow.[92]

In late 2013 Adams appeared in the PBS TV documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.[93]

Creators' rights[edit]

During the 1970s, Adams was 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.[94][95] 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.[96]

Inker Bob McLeod recalled in the 2000s the unique place Adams held in the industry when McLeod entered the comics industry in 1973:

Pat [Broderick] told me I really ought to meet Neal Adams, whom he had met at DC. ... At that time, Neal held a position of respect in the industry that no one in comics since then has achieved. He was the single most respected artist in the business. ... Neal looked at one of my samples and asked me what kind of work I was looking for. I said, "Anything that pays." (By that time, I was down to my last $10. ... ) He just picked up the phone and called the production manager at Marvel and said, "I've got a guy here who has some potential as, well, some potential as an artist, but I think he has a lot of potential as a letterer." I was immediately hired at Marvel in the production department on Neal's recommendation, and they still didn't even want to see my portfolio. If I was good enough for Neal, I was good enough for them.[97]

In 1978, Adams helped form the Comics Creators Guild, which over three dozen comic-book writers and artists joined.[98]

Also during the 1970s, Adams illustrated paperback novels in the Tarzan series for Ballantine Books.[99] With the independent-comic publishing boom of the early 1980s, he began working for Pacific Comics (where he produced the poorly received Skateman)[100] and other publishers, and founded his own Continuity Comics as an offshoot of Continuity Associates. His comic-book company's characters include Megalith, Bucky O'Hare, Skeleton Warriors, CyberRad, and Ms. Mystic. He and fellow artist Michael Netzer entered into a dispute over intellectual property rights to Ms. Mystic, a character they had worked on jointly in 1977, which Adams had published under the Pacific Comics and Continuity Comics imprints, leading to a lawsuit against Adams in United States District Court in 1993.[101] The case was dismissed in 1997, citing the statute of limitations.[102]

Dina Babbitt and work related to the Holocaust[edit]

Adams and Rafael Medoff promoting They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust at the Big Apple Convention, May 21, 2011

In collaboration with Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Adams championed an effort to get the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which is operated by the government of Poland, to return the original artwork of Dina Babbitt. In exchange for his sparing her mother and herself from the gas chambers, Babbitt worked as an illustrator for Nazi death camp doctor Josef Mengele, who wanted detailed paintings to demonstrate his pseudoscientific theories about Romani racial inferiority.[103] Using text from Medoff, Adams illustrated a six-page graphic documentary about Babbitt that was inked by Joe Kubert and contains an introduction by Stan Lee.[104] However, Adams deemphasized any comparison between the Babbitt case and his struggle for creator rights, saying that her situation was "tragic" and "an atrocity."[103]

In 2010, Adams and Medoff teamed with Disney Educational Productions to produce They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust, an online educational motion comics series that tells stories of Americans who protested Nazis or helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Each standalone episode, which runs from five to ten minutes, utilizes a combination of archival film footage and animatics drawn by Adams (who also narrates), and focus on a different person. The first episode, "La Guardia's War Against Hitler" was screened in April 2010 at a festival sponsored by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, and tells the story of the forceful stand New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took against Nazi Germany. La Guardia's actions stood in contrast to the relative passivity of President Franklin Roosevelt, who historians such as David S. Wyman believe did not do as much as he could have to save European Jews,[105] a point underlined in the episode "Messenger from Hell". Other episodes include "Voyage of the Doomed", which focuses on the S.S. St. Louis, the ship that carried more than 900 German-Jewish refugees but was turned away by Cuban authorities and later the Roosevelt administration, and "Rescue Over the Mountains", which depicts Varian Fry, the young journalist who led an underground rescue network that smuggled Jewish refugees out of Vichy France.[106][107]

Awards and honors[edit]

Adams with his son Josh at a signing for Batman: Odyssey #1 at Midtown Comics Times Square, July 10, 2010

