Neal Adams interview (August 2005)

August 16, 2005 | Interviews


Neal Adams has never been one to rest on his laurels.
The 64-year-old comic book icon, who helped define the modern version of Batman with his groundbreaking work in the 1960s and 70s, is as busy as a man half his age.
Based out of both New York City and Los Angeles, he is hard at work with his company, Continuity Studios, and has even managed to illustrate a few comic book pages for Marvel Comics recently.
Ahead of his appearance as a guest of honour at the Canadian National Comic Book Expo, from Aug. 26-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Adams spoke to Metro about what he’s been up to, where his future in comics is and what he thinks is the best comic ever made.

JPK: So let’s talk comics.
Neal Adams: “I have no interest in comics. I’m interested in science, comparative religion — anything that’ll empty a room in two minutes
Any of those would probably do it.”

JPK: OK, ummmmmm … So we know you’re not working primarily in comics anymore, what are you up to?
NA: “We (at Continuity Studios) do what are called animatics for commercials, which are sort of cheap commercials that you use to test. We also, lately, are doing finished commercials (using CGI).
“We’re doing CGI (computer generated imaging) animation for commercials, which is an extension of work that we’ve done for animatics — except it’s more finished.
“We will be making ourselves available for film and television and I’m also spending my excess money *snickers* on Bucky O’Hare as a feature film.”

JPK: You’re not resting on your laurels, are you?
NA: “Neal doesn’t do that.
“I’m pretty much at the beginning of my career, I figure.”

JPK: How so?
NA: “When I got into comics — and I don’t mean this in an egotistical way — they were in the stone ages. They didn’t know reproduction methods, they were printing on what amounted to toilet paper and the stories were only six pages long … so we’ve changed quite a bit what goes on in comics.
“As they slowly go down the toilet we seem to be making them incredibly interesting these days
“Entering comic books at that time was a little bit like roughing it. I was trained as an illustrator and I did a syndicated comic strip (Ben Casey), I did comics for advertising and I did advertising. To go backwards into comic books wasn’t as satisfying as it might have been had the technology been better.
“Now the technology has gotten better and most of my time is spent doing other things. At some point I’m going to have to do some comic books just to show there still some power in the tiger’s tank.”

JPK: Which leads us perfectly into the question: is there a glorious return to comics coming for Neal Adams?
NA: “I don’t know that it’s going to be a glorious return but I certainly am going to do some comic work.”

JPK: Do you have anything specific in mind?
NA: “I’d kind of like to do a Batman thing. I’ve been talking to DC Comics about a Batman thing for a while. Or maybe it’ll be some Green Lantern/Green Arrow stuff or Green Lantern stuff.
“I just did an eight-page thing for Marvel for one of their X-Men books and it was fun — but it was only eight pages.
“What I try to do is give people a taste so they don’t forget me.”

JPK: Do you think the deluxe reprintings of your Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Deadman and Batman stuff by DC Comics has garnered you a new generation of fans?
NA: “It’s a shame that if you work and then you don’t do work in a given field then as the generations move forward you fall into the background. That is: it’s a shame for everybody else, not for me.
“I think it’s very nice that DC has decided to do this because what happens is you get to see more than a year’s worth of work in one book.
“The last Batman book is going to be quite a corker because we’ve redone all the colour on it.”

JPK: Overall, what’s your impression of the state of comic books nowadays?
NA: “I like it. I think it’s terrific.”

JPK: What comics are you reading right now?
NA: “Certainly The Ultimates; I read Fantastic Four; I don’t read too much Spider-Man because it’s just everywhere; I spottily read X-Men stuff, although I hate it when they go off to other dimensions and stuff — it makes me crazy; I read the Rags Morales series (Identity Crisis). I’ll read anything Jim Lee does — but the last Jim Lee story, written by that guy that does 100 Bullets (Brian Azzarello) just made me nuts. I love 100 Bullets, but hated that Superman thing.”

JPK: Are there any other characters that you’ve never worked on that you’d like that chance to draw?
NA: “The only character I really wanted to do was Batman. I wanted to do him because they were screwing him up — really, really treating him badly.”

JPK: Any desire to return to Green Lantern/Green Arrow or Deadman — works you’re associated with?
NA: “First of all, I don’t think Deadman has been done well since I did it.
“If I were to do Deadman, I’d just pick up where I left off with that anguished, tortured, poor bastard.”

JPK: And Green Lantern?
NA: “I talked to the writer (Geoff Johns). Maybe we’ll do a couple of Green Lantern stories.
“I’d kind of like to the story and then let him do the dialogue. He can even write it if the structure is there that I need because I like a certain epic quality.”

JPK: Are you interested in working with any specific writers or would you prefer to pen your own material?
NA: “I am interested in certain other writers — Jeph Loeb, for example, is a really good writer.
“I kind like that guy that does Buffy (Joss Whedon)

JPK: You’re probably best known for your Batman work. Is that your favourite piece of your work?
NA: “My favourite piece is Superman/Muhammad Ali. I think that’s probably the best comic book I’ve ever seen.”

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