Rob, Chris, Paul, and special guest Tom Panarese pay tribute to one of the greatest comic book artists and innovators of all time, Neal Adams.
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14 responses to “FW Presents – Neal Adams”
Fellas, that was a very nice tribute episode for Neal Adams. A few years ago, I saw him at a con in Cleveland and got his signature on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow large slipcover edition. Several years prior to that I was lucky enough to meet and have dinner with Denny O’Neil and also got his signature on that book. It’s one of my prized possessions.
I do have one quick question about something that wasn’t addressed in your episode: Did Neal go back and redraw or re-ink some his old stories for the recent hardcover collections. Somehow they don’t look right when compared to the originals.
I did enjoy his recent work on Fantastic Four, but Batman: Odyssey was just bonkers!
Chuck, Neal did indeed go back and alter his art for reprints of some of his old stories. I saw some of the Batman stuff. It was wholly unnecessary.
Yeah, I don’t think anyone but maybe Neal was particularly pleased with his redrawing select bits of the DC collected editions. His current style (while still good, in my opinion) just didn’t match his earlier DC work. We chose to focus on the positive stuff we liked and celebrate the man and his work.
Thanks for the info. I hope someone does a book in the next few years focusing on Neal’s work in advertising.
Now you have to turn right around and do one for George Pérez, dammit.
My first Neal Adams would have been the Flash 246 cover, but the first interior would have been in Batman from the 30s to the 70s or that same Tempo paperback.
Thanks for the shoutout, Rob! 🙂
I had the good fortune to meet Neal a handful of times, and the very last time (Sept. 2019) I sat and visited with him for a solid 40 minutes. I asked him about many of the folks he worked with at DC in the 60s and 70s… and let me tell you, he told me things that would curl your toenails! I’m sad I’ll never get to talk to him again.
When I was a kid, I remember finding an Arabic comics where two aliens tricked Superman and Batman into fighting. It ended with a nutty plot twist I won’t spoil. I didn’t know who drew it at the times, but it was one of the coolest art I had seen.
Thank you gentlemen. A delightful discussion of one of the undisputed masters of the medium.
I remember very, very clearly where I first encountered Neal Adams, as his work was some of the earliest American comics I ever saw. A friend had the 1981 X-Men Collector’s Edition – a UK hardcover, magazine-size reprint of Thomas and Adams’ Havok/Living Monolith (not Sphinx!) and Sentinels storylines from X-Men #56–59. This was possibly among my first exposure to X-Men at all – although around the same time I also encountered Mighty World of Marvel #1, which reprinted Uncanny X-Men #141 (imagine my confusion when the two X-Men teams bore absolutely no relation to each other – confusion further compounded by the third of my earliest US comics being Perez-era Avengers, which featured a blue and furry Beast who was apparently the same person as the non blue, non-furry Beast in the Adams X-Men).
Adams’ work on those X-Men issues is absolutely astonishing, especially when seen in relation to the Don Heck years that preceded him (although Steranko was a step in the right direction). His covers are great, of course, but for me it’s the interiors where his work really shines. It’s so alive and dynamic and captivating – there’s one page that depicts Beast falling out of a skyscraper (https://i.pinimg.com/736x/a9/3b/90/a93b901bc4e4a9f7a230b636c39cfab4–x-men-comic-art.jpg) that is just jaw-dropping, even now. One of my top five comics pages of all time. All time! When I started my now-abandoned comics page on FB, it was the very first post. No offence to the Bat fans, but when I think of Neal Adams, I think of X-Men. His short-lived stint is just so iconic and powerful, and seared into my brain. It’s no wonder, given my early exposure to this stuff, that I ended up a comics geek, a Marvel geek and an X-geek. Without Neal Adams, I probably wouldn’t be waffling on about comics 40 years later.
And it’s so weird that of the three comics artists that really grabbed my attention as a kid in those seminal issues, we’ve lost two of them in the space of a couple of weeks. Feels like time crashing down all at once. Bit worried about John Byrne now.
O.k., I’m only about halfway through the show, but I wanted to get this down before I forget (and if it’s addressed by someone in the show later, apologies): not only did Adams do at least one Thor cover that I know of, he also did the pencils for two issues, #s180-181. (Not sure how often those issues have been reprinted; I have them in a digest called “When Gods Go Mad” that was published by Panini UK.)
Thanks for a great tribute, some good picks there. I’m with Matt in that I absolutely love Neal’s X-Men work even more than the classic Batman stuff. Maybe, with me, the reason is that it’s more open than the super-Gothic Batman books, allowing for a brighter palette. Also, there’s a greater variety of hero – more characters. It’s more fun on the eyes. And when Dick Giordano was inking Irv Novick’s Batman, Neal’s wasn’t that far ahead in terms of how much I liked it.
