Batman, by Neal Adams 1971
'Daughter of the Demon' (Batman #232, 1971).

Neal Adams was one of the most influential creators in American comic books, artistically because of his photorealistic dynamic artwork, and within the industry as a forefighter of creator rights. After a start in newspaper comics and humor comic books, he innovated the superhero genre in the late 1960s with dynamic cover illustrations and groundbreaking work on the DC titles 'Batman' and 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow', working with writer Dennis O'Neil on redefining the characters and adding socially conscious story arcs. His other notable DC work was on 'Deadman' with Jack Miller and the 1978 one-shot 'Superman vs. Muhammad Ali'. At Marvel, he had successful runs on 'X-Men' and 'The Avengers', while producing humor comics for National Lampoon and black-and-white horror material for Warren Publishing. By the 1970s, he was working on both comic books and storyboards through the Continuity Associates studio he ran with Dick Giordano. Over time, many comic industry professionals got their start at Continuity, doing either their own projects or team-efforts under the collecive "Crusty Bunkers" banner. During the 1980s, Adams and his team were working mostly on creator-owned comic productions for indie publisers like Pacific Comics and Continuity Comics, including new Adams creations like the ecological superhero 'Ms. Mystic'. Neal Adams remained active until the very end. In his final years, he worked on new limited 'Batman', 'Avengers' and 'Superman' series, the last one being 'Batman vs. Ra's al Ghul' (2019-2021), starring the villain he co-created during his earlier run on the series.

Early life
Neal Adams was born in 1941 on Governors Island, New York City, into a military family. Because of his father's work, young Neal spent his childhood on several locations across the American East oast, including the Bronx, New York City and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but also on a US military base in post-war Germany, before finally settling in Brooklyn, NYC. As a child, he grew up watching early kids TV shows and reading newspaper strips and comic books, for instance the adventures of 'Captain Marvel' (Fawcett Comics) and 'Blackhawk' (Quality Comics). Travelling from town to town, Neal often had to say goodbye to his old friends and make new ones. Discovering he could draw, he used his skills to meet new kids, and was often appointed class artist by his teachers. Later, Adams attended the School of Industrial Art high school in Manhattan, where he graduated in 1959. After graduation, Adams was recommended to the cartoonist Howard Nostrand, who hired him as an assistant. Joining Nostrand in his studio, Adams worked on the background art of the newspaper comic 'Bat Masterson' for three months in 1959.


Several of Neal Adams' half-page gag comics with the Archie characters appeared in Archie's Joke Book Magazine #45 (March 1960).

Early comic book work
Determined to make a living in the comic book industry, eighteen-year-old Neal Adams set out to present his portfolio to publishers. However, at the time the comic book industry was at a low point, and at National Periodicals (DC Comics) he was greeted by production artist Ray Perry, who strongly encouraged him to pursue another career path. At Archie Comics, he initially had little luck too - receiving similar advise from Joe Simon - only to discover that one of his sample panels in which the character Tommy Troy transitions into the Archie superhero the Fly ended up in the January 1960 issue of 'Adventures of the Fly' (issue #4). By then, Adams was hired as an allround creator - doing writing, penciling, inking and lettering - of half-page humor comics with the Archie teen characters for 'Archie's Joke Book Magazine', 'Laugh Comics' and 'Pep'. Before the year was over, Adams already left the company under what he later described as "not the best of circumstances," and tried his luck in the more lucrative commercial art field.


Part of a 'Chip Martin' advertising comic for Boys' Life magazine.

Commercial art
Under guidance of the veteran cartoonist Elmer Wexler - who also worked in Howard Nostrand's studio - Neal Adams did comic-style artwork for the Johnstone & Cushing advertising agency. Notable was his work on the 1962 advertising comic 'Chip Martin, College Reporter' for the Bell Phone Company in Boys' Life magazine, as well as his illustrated ads for Goodyear Tires and General Electric. Later in the decade, he made new advertising comics like 'Flash Farrell Gets the Picture at Goodyear Aerospace' for the defence department, that ran in the 1966 comic books by Harvey Publications. Another creation was the promotional comic book 'Journey of Discovery with Mark Steel!' (1967) for the American Iron & Steel Institute. Besides Wexler, Neal Adams also underwent artistic influence from the newspaper cartoonist Stan Drake and the comic book artist Gil Kane.


'Ben Casey' comic of 27 October 1965.

