Top Ten Reasons to Love Neal Adams. YAY!

Yeah, the new Justice League just came out and the whole re-tooling of DC 52 has begun and the blogoverse is all a-twitter and a-tumblr with opinions.  And I’ll be getting to that, I promise, but not today.

Today, I talk about something a lot more personal.

See, I’m going to a convention in Montreal in a few weeks, and my favorite living comic book creator, Neal Adams, is going to be there.  I mentioned this to someone at a convention last weekend, and I swear to god, this fan said “You mean the guy who does Batman Odyssey?”  Unfortunately, I had no pistol to whip this guy for thinking that was the whole of Adams’ career, but I do have a blog, and I fire back with the best ammunition I have available:  Fifty caliber truth bombs.

For those who might mistakenly believe it’s all about the Odyssey, you’re overlooking a decades-spanning career in which Neal wrote and drew some of the most memorable comics of all time…

Read this. It's a bowl full of chocolately goodness in ways you just don't see coming.

But forget about that…and forget about Neal creating or defining some of the most popular characters in the comics industry…

including these guys.

…and forget about how freaking BEAUTIFULLY Neal draws….

This is a page from Neal's FIRST PUBLISHED COMIC BOOK STORY in an issue of Creepy for Warren Magazines!!

Forget all that.  Here are…

THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE NEAL ADAMS.

10)  He’s fought for creators’ rights his whole career. 

Publishers didn’t give back art to their creators until the eighties – often destroying pages after they’d been printed or giving them away to fans as souvenirs.  The scumbags in the corner offices always believed they owned the physical objects, when no legal or moral argument ever suggested they did. Neal was essential in the public fight with Marvel to get back artwork held illegally from Kirby which helped establish that original artwork is now returned to us all.

Thanks Neal, I owe you that one.

9)  He put his foot up Warner Brothers’ ass for Jerry and Joe.

Back in the 70s, when Jerry Siegel tried one last time to sue for the rights to Superman and lost again, Neal Adams took it upon himself to champion their cause.  He wrote articles for major publications, refused to work with certain companies, and created enough of a fuss that Warner Brothers was publicly shamed into tossing their forgotten creators a bone just before the Christopher Reeve movie came out.  Siegel and Shuster both received credits on all Superman product from that time forward, and they were given a pension and full medical benefits from the giant corporation, primarily because it was suddenly too rat-bag awful for them not to.  Neal was a big part of that public embarrassing of Warner Brothers, and his wagging finger of tut-tut helped make one of the WORST mistreatments of creators a little bit right.

Neal (in the back, sporting groovy 70s hair) with Siegel and Shuster (and Batman ghost artist Jerry Robinson). Heroes all.

8 – He was the first artist to move between Marvel and DC without using a pseudonym.

Guys like Gil Kane had to pretend to be “Scott Edward” when freelancing for more than one company before Neal defied the unwritten rule in the late 60s, working on X-Men and Deadman at the same time, and giving creators the dignity of their own name from that moment forward.  Mike Esposito was “Mickey Demeo” when he freelanced at Marvel in the 60s, fearing he’d be fired by DC.

But Neal Adams was Neal Adams.

That’s hardcore.

Pictured: "Scott Edward" before Neal let him borrow some balls.

7)  Neal Adams has theories about the nature of the Earth and basic physics that are unusual.

The Earth is constantly expanding, blowing up like a balloon, according to Neal, and it’s doing so by spontaneously creating matter at the core.  Also, if you drain the Mediterranean, you’ll find the ruins of ancient civilizations.  Sure, this is fringe stuff discredited by many in the scientific community, but Neal insists upon examining it, often at length if he corners you and you don’t have a weapon.  He even has youtube videos explaining it.  Watch.

Some people think this theory is kookoo for coco-puffs, but having talked to him about it once or twice, I think those conversations make Neal interesting.  What’s wrong with looking for alternatives to the accepted way of thinking?  Whether it’s right or not is almost irrelevant.  What matters is that  Mr. Adams is not just sitting around eating spray-on cheese and watching Dancing with the Stars.  He gets big points for having a curious mind.  And who knows…he might be right?

Stand back, this is going to blow.

6)  He Sometimes Refers to himself in the Third Person.

And he’s capable of doing it everyday conversation.  There’s something wonderfully perfect about it. He’ll sometimes drop a sentence on you like, “Would you like to hear what Neal Adams thinks about that?”.  It’s stunning the first time you hear him do it, but it grows on you.  I did a Batman illustrators tour with Mr. Adams  years back in France and Belgium, and learned that if you paid attention, he’d include this rhetorical flourish up to a dozen times a day when talking to the fans.  Who does that?  I think it’s magnificent.

You want to know who does that? Neal Adams does that, that's who.

5)  He Came up with the idea for Image Comics decades before Image Comics did.