Regarding the innovation of that 1969 cover with the Living Monolith grabbing (not smashing, that came with Byrne’s Dark Phoenix homage) the logo, it’s amazing… but DC got there first with the title interaction. Remember Batman #194 from 1967, with Batman leaping over the logo that Blockbuster is smashing? It’s a remarkable design from Carmine Infantino, inked by Murphy Anderson, even if it isn’t the regular logo. Over at Marvel, a year later, we had that Jim Steranko (with a bit of Marie Severin) Hulk King-Size Special, with the title crushing our hero. Again though, that’s wasn’t the regular masthead, so maybe Neal does win the interaction award!
Talking of mastheads, I love huge logos, you can’t beat those Golden Age Action/Detective etc with the glorious Art Deco designs taking up nearly half the space. So I’m fine with Neal getting a bit less space occasionally, he still uses it brilliantly.
That Superman #252 figure, for the Flying Heroes Super-Spectacular, was used for awhile afterwards above the logo on Superman issues, at rather too-large a size, for example on 263, another Neal cover with a photo background (inks by Murphy Anderson), ‘The Man of Molten Steel’.
What an artist!
Excellent look back at one of the most influential and important creators in comics.
I have a similar story as many of you did on the show. At some point I ran into Adams’ work in my youth and said ‘this just looks different and better’. If your art is enough to stun an elementary school kid reading comics, you know you have some chops.
If I had to guess, the first time I saw his work was in the Ra’s Al Ghul treasury. Those stories in that size were fantastic. From the bone-crushing fights with Ubu to a Talia that even a very young Anj found intriguing, it all just sang into my brain.
You have all mentioned many of my favorite covers, Superman #233 being one of them. I hold a great fondness for the Sand Superman story and that first cover just brings it. But if I had to give you a couple more faves.
In fact, someone in the show said that Adams was made for Batman. I have always thought that he was made for Superman!
DC Special #3 – the All-Girl issue with a fantastic Adams Supergirl front and center
Superman #307 – again, an odd story I have a fondness for where people try to convince Superman he is a mutant, not an alien
Superman #213 – what a striking image!
Adventure Comics #369 – The Legion! The first Mordru! When I had this signed by Jim Shooter at a con, he told me that he had conceived a different cover image in his mind but Adams told him ‘Nope’ and did it his way. Shooter said he was so glad Adams did it the way it saw print.
Superman #243 – this ‘kissing Superman’ cover is iconic in that has been stolen or swiped several times, at least 2x by Adams himself
He was a con regular and I always made a point to head to his table and thank him for standing up for Siegel and Shuster.
What a fantastic tribute, everyone! I could really hear the joy in your voices talking about all these fantastic covers. Like you mentioned, Neal was so prolific that to narrow it down to just 5 covers to talk about seemed like a Herculean task. Rob mentioned that you could do a podcast JUST about Neal Adams and have enough material to talk about for a couple years and, I’m not going to lie, I would listen to that in a heartbeat. In fact, I would listen to any podcast dedicated to specific writers/artists (Is Ryan still working on his Ernie Colon show?). JLGL (PBHN), Neal Adams, George Perez, Alex Toth, etc., etc.
He will surely be missed but he will most definitely be remembered for all the amazing things he did. Rest in Peace, Neal.
Finally finished listening to this – sorry, haven’t had much time for podcast-listening in the past few days, except when doing housework or whatnot.
Anyway, that was a nice conversation and tribute to Adams. And I loved some of the stuff you mentioned, esp. DC Special Series #1, better known as the Five-star Super Hero Spectacular, which I practically ripped off of the spinner rack when I first saw. That, to me personally, is just one of the most iconic Adams covers ever.
Also, since Chris mentioned a Flash cover, I have to note one of my other favorite Adams covers, to Flash #246: you know the one, in which he’s in the future, with an apparently dead Abra Kadabra at his feet and two cops pointing guns at him. Brilliant stuff.
Otherwise, I have to agree with JoeX about the need for a Perez tribute show now. What a f-ing week…
I know this may be hard to believe, given that I’ve had a few comments that rivaled Diabolu Frank’s, but I don’t always geek out on these topics as hard as y’all do. This week has been a different story. The deaths of Adams and Perez affected me. Then, this podcast brought the memory of so many intensely enjoyed comics rushing to mind that I’ve had trouble focusing on my tasks. That isn’t a complaint, though. Thank you for making me feel like a kid again!
In addition to the con interactions that others discussed, I loved Neal’s interviews. The one they painted in TwoMorrows’ Secrets of the Batcave was amazing. And while Neal Adams certainly knew his worth as an artist and had an ego, what came though in the interview was honesty and humility. There were so many times he gave credit to someone else for an idea that people have attributed to him. And even the things he did come up with, he portrayed as obvious, something that he should not receive adulation for. Years later, he still seemed stunned that people hadn’t tried (or hadn’t continued) some of the “tricks” he saw as standard procedure.
I wish I’d had a long conversation with him like some of the commenters above. I wish I’d had dinner with him, and listened to him tell stories for hours. Of course, we all have some pretty amazing people in our lives. Maybe the lesson for me should be to focus less on my task list and more on them, while I have the opportunity.