Newspaper comics
In 1962, Neal Adams was hired by the Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicate to draw a newspaper comic based on ABC's TV medical drama 'Ben Casey', starring Vince Edwards. It launched as a daily strip on 26 November 1962, with a color Sunday page added on 20 September 1964, and eventually appeared in about 200 to 300 newspapers. Adams worked from scripts by Jerry Caplin (Al Capp's brother) and Jerry Bronfield, while Howard Liss was a technical advisor on the strip. Even though the authors could tackle controversial subject matter like heroin addiction, illegitimate pregnancy and attempted suicide, Adams often clashed with the syndicate. In an interview published in Comic Book Artist #24 (April 2003), the cartoonist remembered his editors urged him to not use black characters in his comic, as they could lose newspapers over it. On top of that, Adams was unsatisfied with the narrative limits of a daily serial strip (as told in The Comics Journal #43, 1978), and the feature came to an end on 31 July 1966. Around that time, Neal Adams also briefly ghosted the newspaper detective comic 'Peter Scratch' for artist Lou Fine. He additionally did assistance work for John Prentice on 'Rip Kirby' (1967) and for Al Williamson on 'Secret Agent X-9' (1967). Somewhere in the 1960s, he also worked on Stan Drake's 'The Heart of Juliet Jones', but sources differ on the exact dates. In 1965, he additionally did some sample strips for a dramatic serial called 'Tangent', but this project never went into circulation. Between 13 March and 15 April 1978, Neal Adams briefly returned to newspaper comics, drawing the 'Big Ben Bolt' feature after Gray Morrow. Between 1972 and 1978, Street Enterprises reran the daily 'Ben Casey' episodes in its weekly comic paper, The Menomonee Falls Gazette.


Cover illustrations for Action Comics #363 (1968) and The Phantom Stranger #17 (1972).

Return to comic books
After his 1960s excursion into newspaper comics, Adams returned to comic books. He found work with the black-and-white horror comic magazines published by Warren Publications. Between 1967 and 1971, he did art on nine stories for Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella, mostly working from scripts by editor Archie Goodwin. He also offered his services again to National Periodicals (DC Comics), this time with more luck. He first landed work on the war titles, edited by Robert Kanigher, doing stories for 'Our Army at War' and 'Star Spangled War Stories'. He was also assigned to the celebrity humor titles 'The Adventures of Jerry Lewis' (1967-1968) and 'The Adventures of Bob Hope' (1967-1968), but he truly left his mark on the company's superhero characters. Among his early work were issues of 'The Spectre' and 'The Phantom Stranger', as well as taking over the 'Deadman' feature from Carmine Infantino in Strange Adventures #206 through #216 (1967-1969). Initially working with writer Jack Miller and then from his own scripts, Neal Adams freely experimented with page layouts and graphic storytelling for the noirish 'Deadman'. As a master of dynamic action and the forced perspective - a technique that utilizes optical illusions to make objects appear larger, smaller, farther away, or closer than they are - Neal Adams also became DC's most sought-after cover illustrator during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Many of his covers have become iconic.


'The Demon Lives Again!' (Batman #244, September 1972).

Batman
With his strong sense for dramatic realism and atmospheric rendering, Adams caused a true revolution in DC's floundering superhero line, especially in the 'Batman' stories. His first jobs with the character were some cover illustrations and cross-over stories with other DC superheroes for 'World's Finest Comics' (1968) and 'The Brave and the Bold' (1968-1969). But when tackling 'Batman' with writer Dennis O'Neil and inker Dick Giordano, he made the character his own. Adams transformed the one-dimensional detective in spandex suit - whose public image was by now largely formed by the campy 1960s TV series - and revamped him into a grim creature of the night, feared by every criminal in Gotham City. Between 1969 and 1973, Adams and O'Neil made eleven 'Batman' stories together, including stand-alone stories with horror and supernatural elements for 'Detective Comics', as well as story arcs for the monthly 'Batman' title. Even though their 'Batman' output was limited and did not include a sustained run on consecutive issues, their work redefined the character and remains influential to this day. Adams created the look of the modern Batman: tall and muscled, an impressive costume with a wide cape and long-eared cowl, all rendered with deep black shading. Together with O'Neil, he also introduced the mystical supervillain Ra's al Ghul and his daughter Talia, and transformed the Joker from a criminal prankster into a sadistic murderer. In the 1990s, several of the Adams-O'Neil stories were adapted into episodes of 'Batman: The Animated Series'.


'Snowbirds Don't Fly' (Green Lantern #85, August-September 1971). Neal Adams used his experiences with dramatic newspaper comics for his emotional close-up shots in superhero comics.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow
Neal Adams and Dennis O'Neil continued their DC collaboration with an equally influential fourteen-issue run on the 'Green Lantern' (1970-1972) superhero series. In collaboration with editor Julius Schwartz, the authors moved away from the original fantasy outset and focused on socially conscious stories about real-world problems. For the occasion, the Green Arrow was paired with another classic DC superhero, Green Arrow, whom Adams gave a complete redesign. Appearing under the new banner 'Green Lantern Co-Starring Green Arrow', the narratives were driven by the personality differences of the two heroes, as they are confronted with topical problems like racism, overpopulation and pollution on a journey across the United States. Standing out in the Adams-O'Neil collaboration was the two-issue story arc 'Snowbirds Don't Fly' (issues #85 and #86), in which Green Arrow's teenage sidekick Speedy develops a heroin addiction. This infusion of social relevance in comic books was recognized in magazines like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek, that all ran articles about the achieved maturity of the comic book medium. Despite the critical acclaim, this groundbreaking run on 'Green Lantern' failed to boost sales, and the title was (temporarily) cancelled after the April-May 1972 issue. Later that year, three additional 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow' stories by Adams and O'Neil appeared as back-up features in 'The Flash'.


