We kick this special spotlight on legends off with American comic book artist, Neal Adams. Born on June 6, 1941, Neal began his career with Archie comics and slowly worked his way up the ladder, doing commercial work here and there. It took a while but his unique style began drawing attention and in 1962 he started working for the NEA newspaper syndicate on the Ben Casey comic strip.
He later moved on to Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror-comics magazines and from there he took the jump to DC comics. His steady climb to legendary status continued uninterrupted from there.
Neal co-founded the graphic design studio Continuity Associates in 1971, and as a creators-rights advocate, he helped secure recognition and pensions for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
As a kid reading comic books, Neal’s art easily stood out for me. The way he drew his characters, their faces and proportions and angles were so alive with action and energy, so different from the others. His illustrations possessed a distinct flavor, a tone that was all its own, and which I enjoyed a lot. Trying to remember the effect his art had on me is like recalling a memory with the ambiance and emotion intact. Sometimes you just feel it. Not everything requires words.
Neal also illustrated paperback novels for the Tarzan series from Ballantine Books and Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, which I really loved, and the chief reason I’m featuring him today.
Below is a small collection of his work. Each image links back to where I found it. Enjoy!
From what I’ve read, Neal promoted sword & sorcery comics back when the genre was barely recognized or known in the comic book industry. He was one of the early artists who worked on Howard’s Conan. Savage Sword of Conan #1, published in 1974, featured a Red Sonja story written by Roy Thomas with Neal as the inker and penciler. Neal later also contributed to Conan the Barbarian #44 – #45 (November-December 1974), and Wulf the Barbarian #2 (April 1975). He did the covers for Savage Tales and the Conan comics, and in Savage Tales #4 (May 1974), Neal was one of the inkers on “Night of the Dark God.”
Another interesting and awesome bit of fact is that Neal worked as a storyboard artist on the film, Conan the Barbarian (1982). Clearly a Conan fan, Neal has done many book illustrations of Conan, and given that this blog favors fantasy in all its guises, he is a welcome addition to Art of Fantasy (Legends).