The Enigmatic Neal Adams

"I would work with Neal again . . . except I would have to take an awful lot of Valium."

-Harlan Ellison

Neal Adams. The name strikes a chord, from his legendary work with Batman, Deadman, Green Arrow, and Superman, to his breathtaking X-men and Zero Patrol issues and generally speaking, just about everything the man has illustrated.

I first encountered Neal Adams at a New York City signing that was in promotion of Batman: Odyssey #1 which had just been released. I took the bus over to the metropolis to catch a glimpse of this icon. His was a name I'd heard uttered in reverent whispers since youth. I brought my copy to Mr. Adams, (a son of his was also there) he shook my hand and was one of the warmest people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. He was friendly and very enthusiastic, in fact, when my camera batteries died before I got to take the picture, he graciously insisted I run to a store to get the batteries and come back to the front of the line to have my picture taken with him. What helped, was probably having the issue personalized, so he knew that I wasn't just flipping this comic, it was something I would treasure for life. I also purchased a sketch book he was selling which had gorgeous work. If you haven't seen his non-superhero material, you're missing out.

The second time, I saw Neal Adams was NYC Comic Con 2010. The encounter was less awe inspiring. Adams had his own booth. And he was charging a pretty penny for his signature, and considerably more for artwork. I have no problem with Neal Adams charging a lot for his work. But, what shocked me was that he was charging 25 dollars for fans to take their picture with him. Not an autograph, the mere chance to be seen with him! I found it to be crassly commercial and it left a distinctly bad taste in my mouth. That said, I still love his artwork and think that he is a genuinely nice guy, but these encounters left me puzzled about the man. If you're like me and like a bit of insight into some of the influential A-list creators, than you'll love Harlan Ellison's reflections on working with Neal Adams in this interview, from which the introductory quote was taken:

Edited by nszerdy

I just met him too--and was taken back at all the different charges and fees for his auto/picture--I'm not flipping any of my books--I love his work---it just kinda puzzled me too. I was gushing about him--and he was like "I have this sketchbook for 80 bucks---it took me back"--making money I understand--but dang--come on!

Posted by cesare2012

Yeah, I love the guy, he's been very gracious, looked over my portfolio a couple of times, but I knew that buying something first would be a good idea, though I was going to anyway. Hey, fair is fair I suppose, he's a business man first, then an icon......

Posted by av8er

I just met him 2 months ago, paid $500 for an awesome GL commission, thought he'd be nice enough to throw in 3 autographs on my books, he didn't. That part didn't bother me too much. But he still charged me $25 to take a picture with him, holding the sketch I just bought?!! That part irked me.

I can somewhat see him charging for a photo op, if that's all that person wanted. But if you buy a book, print, sketch, or even paying him to sign your book, he should throw in a photo as a courtesy(especially when you dropped a lot of money for a sketch).