'Strangers...In a Savage Land!' (X-Men #62, November 1969).

Marvel Comics
In 1969, Adams additionally began a collaboration with DC's main competition in the comic book market, Marvel Comics. Inspired by the experiences of his fellow artist Jim Steranko, who worked for Marvel, Adams was attracted to the company's creative freedom and less formal policies. Meeting with editor Stan Lee, Neal Adams asked for the company's "worst selling title". At the time, this was the mutant team-up series 'X-Men', which still hadn't found its mark. Neal Adams began his run on 'X-Men' with issue #56 (May 1969), and continued until issue #65 (February 1970). He worked in the "Marvel Method" with scriptwriter Roy Thomas, with Adams coming up with story and artwork, and then Thomas doing dialogues. Inker on duty was Tom Palmer. During their collaboration, Adams and Thomas brought focus to new characters like Havok/Alex Summers and Lorna Dane, while bringing Professor Xavier and the supervillain Magneto back from the dead. 


The Ant Man's microscopic exploration trip within the Vision's body was one of the most memorable sequences of Neal Adams' run on 'The Avengers' (The Avengers #93, November 1971).

After 'X-Men', Neal Adams worked with Stan Lee on two issues of 'Thor' (1970), before taking over the 10-page feature with the Jack Kirby creation 'Inhumans' in Amazing Adventures (March-September 1971). Characterized by cinematic storytelling, he then did four issues of another superhero team, 'The Avengers' (November 1971-February 1972), again working with writer Roy Thomas and Tom Palmer on inks. Memorable sequences where his action-filled depictions of interstellar warfare during the 'Kree-Skrull War' story cycle, and the Ant Man's microscopic exploration trip within the Vision's body. Around that time, he also did a story with the Tarzanesque superhero 'Ka-Zar' for Astonishing Tales, and co-created the post-apocalyptic freedom fighter 'Killraven' with Roy Thomas for Amazing Adventures #18. Plotted by Adams and Thomas, the script of Killraven's debut story was written by Gerry Conway, and strongly inspired by the H.G. Wells novel 'War of the Worlds'. Adams did the art of the first eleven pages, the rest of the story was finished by Howard Chaykin, with Frank Chiaramonte on inks. The feature was then continued by other writers and artists.

Later in the 1970s, Neal Adams slowly moved away from Marvel superheroes, doing a story in 'Dracula Lives' issue #2 (1973) with writer Marv Wolfman, and working with Roy Thomas again on a couple of 'Conan' stories for 'Conan the Barbarian', 'Savage Tales' and 'The Savage Sword of Conan' (1973-1976), as well as a 'Solomon Kane' story in 'Kull and the Barbarians' (1975). Between 1974 and 1976, he also provided painted covers to the anthology title 'The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu', and in 1974 he also provided art to the Marv Wolfman story 'McClown' in Marvel's humor title Crazy. By 1981, Adams ended his first Marvel tenure with writing and drawing the experimental one-shot story 'Holocaust' in the seventh issue of the Epic Illustrated anthology series and introducing the kung-fu hero 'Shadow Hunter' in Bizarre Adventures #28, working with co-writer Doug Moench and fellow artist Larry Hama.


'Shadows in Zamboula' (Savage Sword of Conan #14, September 1976).

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
At DC, Neal Adams spent the 1970s doing cover illustrations and occasional fill-in stories for 'Batman', 'The Superman Family', 'Wonder Woman' and a couple of anthology titles. In 1976, he provided additional art for Carmine Infantino and Ross Andru's one-shot Marvel/DC cross-over comic book 'Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man'. Two years later, he was the lead artist and co-writer of another remarkable comic book, 'Superman vs. Muhammad Ali' (March 1978), in which the "Man of Steel" enters the ring with the real-life boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Based on an initial plot by Dennis O'Neil, Neal Adams did the final script and art for this story of 73 pages. Threatening to destroy Earth, the extraterrestrial alien Rat'Lar challenges the Earthlings to have their greatest boxer fight the greatest champion of his species. Both Superman and Muhammad Ali consider themselves "Earth's greatest champion" and have to box each other first, in order to decide who will combat the Rat'Lar's champion. When Muhammad Ali was asked permission for this legendary comic book team-up, he sent DC's representatives to the leader of Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad. If he approved, he would too. According to rumor, Muhammad Ali personally suggested the infamous scene where the boxer figures out Clark Kent's secret identity, but promises to keep it a secret. It is said that Ali was very pleased with the final product, and often showed his copy to visiting friends.


The famous double cover for 'Superman vs. Muhammad Ali' (1978).

