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Early in his career, he worked for the Johnstone and Cushing advertising agency and for the United Media comics syndication company.
Neal Adams was born June 15, 1941 on Governors Island, New York City. He is Jewish. Adams attended the School of Industrial Art high school in Manhattan, graduating in 1959.
After graduation in 1959, he unsuccessfully attempted to find freelance work at DC Comics, and turned then to Archie Comics, where he wanted to work on the publisher's fledgling superhero line, edited by Joe Simon. At the suggestion of staffers, Adams drew "three or four pages of [the superhero] the Fly", but did not receive encouragement from Simon. Sympathetic staffers nonetheless asked Adams to draw samples for the Archie teen-humor comics themselves. While he did so, Adams said in a 2000s interview, he unknowingly broke into comics:
In 1962, Adams began his comics career in earnest at the Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicate. From a recommendation, writer Jerry Caplin, a.k.a. Jerry Capp, brother of Li'l Abner creator Al Capp, invited Adams to draw samples for Capp's proposed Ben Casey comic strip, based on the popular television medical-drama series. On the strength of his samples and of his "Chip Martin, College Reporter" AT&T advertising comic-strip pages in Boys' Life magazine, and of his similar Goodyear Tire ads, Adams landed the assignment. The first daily strip, which carried Adams' signature, appeared November 26, 1962; a color Sunday strip was added September 20, 1964. Adams continued to do Johnston & Cushing assignments during Ben Casey's 3 1/2-year run.
He worked as a ghost artist for a few weeks in 1966 on the comic strip Peter Scratch (1965–1967), a hardboiled detective serial created by writer Elliot Caplin, brother of Al Capp and Jerry Capp, and artist Lou Fine. Comics historians also credit Adams with ghosting two weeks of dailies for Stan Drake's The Heart of Juliet Jones, but are uncertain on dates; some sources give 1966, another 1968, and Adams himself 1963. As well, Adams drew 18 sample dailies (three weeks' continuity) of a proposed dramatic serial, Tangent, about construction engineer Barnaby Peake, his college-student brother Jeff, and their teenaged sibling Chad, in 1965, but it was not syndicated. Adams later said that Elliot Caplin offered Adams the job of drawing a comic strip based on author Robin Moore's The Green Berets, but that Adams, who opposed the Vietnam War, where the series was set, suggested longtime DC Comics war-comics artist Joe Kubert, who landed that assignment.
While continuing to freelance for DC, Adams in 1969 also began freelancing for Marvel Comics, where he penciled several issues of the mutant-superhero team title X-Men and one story for a horror anthology title. The Marvel "Bullpen Bulletins" column of Fantastic Four #87 (June 1969) described Adams as having "one foot planted in our Marvel doorway. We're guessing your ecstatic comments, when you see the way he illustrated our latest X-Men bombshell, will transform him into a Marvel madman from head to toe." Such freelancing across the two leading companies was rare at the time; most DC creators who did so worked pseudonymously. Adams recalled in 1976:
Adams' first Deadman cover won the 1967 Alley Award for Best Cover. A Batman/Deadman team-up in The Brave and the Bold #79 (Sept. 1968), by Adams and writer Bob Haney, tied with another comic for the 1968 Alley Award for Best Full-Length Story; and in 1969, Adams won the Alley Award for Best Pencil Artist, the feature "Deadman" was elected to the Alley Award Hall of Fame, and Adams received a special award "for the new perspective and dynamic vibrance he has brought to the field of comic art".
He also won Shazam Awards in 1970 for Best Individual Story ("No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" in Green Lantern vol. 2, #76, with writer Dennis O'Neil), and Best Pencil Artist (Dramatic Division); and in 1971 for Best Individual Story ("Snowbirds Don't Fly" in Green Lantern vol. 2, #85, with O'Neil).
That panel ran in Adventures of the Fly #4 (Jan. 1960). Afterward, Adams began writing, penciling, inking, and lettering humorous full-page and half-page gag fillers for Archie's Joke Book Magazine. In a 1976 interview, he recalled earning "[a]bout $16.00 per half-page and $32.00 for a full page. That may not seem like a great deal of money, but at the time it meant a great deal to myself as well as my mothers ... as we were not in a wealthy state. It was manna from heaven, so to speak." A recommendation led him to artist Howard Nostrand, who was beginning the Bat Masterson syndicated newspaper comic strip, and he worked as Nostrand's assistant for three months, primarily drawing backgrounds at what Adams recalled as $9 a week and "a great experience".
Adams' goal at this point was to be a commercial illustrator. While drawing Ben Casey, he had continued to do storyboards and other work for ad agencies, and said in 1976 that after leaving the strip he had shopped around a portfolio for agencies and for men's magazines, "but my material was a little too realistic and not exactly right for most. I left my portfolio in an advertising agency promising they were going to hold on to it. In the meantime I needed to make some money ... and I thought, 'Why don't I do some comics?'" In a 2000s interview, he remembered the events slightly differently, saying "I took [my portfolio] to various advertising people. I left it at one place overnight and when I came back to get it the next morning it was gone. So six months worth of work down the drain. ... "
He won an Inkpot Award in 1976 and was voted the "Favourite Comicbook Artist" at the 1977 and the 1978 Eagle Awards.
Also during the 1970s, Adams illustrated paperback novels in the Tarzan series for Ballantine Books. With the independent-comic publishing boom of the early 1980s, he began working for Pacific Comics (where he produced the poorly received Skateman) and other publishers, and founded his own Continuity Comics as an offshoot of Continuity Associates. His comic-book company's characters include Megalith, Bucky O'Hare, Skeleton Warriors, CyberRad, and Ms. Mystic. He and fellow artist Michael Netzer entered into a dispute over intellectual property rights to Ms. Mystic, a character they had worked on jointly in 1977, which Adams had published under the Pacific Comics and Continuity Comics imprints, leading to a lawsuit against Adams in United States District Court in 1993. The case was dismissed in 1997, citing the statute of limitations.