Neal started up Continuity Associates before Jim Lee and Todd Macfarlane were gleams in a fanboy’s eye.  It was a studio where comic book creators could work for commercial and movie storyboard jobs -  high paying projects between DC and Marvel gigs – that eventually launched its own comic book imprint – “Continuity Comics”. They published creator-owned series outside the pre-existing system and it was run by, and for, creators.  The biggest success was Bucky O’Hare, which I heard made a gob-bucket full of cash for Michael Golden and Larry Hama when it was turned into a TV series in the 80s.   Golden wouldn’t have made that money at Marvel or DC back then, but he had Adams at his back.  The only real differences between Image and Continuity was that Continuity came first, and the quality of the artwork at Neal’s company was better.

Me eldest son adored this comic and TV show when he was but a lad.

 4)  In his glory days, he was movie-star handsome. 

Gaze upon him, ye mighty, and tremble.

(And as he matures, he’s mature movie-star handsome, let’s not kid)

That might not be a reason for ME to love him, but can I get a shout out from the ladies?  In an industry where most of us look more like Comic Book Guy that we’d like to admit, it was part of Neal’s mystique that he was a good looking dude the first time I ever saw him in person.  He’s probably hung like a horse too, the bastard.

3)  He wasn’t afraid to take any assignment when he was starting out.

That doesn’t seem like an important thing, but it is.  It really is.  Most artists nowadays have a high opinion of what they will or will not do.  They’re sure they’re on a path to stardom and don’t want to stray from it.  But Adams started off his career at Archie Comics because it was honest work.

Yup. That's Neal Adams drawing Archie in the 60s. Take that you whiny prima donnas.

It was experience, and it was a foot in the door.  After Archie, Neal sharpened his skills doing the Ben Casey comic strip for a while, and when he became so good a draftsman that DC couldn’t turn him down, he finally got the assignments from DC editors he’d been waiting for.

Yup, That's Neal again, doing his first cover for DC.

I’ve known artists who turn down their first pro gig because they feel they know better than the editor about where their talents lie.  Of course these Bob Hope covers and Jerry Lewis stories weren’t what Adams should have been doing at the time, but he patiently put in the effort, paid his dues, met his deadlines and showed off he was reliable.  That’s what a man does when he goes to work.  There’s as much inspiration from that as there is from his skills as an illustrator, and you whippersnappers can take that to the bank.

2  He made comics grow up.

In collaboration with Denny O’Neil, the pair took the moribund, Adam West inspired franchise that Batman had become, and revitalized it into the oh-so-cool Dark Knight character that he is today, with stories like Secret of the Waiting Graves, The Joker’s Five Way Revenge  and all those marvelous Ra’s Al Ghul stories.

The Five Way Revenge: Perhaps the greatest single issue of a comic book in the 20th Century. Tim Burton and Chris Nolan would be making Pee-Wee’s Playhouse VI if it wasn’t for this.

And when Wein and Cockrum hit gold with the stunningly popular All-New All-Different X-Men in the late 70s, it was the award winning and sophisticated Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run they were inspired by, not the more juvenile Lee/Kirby issues (as fun as those might be).

I got yer X-Men ground zero, right here.

And O’Neil and Adams cemented their reputation as makers of comics for adults in these three panels from Green Lantern #76.  Suddenly Goldface and The Lamplighter weren’t enough to keep the college kids reading.

Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman are late-to-the-game pussies compared to Denny and Neal.

1)  He essentially invented the modern age of comics.

By using a swinging sixties commercial art style and the emerging sensibilities of TV storyboards instead of the illustration and cartooning forms that had been prevalent throughout the previous forty years, Neal single-handedly picked up the industry on his shoulders and put it back down someplace else…someplace that folks over 18 could relate to. It’s not like we didn’t have realistic illustrators before Neal (Alex Raymond and Hal Foster pre-date him by decades), but Neal played with the depth of field, the body language, the “camera” angles, and the basic layout of the page with figures breaking out of their panels, and imaginative design ideas like no one since Will Eisner.

This page was drawn more than forty years ago, and the layout looks as modern as something published this month.

Neal took up Eisner’s innovative page designs and ran off with them like an Olympic athlete.  Along the way he inspired nearly everybody who followed him, and even a few who came before him, who started to adopt his exciting new style after they got a look at Neal.  Look at Alex Ross, or Jim Lee, or Steve Epting, or anyone drawing comics who’s worth a damn, and you’ll find at least a hint of Adams’ layout rhythms, if not the illustration style itself.  As much as we might all adore and respect all the giants of cartooning history, the comics of 2011 resemble Adams’ vision more  than Kirby’s, Kurtzman’s or Eisner’s, and that’s a fact.

It all changed after these pages.

There you have it.  If I haven’t convinced comics fans around the world that you owe Neal Adams a giant kiss and a humble thank you for his talent, his mind, his influence, and his generosity, then you may all leave the room and smack yourself with a horsehair brush.   And if you come to the convention in Montreal head over to his table and thank him personally.  You’ll tell your grandkids someday that you met the John Lennon of Comics, or the Mozart of Comics, or the Einstein of Comics…whatever metaphor you want.