Adams' first Deadman cover won the 1967 Alley Award for Best Cover.[108] A Batman/Deadman team-up in The Brave and the Bold #79 (Sept. 1968), by Adams and writer Bob Haney, tied with another comic for the 1968 Alley Award for Best Full-Length Story; and in 1969, Adams won the Alley Award for Best Pencil Artist, the feature "Deadman" was elected to the Alley Award Hall of Fame, and Adams received a special award "for the new perspective and dynamic vibrance he has brought to the field of comic art".[32]

He also won Shazam Awards in 1970 for Best Individual Story ("No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" in Green Lantern vol. 2, #76, with writer Dennis O'Neil), and Best Pencil Artist (Dramatic Division); and in 1971 for Best Individual Story ("Snowbirds Don't Fly" in Green Lantern vol. 2, #85, with O'Neil).[109][110]

Adams won the 1971 Goethe Award for Favorite Pro Artist,[111] as well as the 1971 Goethe Award for Favorite Comic-Book Story for "No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" (written by Denny O'Neil) in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76.[112]

He won an Inkpot Award in 1976[113] and was voted the "Favourite Comicbook Artist" at the 1977[114] and the 1978 Eagle Awards.[115]

In 1985, DC Comics named Adams as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great.[116]

Adams was inducted into the Eisner Awards' Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998, and the Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999.[117]

In 2019, Adams was inducted into the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievement and outstanding accomplishments.[118]

Advocacy of expanding Earth hypothesis[edit]

Adams believed the Earth is growing[119] through a process called pair production.[120] Adams held the work of Australian geologist Samuel Warren Carey in high esteem, but considered the term "Expanding Earth" a misnomer.[121][122] While Carey did advocate an expanding Earth in the mid-20th century, his model was rejected following the development of the theory of plate tectonics.[123][124][125] Adams advocated his ideas in a DVD documentary he wrote and produced, clips of which are available on his YouTube channel.[126][127]

Adams appeared on the radio show Coast to Coast AM several times to discuss his claims.[128] He was also interviewed by Steven Novella on a Skeptics Guide podcast in 2006, and afterward continued the debate on Novella's blog.[129] Japan Times columnist Jeff Ogrisseg wrote a three-part feature promoting Adams's ideas,[130][131][132] which was roundly criticized by Novella for being an example of "outright promotion of pseudoscience as if it were news."[133] Adams also used the concept as the basis for his Batman: Odyssey series, in which the planet's expansion has produced a Hollow Earth, the inside of which is inhabited by dinosaurs and Neanderthal versions of the main characters.[134]

Personal life and death[edit]

Adams' first wife was comics colorist Cory Peifer. Their daughter Zeea[135] is also a comics colorist.[136][137] Adams also had another daughter, Kristine.[7]

Adams and his second wife Marilyn[93] lived in New York.[138] Adams had three sons, Jason, Joel and Josh.[136] Jason works in toy and fantasy sculpture,[93][139] and Joel and Josh illustrate comics and do design work on television shows.[136][139] Josh illustrated a pinup of Batman in Batman: Odyssey #1 (Sept. 2010).[140]

