In the 1960's, I was a DC Comics fan: the Mort Weisinger Superman
line, Julius Schwartz's sci-fi-superheroes, and, of course, Batman
( the debut of the '66 TV series was a seminal event in my childhood). Marvel Comics didn't appeal to me; they seemed too complicated, too busy-looking (too many words!) compared to the somewhat banal simplicity of DC's line.
My brother, though, was a Marvelite and devotee of Jack Kirby. I was a fan of newcomer Neal Adams, who had every DC follower excited by his work on Deadman
. We would argue endlessly about who was "better," and daydream about company crossovers, like what if Kirby went to DC and drew Superman
, or Adams worked at Marvel. In those days, it was unheard of for any artist to be working for more than one company at a time (we didn't know then that Marvel's new Sub-Mariner
artist, Adam Austin, was DC's war artist Gene Colan, or that Marvel's "Mickey Demeo" was a pseudonym for DC's Mike Esposito!). It was a shock when DC stalwart Gil Kane drew a few issues of The Hulk
in 1967, but nothing prepared us for that day in 1969 when Neal Adams began drawing The X-Men
? According to my brother, the title had been going downhill ever since Kirby stopped drawing it years earlier, and, save for a few recent issues drawn by the great Jim Steranko and new kid on the block Barry Smith (then a Kirby clone), the title was all but forgotten and destined for discontinuation. Suffice to say, even my diehard brother became an Adams believer because of his breathtaking X-Men
Back then, I was too enamored by what Adams was doing at DC with Batman
and Green Lantern/Green Arrow
to notice what a body of incredible work--in addition to his X-Men
--Adams was compiling at Marvel. Doing this interview as a follow-up to my prior "Neal Adams: the DC Years" (Comic Book Marketplace
#40, 1996) was an eye-opening experience for a self-styled Adams expert like myself, as revelations of the breadth of his storytelling achievements came to light.
Just as his Batman
became the modern standard, influencing Frank Miller years later to do The Dark Knight Returns
, which in turn influenced the movie portrayals, making Batman DC's franchise character, so too did Adams' X-Men
, with far less fanfare, go on to become the new model of the characters, influencing a new generation of Marvel artists and writers to create their versions of the X-Men
based on his, which became the cornerstone of Marvel's hegemony in the '80's (and "spawned" Image's superhero line). So it is not too far a stretch to say that Adams' Batman
are the twin pillars upon which today's DC and Marvel rest.
Like his contemporary Steranko, Adams' relatively small body of Marvel work stands in direct converse proportion to its enormous influence. So I was not surprised by Neal's answer to my first question, "Why did you go to Marvel Comics?"