Personally I like to think of him as the Neal Adams of comics.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your BONUS ADAMS COMICS MOMENT:

I’m lucky enough to own a few pieces of original Neal Adams artwork – a generous gift from Neal he kind of gave me when we did that European tour together ten years ago.    However, on that tour, I picked up a special treasure from another member of the Adams clan:  His son Josh was ten years old, at the time, (about the same age as my eldest son), and that delightful kid drew me a picture of Robin on the back of a beer coaster one evening, based on the animated style I was known for.  It’s been up on a shelf next to my drawing table ever since.  Nowadays Josh is working in the biz, drawing Doctor Who and Batman a bit.  But I still have this early work, done when he was ten years old.

Ten years old. How cool is THAT?!?

38 responses to “Top Ten Reasons to Love Neal Adams. YAY!

  1. As subjective as it may be, the #1 reason you gave (“He essentially invented the modern age of comics”) is the one I agree with the most. He really moved storytelling forward for comic books to a degree that few can even be considered to compare to.

    Cheers!

    Steven Willis
    XOWComics.com

  2. Paul the Curmudgeon

    Hell of a draftsman and storyteller (and evidently a good guy as well). Not my cup of tea — his work is almost entirely humorless, for one thing — I’m tempted to say ‘fun-repellent’; and full of irritating mannerisms like those ETERNALLY WIDE-OPEN JAWS – but still well-deserving of this tribute. Oh, and he did me a fine half-length Batman sketch (gratis) back in July 1971, which I stupidly GAVE AWAY to a kid in my highschool class who really, really loved Batman.

  3. He’s also an incredibly nice guy who loves what he does. And from what I’ve heard, he’s been incredibly generous with his time, advice and wisdom. He’s Neal FREAKIN’ Adams!

    • You’ll notice I mentioned Neal’s generosity a few times in the post. He does have a habit of giving back to the fans and the creators.

  4. Paul, I think I was at that same convention. It was just before my 12th birthday. Neal and Alan Lee Weiss were doing sketches for a crowd. When my turn came, Neal was called to be on a panel. So he just signed my sketchpad, and told me to find him after the panel and he’d draw a sketch to go with it. I tried to approach him afterwards, but he got into a deep conversation with someone, so I sat down several seats away and waited quietly for at least a half hour. When Neal got up to leave, I went over and asked him for the sketch. He smiled and told me I was a patient fellow, then drew me a dramatic Green Arrow close-up shot.

    • Are we talking about the convention in Toronto, at York University in 1973…? I was eleven years old, and I stood in line to get a drawing by Neal Adams, and when I got to the front of the line, he was drawing an AMAZING Superman for someone, and I sat and watched him draw for twenty minutes, rooted to the spot. I couldn’t get over that Neal Adams style drawings just came out of his hands like magic. I couldn’t get over how pleasant and charming he was, and how pretty his wife was. And by a stunning co-incidence, while waiting in line, I sold a drawing I had done of Saturn Girl, to another fan in line. So I became Neal’s biggest fan the same time I technically turned “pro”. (As soon as you sell some art, you’re a pro.) I was so thrilled by the day, I FORGOT to get a sketch from him. Still one of my happiest days on the planet. That’s another reason to love him, but that reason’s all mine.

  5. Charles H. Bryan

    Thanks for the retrospective — to my mind, he’s the first penciller in comics to blend Raymond’s realism and Kirby’s exaggeration with a bit of Toth’s sense of design. Yes, those Ra’s A. Ghul stories were phenomenal, andh I’ll always have fond memories of that issue of The Avengers where Ant-Man ran around inside the Vision’s body.

    Great post! Thanks.

  6. Damn. Now I feel guilty even liking anyone else in comics.

  7. It’s cool that Neal COULD do are at Archie and The comedy titles at DC – shows he could adapt to work in the style needed.

  8. Recently Point Seven has been a bit of a sticking point for me… Thank you for reminding me that he more than makes up for it with every other point on this post…

