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Neal Adams

ChatMod: We start in ten minutes

ChatMod: We'll start in 5 minutes

Neal: We're ready!

ChatMod: Hi everyone, thanks for joining us here. I'm Ben Trumble for SCIFI. Tonight we're thrilled to welcome legendary comic book artist Neal Adams. His distinctive, highly naturalistic illustrations have for years graced the pages of virtually every comic-book publisher, including industry leaders DC and Marvel, breathing new life into some of the most famous characters in the world:

ChatMod: Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the X-Men, Superman and many others have all been changed by his work. Neal's work on Batman set the standard for The Dark Knight, and has influenced every artist to work on the caped crusader since.

ChatMod: In connection with Free Comic Book Day, Neal has designed a promotional poster for the SCI FI Channel featuring his depiction of the casts of Farscape and our upcoming series Stargate SG-1.

ChatMod: Brief word about the drill. This is a moderated chat -- please send your questions for our guest to ChatQ, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on ChatQ or type "/msg ChatQ" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

ChatMod: Let's start with something easy... What's Free Comic Book Day all about?

Neal: It's about exactly what it says it's about

Neal: The comic book companies are giving out free comic books that day

Neal: Almost every comic book store is involved

Neal: and each company has chosen a particular title

Neal: The project I worked on for Free Comic day

Neal: is a poster for SCIFI

Neal: an illustration for Farscape and Stargate-1

Neal: because the channel is so pleased to be showing the programs back to back

Neal: GA

ChatMod: Mr Adams, you were pretty young when you started in the business. How did you get your first job?

Neal: Job as in "job" I never got because I was a freelancer

Neal: But I started by pounding the pavement

Neal: Everybody rejected me

Neal: I finally went to Archie Comics and they were so sick of seeing me they gave me work

Neal: I was 18 years old at the time

Neal: I think I was the youngest person drawing comic books for a long time

Neal: There is no one my age who was drawing comic books in '59 who isn't a lot older than me

Neal: Because America hated comics like they hated communists

Neal: Things are never great for comic books

Neal: I think that's what makes them so good

Neal: They remain on the fringe, rarely in the mainstream for very long

Neal: Maybe when Marvel went public and Superman died

Neal: The only other time comic books were really out there and REALLY popular was when Superman first appeared in the '40's through the early '50's

Neal: GA

ChatMod: When you were starting to draw seriously who were some of your influences? Did you always know that you wanted to concentrate on comic illustration?

Neal: I think if we say that I got into comic books when nobody else in the world wanted to go near them, you'd have to say my dedication was great

Neal: I was influenced by historic illustrators and comic strip artists. There was no single artist although Kubert and Heath were my favorites at that particular time.

Neal: People told me that I was out of my mind for even WANTING to draw comics. People hated comics so much, it was almost evil to even have that ambition

Neal: Comic publishers were grilled by Congress in the 1950's for being un-American. The Comics "Code" created by the industry said that you couldn't even say "crime" on a cover, or show a knife, or aim a gun at a person

Neal: The comic titles that came around then were things like "Mr District Attorney"

Neal: But in the end the good guys win.

Neal: GA

ChatMod: You've been called the greatest comic book illustrator of all time. When you were working in the 1960's and '70's did you recognise that what you doing was a radical departure from the past? Did you have difficulties at first getting the publishers to go along with your vision?

Neal: I don't think that I had a vision...

Neal: I didn't go directly into mainstream comics

Neal: I learned about design, and advertising, and fashion, and concept before I went comics

Neal: So I was like an alien from Mars around the com,ics artists of the era

Neal: I knew about color, and design, and reproduction

Neal: All those things were new to them. It seemed like a revolution

Neal: To me it was nothing new, but the industry was still in the stone age

Neal: I'm given a lot of credit that I don't deserve

Neal: the comic book business was so backward ANYBODY coming in at the right time would have changed it radically.

Neal: There was a tremendous amount of fear of change in comic books

Neal: The industry was so repressed

Neal: I met artists who were my heros who didn't even want to think about themselves as comic book artists

Neal: They didn't even want to be known

Neal: That was whya artists didn't expect to get their art back from the publishers. There was very little pride

Neal: DC Comics for example used tgo _destroy_ artwork after three months. Can you imagine that?