Fans are still divided whether 'Superman vs. Muhammad Ali' is fantastic, or a corny novelty. Either way, it did become one of the bestselling 'Superman' titles of all time. The story has been frequently reprinted and attracted attention from people outside the comic's regular fanbase. Years later, Neal Adams recalled that at comic conventions, many fans, especially African-American readers, still came to book signings with their copy of the infamous comic book. Today, it is arguably one of the most famous 'Superman' titles, if only for the iconic cover. As a special treat, Adams added cameos of many other real-life celebrities in the crowd who watch Ali and Superman fight. Among them musicians (Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Jackson 5), TV stars (Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson), actors (Raquel Welch, Woody Allen, Orson Welles), painters (Andy Warhol), sportspeople (Pelé, Joe Namath, Don King) and U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Adams also gave several DC superheroes a seat, as well as the Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman. As an inside joke, he also portrayed himself and several of his fellow writers and artists. In 2000, Adams referenced his own iconic cover for a special issue of ESPN Magazine (10 January 2000), devoted to a list of the 'Thrillennium of the Millennium: 100 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century'. On the cover, Muhammad Ali fights basketball legend Michael Jordan, while various other legendary sports champions can be spotted in the crowd.


'Son-o-God Comics' (from National Lampoon).

National Lampoon
Between 1971 and 1980, Neal Adams also contributed regularly to the satirical humor monthly National Lampoon, at the time spearheaded by editors like Henry Beard, Doug Kenney and Michael O'Donoghue. His first work was the black-and-white Dracula parody 'Dragula: Queen of Darkness', written by Tony Hendra and printed in the November 1971 issue. After that, he teamed up with writer Sean Kell and Michel Choquette to create the 'Son-o-God Comics' feature (1972-1980), an cheerfully blasphemous superhero spoof of world religions. The lead character is the nerdy 30-year-old Benny Davis, who lives with his parents in Brooklyn. When he says the name "JESUS CHRIST!", he transforms into a muscular WASP superhero version of Jesus with cape and halo, ready to do battle with Catholicism, Islam, the Scarlet Woman of Babylon, the Antichrist and even Bob Dylan. In a 2003 interview with Comic Book Artist magazine (issue #24), Adams recalled the labor-intensive work he had to do on pencilling and inking the heavily detailed panels, accurately portraying the Vatican, its cardinals, cathedrals and ancient artifacts. Among Neal Adams' other National Lampoon work were 'The Ventures of Zimmerman' (October 1972), a fictionalized biography of Bob Dylan solving pop music problems as his alter-ego Zimmerman - and 'The Adventures of Deadman' (January 1973), and Henry Beard-written story about a dead superhero, by sheer coincidence carrying the same name as the completely unrelated series Adams did for DC Comics. Adams also brought his technical skills to National Lampoon, doing separations and production for the magazine's July 1975 3-D issue.


From: 'Neal Adams Treasury 2' (1979).

Creator rights
All in all, Neal Adams' original tenure in mainstream comic books was not that long - approximately between 1967 and 1973. But during that short period, he took the industry by storm. Averse from its conventions, he caused a small revolution, not only artistically but also professionally. As one of the first creators, he worked for both major publishing companies, the competitors DC and Marvel. At the time, this was an uncommon practice and generally not appreciated by company executives. Adams was also critically outspoken against many industry practices, like the "work-for-hire" contracts that left creators without any rights to their productions or original artwork. As the 1970s progressed, Adams' contributions to the two comic book giants became more sporadic, while he focused on getting comic artists into more commercially rewarding projects and fighting for creator rights. Together with Jerry Robinson, he actively supported Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their struggle with DC Comics to receive recognition and pay for creating the company's cash cow, Superman. Adams personally funded their legal representation for a 1976 court case, that secured the two veteran creators - who by then were living in poverty - with a credit byline and pension.

As early as 1969, Neal Adams had joined Carmine Infantino and Stan Lee - ironically his respective editors at DC and Marvel - in the foundation of the Academy of Comic Book Arts. But while Infantino and Lee saw the project as a vehicle to promote comics, Adams envisioned it as an organization to champion creator rights, demand royalties, improve pay, and guarantee return of original artwork. Eventually, Adams became the Academy's lead figure, organizing regular meetings, newsletters and ceremonies for its Shazam Awards, but the initiative came to an end in 1977. In the following year, Adams tried to encourage comic creators to unionize, and helped found the Comic Book Creators Guild. It supported Mike Ploog and Jack Kirby in their refusal to sign new Marvel contracts and stipulated a number of goals for creators. However, the union never attracted enough members, and by 1980, the comic book market had tightened, stranding this initiative as well.


Fragment of 'Capitol Tapeman', an advertising comic for Capitol Tapes.

