Monday, May 16, 2005

Thirty Year Old Trash Talk

So Neal Adams gave an interview over at ComicFoundry here, which was pretty interesting (although Adams is so full of it on a lot of points. Take, for instance, this advice he gives artists in negotiations...totally obscuring the part of his advice that included the company "really liking your work." Well, gee, that is going to affect negotiations, isn't it? It is not all that helpful to point out that artists who companies really like are going to have stronger bargaining position, so it seemed silly that Adams spent, like, three paragraphs explaining how artists who companies really want to work with have good bargaining positions.)

In any event, Adams throws out, in his usual frank manner, the following:
Q: Over the years your work has influenced so many people. Is it bad if too many replicate your style?

A: Replicating? Nobody’s replicating. Imitating.

Replicating means they’re as good as I am. Well, that’s not the case because if they’re replicating, they’d just be doing what I was doing – just doing it over again.

You can’t crawl into somebody’s mind to find out what he does. You can find some of the things he does. There’s certain people, if you read their stuff, and you read it 20 years later somehow you still get some big kick or some big joy out of it. Why is that? That’s the intangible intangible.

That’s not to say that people who imitate don’t have some quality of their own. But, like DC Comics is reprinting my Batman, and these volumes that sell for $50 and $75. There are people that have imitated my work. They’re not reprinting their work. They may have imitated it very well, but they’re still not getting reprinting. What is that intangible intangible that causes that to happen? Obviously they’re not replicating. Because if they replicate it, same thing would happen.
So here is my question - who is Adams referring to?

I enjoy comic book history, so I thought this would be interesting to explore...what artists were considered to be Adams imitators back then and never became acclaimed artists (as this has to be what Adams is referring to, as he says that they were never collected) on their own?


Blogger Greg said...

The only artist I can think of who was a blatant Adams rip-off was Sienkiewicz on the early, early issues of Moon Knight. He quickly got over that, though. Hasn't Adams been insane for a while? I seem to recall a few years ago when he surfaced and said some crazy stuff. He and Byrne should do a book together.

5/16/2005 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

One of the early self-admitted Adams swipers was Byrne himself. I remember reading an interview where he talked about his early work being him trying to do Adams.

5/16/2005 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Sienkiewicz and Byrne were my first two thoughts, but Adams makes a point of saying, basically, that they never became popular.

So that would rule out those two, right?

That is what strikes me as so interesting, as all the people I can think of who have been accused of being like Adams were POPULAR artists, like Sienkiewicz, Byrne, Alan Davis, Bryan Hitch...

5/16/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

My guess would be Rich Buckler, Jr.

In Alter Ego #14, Jerry Ordway briefly mentions that on early issues of All-Star Squadron, Buckler, was swiping heavily from Adams.

Buckler is a known swiper who is notorious for suing the Comics Journal in 1982 for libel, after the Journal published Buckler pages alongside very similar looking Kirby pages.

As an aside:

The Ordway info was from a brief but interesting conversation between Roy Thomas and Ordway. Because writer Thomas and editor Len Wein didn't get along (both came to this book having been writer/editors on their previous works), Thomas had very little contact with the artist, and in fact opposed having rookie Ordway on his pride and joy. This attitude was later reversed after Wein left and Thomas and Ordway worked closer together. Eventually Ordway became full-time penciller and would become the series signature artist.

Also, Thomas asked Ordway about pencilling credits: how could Buckler could be the "penciller" of the title (implying full pencils) while Ordway was credited as "finisher" (implying Ordway was pencilling and inking over basic layouts)? Ordway explained that while Buckler provided full pencils, Wein asked Ordway to make a lot of changes to Buckler's art. Thus, in order for Ordway to get paid for his time, Wein gave him a title that somewhat over-stated his responsibility. After some objections, they eventually settled on Buckler (and later Adrian Gonzales) as "penciller" and Ordway as "inker/embellisher".

5/17/2005 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

The mid-70s Batman artists (Jim Aparo, Bob Brown) were told to draw like Adams, with mixed results.

Mike Nasser/ Netzer, currently insane, never became very popular.

Most Philipino artists of the '70s (e.g. Nestor Redondo, Pablo Marcos) drew heavily from Adams, and never became particularly popular (that said, I love those Tales of the Zombie books Marcos did with Steve Gerber).

The biggest Adams imitator, Mike Grell, went on to be pretty popular in the '80s, but mostly for his writing on Green Arrow.

Totally unrelated point: read those GA stories for some examples of decompressed storytelling long before Bendis & Co. became known for the technique. Some of those Grell Green Arrows took about three minutes to read.

5/17/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

"Mike Nasser/Netzer, currently insane." It's the "currently" that makes it comedic gold. He's certainly entertaining, though!

5/17/2005 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Netzer said...

"Mike Nasser/Netzer, currently insane." It's the "currently" that makes it comedic gold. He's certainly entertaining, though!

I slip out of insanity from time to time but can always get back to myself when things get tough.

And hey, give Neal a break. The comics wouldn't be the same without him. Neither would the world, actually, if you've seen his science project.

6/22/2005 01:53:00 AM  

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