  9. Dear Ty,
    (1) You just made me feel all icky.
    (2) I’m calling Josh and I bet he gets all icky too.
    (3) Wasn’t that a great con-ish?
    (4) Please don’t thank me in Montreal, makes me feel old. Not that I don’t love you guys.
    (5) Two weeks ago geology just discovered Australia was once connected to North America, California. The poop is hitting the fan. A lot of pissed off geologists. They remind me of Publishers back in the day.
    (6) Odyssey is moving into the “Underworld ” (not criminal underworld)note;
    … everything you thought was disconnected in the first half is connected in the back half completely. It’s not a comic book or a graphic novel. It’s a
    (Novel) ,the end will shock you.
    (7) Do I sound like I am talking about Neal Adams work? He’s just so damn busy now that he’s back in comics.
    (8) What work ? Well, Brian Michael Bendis carried him off with a single issue of New Avengers. Pardon me, I just had a fit of laughter over the mental visual of “Brian carrying Neal off”. The inker, your not gonna believe this…. The incredible Tom Palmer. Isn’t that just the best? Neal is also doing a 5 part something for some Marvelous company with an incredible new something having to do with never seen before characters who may belong to a group that begins with a letter of the alphabet or not. Whew I hope that is ok.
    (9) Blood … Thank god I can talk about it , it’s appearing in Dark Horse Presents from something Horse. It’s a novel illustrated in comic format. It’s being colored by the award winning Moose Baumann who we hope will be able to stay on till the end. He is that good.It’s gorgeous. The writing is fabulous. God know’s who Neal got to write it?
    (10) Now for the interesting stuff. Neal will indeed be in Montreal to say hi to everybody. He is back doing conventions and comics. Feels like the 70′s to me. He has been doing variant covers. He sold a tv show. He bench presses 300 pounds. He has a big big comic book project coming up and it involves (MMMFP) . (Sounds like Rise of Magic).(Adams’ Comics?). Neal just told me the big science battle, he’ll win it he said because he does his homework. Guy’s weird.

  10. *BAM*

    Ty has a nerdgasm and falls to the floor.

  11. I got to briefly meet Neal at the Boston Comic Con this past year, and tell him about first unknowingly encountering his work on the cover of Action 466, and not realizing until later on that it was NEAL ADAMS art. He also signed my Anything Goes with the Cerebus cover. I almost smeared the silver ink on that one, too, like a dumbass. D’oh!

    Neal was the only one charging for ANY autographs, which some people were put off by, to say the least. But as his manager lady apparently put it to someone there, when asked why no one else was charging, “no one else is Neal Adams”. Some might think that’s cocky, but you gave us 10 reasons why it isn’t.

    Although for my money, I wish I’d been able to get a little closer to Neal while chatting, and watch him sketch. I’d read things Dave Sim wrote about Neal sketching, and how it’s different from how a lot of guys draw. He makes different lines on the page, then eventually starts joining them up, and then turns out one of his beautiful works. I got to see him sketch a little bit, but I would have liked to see more. I watched Howard Chaykin (hell yeah it was an awesome show) sketch, and Dave mentioned him as someone who gets the design and layout done geometrically before getting into the details, so it was an interesting contrast.

    And I also talked with Josh a bit, very nice guy, and quite a talent.

    And I’m kinda digging Batman Odyssey because it’s so bug fuck crazy ass!

  12. Paul the Curmudgeon

    To answer your question: nope, it wasn’t the York U con (CosmiCon?) I was referring to, but Phil Seuling’s NY Con in July ’71. Other guests I met there, in no particular order and not that it matters anyway, but: Gil Kane, Stan Lee, Frank Frazetta (with his wife Ellie and LITTLE KIDS! plenty of water under the bridge since then :)) , Jeff Jones (as he then was), Harvey Kurtzman, Jim Steranko, Sergio Aragones, Roy Krenkel, Al WIlliamson (who at that time still looked like a kid), and doubtless others whom I forget. Mostly I remember the ones I spoke to. And Adams did indeed have movie-star looks, sharp dresser too. Geez I sound like an old geezer….it’s a wonder I didn’t get to go for a beer with Winsor McCay and R.F. Outcault :-(

  13. Neal Adams: Beyond the best artist–the best person I’ve ever met, period.

    A lifetime of unforgettable memories fill my mind, and I’m almost speechless, whenever I think about the guy.

    They just don’t make ‘em any better!

    Almost…

  14. Ach! I’ve just inadvertently committed what amounts to treason, in my own mind!

    I’d originally wrote, about Neal–”I’m almost speechless, whenever I think about the guy.”–and then “Almost…”

    But then I’d decided to add “They just don’t make ‘em any better” (which is absolutely TRUE)–and like an idiot, forgot to erase that “Almost” line, before posting it!!!

    So I just wanted to make it perfectly clear: They just don’t make ‘em any better than Neal–period! (ok–exclamation point…)

    And that’s the TRUTH!

    My apologies for my previous foul-up.

    • It’s all good, Trevor. We all knew what you meant. I was just remarking to my wife that the comments I’ve gotten from this post (on here and on facebook) are all about how much people love the man, not just admire him. (We’re making him feel even more icky now, as mentioned above). It’s testament to a life well lived that people can be amazed at someone’s talents and skills, but be more amazed by their generosity of spirit. Okay, we better stop before this becomes a cult.
      WE ALL LOVES YA, BIG GUY. You’re going to have to sit there and take it!

  15. Thanks, Ty!

    I’d immediately sent an email to Neal, explaining and apologizing for my idiotic mistake, before writing my second post here–and hearing this back from you makes me feel much better! (Now I can sleep tonight…)

    Is there a way to delete/amend comments, so as to avoid such snafus in the future?

