Who is the greatest living comic-book artist? Neal Adams gets my vote. His work for DC Comics in the 1960s and ’70s still stands as a towering achievement, and he drew the perfect Bruce Wayne, the definitive Green Lantern and the most memorable Green Arrow. Adams remains a dynamic figure in the world of illustration (check out Adams’ website if you haven’t already), and his new passion is for motion comics, as he writes in this guest essay for Hero Complex. — Geoff Boucher
New York, Union Square, 14th street, October 28th. It’s not every day that a new medium is invented or created and usually it happens by accident, against the tide and is roundly ignored and criticized by the majority of the population.
You want to put sound with movies? Talkies?! A flash-in-the-pan! Comic books? That’s not a medium, is it? They’re written? And drawn? I thought they just sort of … appeared.
And now the latest…motion comics? Isn’t it enough that HALF of our movies are based on (heh) comic books, overnight, it seems? No? There are going to be motion comics? And what is that, a moving comic book? Yep! But isn’t that … animation?
Actually NO. Animation, as it is defined today, is hundreds of thousands of animation cells drawn by a studio of animation artists who adapt ONE creator’s work to a simplified version — a version that has as few actual lines as possible. Done well, it can be brilliant — BUT, it can never be the original artist’s work. Until now. Which brings us to the aforementioned Oct. 28th.
On that day the first “true” motion comic, the first issue of Marvel’s “Astonishing X-Men,” will be presented in a world premiere at 14th Street-Union Square as part of MarvelFest NYC 2009. It will be outdoors and projected — yes, I did just say “projected” — on the side of the massively large, now closed, Virgin Megastore.
Ladieeze and Gentlemen, you will actually see the drawings of artist John Cassaday come to life and move. You will hear the words of the writer Joss Whedon (of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dollhouse” fame) spoken by John Cassaday’s drawings. (Well, OK, it’s actors doing the actual voices coming from the drawings, but this is exciting stuff.) Also, to add to the excitement, there is a signing at the near-legendary Forbidden Planet comic book store as well as a Marvel-Disney costume contest.
It’s a comic book come to life and fully drawn by your favorite artist and written by your favorite writer. “Impossible,” you logically say. “No one artist could do all that work!” And, you’d be absolutely RIGHT. But, this is the Age of Computers and, more importantly, the Age of Brilliant Computer Operators. The BEST of these are at my studio, Continuity, and they manipulated the work YOU will see (or miss) on the 28th. (If you do miss it, you can purchase the “Astonishing X-Men” series via iTunes beginning that same day.)
Properly cajoled and manipulated, computers can do nearly anything. For us at Continuity, computers have taken John’s drawings and made them talk, run, jump, punch and take a massive cosmic ray blast right in the labonza! As a result? A never-seen-before medium.
Welllll, that’s not true, of course. Continuity has been doing this sort of revolutionary animation for years, Except yours truly is a dyed-in-the-wool comic book artist (and comic book writer, too). Who better to debut this new form? All this comes together as Walt Disney Co. is completing its $4 billion purchase of Marvel Entertainment. Did Disney buy Marvel in time to tap into the most incredible boom time in the comic book business, and will motion comics contribute to the Disney bonanza? A prediction: “Motion comics” will be a household name a year from today.
— Neal Adams
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Photo: Neal Adams in 2007. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times