Neal: When I discovered that I stopped it

Neal: Years later they began giving it back

Neal: There are artists from then who were AFRAID to ask for their artwork back

Neal: They thought they'd get fired

Neal: Now artists make as much selling the artwork after they get it back as the do from the Publisher

Neal: The advantage the Publish gets now is that they get a very motivated artist

Neal: I used to argue with Publishers asking why they wanted to step on an artist's pride

Neal: Why not give the artist a royality

Neal: Comic books were held back for over ten years by the blight of the '50's

Neal: It took ages for Publishers to see the advantage

Neal: GA


ChatMod: Just a reminder. Were chatting with comic book artist Neal Adams. This is a moderated chat -- please send your questions for our guest to ChatQ, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on ChatQ or type "/msg ChatQ" on the command line - only without the quotes.)...Then hit Enter (or Return on a Mac.)

ChatMod: It's no secret that the last decade has been tough on the comic book industry, and in some towns it's hard to find a comic book store anymore. Is the problem distribution?

ChatMod: Do you have any thoughts on what it will take to lure younger readers back to comic books in numbers that can help to sustain the genre? Sometimes it feels like comic book stores are so geared to collectors they're downright unfriendly to kids.

Neal: This question points out something I think is important

Neal: Some comic book stores do feel like the stores are only for fans and not for the general public

Neal: That hurts comics

Neal: When clerks try to tell you what to buy or not to buy how can build an audience

Neal: Comic book stores should be friendly to everybody

Neal: Some of the future of comics is probably in bookstores

Neal: I'm afraid it will take more of an effort than just Free Comic Book Day to get comic books back into the hand of customers

Neal: I guess if I ran DC I might have some ideas

Neal: Marvel may have the right idea turning them into movies and TV shows, which repopularizes the comics

Neal: GA

ChatMod: <JayW> to <ChatQ>: - Are you too busy with advertising now that drawing a comic is no longer worth your time?

Neal: Yes and no...

Neal: I do comic related material a lot

Neal: I did the Millennium cover of ESPN magazine

Neal: I did the poster for SCIFI Channel, the illustration of Stargate and Farscape

Neal: I do comics for advertising. I just did one for the peopel who do protective gear for firemen. I feel good about that, the gear saves lives.

Neal: Beyond that I have a project I'm working on

Neal: It's called A Conversation Between Two Guys in A Bar, or A New Model of the Universe.

Neal: It's a 125 page comic about eheoretical physics.

Neal: GA

ChatMod: What got you interested in hard science and theories concerning the creation of matter and the Universe?

Neal: I've been interested in that subject since I was 10

Neal: I don't think science should just be about guys who use math and latin to explain simple subjects

Neal: I used to read science books like I read comic books. I'd read about experiments like they were mysteries

Neal: I've been bothered bny science telling me things they they think they know, but don't

Neal: Like:

Neal: Light is both a particle AND a wave

Neal: Duh?

Neal: I don't get it

Neal: How can it be both?

Neal: About thirty years ago science started telling us that all the land masses used to be one supercontinent in one corner of the earth.

Neal: Thjat didn't make sense to me as an artist

Neal: There was no symetry to it

Neal: To make the planet look like didn't make sense to me

Neal: There were lots of things in science that didn't make sense to me.

Neal: The Big Bang...

Neal: I wanted to know where it came from in the first place

Neal: How does light travel through space?


Neal: In my love for science -- and I do love science

Neal: About thirty years ago I started looking for answers myself

Neal: And it's taken thirty years to bring it together in a book and video

Neal: Avail...TA DA...In comic book stores!

Neal: It will probably cause some scientists to chase me down the street

Neal: I've always thought science should be a part of common conversation

Neal: Maybe this will help with that

Neal: Scientists shouldn't need to speak in secret language anymore than attorneys or doctors should

Neal: Yeah, the math is compliacted but the concepts are simple

Neal: In the books two guys in a bar literally talk about theoretical physics in regular talk

Neal: When you see the answers they make sense

Neal: GA

ChatMod: <JayW> to <ChatQ>: - Neal, any chance of DC doing an Adams Batman reprint book like your recent Deadman book?

Neal: I actually think they have it on the schedule

Neal: They did the Green/ Green collection, and Deadman, so I think Batman would be next

Neal: I don't agree with changing $75.

Neal: They soak you

Neal: But it would be a good collection -- maybe two volumes

Neal: DC treats my work like Disney cartoons, they recycle it every so many years. And every time it gets more expensive.

Neal: GA

ChatMod: <drkngt> to <ChatQ>: I started readding batman just about the time you starterd on the book, the character was so different from the camp of the sixties that I was hooked. You introduced the darker, grittier character, even though frank miller seems to get most of the aclaim for that.How do you feel about the character today, what changes would you like to see?

