In Memoriam: Comic Artist Neal Adams

We’re sorry to report the death of legendary American comic artist Neal Adams, aged 80, due to complications from sepsis.

Neal Adams - Self Portrait

Starting out in the business aged just 16, some of his notable works include Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Strange Adventures featuring the character, Deadman, The Brave and the Bold, for DC Comics; and The Avengers and X-Men for Marvel.

He also co-created characters Ra’s al Ghul, Man-Bat, and John Stewart for DC Comics, and was the founder of Continuity Comics.

A montage of many of the characters Neal Adams worked on or created over his influential career
A montage of many of the characters Neal Adams worked on or created over his influential career

“Adams jolted the world of comic books in the late 1960s and early ’70s with his toned and sinewy take on heroes,” notes Borys Kit for Hollywood Reporter, “first at DC with a character named Deadman, then at Marvel with the X-Men and the Avengers, then back at DC with his most lasting influence, Batman.

“During his Batman run, Adams and writer Dennis O’Neil brought a revolutionary change to the hero and the comics, delivering realism, kineticism and a sense of menace to their storytelling in the wake of the campy Adam West-starring ’60s ABC series and years of the hero being aimed at kiddie readers.”

“The body of work Neal Adams produced near the end of the Silver Age caused something akin to a revolution in comic art,” notes artist Arlen Schumer of Neal’s work in a tribute on Facebook. “If Jack Kirby’s approach was the ultimate in larger-than-life, stylized exaggeration, Adams’ was the opposite: a unique blend of dynamic anatomy and photographic realism that made the fantasy worlds of superheroes visually believable in ways never before seen.”

Cover and some interior pages from Superman Vs Muhammad Ali – drawn by Neal Adams and inked by Dick Giordano and Terry Austin

“He was a master at every facet of art,” agrees artist Jim Lee. “His range of expressions, the dramatic use of lighting and shadowing, the seemingly facile command of anatomy, and of course, the trademark finger-pointed-in-your-face foreshortening was all just unbelievably next level.

“And it all seemed so very magically alive. Neal’s work has influenced every image I have created and continues to be the gold standard I aspire to when I put pencil to paper.”

Art by Neal Adams

Neal also worked tirelessly to promote better working conditions and creators’ rights. He helped lead to the modern industry’s standard practice of returning original artwork to the artist, who can earn additional income from art sales to collectors. In 1978, he co-founded the Comic Creators Guild.

In 1987, he won a legal battle with Marvel that returned artwork to him and legendary artist Jack Kirby, and he helped lobby for Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel to receive overdue compensation from DC Comics.

Over 50 pieces of original paintings and artwork now line the walls of Neal Adams’ Continuity Studio/Gallery in the heart of New York City

“Neal Adams was both an unstoppable force and an immovable object,” notes a shocked Bill Sienkiewicz in a moving tribute, acknowledging it would to take him some time to process the loss. “The world just lost an amazing artist, a brilliant storyteller, a wild creative force of nature, a man who forever changed the comics medium and the culture of entertainment. His impact was beyond seismic; it also changed the course of my very existence.

“His work saved my life. Literally. Without his work, without him, there wouldn’t be me, at least not the me that I am today. Neal was my artistic father, mentor and dear dear friend.

“I miss him.”

Speaking personally, Neal Adams early work on Batman and Deadman were some of the most memorable American comics I bought as a teenager, often grabbing a new issue of the caped crusader’s latest adventures simply for Neal’s striking covers. A powerful force in American comics, a huge influence on many of the artists I have worked with down the years, he will be much missed, but his legacy will live on.

Our sympathies to family and friends at this difficult time.

Neal Adams, born 15th June 1941, died 28th April 2022

Neal Adams Official Site: nealadams.com

Batman by Neal Adams

Neal Adams Almanack (Facebook Group)

Hollywood Reporter: Neal Adams, Comic Book Artist Who Revitalized Batman and Fought for Creators’ Rights, Dies at 80

Borys Kit notes how Neal influenced multiple generations with his style and co-created such characters as Ra’s al Ghul, the Man-Bat and one of DC’s first Black superheroes, Green Lantern John Stewart

Hollywood Reporter: Marvel’s Roy Thomas Remembers His ‘X-Men’ Artist Neal Adams as “Bigger Than Life”

Thomas, who succeeded Stan Lee as Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief, was one of many showing their appreciation of Adams and shock over his death.

The Beat: Neal Adams: A Remembrance

Writer Alex Dueben offers a remembrance of Neal Adams’s impact on comics, and how he lived his life.

An Appreciation by Joe Jusko (on Facebook)

Tripwire Magazine: Saying Goodbye To A Comics Legend

A round up of tributes compiled by Joel Meadows

Live Art Sale and Interview with Comics Legend Neal Adams

In 2021, Bill Cox hosted a special Live Art Sale with Comic Art Legend Neal Adams. They not only presented new artworks for sale by Neal, but also chatted with him about his impact on original comic art collecting and his storied career in comics

Ben Casey Newspaper Strip

Comic archivist Paul Gravett notes Neal Adams’ formative work on the ‘Ben Casey’ medical soap opera newspaper strip oddly languishes still without a complete book compilation of the Sundays and dailies. Adams offered PDFs of stories to buy on his site here

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Comic Creator Spotlight, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries, US Comics

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3 replies

  1. aw man, that’s sad – but he did live a long life and dang he looked good in that video from 2021. AND, he left us a lot of fantastic art, so thank you Mr.Adams for all you did.

  2. A truly great artist! Sad he’s gone.

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  1. The Ultimate Artist: Neal Adams R.I.P. – Martin Crookall – Author For Sale
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