Seismic Shift

Seismic Shift

or: Reinventing Comics


Well, foo. Neal Adams has shuffled off this mortal coil. Neal did more than reinvent every character he touched, he reinvented comics. I’m struggling to find the right word or phrase: fulcrum, catalyst, tipping point, polar flip… there were comics pre-Neal and comics post-Neal. The web will be full of stories by people who actually knew him and are thus more qualified to speak on the subject. Stories on how he changed the look of comics as well as how comics treated it’s creators. I’ll leave all that to them. What follows is my one and only Neal story.


San Diego Comic Con, 1997. Bob Chapman, of Graphitti Designs fame, is throwing his famous after con party. I’m sitting at a table with Jeff Parker and a friend of his, whose name now escapes me, when the friend notices that Paul Levitz, Jim Steranko and Neal Adams (!!!) are locked in conversation and wonders what could they possibly be talking about? “Oh, to be a fly on that wall,” he says.


“Dude,” I said, “this is an invitation only party and you were invited. You have as much right to be here as anyone, go over and ask them. That’s what we’re here for.” The kid almost had a heart attack just thinking about it. “Are you nuts?!? You can’t just… walk up… to PAUL LEVITZ, JIM STERANKO and NEAL ADAMS and… gasp… talk to them.” To which I reply, “Screw that,” and left the table and started across the room.


I’d met Paul a few times, I’d met Jim once, Neal, I’d never met before. Jim spotted me first. Neal and Paul notice his distraction and follow his gaze. By the time I cross the room, they’re waiting on me. 


“Hope you guys will pardon the intrusion but, I’m sitting with a couple kids over there…”  I indicate over my shoulder as I go on to relate the story I’ve just related to you. “So, I’m asking, what earth shattering event are you plotting against an unsuspecting fandom today?” All three bust out laughing. For a moment I think I’ve said something witty when Jim says, “I hate to have to tell you this but, all we’re talking about are distribution methods. Sorry.” Now, we all break out laughing. 


So I thank them for their time, apologize again for the intrusion and turn to go back to the table when Neal taps me on the arm and says, “What you’re doing on ‘Leave it to Chance’, good stuff.”


Somehow I stay upright as my knees turn to Jello. I manage a thank you and turn to go back to the table. Jeff and his buddy watch me as I come back with stunned expression. They think I’m privy to some great secret. “Well? What are they talking about? Give, give!”  I mumble, “Uh… distribution. They’re talking about distribution…” They’re confused, ”If that’s all it was why are you so freaked out?” I look up and say, “Neal Adams knows who I am… AND HE LIKES MY WORK!!!”


I don’t remember much after that other than feeling like I’d been reduced to a 12 year old child. I’d like to say that moment is why I haven’t attended the SDCC since but actually it’s just the way things worked out. Still, it’s a heck of an end note so, yeah, that’s why. 


While I, like many, am awestruck by nearly all of Neal’s work, it’s his Vision that impressed me the most so, this one’s for Neal.


Happy Trails, 


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