Friday, August 8, 2014

Making a Splash: Neal Adams' Spectre

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove knows how we are. When we think of Groovy Age Neal Adams at DC, we think Batman and Deadman. When we think The Spectre, we think (Golden Age) Bernard Baily or (Groovy Age) Jim Aparo. But what about that oh-so-short time (issues 2-5, November 1967-May 1968) Nefarious Neal drew The Spectre? Anyone who picked those mags up definitely had their minds blown, baby! The following Spectre-acular splashes simply smash any spooky, spectral images that had come sooner...see?

Can you dig it?


  1. That double-page dinosaur splash was in the first Spectre issue I ever read and one of the very earliest experiences I had with the realistic style of Neal Adams. Needless to say it blew my mind.

    Rip Off

  2. One of those titles that couldn't keep a consistent look. I liked Anderson, I liked Adams; also there was some of the earliest Wrightson art. But I wonder if all of the whiplash-inducing changes helped destroy what could've been a successful series.

  3. Neal Adams in the '60s and '70s produced some of the very, very best comics art of that era. He was already artistically mature when Wrightson was merely a raw talent, a 19 year old newbie in 1968 who blossomed into another one of the comics elite in the '70s. Many people like to credit Stan Drake as Neal's artistic predecessor, stylistically speaking, but even moreso it is Lou Fine who preceded (and directly influenced) the type of realism that Neal brought back to mainstream comics (it had largely left when E.C. Comics folded in 1955). Check out Lou Fine's "Peter Scratch" hardboiled detective comic strip of the mid '60s----Neal Adams ghosted it for three weeks, and you really can't tell the difference between the two artists. Lou originally had a very different style in the late '30s/early '40s comics, doing a lyrical homage to J. C. Leyendecker in his Quality comics work in the Eisner Studio.

    Berni Wrightson has said in past interviews that whenever he needs some inspiration while working on a comics job that's bogging him down he pulls out Neal Adams' treasury edition SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI. While the premise and story are quite goofy, Neal's drawing is quite remarkably sustained at a very high level. Yes, he's had some fine inkers over the years, including himself. For me, BATMAN #244 was his apogee, and the single best issue of BATMAN hands down, not to mention being one of the defining moments of '70s comics.

    Chris A.

  4. Mr Adams seemed to have a penchant for young boys pointing and stating the bleedin' obvious - do you think the lad in the foreground of that dinosaur spread was the same one who pointed and said "Look, Dad - it's Thor, the god of thunder!" on page one of Thor #180?

    1. It was and is a common trope in comics, film, and television to have innocent children pointing at danger and saying such.

  5. Please can you post the whole stories ?

  6. That face at the top of the first splash could be Gil Kane's work. Was Gila an influence on Neal?

  7. I Neal Adams' artwork. He is IMHO the greatest comic book artist of all time. I was in grade school when his art first came on the scene and was promptly blown away. I was a huge Jack Kirby fan at the time. Now here was an artist nothing like Jack Kirby, yet every bit as good. His DC work was fantastic but (and maybe because I was a Marvel Madman at the time) his Marvel work was sublime, however sparse it was. His 4 issues of Spectre were more appropriate for the character following the cartoony work of Murphy Anderson. I felt like he reached his zenith with # 5, including the writing. Who wasn't dazzled by his T-Rex double-spread? Too bad it was his last issue. Mr. Adams has been making the convention scene a lot in the last several years. I've appreciated being able to admire and interact with a true genius.

  8. I just recently read the 60s run of The Spectre, and it's rather haphazard and uneven. I did like Neal Adams' run on the series, and it was funny to see the letter writers complaining about how terrible Adams' art was, and demand the return of Murphy Anderson! The real surprise was when they took Adams off the book and replace him with Jerry Grandinetti (with Anderson inking). I had no idea that Grandinetti was capable of such bizarre and interesting effects in his work, although the stories could have been better. Quite different from Adams, but very interesting in its own right.



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