Adams died in New York on April 28, 2022, at the age of 80. Marilyn, his wife of 45 years, told The Hollywood Reporter that Adams had died from complications of sepsis.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Schepens, Beth (2003). "Army Brats Recall Island Paradise – Sidebar: Governors Island Factoids". NYC24.org. Archived from the original on January 31, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Kit, Borys (April 29, 2022). "Neal Adams, comic book artist who revitalized Batman and fought for creators' rights, dies at 80". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  4. ^ Kreps, Daniel (April 29, 2022). "Neal Adams, Legendary Comic Book Artist Who Revitalized 'Batman,' Dead at 80". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  5. ^ Duncan, Randy; Smith, Matthew J., eds. (2013). !cons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1. ISBN 978-0313399237.
  6. ^ Carlson, Michael (May 6, 2022). "Neal Adams obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Gustines, George Gene (May 4, 2022). "Neal Adams, Who Gave Batman a Darker Look, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 7, 2022. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  8. ^ "Front Row Center with Howard Chaykin: Neal Adams". NeoText. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d The Neal Adams Treasury. Vol. 1. Detroit, Michigan: Pure Imagination. 1976. p. 3.
  10. ^ Kimball, Kirk (n.d.). "Gaspar Saladino – The Natural". Dial B for Blog. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Neal Adams/Continuity Studios: Biography". NealAdamsEntertainment.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Neal Adams interview (n.d.). "Neal Adams: Renaissance Man Part I". ComicsBulletin.com. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008.
  13. ^ Heintjes, Tom (n.d.). "Funny Business: The Rise and Fall of Johnstone and Cushing". Hogan's Alley (online magazine), via MSNBC.com. Archived from the original on August 28, 2009. Additional, November 16, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Pure Imagination. p. 5. ASIN B0006WZB2E.
  15. ^ These would later include the one-page "Flash Farrell Gets the Picture at Goodyear Aerospace". See Harvey Comics' Richie Rich #39 (Nov. 1965) at the Grand Comics Database
  16. ^ a b c Horn, Maurice, ed. (1996). 100 Years of American Newspaper Comics. New York City and Avenel, New Jersey: Gramercy Books. pp. 53–54, Ben Casey (entry). ISBN 978-0-517-12447-5.
  17. ^ Mendez, Prof. Armando E. "The Rules of Attraction: The Look of Love: The Rise and Fall of the Photo-Realistic Newspaper Strip, 1946–1970: 'The Boy Wonder: Neal Adams and Ben Casey'". Archived from the original on February 24, 2007. Retrieved January 1, 2009. Additional, November 16, 2009.
  18. ^ a b Mendez, "The Rules of Attraction ... 'The Boy Wonder: Neal Adams and Ben Casey — Ghost Stories'" at the Wayback Machine (archived November 12, 2006). Archived from the original November 13, 2006. Additional, November 16, 2009.
  19. ^ "Neal Adams interview". The Comics Journal (43). Fantagraphics Books: 52. December 1978.
  20. ^ a b c d e "Neal Adams: Renaissance Man Part II". ComicsBulletin.com. n.d. Archived from the original on May 26, 2010.
  21. ^ Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Pure Imagination. pp. 5–7. ASIN B0006WZB2E.
  22. ^ "Peter Scratch". ThrillingDetective.com. Archived from the original on December 25, 2010. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  23. ^ Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Pure Imagination. pp. 22–27 and inside back cover. ASIN B0006WZB2E.
  24. ^ Arndt, Richard J. "The Warren Magazines" (2005 version with five interviews). Accessed October 11, 2009. Link updated November 16, 2009. WebCite archive.
  25. ^ Roach, David A.; Cooke, Jon B., eds. (2001). The Warren Companion. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 218. ISBN 1-893905-08-X.
  26. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, eds. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Adams commandeered his first DC work as a penciler/inker with 'It's My Turn to Die' a nine-page back-up tale written by Howard Liss for Our Army at War #182 in July [1967] ... The following month, The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #101 perfectly illustrated how Adams was equally adept at delivering the art of laughter. In his first full-length story for DC, he provided writer Arnold Drake's space odyssey 'Jerry the Astro-Nut' with a photo-realistic flare not seen in comics.
  27. ^ Shutt, Craig (July 3, 2005). "Neal Adams and Jerry Lewis". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2012. Adams took over Jerry's art (and covers) with #101.
  28. ^ Eury, Michael, ed. (2006). The Krypton Companion. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 99. ISBN 1-893905-61-6.