    Thanks again for understanding!

    • Well, I can edit the original response, but the follow ups make it all better, including my comment and your response. No one can misinterpret it at this point, and the typo made for more interesting reading as we both gushed about our hero a bit more. But for the future, if you make another comment around here and snafu it up the wazoo, just let me know, and I’ll pull it for you. (no jokes about pulling his snafu out of his wazoo, or I’m calling security.) By the way, I’ve always been a big fan of yours, Trevor. About two weeks ago, my eldest son asked me to recommend some Batman stories he might not have read, and I gave him VENOM. It’s still a treasure, and my son agreed.

  16. No, no need to edit my snafu now…But I’m very glad to hear that you like my work, because I’d only today sent an email to Michel Fiffe (who’d originally hipped me to this post–and has a plethora of your work on display at his website–www.michelfiffe.com/columns/ty_templeton/index.html ) I told him that I liked the Artwork of yours that I’d seen at DC Comics, quite a lot–and that I’d actually had a drawing of yours pinned up on my drawing board for a long while (Wonder Woman surrounded by some very cute, Disney-like animals, if memory serves)–which is a tremendous rarity, for me! It’s nice to be able to finally tell you that directly! (Didn’t want to seem like I was trying to curry your favor inappropriately, which is why I hadn’t mentioned it before…) Some REALLY nice pieces up at Michel’s site, btw!

    Thanks again for creating this tribute to one of the absolute GREATEST artists ever to grace the comics field–and for affording me the opportunity to state that opinion publicly (and eventually… correctly!)

    Take care–and best 2 U, always!

  17. Something that’s neat to me: at that same Boston Con where I met Neal Adams, I picked up the complete series Thriller for cheap (haven’t gotten a chance to look at it yet, though, Mr. von Eeden, sorry!). I’d heard of the series before, but decided I’d look for it after I skimmed through a review of it in an old Comics Journal… with a Neal Adams cover interview.

    OK, it’s neat to ME.

    Also neat — at a local dollar store, they’ve got some of those 2 packs of comics (used to be 3 comics back in the day…), and in some packages there are issues of Thriller.

    I’ll have to make note of the link to Mr von Eeden’s site so that when I DO read Thriller, I can send him a note about it.

  18. Ty, I worked at Continuity in the late 80′s, early 90′s and can say that Neal was VERY generous with his time and counsel. I learned so much during my time there that I still use the coloring techniques I picked up on till this day.

  19. If it hadn’t been for Neal and Denny’s story “Secret of the Waiting Graves”, I probably never would have gotten into comics

  20. Hey guys–I feel like everything I just read–especially your magnificent “Top 10,” Ty, that kicked it all off–is just vindication of what I, and we, have never stopped saying since the first time our eyes metaphorically bugged out like a tex avery cartoon over whatever was that first Neal Adams work that changed all of our lives forever. Out of countless memories, I still remember gasping out loud when my eyes hit the gothic cover of Batman #227, his homage to the classic Kane Detective Cover, in a candy store in the bronx, when I was 12 years old. I remember gasping again when i first met him in person, at my first comic convention, the ’73 Seuling Con at the old Commodore Hotel next to Grand Central Station, during the summer of “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge.” And then I had to refrain from gasping when I was fortunate enough to get to work for my childhood idol in 1983, which was like getting paid to go to graduate school. Since leaving Continuity in ’86, I’ve created comic book history projects, essays, lectures, exhibits, articles and books that all seem to revolve around the groundbreaking work Neal did, that affected–and effected–us all (shameless plug for my Neal Adams Sketchbook and my Silver Age of Comic Book Art coffeetable book–which Neal opens and closes with his work). For me, it’s an ongoing process, giving back to the man whose work gave us–and continues to give us–so much joy, awe and inspiration!

  21. I moved to New York to be near Neal. It blows my mind that I can call he and Marilyn my friends !

  22. This has been a real treat to read, thanks to Arlen posting the link in an email he sent me. I just wanted to add that there is a very lengthy interview/story that was published in issue 8 (I think) of “Following Cerebus”, in which Dave Sim gives an account of his visit to Niagara Falls with Neal and his family and then prints the lengthy interview he had with Neal. The Niagara Falls trip would have been back in ’06 or ’07, if memory serves. Anyway, it’s a heck of a good read.

  23. Re: Neal “inventing the modern age of comics”: By the end of the Silver Age and the dawn of the 70s, two artists’ styles came to dominate the field, representing the opposite ends of the spectrum of figurative/superheroic comic art: Jack Kirby’s hyper-exaggerated anatomy and stylization, on one end, mostly rendered with a bold, inked brushline (though pen was also used); and Neal Adams’ hyper-realism (often utilizing photo reference) on the other end, mostly rendered with a crosshatched pen line (though brush was also used).

