Adams and Kevin Nowlan make for a perfect pairing.


February was NEAL ADAMS MONTH here at 13th Dimension, and we featured daily commentary by Adams on his variant-cover project for DC Comics. Each of his 27 variants is a twist on one of his famous covers from the past. He provided the pencils, and the inks and colors were handled by some of the biggest names in the business like Dave Gibbons and Frank Miller.

But sometimes the comics gremlins play havoc with publishing schedules and two of the issues for which Adams did variants were delayed. On 3/30, JLA #8 came out, and on 4/6, the final NEAL ADAMS MONTH cover is published: the Justice League: Darkseid War Special. It’s based on the iconic Green Lantern #87 — cover-dated Jan. 1972 — which introduced the world to John Stewart, one of DC’s most important characters.


The guest inker is Kevin Nowlan, who handled three Adams covers for the project — click here for his commentary — and the colorist is Nathan Fairbairn.

For the full NEAL ADAMS MONTH INDEX of stories — click here.


Neal Adams: It’s interesting, of minor interest, that I penciled that original cover twice.

Dan Greenfield: OK.

Neal: You see it in fan magazines, the other drawing—very similar to that, very similar to that—but it didn’t have the impact. For whatever reason, I felt the only thing I got out of that original cover was the body, the slack body. … So I penciled it again. So people think that DC Comics rejected it. There’re people writing articles on covers of mine that say DC Comics rejected it. (Laughs) They never rejected one cover, ever, in my time at DC Comics from those days. I did. Everything that was rejected, I rejected to get a better cover. Why did I do that? Because I wanted a black character on that damn comic book! And that’s what that character is and that’s why it stands out.

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So we take the same thinking and put it on this, OK, we’ve got Superman who is analogous to Green Lantern, with a powerful Wonder Woman, which I wanted to see on that cover. I was very happy to do that. You don’t think SEX when you look at her. You think, WOMAN! That’s what you think. You don’t think BANGER here (gestures at older cover). You think HERO. And why? Because I put it in your head.


That’s what Adam Hughes does all the time. When Adam Hughes did Wonder Woman, it was like, yeah, SO smart and so strong and so together and intelligent. This one particular cover he did where he had her hair cut…

Dan: Oh, yeah! That was great.


Neal: It was so cool! But this is what this relates to. We’ve done the same thing…only we’ve done it for a woman. People are not going to find it to be that significant because we’ve experimented with Wonder Woman. It’s no big deal. But it IS a strong female character. Of course, we have another one where she’s throwing him off a building.


Dan: (Laughs) Right. That, too. I also like his inking job by Kevin Nowlan, here, too.

Neal: Mm-hm.

Dan: It accentuates everything but there’s also a cleanness to it.

Neal: Well, I’ll tell you the thing. One of the things that Kevin does is he redraws faces…which he does very well but then they become Kevin Nowlan faces. He didn’t in this. He had sufficient respect that he did the faces that I gave him. But even so, he cleaned them up and made them very strong.

Like, Dr. Strange, by Marvel. It’s done by Chris Bachalo but then there’s this backup feature and it’s Kevin Nowlan. When you’re reading Bachalo, it’s all chaotic and there’s so much stuff in there and you really have to concentrate to focus on it and then you hit Kevin Nowlan and it’s CLEAN. And that’s what he’s done to this drawing. He just slicked it up!


Dan: It’s beautiful.

Neal: You can’t even put your finger on what he did. What’d he do? It’s THERE. It’s just nailed in there. So, yes. He did a great job. Within my style, the way I work, I can never be that clean. If I am, it’s probably for a commercial client because I then have to focus on it so much.

But you see, that’s the pleasure of having these things inked by others, to see this happen!

For the full NEAL ADAMS MONTH INDEX of stories — click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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