In the spring of 1969, NEAL ADAMS had just finished knocking DC Comics’ readers for a loop with his bones-making DEADMAN run of the previous year, as well as wowing every Bat-fan with the BATMAN work he was still doing in their Brave & Bold team-up title, which was redefining the character as a creature of the night, after the campiness of the TV series had run its course. So it surprised everyone when Adams would next take his prodigious, promethean talents over to Marvel Comics, DC’s arch rival! And what Marvel book would he draw? None other than one of the company’s lowest-tiered titles–in fact, one on the brink of cancellation–THE X-MEN!
And just as Adams’ Batman became the modern standard, influencing Frank Miller years later to do The Dark Knight Returns, which in turn has influenced the movie portrayals ever since, making Batman DC’s franchise character, so too did Adams’ X-Men, with far less fanfare, go on to become the new model of the characters, influencing generations of Marvel artists and writers to create their own versions of the group based on his. Adams’ Batman and X-Men are the twin pillars upon which today’s DC and Marvel rest. Like his contemporary Jim Steranko, Adams’ relatively small body of Marvel works (though he did a lot more than just The X-Men!) stands in converse proportion to its enormous influence.
At the dawn of the 1970s, legendary comic book artist Neal Adams forged brand new artistic identities for several mainstream comic book characters, including Batman and The X-Men,as well as two distinctive DC heroes, Green Lanternand Green Arrow.
Adams’ photorealistic visual acuity enabled he and his writer/collaborator, Denny O’Neil, to break new ground telling the kinds of reality-based stories that could be told in “superhero” comic books, and in doing so, made their Green Lantern-Green Arrow run of (only) 13 issues one of the most honored and esteemed, memorable and influential in comic book history!
Following the previous evening’s Adams’ BATMAN webinar part ONE, which covered his Bat-works from 1968 through the end of 1970, comic book historian (writer/designer, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)and Adams aficionado (editor/designer, The Neal Adams Sketchbook)Arlen Schumer(who also worked for Adams at his Continuity studio, and moderates the Facebook group Neal Adams Almanack)picks up in January 1971 with Adams’ third Man-Bat adventure, and continues through to the spring ’74 release of his last Batman story (of the 20th Century), the classic “Moon of the Wolf”! The balance of Adams’ Batman oeuvre follows, which includes his collateral Batman advertising art, sketches, and new Batman art in the 21st Century!
Even if you’re a fellow Adams- and Bat-aficionado, you’ll STILL see this timeless art as if for the FIRST time!
In the summer of 1968, three months after the campy BATMAN TV series was cancelled, comic book artist NEAL ADAMS (1941-2022), in one single issue, rebooted Batman back to his original roots as a creature of the night, transforming the “Caped Crusader” into the “Dark Knight” we have known and loved ever since!
Teamed with DC Comics writer Denny O’Neil and others, Adams’ dynamic draftsmanship and visual virtuosity birthed a body of Batman stories that many consider the definitive version of the character–in comic books or any other media–as well as perhaps artist Adams’ most memorable and impactful works of his entire Hall of Fame career!
The year was 1967–the year of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, psychedelia, and The Summer of Love–and in the comic book field, artist/storytellers Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko were creating mind-blowing sagas that made Marvel Comics surge past rival DC Comics, the lumbering, slumbering industry giant who could no longer count on the Batman TV series to bolster its faltering superhero line, as the bubble of Batmania had long since burst. DC desperately needed someone, something, to somehow stay on a level playing field with Marvel.
That “someone” was 26-year-old wunderkind artist NEAL ADAMS, and the “something” was a brand-new, offbeat “superhero” named “DEADMAN,” a daredevil circus acrobat who is shot mid-swing, and falls to his death–but then miraculously lives on as a ghost with the power to take over living bodies, in order to find his killer! Adams inherited the feature with its second issue, and immediately stunned the comic-reading audience with his startling combination of dynamic, cinematic page layouts and photo-realistic drawing, the likes of which made DEADMAN, ironically, more “alive” than any other comic book character at DC…OR Marvel! When the dust cleared a year later, Adams had made his bones with DEADMAN.
So join comic book historian (writer/designer, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)and Adams aficionado (editor/designer, The Neal Adams Sketchbook)Arlen Schumer(who also worked for Adams at his Continuity studio, and moderates the Facebook group Neal Adams Almanack) as he takes a deep dive into DEADMAN! Even if you’re a fellow Adams aficionado, you’ll still see his DEADMAN works as if for the first time!