Continuity Associates
In 1971, Neal Adams and his regular DC inker Dick Giordano grouped their activities and founded Continuity Associates, a New York City-based commercial art studio. For over 50 years, it remained an influential provider of commercial designs, concept art, storyboards and comic book packaging, as well as a breeding ground for new creative talent. Neal Adams, until 1980 accompanied by Giordano, trained a new generation of creators, giving them both artistic and commercial guidance by securing them with well-paid jobs in the advertising and motion picture industries. While making comic books remained an important part of Continuity's production, the team's core business were storyboards for movies and advertisements, which eventually expanded to animatics, 3D computer graphics and conceptual designs for gaming clients. Throughout the years, over 60 writers, artists and editors have worked on Continuity projects, and an additional division opened as well in Burbank, California. Some of the artists were employed by the advertising studio, others were freelancers who rented studio space at the Continuity office. Many artists rented a studio. Adams and Giordano gave their co-workers individual projects, but the crew also did many assignments collectively, working under the team credits "Goon Squad" (pencillers) and "Crusty Bunkers" (inkers).

The Continuity Associates, also known as the Continuity Graphics Associates or the Continuity Studios, provided full comic book production for titles by Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Charlton Comics and Atlas/Seaboard. As a team, they worked on DC's 'Sword of Sorcery' and 'Weird Worlds' (1972-1973), Charlton's 'Six Million Dollar Man' (1976) and 'Emergency!' (1976), and several of Marvel's horror and monster anthologies and 'Conan the Barbarian' titles. Adams or Giordano oversaw production, and did inking on the main characters and faces themselves, while the rest of the crew took care of the other art chores. Neal Adams himself did script and art on a story for Sal Quartuccio's stand-alone fantasy comic book 'Phase' (May 1973), as well as a 'Tarzan' story for a giveaway comic book that came with Aurora Model Kits (1974). Between 1974 and 1982, he drew covers and stories for books with 'Batman', 'Superman', 'Star Trek' and 'Dracula-Wolfman-Frankenstein', that accompanied music and story records for children by Peter Pan Records. Continuity Studios also licensed much of its material internationally. In 1983, an expanded version of Adams' 'Dracula-Werewolf-Frankenstein' stories appeared in the Spanish Creepy magazine, published by Toutain Editor, as well as the French comic magazine L'Écho des Savanes. In that same year, he participated in a remarkable co-production with the French cartoonist Gotlib, teaming up a parody version of 'Superman' with Gotlib's 'Superdupont' character for a one-shot story in the February 1983 issue of Fluide Glacial magazine.


Ms. Mystic #2 (1984).

Pacific Comics
On top of his 1970s commercial art production, Adams continued to develop new comic characters and concepts to compile the 'New Heroes Portfolio' (1979) for publisher/editor Sal Quartuccio. In 1982, one of these creations was picked up by the San Diego indie comic book publisher Pacific Comics, resulting in the creator-owned comic book series 'Ms. Mystic' (1982-1983). As a witch-like personification of Mother Nature, the character was an ecological superheroine with the powers of the earth and sky. In November 1983, Pacific Comics released the first issue of another Neal Adams creation, 'Skateman', featuring a crimefighter on roller skates. By 1984, Pacific Comics went out of business, ending 'Ms. Mystic' after two issues and 'Skateman' after only one.

Continuity Comics
After the disappearance of Pacific Comics, Adams decided to continue his activities in the indie comics scene by launching his own imprint, Continuity Comics. One of the imprint's first releases was the short story anthology series 'Echo of Futurepast', of which nine issues appeared between 1984 and 1986. It ran Adams' own 'Dracula-Werewolf-Frankenstein' stories, but also new features like 'Bucky O'Hare' by Larry Hama and Michael Golden, 'Tippie Toe Jones' by Lindley Farley and Louis Mitchell, 'Mudwogs' by Arthur Suydam, 'AE-35' by Tim Ryan and William Jungkuntz and foreign material by Enrique Sánchez Abulí, Jean Teulé and Carlos Giménez. Another early title was the 'Zero Patrol' space saga (1984-1989), an edited version of the Spanish series 'Cinco Por Infinito' by Esteban Maroto, featuring additional writing and artwork by Neal Adams. Neal Adams also did art on 'Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future' (1988-1989), a two-issue comic book based on the TV series of the same name created by J. Michael Straczynski.


Cover drawings by Neal Adams for the Continuity titles 'Megalith' and 'Crazyman' (the latter rendered with the die-cut technique).

For their new comic book line, Adams and his team built their own set of superhero characters that formed the so-called "Continuity Universe". Peter Stone became one of Continuity's main scriptwriters, who worked with Neal Adams on launching many new series, drawn by the studio's pencilers and inkers. Regular artists for the titles were Dan Barry, Vicente Alcazar, Mike Deodato, Jr., Mark Texeira, Dave Hoover, Richard Bennett, Tom Grindberg, Bart Sears and Michael Netzer. Besides setting the house style, Neal Adams provided most of the cover illustrations, as well as some of the interior layouts, inking and touch-ups. Besides the return of 'Ms. Mystic' (1987-1994), several of the other new characters also came from Adams' 1979 'New Heroes Portfolio', such as the rich technological genius kid 'Toyboy' (1986-1989), the strong-when-angry 'Crazyman' (1992-1994) and 'Shaman' (1994), who uses magic and technology to destroy magic. One of the major new characters in the Continuity Universe was Megalith, a superhero based on the Eastern philosophy of the match of the mind and body. He appeared in the team title 'The Revengers' (1985-1989), his own book (1989-1994) and as a guest star in Continuity series like 'Armor' (1985-1992), 'Samuree' (1987-1994) and 'Hybrids' (1993-1994). Other Continuity titles were 'Urth 4' (1989-1990), 'CyberRad' (1991-1992), 'Valeria, the She-Bat' (1993) and 'Earth 4' (1993-1994), with characters often crossing over in other series.