    Thus Kirby and Adams were the primary influences on the next group of mainstream comic book artists who followed them in the 1970s—and who, in turn, influenced the artists who emerged in the 80s; and so on, until now, at the dawn of the 21st century, today’s best comic book artists fall, roughly, into three categories, all descendent from the Kirby/Adams (and Steranko, a whole ‘nother story) axis. Adams’ impact on comic book art in the 1970s was so great (no less an authority than Graphis Magazine wrote in 1970 that “Adams, juggling incessantly with his pictures to striking effect, remains the master of narrative technique”) that, ironically, his realistic style was as much responsible for the bad superhero drawing that followed in his titanic wake as the good; like any enormously successful artistic/cultural style, clones and watered-down versions of the original end up flooding the mainstream.

    Adams drawing style itself was more apparent an influence on artists who emerged in the latter 70s and became stars the decade after: Brian Bolland and Bill Sienkiewicz. Out of those 80s artists came the seeds that not only birthed the New Draftsmen of today, but the Multimedia artists as well—for Adams, coincidentally, is as much at the root of that movement too, because, as if in answer to the dominance that his realistic style imposed, artists broke free first from the shackles of his realistic drawing, and then from the confines of pen & ink itself, and into multimedia–like Alex Ross, who unequivocally has had the greatest impact on comic art since Adams had a generation earlier, for he took Adams’ pen & ink-based photorealism father into the realm of painted photorealism. Adams once commented that if superheroes were real, they would look like the way he drew them; now they would look like the way Ross has painted them.

    And yet, surprisingly to a lot of Ross’ following, Adams happens to be one of his greatest influences. “I’m a post-Adams artist, specifically in regards to what I do with layouts and the way I try and aggressively make a scene more dramatic,” Ross once said in an interview. “So much of Neal’s style is now in my blood I couldn’t get it out if I tried.”

  24. The man draws well and that’s about it as far as his talents go. He should have stuck to illustration and not tried to become an amateur scientist. His self-proclaimed “groundbreaking theories” are, at their best, a bunch of pseudo-scientific speculative jargon spliced with factual theories.

    You might mistake his confidence and stubborn belief in his own ignorance for science fact because he relies on others with the same level of ignorance to agree with him. His gross misunderstanding of physics coupled with a weak grasp of geology leads him to believe his ramblings are the actual truth and that dozens of fields of science have everything completely wrong at a fundamental level.

    I’ve debated with him back and forth for days, if not weeks, and I can assure you Neal Adams is a scientist who draws well – nothing more. He says that the nuclear fusion inside stars is actually matter generation through electron-positron pair production, and that this process is happening within ALL large space bodies – planets, moons, stars, you name it. As Neal himself has responded to me even the Earth has this pair production process happening in it’s, as Neal says, “solid hydrogen core”.

    Neal Adams went to an art high school where they take TWO classes a day from FOUR majors, all of which have nothing to do with astrophysics or planetary geology. He didn’t even go onto post-secondary schooling like college or a university, he went right to working with Archie after he had to fall back on it when DC rejected his samples. Adams has no grasp of physics, or chemistry, or geology, or science in general yet he claims to have these revolutionary theories that refute everything we know about ALL fields of science and our universe as a whole.

    • You’ll note in my article that I talk about Neal having an engaged mind that enjoys considering ideas. I’ve never claimed Neal was a scientist, only an interesting person. I’m curious as to your level of upset at it all, though…there’s a hint of personal offence that Mr. Adams enjoys these theories, whether or not one can disprove them. As to your contention that Neal Adams is merely someone who draws well? That’s preposterous. Neal has consistently been a generous champion of the downtrodden and abused creators of our biz. He organizes charity drives, he put his career on the line for Siegel and Shuster (and so many others, including me), he’s a terrific husband and father and a wonderful friend.
      Of course, you’re welcome to disagree with his theories about physics, most people do. But I’d rather you not translate that disagreement into some kind of contempt for a man who deserves nothing but admiration and respect.

  25. First off I’ll show respect to Adams for as long as he shows it back, which is never very long when you debate him. I have been most civil in debating him on his hypothesis. I have politely corrected him on matters of geology, chemistry and astrophysics but he refuses to listen to any scientifically tested and verifiable data. Neal’s response? Censoring ALL of my content by deletion and banning me from making future counterarguments. That’s aside from him losing his temper quickly trying to spoon feed me his horribly inaccurate concepts of how the universe works and trying to convince me every branch of scientific understanding is fundamentally flawed while he alone holds the key to the grand Theory of Everything.

    The man is obviously unstable to some certain degree. I’ve seen interviews of him and from studying his behavior and mannerisms I’d go so far as to say he’s got a bit of egomania and a distrust of scientists or anyone who knows science. I think Adams, though spouting much scientific jargon, is actually an anti-intellectual who feels resentment toward those knowledgeable in the fields he disputes. A touch of paranoia and delusions too in believing that there is a consensus of evil scientists out there who are hiding these truths of nature from the general public for some devious reason.

