Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Neal Adams: Clear-Eyed Awareness

Joe Shuster, Neal Adams, Jerry Siegel and Jerry Robinson
celebrate their victory over DC Comics in 1975
(Click image to enlarge)

(from Superman: Saving His Jewish Creators, 10 June 2013)
...Siegel and Shuster needed a strong voice - someone from inside the industry who could also reach out beyond the comics world. Adams, who was the most popular artist at DC and the cover artist for Superman, became that voice. Even though it meant going up against his own employer, Adams launched a series of media appearances, press conferences, and meetings to drum up support for the Superman creators. "It carved four months out of my life," Adams recalls, "but they were pretty good months." He was fighting the good fight - and he won. DC finally agreed to provide Siegel and Shuster with financial assistance and medical benefits. They were also credited, by name, in every subsequent Superman comic. Siegel (who passed away in 1996, at age 81), and Shuster (who died in 1992, at 78) were able to live their remaining years in dignity. For Adams, it would be just the first in a series of campaigns for underdogs...

(from Following Cerebus #9, August 2006)
...It's easy to overlook - because we're so used to the reality of Neal Adams as the forefront champion of creators' rights - how rare it is that he took such an interest in the subtleties and nuances of creators' rights in general and not just as they applied to Neal Adams as the top earner in the field of his day. It would have been very easy for him to just say, "I'll work on getting my page rate up and getting my artwork back and to hell with the rest of these also rans." Even more so when you realise that that level of altruistic interest was founded in his clear-eyed awareness that had he chosen to improve his own treatment and working conditions as an exception to the general "state of play" for the industry it could only have been done to the detriment of the field in general. Which I think is arguably the case with most of the top wage earners today. For most creators today, I think the idea of "creators' rights" is seen as hair-splitting and meaningless sophistry in the age of "Show me the money" - even though I think it irrefutable that they owe much of their own present comfortable situations to the selfless actions of both of Neal Adams and of those individuals whose thinking on creators' rights he had so profoundly and directly influenced.


Tony Dunlop said...

At first glance, before reading the caption, I thought Neal was Elvis!
Three cheers for the great Neal Adams. Hip-Hip...

David Birdsong said...

I have a high resolution picture of a cancelled check made out to Siegel and Shuster. The amount is $412. In the itemized list on the front of the check you can see that they were paid $130 for Superman.