During the early 1990s, Continuity Comics stepped in on the "variant covers" trend for collectors, and experimented with hologram, die-cut, glow-in-thedark and "indestructible" Tyvek covers. The company also tried to boost sales with cross-over story arcs like 'Deathwatch 2000' and 'The Rise of Magic' (both 1993-1994), but in vain. From the start, Continuity Comics had difficulties maintaining a regular publication schedule. By 1994, the company suffered from a financial downfall, and was also embroiled in legal trouble, when artist Michael Nasser filed a 20 million dollar lawsuit for copyright/trademark infringement over his alleged co-creation of the 'Ms. Mystic' character. The Continuity Comics imprint went out of business, and some of the characters, like Samuree, Valeria and Knighthawk, were picked up by the Windjammer line of creator-owned titles by Acclaim Comics.


'Blood' (Dark Horse Comics, 2016).

Later comic book work
During the 1990s and 2000s, Adams remained active in the commercial art field through his Continuity Studios. One of the major projects he worked on was designing the commercial mascot for the nasal spray Nasonex, who had the voice of Antonio Banderas. Occasionally, he contributed to new comic projects, including some cover assignments by DC and Marvel. At Now Comics, he drew issues of 'The Twilight Zone' (1990-1991) and co-created 'Mr. T and the T-Force' (1993) with Peter Stone, a celebrity comic book starring the American actor/wrestler Mr. T (best known for playing B. A. Baracus in the 1980s television series 'The A-Team'). In 1991, he also did a 3-D comic book based on the film 'The Rocketeer' for the Walt Disney Company (which in turn was based on the comic series of the same name by Dave Stevens). By 1996, the Continuity Studios did a promotional comic book for safer internet starring 'Duke', the mascot of the Java programming language of Sun Microsystems.

A true veteran of the comic book industry by the 2010s, Neal Adams made regular appearances at comic conventions, took art commissions, and was available for interviews. During this period, he also made more regular comebacks to the field of comic books. In 2011, he was the lead artist for Stan Lee's 'The Guardian Project', a comic anthology about a boy who has the ability to transform his imaginary best friends into superheroes. Many other comic artists were involved, while Chuck Dixon, Jake Shapiro and Tony Chargin did most of the writing. Between 2011 and 2013, Neal Adams serialized his new creator-owned superhero 'Blood' in Dark Horse Presents. The subsequent graphic novel 'Neal Adams' Blood' was published by Dark Horse in 2016. In 2015 and 2017, Adams also contributed to short stories to the horror anthology 'The Creeps' by Warrant Publishing.


'Batman: Odyssey' #1 (2010).

Most of the 2010s were however spent doing mini-series with characters he had worked on earlier in his career. At DC Comics, Neal Adams wrote and drew the six-issue 'Batman: Odyssey' (2010-2011) series, in which the cartoonist used the Expanding Earth hypothesis, of which he was a firm believer. For Marvel, he did the November 2011 issue of 'The New Avengers' with writer Brian Michael Bendis and in collaboration with his old inker Tom Palmer, followed by the five-issue mini-series 'First X-Men', co-written by Christos Gage with inks by Andrew Currie. Then back at DC, Adams did additional 'Batman' stories for titles like 'Batman Zombie', 'Detective Comics' and the 2017 Batman Annual, as well as occasional stories in other DC titles ('House of Mystery', 'Fables: Farewell') and a Harley Quinn/Superman cross-over story in Harley's Little Black Books (2017). He additionally did full script and art on the 'Superman: The Coming of the Supermen' mini-series (six issues, 2016) and six issues of a new 'Deadman' series (2018). Neal Adams' final comic book work were the four-issue limited series 'Fantastic Four: Antithesis' (2020-2021) with writer Mark Waid and inker Mark Farmer at Marvel Comics and his own six-issue series 'Batman vs. Ra's al Ghul' (2019-2021) at DC Comics.


Spanish movie poster for 'Death to the Pee Wee Squad' (1988).

Other activities
Besides design work for print media and the commercial art field, Adams has also been involved in stage shows, television and movie productions. In 1973, he served as art director, stage designer and poster artist for the Broadway performances of 'Warp!', a science fiction play directed by Stuart Gordon and written by Lenny Kleinfeld. After an initial run in a small Chicago theater, the Neal Adams-boosted show was performed in the Ambassador Theater in New York City in February 1973. Even though the New York Times and Village Voice gave it great reviews, the show proved too offbeat and it was cancelled after eight performances.