In 1978, Adams helped form the Comics Creators Guild, which over three dozen comic-book writers and artists joined.
In 1980 Neal Adams directed and starred in "Nannaz," later released by Troma under the title "Death to the Pee Wee Squad." The film co-starred Adams' children Jason and Zeea as well as fellow comics professionals Denys Cowan, Ralph Reese, Larry Hama, and Gray Morrow.
In 1985, DC Comics named Adams as one of the honorees in the company's 50th anniversary publication Fifty Who Made DC Great.
During the 1970s, Adams was politically active in the industry, and attempted to unionize its creative community. His efforts, along with precedents set by Atlas/Seaboard Comics' creator-friendly policies and other factors, helped lead to the modern industry's standard practice of returning original artwork to the artist, who can earn additional income from art sales to collectors. He won his battle in 1987, when Marvel returned original artwork to him and industry legend Jack Kirby, among others. Adams notably and vocally helped lead the lobbying efforts that resulted in Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster receiving decades-overdue credit and some financial remuneration from DC.
The last complete story that Adams drew at DC before opening his own company, Continuity Associates, was the oversize Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978) which Adams has called a personal favorite. After this, Adams' production for DC and Marvel was mainly limited to new covers for reprint editions of some of his work, such as Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War, X-Men: Visionaries, Deadman Collection and The Saga of Ra's al Ghul, which were variously published as reprint miniseries or trade paperback collections. In 1988, he designed a new costume for DC's Robin character Dick Grayson DC loved the redesign and adopted it to the comics years later when they introduced new Robin Tim Drake. a miniposter included in the first issue of the Robin limited series.
Adams was inducted into the Eisner Award's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1998, and the Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 2005 Adams returned to Marvel (his last collaboration for this publisher had been in 1981 drawing a story for the Bizarre Adventures magazine) to draw an eight-page story for the Giant-Size X-Men #3. The following year Adams (among other artists) provided art to Young Avengers Special #1.
Adams appeared on the radio show Coast to Coast AM several times to discuss his claims. He was also interviewed by Steven Novella on a Skeptics Guide podcast in 2006, and afterward continued the debate on Novella's blog. Japan Times columnist Jeff Ogrisseg wrote a three-part feature promoting Adams's ideas, which was roundly criticized by Novella for being an example of "outright promotion of pseudoscience as if it were news." Adams also used the concept as the basis for his Batman: Odyssey series, in which the planet's expansion has produced a Hollow Earth, the inside of which is inhabited by dinosaurs and Neanderthal versions of the main characters.
Adams' art style, honed in advertising and in the photorealistic school of dramatic-serial comics strips, marked a signal change from most comics art to that time. Comics writer and columnist Steven Grant wrote in 2009 that,
In 2010, Adams returned to DC Comics as writer and artist on the miniseries Batman: Odyssey. Originally conceived as a 12-issue story, the series ran for six issues, being relaunched with vol. 2, #1 in October 2011. A total of seven issues were published for the second series until its end in June 2012.
In 2010, Adams and Medoff teamed with Disney Educational Productions to produce They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust, an online educational motion comics series that tells stories of Americans who protested Nazis or helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Each standalone episode, which runs from five to ten minutes, utilizes a combination of archival film footage and animatics drawn by Adams (who also narrates), and focus on a different person. The first episode, "La Guardia's War Against Hitler" was screened in April 2010 at a festival sponsored by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, and tells the story of the forceful stand New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia took against Nazi Germany. La Guardia's actions stood in contrast to the relative passivity of President Franklin Roosevelt, who historians such as David S. Wyman believe did not do as much as he could have to save European Jewry, a point underlined in the episode "Messenger from Hell". Other episodes include "Voyage of the Doomed", which focuses on the S.S. St. Louis, the ship that carried more than 900 German-Jewish refugees but was turned away by Cuban authorities and later the Roosevelt administration, and "Rescue Over the Mountains", which depicts Varian Fry, the young journalist who led an underground rescue network that smuggled Jewish refugees out of Vichy France.
Apart from those assignments for DC, Adams penciled The New Avengers vol. 2, #16.1 (Nov. 2011) for Marvel Comics. In May 2012, Marvel announced that Adams would work on the X-Men again with The First X-Men, a five-issue miniseries drawn and plotted by him and written by Christos Gage. Adams produced short stories for Batman Black and White vol. 2 #1 (Nov. 2013) and Detective Comics vol. 2 #27 (March 2014).
In late 2013 Adams appeared in the PBS TV documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.
In February 2016, Adams revisited some of his most notable covers done for DC Comics in the 1960s and 1970s, replacing the original characters with some of the New 52 ones. Later that same year, Adams wrote and drew the six-part Superman: Coming of the Supermen miniseries. In 2017, Adams wrote and drew a Deadman limited series. He drew a new five-page story titled "The Game", which was written by Paul Levitz, for the Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman hardcover collection.
In 2019, Adams was inducted into the Inkwell Awards Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame for his lifetime achievement and outstanding accomplishments.
Neal was born into a Jewish family in New York City. With his wife Marilyn, he had three sons, all of whom grew up to be artists.
Currently, Neal Adams is 81 years, 11 months and 21 days old. Neal Adams will celebrate 82nd birthday on a Thursday 15th of June 2023. Below we countdown to Neal Adams upcoming birthday.
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