    Given that Expanding Earth was first conjured up by creationists trying to explain the evidence behind observed continental drift it is no surprise that Adams himself is a God-fearing theist and supports his argument with misinformation and, whenever deemed necessary, personal attacks. I believe once I was telling him quite nicely about the process of plate subduction in tectonics when he called me, and I quote, a “slimy little shit”.

    If Adams kept his scientific speculations to himself or even his Youtube channel I would view it, chuckle at the multitude of inaccuracies in his hypothesis and move on my merry way. However I cannot idly stand by as he goes on to encourage students to share this video with their teachers and class as if it were a viable counterargument to plate tectonics and EVERY school of scientific understanding. It’s like rebranding creationism as “Intelligent Design” and trying to get it taught in public schools along side evolution – It’s ridiculous! I cannot encourage the willful spreading of ignorance and new-age pseudoscience to children. I’m all for encouraging people to think and question things but Adams is on a personal crusade to overturn everything we know for the sake of being a contrarian.

    I believe Adams’ feelings of mistrust of authoritative figures stems from underlying emotional trauma in his early teen years when his father left him and his mother at the age of 13. Having already grown up struggling for money the abandonment by a parent coupled with financial loss must have been an even greater burden to Neal and his mother. Young Neal was now the man of the house and probably assumed more responsibilities because of it. Wanting to pursue a career in science but lacking the financing or personal freedom he harbors ill feelings toward those who he believes had it easier than he did and who got the breaks life deprived poor Neal Adams. I would not be surprised if we dug into his psyche further and found his obsession with being in the spot light, or being the loud one focus and attention are given to, boasting about his physical fitness and his money fixation are all further compensations for feeling of childhood inadequacy during puberty.

    Perhaps Neal only wears a facade of cheer and good will to hide the festering cauldron within his mind that bubbles with a myriad of untreated emotional distress, only showing the Mr Hyde that lurks inside Dr Jekyll when he’s agitated by things like opinions or scientific data that contradict him. Then again that’s just this man’s opinion…

    • Leaving aside the pseudo-theories being discussed above, I’m sorry to hear your experience of Neal has been unpleasant. I’ve had a number of interactions with him over the years, and they’ve all been delightful, every single one. Then again, I’ve not been called a “slimy little shit”, either. I’m always going to love the man, that’s immutable, and from the sounds of things, you’ve gotten into enough arguments with him that you’re permanently blind to his better qualities, so we’re equally intractable here.

      But again, you seem personally invested in Neal being proven incorrect when he’s won few converts to this stuff in the first place. I don’t ascribe psychological abandonment scenarios to someone’s questionable scientific theory, I usually just ignore what I disagree with. I do wonder why it matters to you why Neal loves this stuff. Is it because you’re a fan and don’t like discovering that a hero has ideas you find beneath you? My friends Ethan Van Sciver, or Chuck Dixon, for instance, have political viewpoints I object to, but I know they’re wrong, and I chose to ignore them when they’re on that tangent. I don’t get angry at ‘em, I actually kind of like them, wrong-headed righties that they are. I’m still engaged, politically passionate, and proud of my working knowledge of quantum mechanics, but I’d rather not miss out on knowing these guys personally, which I find quite rewarding. And if I only spoke to people I completely agree with, I’d never know anyone in my family.

      Is there sound science behind the expanding Earth ideas? Not that I can see. Is there a sound human being behind those theories? Abso-fucking-lutely.

      Now, Deepak Chopra. There’s someone to get into a punching match with.