In the early 1980s, Adams tried his hand at filmmaking, beginning a project with the working title 'Nannaz'. An engineer, played by Neal Adams himself, invents a million-dollar invention, which he hides in his home. When he's out for the night, his kids are hunted down by rogue agents who are after the invention. Their plans are however foiled by the kids and their stuffed animal monkey, named "Nannaz". Personally funding the production, Neal Adams also served as the film's writer, director and producer. The kids roles were played by Adams' own children, Jason and Zeea, while the other roles were performed by a variety of comic creators, including Denys Cowan, Gray Morrow, Larry Hama, Jack Sparling, Ralph Reese and Jay Scott Pike. The project was eventually purchased by Troma, and released as 'Death to the Pee Wee Squad' (1988). Even though the movie was not a hit, for comic book fans it remains a pop cultural phenomenon because of its actors.

Also in the 1980s, Neal Adams did conceptual and design art for Stuart Gordon's horror cult films 'From Beyond' (1986) and 'Dolls' (1987), the sci-fi movie 'Circuitry Man' (1990) and character design for DIC Entertainment's animated TV series 'Captain Planet and the Planeteers' (1990-1996), created by Barbara Pyle and Ted Turner. In 1991, Neal Adams was additionally executive producer, art designer and associate story consultant for thirteen episodes of 'Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars!', a TV show based on the original Continuity Comics series.


Dina Babbitt's life story in comic format by Neal Adams, published in the New York Times (2008).

Holocaust awareness
Partially grown up in post-war Germany, Adams had a lifelong interest in the Holocaust and the Jewish people. Besides his own childhood memories, Adams' interest was also triggered by his mother-in-law, a Jewish refugee from Nazi-occupied Poland. Later in life, Adams undertook several actions to support Jewish artists and create Holocaust awareness, mostly in collaboration with Rafael Medoff of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. In 2006, Adams and Medoff campaigned for the Czech-Jewish Auschwitz survivor Dina Babbitt to regain the paintings she was forced to make by the camp doctor, the feared Josef Mengele. In exchange for Mengele sparing her mother and herself from the gas chambers, Babbitt had to make detailed paintings to demonstrate the doctor's pseudo-scientific theories about the racial inferiority of Romani people. By 2006, eight of the paintings were in the posession of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, that claimed ownership. Convinced of the fundamental principle that art belongs to the artist who created it, Adams mobilized over 450 comic book artist and writers to sign a petition. Even though the museum never returned the paintings, Neal Adams and Rafael Medoff turned Babbitt's plight into a six-page graphic documentary, which was published by Marvel Comics. In 2010, Adams and Medoff worked with Disney Educational Productions on 'They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust', a five-part online motion comics series with Holocaust-related stories.

Recognition
During his lifetime, Adams received many accolades for his comic book work. Ever since 1967, individual stories and cover drawings were awarded with Alley Awards, Shazam Awards and Goethe Awards. In 1971, he also received the Goethe Award (later called the Comic Fan Art Award) for "Favorite Pro Artist". In 1976, he won an Inkpot Award at the San Diego Comic-Con International, and was voted the "Favourite Comic Book Artist" at the 1977 and the 1978 Eagle Awards at the British Comic Art Conventions in the UK. In 1985, DC Comics listed Adams in its 50th anniversary publication 'Fifty Who Made DC Great'. Three years later, he was inducted into the Eisner Awards' Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame, followed by an induction into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame at the 1999 Harvey Awards. In 2019, Adams was inducted into the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievement and outstanding accomplishments.


Storyboard art for a Cheerios advertising spot.

Final years and death
Adams remained active until the very end. His Continuity Studios continued to market itself as a "full service production company that produces finished award-winning campaigns for major clients". In its New York office, Continuity operated a full motion capture stage used for both gaming clients and test commercials. With his team, Adams produced animatics, photomatics, video storyboards, live-a-matics with photos, live shoots against a green screen, and cinematics using CGI and motion capture, as well as editorial illustrations, commercial cartooning and concept artwork. In 2016, Neal Adams opened his own gallery in Continuity's Midtown Manhattan office, showing original artwork from his long career in comic books and commercial art. On 6 April 2019, the Continuity West Comic Book Boutique opened its doors on the address of Continuity's Burbank, Los Angeles division (also known as the "Transcontinuity Studios"). The store was later renamed to Crusty Bunkers Comics and Toys. Accompanied by his family, Neal Adams spent his final years making artwork and running his studio, but also owning a comic book store and art gallery. In June 2021, Adams posted on his Facebook page that he suffered a near-death experience with sepsis that hospitalized him and temporarily placed him on dialysis. Even though he seemed to recover, complications from the disease eventually caused his death on 28 April 2022.


Cover drawings for Green Lantern #76 (1970) and Batman #251 (1973).

