Thursday, 14 June 2012

Happy 71st Birthday Neal Adams!

Following Cerebus #9 (August 2006)
Art by Neal Adams, Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Following Cerebus #9, August 2006)
"Is this what we do in comics?"

At every juncture in his long career that has been Neal Adams' pre-eminent question when it came to his decision-making, mindful at all times that his own choices had repercussions for others and often for generations of others who would follow behind him.

"Is this what we do in comics?"

Part indictment, part challenge, part exhortation, part lecture. This is what we've done until now; but is there a better way of doing things? And if there is a better way of doing things, why aren't we doing it? And if there's no good reason not to do it, when can we start doing it differently? Whether it's getting artists' artwork returned, manipulating personalities so as to get 32 more colours on DC separations chart with a simple phone call, showing his peers how easy it is to license foreign rights while still retaining control of an intellectual property, pushing for and helping to facilitate the introduction of a royalty system, however flawed and however meagre, getting Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster their annual stipend from DC Comics...

"Is this what we do in comics?"

When the question is posed by a talent who had the same effect on the comic-book field in his twenties and thirties that he had had on Johnstone & Cushing in his teens, you know the question isn't merely rhetorical or merely philosophical...

"Is this what we do in comics?"

As you can see from this article, I have taken issue with many of Neal Adams' choices when I made my own choices, but I never lost sight of the fact that when fortune smiles upon you and you are given opportunities that others have never had before you, you become obligated to choose wisely on the basis of what constitutes the greatest good for the greatest number. In many ways, I learned that by observing Neal Adams closely with that hard, unflinching gaze of youth which is usually composed of equal parts idealism and cynicism. Neal always measured up to my highest ideals of human conduct because - even when I disagreed with his choice - I never doubted that he had made his choice because he had examined the options from every angle and had decided on his own best and most ethical course of action.

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