Legendary Comics Creator Neal Adams Passes Away At 80

Helped re-invent Batman, told stories with social commentary and created a distinct artistic style Today we lost another giant in the comic book industry. Neal Adams. If you are not […]

Helped re-invent Batman, told stories with social commentary and created a distinct artistic style

Today we lost another giant in the comic book industry. Neal Adams.

If you are not familiar with Neal, that’s OK. You might know some of his creations. Liam Neeson’s character from the film Batman Begins, Ra’s Al Ghul, was co-created by Neal. The Green Lantern John Stewart from the Justice League cartoon is also one of his creations.  So needless to say, this one really hurts.

I think I was first introduced to Neal through 2 splash ads. One for Batman and one for Superman. Honestly, I can’t say I remember for sure. It was the 70′ s. I do recall seeing house ads in the comics for Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. This was at the height of Ali’s popularity, and the comic wasn’t silly at all. It was quite action-packed and with Neal’s distinct art style, the action was extremely dynamic.

As I got older I ended up reading reprints of Neal’s and writer Denny O’Neil’s groundbreaking Green Lantern/Green Arrow run. The topic that was tackled in this series was never done before. Civil rights, drug usage, over-population, environmental. Seriously amazing. Neal and Denny also re-defined Green Arrow. Changing him from a Batman knock-off to a liberal activist. During this run DC Comics’ first African-American superhero appeared, John Stewart, who would be Hall Jordan’s replacement, should anything happen to Hal.

Neal also helped changed the way we looked at Batman. Up until Neal’s run on the comic, the stories were campy and somewhat emulation of the 1966 Adam West/Burt Ward TV show. Neal helped bring Batman back to his gritty roots and changed the Joker from comical to a homicidal maniac.

Neal was also a huge supporter of comic creators’ rights. At the time the publishers would hate him. But even today creator’s rights is a hot topic in the comic industry. He saw how Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were pretty much living in squalor while the corporation was making a lot of money off of their creation. Neal led a lobbying effort that eventually led to greater recognition for the pair, a creator tag in comics and other media that continues to this day, plus a pension.

I had the honor of interviewing Neal a couple of times and speaking to him casually at comic conventions and he was just one of the nicest guys I ever met. He did have some strict rules about what he would autograph, but I understand, especially when you look at all he did for creator’s rights. But regardless, he was always quite approachable and seemed to value his fans.

Neal would try to raise more awareness of comic books’ impact in trying to make people more conscious of the Holocaust in the 50s and 60s with the book We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust. As a Jew himself, this was extremely important to Neal to pass on his finding to others.

The loss of Neal really does hurt. At least around the tri-state area, he was always a fixture at comic conventions, both big and small. They just won’t feel the same without Neal.

Thank you for everything Neal. For the characters, you created that still are around today and for helping your fellow creators. You will be greatly missed.

Rest in Peace.

Brian Isaacs - Executive Editor / Publisher

About Brian Isaacs - Executive Editor / Publisher

An avid comic collector/reader for over 50 years and self-proclaimed professor of comicology, Brian originally started up the site Pendragon's Post to share his voice. Well, that voice has been shared and evolved into The Fanboy Factor. Brian is an advocate for remembering comic roots, and that we don't forget what was created in the past, and encourage everyone to read it as well. When not swimming in geek culture, he can be seen corrupting..introducing his young son to comics, much to his wife's chagrin.