Neal Adams, RIP

One of the most influential comic book artists of the 20th century, Neal Adams, has died at 80. Along with Mike Grell, Carmine Infantino, and Curt Swan, Adams was one of a handful of artists I could identify without looking at the credits page.

Looking at modern pencillers like Jim Lee, you can see the influence of Adams. When Neal Adams drew a character, he would emphasize certain things. His Joker is an excellent example of exaggeration for effect.

A great joy from my childhood was going through my father’s banker’s boxes and pulling out issues of Batman that featured stories vastly different than what I was seeing as reruns on television. In the 1970s, DC and Marvel used to produce oversized anthology books that instead of priced at 15 cents or a quarter, cost an unbelievably expensive one American dollar. I remember a Batman version with a stylized Batman penciled by Neal Adams on the cover. For years, that image was the go-to image of an exciting Batman patrolling Gotham City.

It’s making me sad that the artists and creatives that filled my young life are now leaving us. This is, of course, the way life goes. Leaving a legacy like Neal Adams did is the silver lining to this dark cloud. I can always revisit the art and the stories and for a little while remember a simpler time.

May 1, 2022

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