The great Neal Adams has passed aged 80.
He is known by Batman fans (especially of my vintage) as the artist half of the team, along with writer Denny O’Neil, that returned Batman to his “dark and serious roots” in Batman comics beginning in the very late 1960s/early 1970s.
He was the first Batman comic book artist that made Batman look real.
He helped create iconic Batman characters such as Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia (who both appeared in director Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY), as well as Man-Bat.
And he also was the artist of BATMAN #251 which reintroduced The Joker as a straight-up scary AF psychopath in the story titled “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge.” Speaking of which…
BATMAN #251/”The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” is my favorite single-issue Batman comic book story of all time and its cover is one of the most iconic Batman comic book covers in Batman history. In fact, a poster of the B251 cover has been a part of my office’s wall decoration for years.
I reached out to my friend and Batman guru Michael Uslan, and here’s what he had to say about Neal Adams…
He was arguably the most definitive Batman artist in history who, along with writer Denny O’Neil, restored the darkness and dignity to Batman in the comic books following the end of the campy TV series.
He inspired a maturation of comic book art and graphic story-telling with his work on: The important and relevant GREEN ARROW/GREEN LANTERN series (which would have a huge social impact); his DEADMAN and his SPECTRE series — each proving that comic books were maturing and growing up with its audience. He was at the forefront.
His brief work on X-MEN was beyond memorable and his work on THE AVENGERS was legendary.
Along with Jerry Robinson, he championed Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they were down and out and fought for their credit, their health care, and their dignity.
In addition, he was one hell of a great guy, philosopher king, and human being. Farewell to my friend, Neal Adams…
I have one funny Neal Adams story which I’ve told before, but I’ll tell it again here because it makes me smile…
In July of 2012, I was in New York for the premiere of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. After the screening, folks were milling around the theater’s lobby and talking about the awesomeness of the film. There, I saw and visited with many famous Batman contributors during this post-screening mingling I spotted Neal Adams…looking right at me.
And then he started walking straight to me!
Mr. Adams stuck out his hand to shake mine and I reciprocated. Did the great Neal Adams actually know who the hell I was?!
As I shook his hand, I said, “Hello Mr. Adams, I’m a huge fan!”
“Thank you,” Mr. Adams replied, “You’re the coat check guy, right?”
Trust me, I wasn’t crushed to be mistaken for the “coat check guy”…I was just happy to have had an interaction with Neal Adams!
After telling him that unfortunately, I was not the “coat check guy,” I informed him who I was.
“Come by the studio anytime,” he told me, “and we’ll talk about Batman.”
I wish I had been able to take him up on his offer. – Bill “Jett” Ramey