Ground-breaking American comic book artist Neal Adams died this week, aged 80.
Mr Adams had a distinctive style which was unlike any of his contemporaries. In the 1970s, Mr Adams pushed comic book art to a new level of professionalism. His work is the inspiration for other formidable artists like Jim Lee (who has wrote a long eulogy on social media). The realism which he brought to titles such as Batman, Deadman, and Green Lantern / Green Arrow was the indicia of a new sobriety within superhero comics. No longer was it fare for just young teenaged boys.
Much has been made of Mr Adams’ work on “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” in Batman 251 (1973), including by us https://www.worldcomicbookreview.com/2021/01/29/the-three-jokers-1-3-review/. Revamping Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker from the goofy clapping Cesar Romero to a sinister lunatic recast not just the Batman mythos, but introduced the idea that comics could be scary.
Much more influential was Green Lantern / Green Arrow. Remarkably, we have never revisited that title (despite it being of enormous fascination to this site’s editor when he was young). Together with the late Denny O’Neill, Mr Adams turned a hokey comic book about a space patrolman upside down. The title covered racism, corporate greed, Christmas consumerism, and, most famously, heroin addiction suffered by Green Arrow’s erstwhile teen sidekick. The art, like the storylines, was brutal in its realism.
Mr Adams used his influence to benefit other comic book creators. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman. DC Comics bought the rights to the comic and stripped their names from the byline. Mr Adams was able to return their names to the inside cover of every Superman comic book, and secured each of them a pension. Mr Adams son Josh Adams also wrote a poignant eulogy on Twitter, which, with respect, captures the spirit of Mr Adams and is worth repeating in full:
Mr 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.
Mr Adams died in New York of complications from sepsis, his wife, Marilyn Adams, told The Hollywood Reporter https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/neal-adams-dead-batman-comics-artist-1235138106/. Vale Neal Adams.