Hey, it's Monday June 15th, Happy Birthday to one of the best ever Comic Book Artists/ illustrators in the business, yep, I'm talking about Neal Adams! That's today!
You most likely know that Neal is a "comic book and commercial artist known for helping to create some of the definitive modern imagery of the DC Comics characters Batman and Green Arrow; as the co-founder of the graphic design studio Continuity Associates; and as a creators-rights advocate who helped secure a pension and recognition for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster."-wikipedia
As the story goes "Neal was a childhood comic-book reader who, after developing his talents, was rejected in 1959 by DC Comics. He was told, “The industry is closed. There is no room for anyone new.”
"In frustration, Adams did Archie comics (which he is very proud of), penciling and background work on the Bat Masterson strip, by Howard Nostrand, then took on advertising, storyboard, and comic-strip jobs through Johnstone and Cushing."
"He was offered the Ben Casey newspaper strip which he voluntarily ended after 31/2 years of sizable success. The theft of his illustration portfolio lead him to visit Archie Goodwin at Jim Warren’s Creepy and Eerie magazines.
Adams brought a wide variety of illustration techniques to his work for the Warren magazines. He then decided to try D.C. Comics for a second time. Inspired by Joe Kubert, Russ Heath and Mort Drucker."
"Though a freelancer, Adams made himself welcome enough to work in-house. The new guy quickly become the whiz kid. In 1968, Adams was illustrating the Spector and followed Carmine Infantino on Deadman in Strange Adventures, which brought him to the attention of the entire industry. In an effort to breakdown oppressive, unspoken “rules” in the comic book business, Neal openly approached Marvel. Stan Lee received DC’s young superstar with open arms."
"Neal’s ensuing X-Men equaled Marvel’s premier talents – Kirby and Steranko – and saved the title from immediate cancellation. "
"As DC’s top cover artist, Neal proved his ability to portray Superman and Batman, he soon moved on to Batman stories. Adams successfully updated the property from the campy ’60s TV-show persona to his revolutionary, modern version of the original dark avenger concept."
"His Batman work continues to serve as a prototype and inspiration for every illustrator of the character to this day".
-Michigan comic convention .com
It was Neal's work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow that was my first introduction into how great Comic Books could be! While hanging out at a friends house one day after school, my friend asked if I wanted to read some comics? He then proceeded to pull out a stack of comic books out from under the sink in the bathroom, the top book was Green Lantern/ Green Arrow #86, "the Drug issue", which was life altering for this 12 year old! After that I was hooked, looking for anymore comics to read, especially any by Neal Adams.
Years later while working on my "Artist Within" portrait project, I was honored to be able to photograph Neal, first in his Southern California studio, and later in his New York City Studio, This portrait was taken in New York.
After over 60 years as an Illustrator Neal continues to produce Amazingly beautiful work. You can see more of that work on his website here:
And you can see more of my "Artist Within" portraits of Comic Book Artists, Cartoonists and Illustrators here:
art © Neal Adams