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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Neal Adams, Trailblazing Comic Book Creator, Dies at 80

Neal Adams, the trailblazing comic book creator who helped bring about some revolutionary changes to the industry, died April 28. He was 80 years old.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Adams died on April 28 in New York from sepsis​​​​​​. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Marilyn Adams; sons Josh, Jason and Joel; daughters Kris and Zeea; grandchildren, Kelly, Kortney, Jade, Sebastian, Jane and Jaelyn; and great-grandson Maximus. "It wasn't until I sat at tables at conventions next to the same people I would watch treat my father with such reverence that I understood: He was their father, too,” Josh Adams said in a statement. “Neal Adams’ most undeniable quality was the one I had known about him my entire life: He was a father. Not just my father, but a father to all that would get to know him.”

After graduating high school in 1959, Neal Adams started working for Archie Comics. The 1960s also saw him work on Ben Casey, a daily comic strip based on the medical drama series of the same name. By the late 1960s, Adams landed at DC and began working on titles such as Action Comics #356 and Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #79.

During his time at DC, Adams helped create, launch and introduce a number of recognizable characters to fans. He's largely known for his iconic Batman run with writer Dennis O'Neil, which revitalized the character with a darker tone compared to the Adam West television series. While working on the series, Adams introduced a number of new Batman characters fans now know and love, including Man-Bat, Ra’s al Ghul and his daughter, Talia al Ghul. Apart from Batman, Adams also revamped Green Lantern and Green Arrow with O'Neil. The two of them debuted Jon Stewart, a fan-favorite Green Lantern, for the first time in 1972's Green Lantern #87.

Adams also worked for Marvel during the late 1960s and 70s on titles such as X-Men, The Avengers and more. In 1984, Adams founded his own publishing company, Continuity Comics (also known as Continuity Publishing). Known for being grittier than some of the mainstream comics at the time, Continuity Comics held a number of titles, including Armor, Toyboy, Echo of Futurepast and more.

Along with being a great influence for many creators, Adams forever changed the comics industry as he was a major creators-rights advocate who helped Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster secure pensions and recognition for creating DC's Superman character. He helped Stan Lee create the Academy of Comic Book Arts in the 1970s and eventually became president of the organization, which was designed to fight for writers' and artists' creative rights. "My father was a force,” Josh Adams said. “His career was defined by unparalleled artistic talent and an unwavering character that drove him to constantly fight for his peers and those in need. He would become known in the comics industry as one of the most influential creators of all time and champion social and creators’ rights. When he saw a problem, he wouldn’t hesitate. What would become tales told and retold of the fights he fought were born out of my father simply seeing something wrong as he walked through the halls of Marvel or DC and deciding to do something about it right then and there.”

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