Remembering Neal Adams, 1941-2022
Marvel Comics pauses to reflect upon the life and career of legendary cartoonist and comic book artist Neal Adams, known for his photorealistic art and contributions to Marvel comics and the comics community at large. During his career at Marvel, he contributed to several ongoing titles, such as UNCANNY X-MEN, THE AVENGERS, THOR, and AMAZING ADVENTURES.
Born on June 15th, 1941, Adams read comics throughout his childhood and decided to hone his skills to become an artist. Despite initially receiving a rejection from DC Comics in 1959, his name and work would soon become ubiquitous in the comics industry, starting with his debut at Archie Comics in Adventures of the Fly #4. He then began as an assistant to artist Howard Nostrand on the Bat Masterson newspaper strip and worked with the Johnstone and Cushing advertising agency on comic strips, advertising, and storyboarding. After penciling and inking horror comics for Warren magazines, he applied to DC again and was accepted. During his time at the company, he went on to make a name for himself by drawing headline characters like Batman and Superman, as well as striking new ground with writer Dennis O’Neil in the socially relevant Green Lantern/Green Arrow series.
In 1969, Adams began contributing to Marvel Comics by teaming up with writer Roy Thomas on UNCANNY X-MEN #56-63 (1969). The duo teamed up again on the influential “Kree-Skrull War” arc in THE AVENGERS #93-97 (1971-1972). Later, Adams also worked with writer Gerry Conway and penciller Howard Chaykin, introducing Killraven in AMAZING ADVENTURES #18 (May 1973).
In 2005, he returned to Marvel’s X-Men in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #3 (2005) and contributed art to the YOUNG AVENGERS SPECIAL #1 (2005). He also penciled THE NEW AVENGERS #16.1 (2010) and plotted and drew THE FIRST X-MEN #1-5 (2011), a miniseries with writer Christos Gage. Most recently, Adams worked with writer Mark Waid on FANTASTIC FOUR: ANTITHESIS #1-4 (2020).
Adams won numerous Alley Awards in the late ’60s, including Best Cover for DC’s Deadman, Best Full-Length Story, and Best Pencil Artist. In the early ’70s, he won several Shazam Awards with writer O’Neil, the 1971 Goethe Award for Favorite Pro Artist and Favorite Comic-Book Story, and in 1976, he won an Inkpot Award. In 1998, Adams was inducted into the Eisner Awards’ Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame, and the following year, the Harvey Awards Comic Book Hall of Fame. Most recently in 2019, he was inducted into the Inkwell Awards’ Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime achievement in comic books.
During his career at Marvel and DC, Adams also founded his company Continuity, where he published comics for many years while creating opportunities for other creators to build their careers and connections across the industry. Over his career, Adams became a mentor to many of the industry’s top creators, including Frank Miller, Larry Hama and Mike Ploog.
In addition to his comics work, which inspired generations of creators, Adams was well-known for his work advocating for creators’ rights and forming the Comics Creators Guild. While creators and fans alike will miss Adams greatly, his work and his positive impact will live on in the hearts and minds of the many lives he touched.