The artists of DC Comics have a solid platform to stand on thanks to the prodigious work of George Perez and Neal Adams. Their ardent work ethic continues to inspire subsequent creators, and both left indelible impressions on creators and readers alike. The “house” style they created benefited generations of artists that followed, as did their subtle dance between speech bubbles and picture-panel sequences.
Perez and Adams were prolific creators for decades, making major contributions to the most popular franchises of DC. Perez mastered the art of creating Eisner-worthy full-page compositions, paying extraordinary attention to detail. Neil Adams influenced generations of artists, rendering human anatomy with an unmatched realism.
The sheer volume of artwork George Perez completed (drawing nearly every DC superhero) contributed to his success. Two pivotal series and one legendary DC character stand out as Perez’s most influential contributions from him. In the ’80s Perez collaborated with Marv Wolfman on New Teen Titans (1980) before moving on to create the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985). despues de CrisisPerez relaunched Wonder Woman, remaking her into a dynamic character with a more original, cohesive backstory.
Sometimes called the “master of the big comic book moment,” two of Perez’s works showcase his skill to create thrilling emotional issues and ornate splash pages. A seminal moment in New Teen Titans depicts Dick Grayson giving up the mantle of Robin the Boy Wonder. Perez delivers the moment with an image of a mature Robin set atop seven panels, each depicting the other Teen Titans and their respective reactions. Perez packs five more panels underneath to sum up the emotional moment of Robin leaving Batman’s side and shadow.
Perez’s masterful work on Crisis on Infinite Earths is the finest example of his ability to deliver epic-moment-worthy artwork. Crisis is a saga wherein parallel universes die and the body count is catastrophic as antimatter swallows legions of superheroes. Perez’s cover for the series depicts over a dozen superheroes and a train of earths in a multiverse that is splitting apart. A fine example of his artistic style packing multiple panels into one page is found early in the narrative when citizens race through the streets as their city dissolves in a wall of antimatter.
Perez called his work remaking Wonder Woman a “personal triumph” and credited his “inner feminist” with making the call to restyle the character, in hopes of increasing her popularity. Not one wanted to work on the title according to Perez, but he valued her place in the multiverse and made her indispensable. Perez ran with his own ideas on the superhero, steering away from a character that simply mirrored Superman. He also avoided over-sexualizing her and highlighted her roots in mythology.
Neal Adams challenged artists to capture teeming scenes with detail and paid special attention to the kinetics of superheroes in action. I have revitalized Batman and the Joker with his realistic portrayals, especially during high intensity battle scenes. Adams helped Dennis O’Neil leave behind the Batman that was seen in the campy 1960’s show, resurrecting the more Gothic Batman of the 1940s. Adams’ illustrations in Batman #251 has the Joker looking like a maniac who could easily walk off the page into reality.
The Joker was a previously a silly prankster compared to Adams’ twisted man-gone-mad villain. Batman #251 is a transitional book, featuring more obvious night-scenes and muted colors than Batman books before. Adams was skillful at adding realistic characters, background and lighting to his foreshadowing technique. Many artists before had mastered the technique, but with much more muted detail.
Adams’ seminal work as co-creator of villains like Man-Bat and criminal mastermind Ra’s Al Ghul changed the Batman franchise forever. Man-bat first appears in Frank Robbins’ Detective Comics #400, a book that showcases Adams’ iconic close-ups and dynamic fight scenes. Although his creation of him strictly followed the Comics Code of 1954, it is nonetheless a crucial part of comic book history.
The blow-by-blow boxing match Adams created for O’Neil’s Superman vs Muhammad Ali (1978) is some of the most vivid action in comic history. The opening spread of this iconic matchup showcases Adams’ devotion to detail and realism. The scene depicts a summer day in downtown Metropolis with inner city details such as street vendors, billboards, and local citizens standing out.
Both Perez and Adams created some industry-changing comic book covers. The genius of Perez’s wrap-a-round for Wonder Woman #10 is unparalleled. Perez showed off his talent for design when he made it look like Deathstroke was blasting apart the front cover of Wolfman’s New Teen Titans #34. He always thought big, never shying away from sophisticated compositions.
Adams’ wraparound cover for Superman vs. Muhammad Ali features a mind-blowing rendering of the crowd watching the fight. Faces in the audience include celebrities and comic industry professionals, but also comic characters like Batman and Lex Luthor. Adams even included himself among the spectators.
Adams, of course, created many superlatives Batman covers as well, with many of the best collected in O’Neil’s Batman: Tales of the Demon. Adams captures the humanity of Batman on these covers and injects a dark realism into Ra’s Al Ghul and other members of Batman’s rogues gallery. Adams’ art inspired other creators to move away from drawing cartoonish characters in campy settings to depicting more hard-boiled characters in more realistic worlds.
Today, artists pattern their work after Perez’s ornate full-page compositions, jam-packed with characters and background detail. Perez’s presence de él as a visionary artist and his comprehensive contributions to cutting-edge narratives set a precedent for the role of the comic book artist. Adams’ work was equally revolutionary. Much of his art by him is delivered like skillfully crafted cinematic story-board art that comic creators mimic in today’s age of comic-to-film adaptations.
The Line it is Drawn Pays Tribute to Neal Adams