  29. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 129: "1968 was the year when Neal Adams and Batman's fates became forever intertwined ... Adams tackled his first interior with Batman on Leo Dorfman's script for 'The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads' story in World's Finest Comics #175."
  30. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 125: "In a story by scribe Arnold Drake and artist Carmine Infantino, circus aerialist Boston Brand learned there was much more to life after his death ... In addition, Neal Adams, the artist who succeeded Infantino with the second issue, would soon become an industry legend."
  31. ^ Goulart, Ron (2004). "Adams, Neal (1941– )". Comic Book Encyclopedia. New York City: Harper Entertainment. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-06-053816-3.
  32. ^ a b "1969 Alley Awards". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012.
  33. ^ Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Pure Imagination. p. 8. ASIN B0006WZB2E.
  34. ^ Cronin, Brian (2009). Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed. Plume. ISBN 9780452295322.
  35. ^ Evanier, Mark (moderator) (Summer 1999). "Spotlight on Nick Cardy: The 1998 San Diego ComiCon Panel Transcript". Comic Book Artist (5). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011.
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  37. ^ Grant, Steven (October 14, 2009). "Permanent Damage". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on October 18, 2009.
  38. ^ Evanier, Mark (April 14, 2008). "An Incessantly Asked Question #5". P.O.V. Online (column). Archived from the original on November 26, 2009.
  39. ^ Adams, Neal (1976). The Neal Adams Treasury. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Pure Imagination. p. 12. ASIN B0006WZB2E.
  40. ^ Stiles, Steve (n.d.). "The Groundbreaking Neal Adams". Archived from the original on October 8, 2008.
  41. ^ Schumer, Arlen (Winter 1999). "Neal Adams: The Marvel Years". Comic Book Artist (3). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
  42. ^ O'Neill, Patrick Daniel (August 1993). "'60s Mutant Mania: The Original Team". Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. pp. 74–77.
  43. ^ a b "Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams collaborations". Grand Comics Database. n.d.
  44. ^ Sanderson, Peter (2008). "1970s". In Gilbert, Laura (ed.). Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 145. ISBN 978-0756641238. Writer Dennis O'Neil revealed that it was not Xavier who had perished but a shape-shifter called the Changeling. ... This epic tale provided an appropriately grand finale for the work of legendary artist Neal Adams."
  45. ^ For example: Hill, Shawn, "Essential Avengers v4" (review) Archived November 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Comics Bulletin, February 15, 2006, re: the "Kree-Skrull War" arc: "This story set the standard for years to come, even if it has since been surpassed"; and Sanderson, Peter. Marvel Universe. New York City: Harry N. Abrams, 1998, ISBN 978-0-8109-8171-3, ISBN 978-0-8109-8171-3, p. 127: "Running nine issues, much of it spectacularly illustrated by Neal Adams, the Kree-Skrull War had no precedent in comics. ... With this story The Avengers unquestionably established its reputation as one of Marvel's leading books"; and Stiles, Steve, "The Groundbreaking Neal Adams", re: X-Men: "Even knowing that the book was slated for the axe, Adams poured out some of the finest, most innovative work of his career".
  46. ^ Thomas, Roy; Buscema, Sal; Adams, Neal; Buscema, John (2000). Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War. Marvel Comics. p. 208. ISBN 978-0785107453.
  47. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York City: Harry N. Abrams. p. 150. ISBN 9780810938212. This wild tale ... attempted to tie together more than thirty years of the company's stories ... More than any previous work, 'The Kree-Skrull War' solidified the idea that every comic book Marvel had ever published was part of an endless, ongoing saga.
  48. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 150: "Unprecedented in Marvel history, this epic spanned nine issues of The Avengers. The saga began in The Avengers #89."
  49. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 159: "Roy Thomas conceived the initial idea of an alternate-future Earth sequel to H. G. Wells' classic science fiction novel The War of the Worlds ... Neal Adams plotted the first story with a script by Gerry Conway and art by Adams and Howard Chaykin."
  50. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 143: "Artist Neal Adams and writer Denny O'Neil rescued Batman from the cozy, campy cul-de-sac he had been consigned to in the 1960s and returned the Dark Knight to his roots as a haunted crime fighter. The cover of their first collaboration, "The Secret of the Waiting Graves", was typical of Adams' edgy, spooky style."
