Comic Books, Entertainment, Social issues

Real Life Superhero Neal Adams, Part I: Making Black Respectable

Real Life Superhero

Real Life Superhero

For fans of comic books or writers in general, Kevin Smith’s FatMan on Batman podcast series with Smodcast is one of the most amazing shows you can listen to. But even greater than that, in an episode from January 2014, Kevin Smith sits down with legendary comic book artist Neal Adams.

In the first of three episodes, Neal discusses being able draw characters who were black in a realistic and convincing manner, as he says he was the only one who could draw them at the time, as even black artists couldn’t because they were taught to draw them similar to white people. For someone like me who is Indian, I do feel uncomfortable at the sight of ‘all white’ depictions of heaven or Utopia such as a ‘magical’ Asgard where everyone is Caucasian. That’s why it resonates with me so much to hear Neal Adams fighting for more equal representation back in the 1960s and 70s.

One of the greatest runs by the Neal Adams/Denny O’Neill superteam was the Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover series. Just check out this beautiful panel which was even used by Florida Congressman Alan Grayson to take a stand against the poorest classes in America being looked over:

 

His co-creation of John Stewart with Dennis O’Neill is and always will be the quintessential incarnation of Green Lantern for me and most people of my generation who grew up with the Justice League animated series. Even after becoming a huge fan of comic books, GL Stewart means the most to me. And it’s no surprise the character came from someone (Mr. Adams) who was one of the very few people at the time in his industry (or even generation) who would ever travel to places like Harlem and Bed-Stuy, willingly being among non-white people.

More importantly, he identified that most black characters at the time were always former or current gangbangers or ghetto kids, and the collaboration of himself and Danny O’Neil to make the new Green Lantern a college-graduate architect, struggling with being recently unemployed was a bold and powerful step to make.

More than that, the colour code they would choose to shade black characters at the time was affectionately called “shit brown” at DC Comics and was as exciting as ‘grey’ in Marvel, but Adams’ defiance against defamation as a professional artist is inspiring. The man is a real superhero on Earth.

 

 The points raised so far are just tiny extracts of his story, be sure to listen to the whole episode over at Kevin Smith’s FatMan on BatMan Podcast below or download it from iTunes or your Podcast app.

In my next article, we’ll see what Neal Adams did in the heart-breaking fight for artists’ rights and the battle to ensure the original creators of Superman were given the recognition and respect they deserve.

 Original article published on Pyro & Ballyhoo HERE.

For more from me, find out more at http://www.hariramakrishnan.com or follow me @HotChocHari on Twitter!

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