Neal Adams, comic book legend and artist rights defender, dies at age 80: NPR

Neal Adams has revived popular cartoon characters including Batman, the Green Lantern, Superman and the X-Men by redesigning them in a more realistic style.

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Neal Adams has revived popular cartoon characters including Batman, the Green Lantern, Superman and the X-Men by redesigning them in a more realistic style.

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Comic book fanatics far and wide mourn the death of Neal Adams, the artist who changed the game with his realistic illustrations in the 1960s and 1970s. He himself was considered something of a superhero in the comic book world, but was the champion of his peers and insisted on artist rights and fair pay.

Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern, and the X-Men are just a handful of the characters Adams reimagined in the late 1960s. He turned the script around by straying from the traditional cartoonish look found in comics. Instead, Adams sketched heroes and villains with a gritty, realistic flair.

Adam’s death was confirmed Friday by one of his sons, Josh, on social media. Adam’s wife, Marilyn Adams, told… The Hollywood Reporter that her husband died of sepsis complications in New York. According to social media posts, Adams died early Thursday; he was 80.

“My Dad Was a Force”, Josh Adams said in his post† “His career was marked by unparalleled artistic talent and an unwavering character that led him to constantly fight for his peers and those in need.”

Newspaper comics, not comic books, were where the high-paying positions for artists were when Adams graduated from New York City’s School of Industrial Arts in 1959, comic book historian Alex Grand told NPR. And while Adams enjoyed his work on comics like Ben Casey and Archiehe felt more at home working on longer stories in comic books.

Neal Adams took a newer approach to his drawings, giving the audience a more realistic feel for the story.

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DC Comics spawned Adams in 1967, where he drew covers for war comics and contributed to: The Adventures of Jerry Lewis and The Adventures of Bob Hope stories, a DC statement said.

In 1968, he reimagined and reimagined Batman as a brooding dark detective, more in line with the 1939 Dark Knight’s origin story than the shark-repellant comedic character played by Adam West.

Instead of bright-eyed, fuzzy-tailed heroes and villains, the quintessential style at the time, Adam’s characters took on a rougher look: Batman was jacked and the Joker was terrifying; fight scenes showed tattered costumes with blood dripping from fresh wounds.

In addition to revolutionizing comic book illustrations throughout the industry, Neal Adams pushed for artists’ rights.

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“He came in and applied hyperrealism, and when he brought that to comics, his work felt like you were looking at stills from a movie that he illustrated really well,” Grand said. “He made it seem like you could believe this could almost happen.”

Readers couldn’t get enough. Other illustrators started taking Adams’s approach, Grand said, as the industry changed a stylistic angle. And Adams, who had reached near superstar status in the comics world, did his best to improve the lives of his fellow artists.

At that time, artists did not have many rights. One of his greatest achievements, Grand said, was how Adams Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Supermanget the credit — and money — they earned from DC after the company bought the rights to the comic and removed their names from the byline.

“He’s really committed himself to trying to create unions for comic book artists and writers to allow for better health care, payment and returns of their original art,” Grand said. “He was a superhero himself in the sense that he could actually work for the weaker people, and that’s something else.”

Adams even saved the X-Men, who were on the brink of failure in 1969. He and Roy Thomas teamed up to revive the Marvel series and introduce new characters to a comic that has been reprinting stories for a while, Grand said.

Josh Adams described his father as someone who always cared for others, a man who gave and expected nothing in return.

“Neal Adams’ most undeniable quality was the one I’d known about him all my life: he was a father,” Josh Adams wrote on Twitter† “Not just my father, but a father to anyone who would get to know him.”

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