THE INSIDE STORY of a NEAL ADAMS commission that’s taken on a life of its own…
UPDATED 2/12/24: Funny thing. I recently saw someone online refer to this illustration as “iconic.” It pops up in my Facebook feed at least a few times a year. Pretty wild when you consider that I came up with the idea in the shower while thinking about what I wanted for my 50th birthday. Today, I’m 57, so I figured I’d share this again because people really seem to love it. Oh, and check out the faux cover colorist Walt Grogan mocked up using this Neal Adams drawing. It’s fabulous. Dig it. — Dan
I’m 50 today.
But that’s not exactly what this column is about. I mention that because it’s context.
See, my family wanted to know what I wanted for my 50th birthday and I was kind of stumped. I knew I wanted something special and personal. And I knew I wanted something to do with Batman. Because, y’know, obviously.
And I considered a lot of things but nothing seemed right. I didn’t want to have something fancy for the sake of it.
At the time, I was writing about Superman vs. Muhammad Ali because Neal Adams was doing the art for a satirical sequel and had put up pages at the gallery in his Manhattan studio. (Click here for a look. You’ll dig it.)
Now, I’ve long said that it was Adam West who got me into Batman and that Neal Adams was the one who hard-wired me for comics. I’m not the fan and writer I am today without either one of them.
And it’s funny to me that even after decades have passed there are still people who can’t reconcile both versions — the lighter, funnier one who gave us kids such a sense of wonder and adventure and the darker, moodier one who speaks to our drive and determination. Hell, even I rejected the Adam West version for years in my teens and 20s before I came full circle. But I don’t understand anyone who still harbors that anti-West resentment. There’s room for all.
So when I started thinking about my 50th, I wanted something that celebrated both.
And then it hit me — and it was a bona fide epiphany: What if I could commission Neal Adams to do a piece with his Batman shaking hands with Adam West, just as Ali and Superman shook on it at the end of their epic adventure.
And he did it.
So here it is, a piece I call Batman, WE Are the Greatest!:
So a big thank you to Neal Adams, his daughter Kris Adams Stone — and of course my wife Wendy and son Sam for making this the perfect birthday.
Dig it, Batfans.
— BATMAN, WE ARE THE GREATEST: The Best Comic Book That Never Was. Click here.
— How ADAM WEST, NEAL ADAMS and MEGO Made Me a Lifelong BATMAN Fan. Click here.