  26. I’m a fan in the respect that I, as a fellow artist, can appreciate the works Adams creates. I knew Neal Adams the debater before I knew Neal Adams the illustrator. Not the best first impression, I’m sure I’d have been more star-struck had he not pushed my patience and irritated me numerous times. He’s done good work in fighting for creator rights and is an excellent artist but you can’t gauge a man until you’ve seen him at his best AND his worst. I’m sure one could sit down to a couples dinner with Eva and Adolf and have a pleasant evening so long as you didn’t discuss his “hobbies”.
    I find it peculiar that Adams sells his own black and whites for hundreds if not thousands of dollars and DVDs covering his short science lectures for $50 each. I don’t see Adams in his golden years as the starving artist type. In fact he seems to do VERY well for himself. It seems as with any creationist-driven idea there’s usually a monetary factor involved somewhere. As they say “Just follow the money trail”. I’m not attributing his abandonment issues to his “alternative” science, just ascribing it as a piece to the puzzle that makes up his overall psyche.
    He may be able to function in society but I cannot label a mind such as his as “sound” when he boldly proclaims that dozens of schools of science are ALL wrong in ALL respects and that he alone has come up with what scientists have been seeking for centuries. Not only that but he seems to have an anger problem that doesn’t arise around fans but boils over violently fast when he’s not getting his ass kissed and is instead confronted into backing his scientific claims – Be it through simple explanation or his highly sought-after research data showing proof of the Earth rapidly growing and not just some cheap early Earth model stuck to a balloon or a slick bit of video tech.
    For his benefit I even went so far during our debates as to interpret his explanations from Adams-science into actual terms and processes – where in he would always responds something like I’m “babbling nonsense” and that if I continue my insane ramblings he will delete my posts and ban me from future posting until I start to make sense. Of course it sounds like nonsense, Neal! I’m repeating YOUR hypothesis!
    He makes wild claims like there are no particles with a neutral charge, so photons, neutrons and neutrinos are all fictional apparently – yet he still uses them to give scientific weight to his claims.
    I know it sounds weird but that’s Neal Adams’ grasp of science. If there were no neutrons then any element higher than hydrogen would tear itself apart at the nuclei because protons would repel each other and have nothing to counteract this electromagnetic repulsion. He even believes the pair-production process is happening inside planets and moons, along with stars, causing them to grow and given enough time the gas giants in our solar system will grow from P-P and ignite into stars…
    If one’s scientific reasoning is fundamentally flawed then they’ll never make proper sense when confronted by the immense amounts of data and scientific jargon the egg-heads throw at them. Instead of taking classes on planetary geology or astrophysics and learning in a proper structured environment under a professor it’s easier for Adams to skim over findings, say that science has it wrong simply because he’s incapable of understanding it. He just goes on to interpret what he reads without adhering to fundamentals like the laws of nature and physics, conservation of energy, equivalent exchange, energy and mass can be converted back and forth, etc. I just hoped for a more level-headed debater that didn’t feel the need to censor and berate all opposing arguments from educated people who can stand toe-to-toe with him on an intellectual field. Censoring valid counter-arguments and walling yourself up inside a refuge of ignorance is the opposite of what science stands for.

    It’s not that I think he’s a bad person or that we couldn’t both sit down to lunch and have a good time talking about art and his life – So long as I don’t mention or ask for any research data…

  27. If Deepak Chopra is THE intellectual combatant for that new-age, pseudoscientific spiritual healing then I’m about to strap on my rainbow-colored crystal armor, open my chakras, drink some green tea with chamomile, meditate into an out-of-body state and do mind-battle with him on the eleventh plane of Gar for I am the ONE TRUE Dream Warrior! Fear not for if he attacks me with any spirit-based weapons I can ward them off with my ancient Apache dream catcher I got for a dollar-fifty yesterday at Target.

  28. A very nice, enthusiastic, fun tribute to Neal Adams. For someone such as myself, who started reading comic books regularly in the late 1980s, I encountered many of the artists he inspired first. And so when, after a number of years, I subsequently discovered Adams’ work itself, it was quite a revelation to behold just how much he had influenced so many of those creators. A lot of this has to do with the fact that, until about a decade or so ago, much of Adams’ work had not yet been collected in trade paperbacks. But when I finally got my hands on classics like Avengers: Kree/Skrull War, Batman: Tales of the Demon, X-Men Visionairies, etc, I at last had the opportunity to see all this great material that was previously only available as expensive back issues. Now I just wish Adams would collect some more of the creator-owned work he did at Continuity.

  29. Pingback: Fumettopoli news » Essential Eleven: 11 ragioni per amare Neal Adams

  30. Pingback: Interview: The Odyssey of Neal Adams

  31. It’s funny. Alan Moore gets far less crap for his beliefs in magic than Neal Adams does for his beliefs in science.

  32. I got to speak with Neal Adams at Fandomfest in Louisville, KY for about 2 hours (total). He seemed to put his comic conversations with his fans (meaning mostly me) than making money off of his goods. His handler kept interrupting to remind Neal that he had other customers looking to give him money! (My only disappointment was the lateness of the announcement he was attending. I didn’t have time to budget more than $150 for him. I did get my GL #76, Detective #400, and Thor #180 signed. I also got Stan Lee to sign my Thor as well.)

    Unlike most celebrity guests, Neal attended at his own expense and rented a large booth. Upon hearing that Arthur Suydam was given a crappy location (in another building, for crying out loud) and made no money his first day, Neal gave away 1/4 of his space so Suydam could be somewhere he could make money. And I know he made money because on Sunday lots of people were buying at his new booth.

    John Buscema was my first comic book hero, but over time I realized that while he cared immensely for his own enjoyment he cared very little for the final product, for the characters, for comics themselves, for the fate of other workers or even his fans. He was earning a living and that’s about all that existed in his bubble. Neal Adams is just the opposite. It is clear that Neal cares about every aspect of comic books, including how well OTHER people are doing in the industry, and loves them today as much as he did as a kid. Adams’s ego might be colossal, but so is his heart.

    He’s coming back to KY next year, and I can’t wait!

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