I've been a fan of Neal Adams since I was a kid and didn't know who he was. He did the cover to the first comic book I can clearly remember, Batman #203. He did the covers to several comics that are burned into my memory from childhood, and stayed with me even after my stepfather literally burned all of my comic books. Neal drew this iconic image that you see at left, which has been recreated from a full-page splash in Batman #251.
Back then, though, I couldn't tell the difference between Neal Adams and Irv Novick. I just knew that Batman suddenly didn't look like Adam West. He had long ears, an impossibly long cape, and didn't drive a fancy Batmobile anymore. He was visually responsible for what is now my favorite era of Batman.
Adams also drew a treasury book that I absolutley adored in Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. I don't care how stupid the story seems. I have read my copy dog-eared. My brother, sister, and I recorded an audio version of it when I was in junior high. I had a tape recorder and we had assigned parts to read. I wish I still had a copy of that tape! This glorious book is being recolored and about to be re-released in hardcover form. I can hardly wait.
Last week saw the release of Batman: Odyssey, written and drawn by Adams. The writing is a bit muddled, but it is a beautifully drawn book. I'll stick with it just because I would buy drying paint if it were painted by Neal Adams.
I got to meet Adams when my wife arranged a special treat for me in 2005. While we were visiting her sister Jessica and Jessica's husband, Jeremy Cook, in San Francisco, I knew that Jeremy would be going to Comic-Con International in San Diego in the middle of our visit. What I didn't know is that Magi (happy birthday, by the way, Sweetie!) had conspired with them so that I would fly with Jeremy to Los Angeles, where we would rent a car and drive the rest of the way down to San Diego. It was fun for me, because at the time, Jeremy was working at Industrial Light & Magic, and was a big-time digital matte artist. Do you remember the ship encased in ice at the end of "The Day After Tomorrow?" Yeah, Jeremy digitally painted that. But when we walked in, he was impressed because I was on a first-name basis with a lot of comic book artists who actually recognized me, a nobody! But on that trip, I got to meet a number of artists who never frequent the midwest shows that I normally attended. I got to meet Brent Anderson (Astro City), Chris Claremont (X-Men), Steve Rude (Nexus), and my artistic hero, Neal Adams! It was the best surprise I have ever received, and I don't think it can be topped.