Neal Adams/George Pérez tribute panel at the Lake Como Comics Festival


Alan Davis, Frank Cho and Klaus janson leads the Neal Adams/George Perez Tribute panel at the Lake Como Comic Art Festival this weekend. Neal had been on the show and gave some advice to one of the show’s organizers at the Villa Erba opening gala on the grounds of the house. “If you want to be happy, look up.” Those who have seen the photos of the place know exactly what he meant.

Alan Davis, Frank Cho, Klaus Janson at the Lake Comic Comic Art Festival, photo by Rich Johnston

All three panelists knew Neal Adams well. Klaus Janson met Neal when he was 18 or 19, the same day he met Dick Giordano, his mentor. Klaus had made his way into the DC offices trying to find work, and Neal Adams in a corner, drawing an Adam Strange cover, and he told Klaus what he was doing. He was working on a color scheme to create depth, a 3D effect, with Adam Strange’s red and white foreground popping out of the olive green behind him. Klaus said Adams’ ability to create depth was a remarkable ability in comics and one of the hardest things for young artists to understand and do.

Neal Adams/George Perez tribute panel at the Lake Como Comics Festival
Is this the Neal Adams cover Klaus Janson is talking about?

Soon, Klaus will begin working at Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, which he describes as the end of the Mad Men era. Everybody wore suits and ties, and indeed Neal Adams kept that all his life, and he lived in a section of Connecticut where all the newspaper comic artists and ad artists lived. Janson pointed out how Neal Adams was tough on other up-and-coming artists and regularly told people to give up.

Frank Cho recalled, “he made Frank Miller destroy Frank Miller” telling us Neal was brutally honest, ripped up young Frank’s work – and Frank too, but educated Frank where he went wrong. And he would do it many times, and Frank Miller would go into the hall and cry. What impressed Neal was that Frank kept coming back and eventually, when he got good enough, Adams got him a job at Gold Key and then Marvel.

Klaus Janson has confirmed that Frank Miller will ask Neal Adams what he was doing wrong and tell him how to improve. That he was tough but generous with his time.

Frank Cho added that Adams was also generous with his knowledge. “He could be really tough on you. I was never a victim. But I saw him with artist portfolios, and he was brutal.”

Klaus Janson thinks no one of this generation could survive a criticism from Neal. Not that Adams appreciates those who would come back and ask for more.” I even had the chance to add something that Neal Adams once said, when Frank Miller showed him some pages of his Marvel test, and Neal tore them up as usual.only for Frank to say that Marvel had bought the pages and was going to publish them, did he have to ask for them again so he could fix them?Only for Neal to suddenly backtrack, tell him “NO!” and that if he had managed to get a publisher to buy them, then there was nothing left to do, and you would never want to put doubt in that publisher’s mind.

Alan Davis told us “I never saw the tough side of Neal, just incredible kindness.” Explaining an unusual reunion at San Diego Comic-Con with mixed badges, after they met they spent time together at every show they both were at, and that Neal would always have a story, usually asking how much you should charge for your signature and sketch. Neal Adams was famous for believing that comic book creators should value their work and reputation more, including raising prices for sketches and charging for bylines. And that he once walked past Davis’s queue, asking the fan how much he was paying for that skit, didn’t they think it was too cheap, and isn’t that an insult to pay so little?

Klaus Janson added that Neal grew up in a time when business was tough, where if you can’t take a beating you won’t survive. He wanted people to learn how to do their job and to learn it better than the person telling them what to do.

Frank Cho also wanted to talk about Neal Adams’ childhood. At an otherwise “dead” show, when they went to eat together, Frank got the chance to ask Neal about his past. Neal’s father left his family when he was young, so Neal became “the man of the house” at the age of ten. His mother had opened a boarding house and Neal told Frank stories about people who passed by the house. And that when he was a teenager, someone almost blew him up. His aunt was dating an ex-Korean War soldier, then dumped him. Enraged, the soldier went mad, causing the aunt to take refuge with her sister. And it was while the three of them were having coffee in the kitchen that an explosion shook the house. And let the aunt tell them “he has grenades”. “How many grenades?” Neal asked before going to confront the guy with a butcher knife, and found a big crater in the yard. Only to see the ex-soldier enter their house with an adjustable wrench, as a police car drove up the street. He quickly dropped the knife so as not to get shot. Calling the police, he told them of the situation. “How many grenades?” ” they asked. They stopped the soldier wielding a wrench, searched his truck and found a very large box of grenades, not knowing how he had gotten them. But as Frank says, it wasn’t the craziest story.

