Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Comic-Con, part 2

It was a pleasure -- and an honor -- to get a chance to talk to Neal Adams.

The word "legendary" is tossed around a lot in the world of comics, but Adams is one of the few who has earned it. He was still a teenager when he had his first syndicated comic strip, Ben Casey ("I almost had to bring my mother down to sign the contract, but I had just had my birthday.") He went on to draw nearly all the great superheroes, including Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and X-Men. "There's nobody in comics who's five years my junior or five years my senior. I started right after Dr. Wertham told Congress that comics were driving kids to crime. Everyone just about closed down. All that was left was stuff like 'My Greatest Adventure' and -- this is my favorite -- 'Pat Boone Comics.'" I went to art high school and my teachers, who wanted us to have careers in art, told me comic books were going to be gone. But some people are born pig-headed." And some people just love comics. "Here's the definition of a comic book artist: You put him into a closet with a drawing table, a lamp, a radio, art supplies and you slide paper under the door and he keeps filling it up -- only to get new paper so he can draw more." He spoke about the history of comics, which began when printers ("not publishers, printers") reprinted newspaper comic strips into book form, creating an industry. "Comic books are ahead of everybody -- a comic book artist can do an $80 million movie in one month and then the next week do another one. Who could possibly catch up to us?" No one, as long as you keep sliding Adams more paper under the door.

Adams is working on a documentary about "Dondi" artist Irwin Hasen and a new six-issue Batman series (he said he likes drawing Batman because it's like two characters, Batman and his cape).

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