The body of work NEAL ADAMS (1941-2022) produced in his lifetime caused something akin to a revolution in the look of comic book art itself.
Adams’ unique blend of dynamic anatomy and photographic realism made the fantasy worlds of superheroes visually believable in ways never before seen. His heroes walked, ran, leapt and flew in smooth, flowing movements that belied their superhuman bulk; cartoony, stock expressions were replaced with a full range of human emotions. As Adams once said, “If superheroes really existed, they would look like the way i draw them.”
During the late1960s and early ’70s, Adams forged new, definitive artistic identities for several of DC and Marvel Comics’ leading characters, including Batman and The X-Men. Without Adams’ groundbreaking versions, neither would be the multimillion dollar franchise they are today.
The cumulative effect of Adams’ visual acuity enabled his writer collaborators to break new ground telling the kinds of stories that could be told in comic books, and in doing so, impacted an entire generation of today’s comic creatives. For Neal Adams is the bridge between the 20th Century and, with its plethora of graphic styles, today’s Modern Age of comic book art.
The series of 62 Doc Savage paperback covers that legendary illustrator James Bama painted for Bantam Books between 1964 and 1972 represent an apex in realistic figure painting of not only the 20th Century, but the entire history of the human figure in art, fine or commercial.
For Bama’s Doc Savage character—crowned with that sci-fi widow’s peak, clad in that impossibly-shredded shirt, riding jodhpurs and calf-high boots—remains, to this day, one of the most staggeringly heroic, idealized masculine figures ever visualized in any age, by any artist, in any medium.
And now pop culture historian Arlen Schumer(writer/designer, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)has created a free webinar that takes you through Bama’s creative process, from his reference photos of the great illustrators’ model Steve Holland, who posed as Bama’s Doc Savage for all 62 covers, to many of Bama’s original paintings, shown free of all the trade dress elements of the paperback covers!
So even if you have all the Bama Doc Savage books, or you’re already a fan of Bama’s work, you’ll see his incredible Doc Savage covers as if for the first time!
One day in 1933, printing salesman Max Gaines (nee Ginzburg) came up with a novel idea for newspaper promotion: he took pages of some tabloid-sized Sunday newspaper comics, folded them over twice, and stapled them on the side—creating the comic book as we know it!
That same year, two 18-year-old aspiring newspaper cartoonists from Cleveland, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, created a character whom they hoped to sell to the very newspaper syndicates who worked with Gaines: Superman! Thus began the history of comic books and superheroes, largely created by American Jews like Gaines, Siegel and Shuster, and so many others that followed!
So join comic book and pop culture historian Arlen Schumer(author/designer, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)as he explores the specific Jewish creation of the American superhero and its antecedents in older, ancient myths—from the Golem to Ben Grimm, as it were—and how they sparked a 20th Century American pop culture explosion that has only gained in prominence and popularity here in the 21st Century!
The 17 Superman cartoons produced between 1941-3 by the Fleischer Studios (of Popeye, Betty Boop and Gulliver’s Travels fame) are considered by animation historians to be the greatest realistically animated films ever made, and the greatest iteration of the Superman comic book character in any medium.
These Superman cartoons had the same smooth-flowing, higher-quality look and feel of the great Disney cartoons, due to the Fleischers’ innovating the rotoscoping technique of animating over live action film. You could feel Superman straining to exercise his super-strength, struggling against bigger opponents, be they man, machine or (giant) animal; you could feel his physical effort as he literally leapt “tall buildings in a single bound”!
So join comic book and pop culture historian Arlen Schumer (author/designer, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)as he presents a multimedia webinar of the 17 Superman cartoons’ “Greatest Hits”—along with their behind-the-scenes production art, advertising and promotional materials!
2022 marks the 40th Anniversary of the debut of “Late Night with David Letterman,” the NBC nighttime talk show that put the young comedian from Indiana on the pop culture map, one who would shape the style and tone of late night television for decades to come!
On the occasion of “Late Night”’s 40th, photographer Marc Karzen, who shot all of the show’s “bumpers,” the still graphics of New York City scenes branded with the words “Late Night with David Letterman,” has published a handsome coffee table book containing the “greatest hits” of the “bumper” crop—and pop culture historian Arlen Schumer(author/designer, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)will showcase Karzen’s book in this new webinar!
Schumer was one of the handful of graphic designers who hand-lettered the type treatments of “Late Night with David Letterman” integrated inventively into Karzen’s photographs, and thus will provide a first-person account what it was like to work on the groundbreaking late night show!