Back Issue #143 June 2023 (magazine review).

It should not be surprising that there is another TwoMorrows publication examining the late Neal Adams’s work. However, this “Back Issue” is wholly devoted to his contributions at DC Comics, with a smattering of work he completed for Power Records. Editor Mike Eury aptly notes that it has been 50 years since the Adams/O’Neil era on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and yet, the world has changed little since then. It prompts the question of why modern creators have not retraced this path. Although I doubt the “Big Two” would, it’s worth considering whether some smaller companies might. I’m less convinced by the political statement and more acknowledging the current state of the world.

Michael Kronenberg initially interviewed Neal Adams in 2003 for ‘Comic Book Marketplace.’ Some of the conversation also appeared in TwoMorrows’ ‘Batcave Companion.’ Reading it here, focusing solely on his DC material and specifically on his Batman work, I found I was discovering aspects I had previously overlooked. This time, Adams delved into some mental tricks that I hadn’t paid attention to before.

The best, for me, was the technique of crafting a detailed establishment panel, which then reduces the need for background detail in the remaining panels on the page. This effect, which I refer to as image retention, is because the initial panel image remains in the viewer’s mind. The same principle applies in animation, though backgrounds persist except in close-ups. His proactive creation of ‘Man-Bat’, in case Marvel was considering a similar version, is priceless.

Writer John Wells’ piece, ‘Under The Radar’, illustrates how much Neal Adams contributed behind the scenes with his ‘Continuity Studios.’ He offered opportunities to talented artists waiting for their break into the comic book community and fostered camaraderie when everyone pitched in to help colleagues navigate deadline crunches, as the legendary Crusty Bunkers.

If you think you’ve missed any of Neal’s contributions, then this article is essential. Given his assistance to other artists, it’s clear that he’s been in their shoes and understands that past mistakes warrant practical help, not criticism. We can only hope that modern comic book artists will read this and be inspired to do something similar.

In 2006, Mike Eury interviewed Neal Adams for ‘The Krypton Companion,’ which has been re-edited here. It’s worth mentioning that both Companion books are sold out and hard to come by now, so if you don’t own them, this is a great opportunity to read both interviews. Interestingly, besides covers and promos, Adams didn’t contribute any Superman stories until the Muhammed Ali special. He also recounts how he secured proper pensions for Siegel and Schuster without really knowing what he was doing, other than persuading people and companies to heed logic.

Did I mention there’s also a considerable amount of his art included here? The appeal of Neal Adams’ work in the comic book industry transcends generations. It’s highly likely that this ‘Back Issue’ will sell out, so be sure to get your copy early.

GF Willmetts

May 2023

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $10.95 (US))

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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