Famous comic book artist Neal Adams has sadly passed away. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Adam’s wife Marilyn said the 80-year-old artist died on Thursday in New York of complications from sepsis.
Adams was best known for his work in both the DC and Marvel universes. On the DC side, he worked on characters like Deadman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow while on the Marvel side of things he worked on X-Men and The Avengers. However, his most famous contribution to the industry was his run on Batman with writer Dennis O’Neil in the 1970s. They were the driving force that changed the narrative that was set by the campy Adam West Batman series. Neil’s art was known for his more realistic approach and their darker stories paved the way for the character we know today. Adams helped create iconic villains like Man-Bat, Ra’s al Ghul, and Talia al Ghul while also reinventing pre-existing villains like The Joker. The Batman universe would not be where it is today without Adams.
That being said, the artist was also responsible for helping O’Neil with another DC series that ended up being very controversial at the time. They used their previously mentioned Green Lantern/Green Arrow book to tackle tough issues of the time. Racism, drug addiction, and overpopulation were all featured topics in the series — issues that we as a society are still struggling with today. This series also famously introduced John Stewart’s Green Lantern which became DC’s first black icon. Like Man-Bat and Ra’s al Ghul, Stewart would be used heavily in other mediums in the future. This included starring in the Justice League animated series that was a part of the larger DCAU at the time.
However, Adams was a part of the force for change in the comics industry outside just what was on the page. Adams worked hard to fight for better working conditions and creators’ rights. One of his major pushes was getting artists compensation when their work was adapted to another medium like film and television. Adams also famously led a lobby that helped Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster get credit for their monumental creation in the comics and films.
Adams was a pioneer and a hero to many. A lot of the modern comic creators have already taken to social media to express the sadness of this gigantic industry loss.
Writer Gail Simone, best known for her run on Batgirl and Birds of Prey, wrote:
Comic writer Fraser Campbell, best known for Alex Automatic, wrote:
The creator of Deadpool, Rob Liefeld, wrote:
Marvel Comics writer C.B. Cebulski wrote:
Comic writer and artist Ande Parks, best known for his run on Green Arrow, wrote:
Comic Writer Jimmy Palmiotti, best known for his run on Harley Quinn, wrote:
Comics artist Christian Ward, best known for Aquaman, wrote:
Marc Guggenheim, the creator of the hit TV series Arrow, wrote:
Finally, comic artist Mahmud Asrar, best known for King Conan, wrote:
Adams is a huge loss for the comics industry. However, like many of these famous creators mentioned, his legacy lives forever in his brilliant art and iconic covers. Whether it is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, the MCU, or the Arrowverse, our nerdy pop culture renaissance would not exist without Adams’ contributions. He was as much of a hero as the famous characters he drew. Our thoughts and prayers are with Adams’ family. If you are not familiar with Adams’ work, go support your local comic shop and buy an omnibus or two of his work. Especially if you are a Batman fan, you will not be disappointed.
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