Neal: In all honesty I would like to see Batman with a little more technology. People are shooting bullets

Neal: And he should have better communications tech

Neal: But Batman is a primal force

Neal: If Batman was in the Olympics he'd win six medals

Neal: He's as smart as aman can be without being a true genius

Neal: He's as good a detective as Holmes

Neal: So he's a better crime fighetr than almost any criminal

Neal: He has to be

Neal: He has to win

Neal: Batman is not a Superhero. There is nothing super about him

Neal: Superman is a Superhero

Neal: Batman isn't an alien from another planet, he's made himself what he is

Neal: He is the best we could ever be. That's what makes hims so cool

Neal: GA

ChatMod: <JayW> to <ChatQ>: - Neal, whose artwork in comics today do you like? You're still the king!

Neal: I love Adam Hughs, Scott McDaniel, I wish Todd was still drawing. Since Brian Hitch found the right way to do it he's gotten to be fabulous. But there are three dozen great artists now

Neal: The way it's always been in comics 90% of the stuff is crap and 10% is great

Neal: These days that 10% is fantastic.

Neal: I get every comic book and give 80% away, but the 20% I keep is amazing work. That's how it's always been

Neal: GA

ChatMod: How big is Continuity Studios. How many different forms of art and media is the studio involved with?

Neal: It's not big. 7 regular emploees and some freelancers

Neal: We do storyboards and comps. Animatics -- which are commercial drawn for testing before they're shot

Neal: To get some idea of our work check out nealadamsentertainment.com

Neal: And I have bits and pieces of my project there to

Neal: You can also go to nealadams.com, which is a MUCH DIFFERENT KIND OF SITE

Neal: I design concepts for amusement park rides like the Spiderman ride at Universal

Neal: I did a very tight storyboard for a Batman park at Universal in Spain.

Neal: And a lot of the work never gets used

Neal: I work with film makers. Like Reanimator

Neal: I've worked on some ideas for Stars My Destination

Neal: I do animation design, some computer game design, and a lot of problem solving with illustration

Neal: With the SCIFI poster the fun was making the two shows equal and still making them exciting

Neal: There's a contest for the original artwork. Check SCIFI

Neal: In a given month I get involved in a lot of projects

Neal: I'm embarassed to say that I have fun all the time

Neal: GA

ChatMod: <JayW> to <ChatQ>: - I saw the physics comic mentioned at your table at San Diego - any idea when it will be out? How much?

Neal: Since it's both a tape and a book I think it'll be about $80.

Neal: GA

ChatMod: Spiderman is coming in a week, and if it does well we presume it will become a franchise as the Superman films, and the Batman films did. What advantages and disadvantages are there to translating comic book characters to live action films?

Neal: I can't see any disadvantages

Neal: It's something we wait for.

Neal: Spiderman is already a film franchise

Neal: More than Batman, Spiderman is OUT THERE.

Neal: Raimi did a great job. He is, after all, the guy who Dark Man

Neal: The thing that saddens me is that Warners has protected Batman and Superman so they remain the same character. But they fail;ed to protect Green Lantern etc so the characters have changed too much and don't translate as well to film. Marvel is in a better position than DC for that reason

Neal: GA

ChatMod: <JayW> to <ChatQ>: - Any idea what your favorite comic book is that you drew?

Neal: Actually I have an opinion

Neal: Superman versus Mohammad Ali

Neal: DC said it didn't do that well, but it had fans all over the world

Neal: People though differently of Ali elsewhere

Neal: We still suffer the shadow of the past here in America

Neal: The battle isn't over here

Neal: And it was raging in the days of that comic

Neal: Ali of course absolutely loved it

Neal: He was a pretty nice guy too.

Neal: GA

ChatMod: What advice do you give to young artists who want to draw comic books?

Neal: It's so hard to do it, so hard to learn to do it -- I worry that when you learn to draw you forget to learn all the other things that you'll use as an artist. World experiences, literature, science

Neal: Young artists too often wear bliners

Neal: The most difficult thing is to remove those blinders

Neal: You can't teach drawing, you can teach learning -- and drawing is a part of what they learn.

Neal: I want to thank everybody for listening to me

Neal: Do check out the new book when it comes out it will knock you on your ass

Neal: Thanks a lot

Neal: Good night

ChatMod: Our hour is about up. Thanks Neal for a great chat. Just a reminder...Free comics day is May the 4th. Good night everybody.