Cartoonist Neal Adams, legend of superhero comics, dies at 80

Cartoonist Neal Adams in 2019 at the Phoenix Fan Fusion convention.gage skidmore

He illustrated the drug problem in the middle of superhero comics, he explored the inside of an avenger, he drew Superman fighting Muhammed Ali and, above all, he forever changed the way of telling a story in cartoons. The cartoonist Neal Adams, considered a comic legend, famous for his photorealistic style when portraying characters like Batman, as well as for his inveterate fight for the rights of creators, has died this Thursday at the age of 80, as confirmed his wife, Marilyn Adams, to the American magazine The Hollywood Reporter.

Adams’s time as a cartoonist for Batman in the late sixties, in which he coincided with the writer Dennis O’Neil, was a revolution for the adventures of the dark knight. Not only did they provide a more mature tone, generating a feeling of greater realism, but the artist was also one of the pioneers in launching a stage of more muscular superheroes in the graphic section. Their success was so great that the DC publishing house put them in charge of one of the most marketing projects in its history: the comic. Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, which they turned into an incunabulum that would be difficult to repeat thanks to the superiority of each Adams drawing. Also in one of the big best-seller gender, of course. Throughout his career, he has also portrayed several iconic characters with extraordinary powers such as Deadman, the X-Men or the Avengers.

The artist is often cited as an influence by dozens of current cartoonists, so much so that well-known cartoonists and screenwriters such as Carlos Pacheco, Tom King, Santiago García or Jon Bogdanove paid tribute to Adams on the social network Twitter, in addition to highlighting the enormous importance he had for that they themselves were passionate about comics or for the history of the medium itself. Even a myth like Frank Miller told years ago that a cover of X Men drawn by Adams was one of the main impulses that pushed him to try to dedicate himself to comics. Adams is also the co-creator of such important characters in the Batman saga as the immortal villain Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter, Talia. Both play a key role in the Batman film trilogy filmed by Christopher Nolan, played by Liam Neeson and Marion Cotillard, and have been adapted dozens of times to other media.

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The Barcelona artist Jorge Fornés, one of the Spaniards who draws for major labels such as Marvel and DC, and who since 2014 has occasionally worked as a cartoonist for Batman, has paid tribute to the deceased on his Twitter account by sharing an iconic illustration of himself. Adams: the bat man with Talia al Ghul, the character created by Adams who today is also the mother (along with Bruce Way) of Robin Damian Wayne.

It all came about breaking the rules. In the midst of the cultural effervescence of the seventies, O’Neil accompanied him as a creative partner again to continue deploying social realism in American comics with Green Lantern and Green Arrow, in a series of stories where they embarked on a journey that took them to the darkest part of the country: racism, marginal neighborhoods in the face of urban gentrification, labor exploitation and even the fall into drugs of the archer superhero’s companion. After Watergate and the Vietnam fiasco, the country discovered that it was not the perfect icon they were selling, and superheroes, whose periodicity always served to live with the present, could not be left behind. They further joined the causes of the civil rights movement by launching together one of the first black icons in DC comics in the early 1970s, the Green Lantern Jon Stewart. For long ages he was more popular than even the first power ring space ranger, Hal Jordan. The treatment of themes avoided until now by O’Neil and Adams were essential to deepen the maturity of the medium.

But he was also a pioneer in offices. In the mid-1970s, and tired of the limitations that the publishers Marvel and DC gave and give to their creators on copyright, he founded Continuity Studios, a company for artists aimed at developing comics and commercial campaigns among other services. There he would have full ownership of his characters and stories, and not just a paycheck and a pat on the back every time they were adapted into other media. From there, characters like Bucky O’Hare were born, which in 1991 had an animated adaptation for the small screen, or Ms. Mystic. That is the path followed today by practically all the authors who make a name for themselves in the two great publishers of American comics. And he not only fought for his rights. Adams was one of the most notable and outspoken advocates for DC to return to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and heirs, part of the authorship (and profits) of the character on which not only that editorial, but the entire ninth art, had been based. : Superman. In his mature years, Neal Adams made the comic book industry a little more fair and socially relevant. Neal Adams is comic book history.

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Cartoonist Neal Adams, legend of superhero comics, dies at 80

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