The staff here at SCIFI.radio would like to give our well wishes to comic writer, penciller, inker, editor and publisher, Neal Adams. He was born on June 15, 1941 on Governor’s Island, Manhattan, New York City. He’s 76 years old today (76? Can he be that old??)
Adams was a student of the prestigious School of Industrial Art in Manhattan. Other notable graduates are comic creators Alvin Hollingsworth, Violet Barclay, Al Plastino, Carmine Infantino, Joe Orlando, John Romita Sr. and Dick Giordanio.
From there, Adams applied for DC Comics, but was turned down. Thus, he submitted art to Archie Comics, where he was hired as a writer, penciller, inker and letterer for full-page or half-page gag fillers. Eventually, Adams would leave Archie Comics, and became a commercial artist in the advertisement industry, and later a comic strip artist for magazines throughout the 1960’s.
Many comic artists and historians have noted that Adams’ background in advertising art, which he brought to comics, greatly impacted the medium by introducing more realism and depth of focus.
Eventually, Adams managed to break into DC Comics, starting with The Green Berets war comic. Within the company, Adams campaigned to draw for Batman, but was instead assigned to The Adventures of Jerry Lewis and The Adventures of Bob Hope. But, he would be assigned to draw the cover for the Superman book Action Comics #356, and then an Elongated Man backup story in the Batman book Detective Comics #369. Finally, Adams would draw Batman for the cover of The Brave and the Bold #75 and a story in the Batman and Superman book World’s Finest Comics #175.
From there, Adams would start working on Deadman in Strange Adventures and on the supernatural series The Spectre. Into the 1970’s, Adams would become the primary cover artist for DC Comics.
Adams would also begin to work for Marvel Comics. His notable contributions to them were reviving the nearly cancelled X-Men comics (alongside future collaborator and writer Dennis O’Neil) and drawing the Kree-Skrull War in The Avengers comics.
Finally, Adams would collaborate once more with O’Neil on Batman for Detective Comics. During this time, they begun to reestablish Batman back to his darker and brooding origins, and away from the campy influence of the 1960’s Adam West TV show. During this time, they introduced fan favorite villain Ra’s al Ghul in Batman #232 and would make Two-Face and the Joker much more dangerous, and deadly, than ever before.
Another landmark collaboration between Adams and O’Neil would be the landmark, and controversial, Green Lantern and Green Arrow team-up series. Adams had previously updated Green Arrow from his 1940’s appearance, by giving him the now iconic goatee, an updated costume and a now infamous outspoken liberal stance. As a vigilante, this would clash with the more conservative Green Lantern, who is an officer of an intergalactic peacekeeping corps.
This led to many social commentary stories, where they tackled the problems that plagued the 1970’s: racism, overpopulation, pollution, war, political corruption and drug addiction. The latter issue would lead to Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy becoming addicted to heroin, which is still clouds over the character today.
Since then, Adams has gone to work for multiple DC and Marvel properties. In 1971, he would found Continuity Associates, an art and illustration studio. In 1978, he was instrumental in the forming of the Comic Creators Guild. Finally, he was won multiple awards for his contribution to comics, and inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998.
Happy birthday, Neal Adams, and thank you for all your hard work.
Nick Corbin is a filmmaker and writer who hails from Boise, Idaho. When he isn’t busy acting, or writing a screenplay for his own production company, Nick can be found consuming any geek media he can get his hands on. To start a conversation, ask him about the latest cosplay he is working on.