Style and impact
Neal Adams left a legacy behind that is difficult to surpass. In terms of impact on American superhero comics, his name is often ranked alongside Jack Kirby's. Whereas Kirby gave American comic books fantastic worlds and larger-than-life characters, Adams is credited for introducing realism and believability to the genre. With his influential runs on both 'Batman' and 'Green Lantern', Adams was instrumental in the transition of the so-called Silver Age of American Comic Books into the Bronze Age (approx. 1970-1985), where social relevance and hardened realities dominated the stories. His grim rendition of 'Batman' alone has been a blueprint for every subsequent artist of the caped crusader, including Frank Miller and his equally groundbreaking 1980s 'Dark Knight Returns' series. Original artwork of his legendary cover illustrations made big money on auctions. In 2015, his cover drawing for 'Green Lantern/Green Arrow' #76 was sold for 455,000 US dollar. On a 2019 Heritage auction, his cover for 'Batman' #251 - the one that reintroduced the Joker - was auctioned off for 600,000 dollar.

In the 1987 documentary 'The Masters of Comic Book Art', and also in other interviews, Neal Adams stated that he didn't think he revolutionized the medium, more that he stretched its possiblities by experimenting with page format and layout. His aim was to grab the reader's attention and have them follow his lead across the page, having them slow down and speed up when necessary. At DC, Adams' stylized realism transformed the company's traditionally clean and stiff housestyle into a more modern one, inspiring new DC contributors like Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chaykin and Michael Kaluta. Through campaigning for creator rights and taking new artists under his wing at Continuity, he also played an important role in the indie comic book market of the 1980s, where creator-owned series became more mainstream. With his paternal tutoring role, his impact lives on in every artist that ever worked for both Continuity Studios and Continuity Comics. Industry giants that have credited Neal Adams as an important influence on their careers were Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, John Byrne, Howard Chaykin, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Mike Grell and Frank Cho. The Japanese mangaka Ryoichi Ikegami also named Neal Adams as an inspiration.


Portfolio artwork by Neal Adams.

Family in arts
Many members of Neal Adams' family have been active in the comic book industry, including at his own companies. His first wife Cory Peifer worked as a comic book colorist on his productions for DC, Marvel, Pacific and Continuity Comics. The couple had four children: Kris, Joel, Jason and Zeea. The latter two had starring roles as child actors in his 1988 film 'Death to the Pee Wee Squad'. Jason Adams, AKA Spyda, later went to work in toy and fantasy sculpture through Spyda Creations, Zeea Adams Moss was an editor and animator at Continuity before becoming a colorist like her mother, working on comic books for Continuity, Valiant and Red Line Comics. Neal's eldest son Joel Adams (1966) worked as a commercial storyboard artist, comic book artist and animation character designer, and has since 2001 managed the West Coast studio of Continuity Graphics.

Kristine Adams Stone had a long career at Continuity Studios, starting as a receptionist, and then moving on to become a representative of Continuity Graphics and associate publisher of Continuity Comics. She played an important role on the editorial side of Continuity's commercial art productions, has served as Executive Producer and was the driving force behind setting up the Neal Adams Art Gallery. She is married to Continuity Comics scriptwriter Peter Stone. Marilyn Adams - Neal's second wife since March 1987 - was also an Executive Producer for Continuity, overseeing the entire Continuity/Neal Adams comic book content library. The couple's son, Josh Adams (1987), has been a comic artist for IDW and DC Comics, as well as a production artist on sci-fi TV shows.


Early self-portrait from his newspaper comics days.

Artists and writers who have worked for Continuity Studios and/or the Crusty Bunkers:

Jack Abel
Joel Adams
Vicente Alcazar
Mark Alexander
Sal Amendola
Steven Austin
Terry Austin
Joe Barney
Rick Basile
Pat Bastienne
Cary Bates
Liz Berube
Pat Broderick
Joe Brozowski
Frank Brunner
Rick Bryant
Rich Buckler
Buzz
Howard Chaykin
Frank Cirocco
Dave Cockrum
Denys Cowan
Joe D'Esposito
Ed Davis
Karin Dougherty
Steve Englehart
John Fuller
Dick Giordano
Al Gordon
Dan Green
Darrell Goza
Larry Hama
Steve Harper
Russ Heath
Klaus Janson
Jeffrey Catherine Jones
Paul Kirchner
Alan Kupperberg
Bob Layton
Carl Lundgren
Esteban Maroto
Gary Martin
Val Mayerik
Bob McLeod
Al Milgrom
Steve Mitchell
Yong Montaño
Tim Moriarty
Gray Morrow
Win Mortimer
Michael Netzer (Nasser)
Bruce Patterson
Carl Potts
Ralph Reese
Mark Rice
Marshall Rogers
Joe Rubinstein
James Sherman
Walt Simonson
Mary Skrenes
Bob Smith
Jim Starlin
Peter Stone
Greg Theakston
Trevor Von Eeden
Alan Weiss
Bob Wiacek
Gary Winnick
Berni Wrightson

 

www.NealAdams.com

Series and books by Neal Adams you can order today:

X

If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.