  51. ^ Greenberger, Robert; Manning, Matthew K. (2009). The Batman Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles from the Batcave. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7624-3663-7. Editor Julius Schwartz had decided to darken the character's world to further distance him from the camp environment created by the 1966 ABC show. Bringing in the talented O'Neil as well as the innovative Frank Robbins and showcasing the art of rising star Neal Adams ... Schwartz pointed Batman in a new and darker direction, a path the character still continues on to this day.
  52. ^ a b Goulart, Ron (1986). Ron Goulart's Great History of Comic Books. Chicago, Illinois: Contemporary Books. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-8092-5045-5.
  53. ^ Greenberger and Manning, p. 177 "Adams helped darken Gotham City in the 1970s [and] the scene was set for a new host of major villains. One of the first was Man-Bat, who debuted in the pages of 1970's Detective Comics #400.
  54. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 145: "Writer Denny O'Neil once stated that he and artist Neal Adams 'set out to consciously and deliberately to create a villain ... so exotic and mysterious that neither we nor Batman were sure what to expect.' Who they came up with was arguably Batman's most cunning adversary: the global eco-terrorist named Ra's al Ghul."
  55. ^ Manning, Matthew K. (2014). "1970s". In Dougall, Alastair (ed.). Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 111. ISBN 978-1465424563. Two-Face was reintroduced for the Bronze Age in this collaboration by writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams.
  56. ^ Greenberger and Manning, p. 161 and 163 "In 1973, O'Neil alongside frequent collaborator Neal Adams forged the landmark 'The Joker's Five-Way Revenge' in Batman #251, in which the Clown Prince of Crime returned to his murderous ways, killing his victims with his trademark Joker venom and taking much delight from their sufferings."
  57. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 156: "After decades as an irritating prankster, Batman's greatest enemy re-established himself as a homicidal harlequin in this issue ... this classic tale by writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams introduced a dynamic that remains to this day: the Joker's dependence on Batman as his only worthy opponent."
  58. ^ a b McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 139: "Real-world politics have always gone hand-in-hand with comics and their creators' own personal perspectives. Yet this was never more creatively expressed than when writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams paired the liberal Green Arrow with the conservative Green Lantern."
  59. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 134: "Artist Neal Adams targeted the Emerald Archer for a radical redesign that ultimately evolved past the surface level ... the most significant aspect of this issue was Adams' depiction of Oliver Queen's alter ego. He had rendered a modern-day Robin Hood, complete with goatee and mustache, plus threads that were more befitting an ace archer."
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  134. ^ Hudson, Laura; Wolkin, David (October 13, 2014). "Finally: The Complete and Utter Insanity of Batman: Odyssey, Part 6". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on February 10, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2015. Batman (or as we dubbed him in his shirtless days, Nude Bruce) is forever telling a mysterious Exposition Hostage a long series of a stories that jump forward and backward in time to other stories that seem to have little or no connection to each other, and often involve Adams' deeply held pseudo-scientific belief that the earth is actually hollow and expanding. For the purposes of the comic, the hollow center of the Earth is where Neanderthal Batman lives.
  135. ^ Johnston, Rich (November 18, 2016). "Innovative Colourist Cory Adams, Passes Away From Breast Cancer". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
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  137. ^ Adams, Zeea. "A Bit About Me". Archived from the original on February 18, 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2022.
  138. ^ "Dark Knight's kind of town: Gotham City". MSNBC/Associated Press. July 20, 2008. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
  139. ^ a b "Comic-Con 2010 Special Guest List". Comic-Con.org. Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  140. ^ Josh Adams at the Grand Comics Database

External links[edit]

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Preceded by The Brave and the Bold artist
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Preceded by The X-Men artist
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Bob Brown
Detective Comics artist
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Bob Brown
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Irv Novick
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Mike Grell
(in 1976)
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Sal Buscema
The Avengers artist
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