It may have been a little earlier, the first time Neal Adams saw a naked woman. Again, he and his mother were in the kitchen drinking coffee, when they heard a scream from one of the guests. and found him naked, holding his head in her hands, covered in blood, while his naked young wife, also covered in blood, approached Neal with a growing face and hands, hissing at her. Neal’s mother told him, “do you mind? He’s my son”. She got dressed and left the house while they tried to clean her husband – and the room. Later, back in the kitchen having coffee (everything seemed to interrupt them while they were doing this), she started getting phone calls from three different houses down the street that the woman had defecated in their garden . It was clearly that kind of neighborhood.

Klaus Janson thinks that because Neal’s father left, Neal became very protective of his mother, and that’s how he was as an adult. He took care of people and children, becoming the father of a whole generation. And everyone knows what he did in representing the creators of Superman, Siegel and Shuster, against DC Comics, to get some sort of reward for the character when the movie came out, establishing artists’ rights, including including royalties and sharing, as well as reclaiming original artwork for creators. , something that has helped so many in their old age.

Frank Cho mentioned that Neal Adams would call editors and editors and get you a job if he thought you were ready. And that the editors took his recommendations on that alone.

Alan Davis has a strong personal memory of telling Neal how much he meant to him, pointing to his work on X-Men #56, compared to other comics, everything else wasn’t real, and Neal Adams became the standard he had to measure himself against. versus. Neal Adams revolutionized his way of thinking, and he was so happy he could tell him. Klaus Janson thinks his run on X-Men should have been placed higher in critical consensus and deserves to be up there with Watchmen and Dark Knight, he considered it absolutely foundational, and it holds up today, next to everything everyone is doing now. Davis and Cho agreed. Davis was critical of those who criticized Neal Adams, especially his older work, as Adams was always trying new things and sometimes he failed. That he always questioned himself, an avant-garde artist, forcing his way so that everyone could follow. A true pioneer.

Klaus Janson cited his approach to panel layout, moving away from the grid, which would influence so many others. Alan Davis pointed out his double-page on the city in Superman Vs Mohammad Ali. Frank Cho examined his massive shift from comic book style to realism which had a primary influence on John Byrne, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Sim, Garcia Lopez, Jim Aparo and many more. Alan Davis said that when he started Batman he never saw Neal Adams work on the character, just Jim Aparo and Don Newton Batman, whom Neal had inspired. And that artists could take one aspect of Neal’s work, copy it, and then build an entire career on it.

They also talked more briefly about George Pérez, as neither of them had the close experiences with Pérez like they did with Adams. Klaus Janson recalled his first work with Peres on a biography of the Beatles and a few issues on Logan’s Run, and that he is lucky to have such fond memories of that specific period, which he considers an age of death. Gold with George Pérez. And that George was genuinely happy doing exactly what he was doing, a rare experience. Frank Cho recalled that he was a reader of Marvel Comics and that he only read New Teen Titans from DC, it was a tribute to the power of Pérez’s work that he could pull it from Marvel.

Neal Adams/George Pérez tribute panel at the Lake Como Comics Festival

Klaus Janson summed it up by saying that the purpose of storytelling is to communicate and solve problems, to respond to how you do something and how you do it effectively. George and Neal solved the problems differently but they solved the problems, and that’s something to admire.

The Lake Comic Comic Art Festival is a comic book convention that takes place every year in Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Como in Italy (pandemic permitting). It focuses on the big names in comics from the United States, United Kingdom and mainland Europe, and attracts fans, collectors and dealers with an attendance cap and a relatively high price. This provides better access to creators and allows creators to maximize their income, all in the incredibly attractive landscapes, culture, history, art and architecture of Lake Como.

Posted in: Comics | Tagged: alan davis, frank cho, goerge perez, klaus janson, lake como, lccaf, neal adams

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Daniel K. Denny