Art and Artifice
Neal Adams 1970
Neal Adams Batman - 1970
"Man or Bat?" Story by Frank Robbins
Detective Comics #402, August 1970
Published by DC Comics
When I was living in Greece and buying comic books in the 1970s, a special find would be anything by Neal Adams. I would hunt for other comic readers who might have older stashes of comics, specifically in the hopes of finding Adams stories that I could trade for or buy. There was nothing like a real back-issue source for American comic books in Athens, and the only possibility was with other aficionados.
With Adams, I admired (and admire) his artwork for the precision it has and for its theatrical qualities, perfectly suited to superhero tales. Adams' page blacking is beautiful stuff, and seeing his linework laden with 1970s era color inks compares poorly to the sheer striking edge of his art without that layer of interference.
Adam's "new look" Batman art which began in the 1960s is still reverberating through current art syles, even a casual survey of the Marvel, DC and Image superhero books show the telltale imprint of the influence Adams has had, particularly in how fine-line crosshatching is still done in Adams' manner, married to the hyper-delineated musculature of the male body. Compared to what came before in superhero comics, Adams treatment of the male figure seems to connect backward over hundreds of years to Michelangelo's obsessions with the same matters of glorifying the human anatomy in action and repose.
There is an official Neal Adams web site with a vast archive of his artwork here.
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by Erik Weems ©2005
Artwork is by Neal Adams, Copyright DC Comics 1970