Superman Pin-Up TPB Cover by Neal Adams

July 16, 2021|In General

Neal Adams is recovering from an illness that nearly claimed him, and we’re all reminded that those whose work we love won’t be around forever. And when Adams can still knock it out of the park, it’s a testament to a life spent practising his skills, and that we always look forward to seeing more from him.

In addition to the usual colour and packaging I apply to great pieces like this one, I’m going to examine photographic elements used on covers of the past, and one possible way to integrate them better with the ink art that is the bread & butter of comics.


Superman art by Neal Adams

Scan of Adams’ illustration.


Action Comics 419, Shazam! 6, DC Comics

Action Comics No. 419 cover by Neal Adams & Murphy Anderson, and Shazam! No. 6 by CC Beck. Both are collaged with photo elements by DC production chief Jack Adler. While it was always a novelty to see covers with photographic elements, they were limited by the production methods and print quality of the day that invariably had the photos turn out muddy and dark. And they never quite got past our awareness that it was just art pasted on top of photos or vice versa. The photo’s sense of reality in our minds gave it dominance when the focus should have been on the fantastic illustrations reality could not convey adequately.

Amazing Spider-Man 262, Marvel Team-Up 128, Eliot R Brown

Eliot R Brown’s photo covers for Marvel in the early 80s were at once an homage to the movie and TV covers of Dell and Gold Key comics of years past, and at the same time presaged the growing importance of live-action versions of characters that have come to dominate comic book culture today.


Manhattan, NYC, Radd Collective

A great shot of Manhattan with the Empire State Building in the background by Radd Collective. Rather than just drop this in the background as is, I’ll combine a few production techniques to bridge the gap between photo background and ink illustration foreground.


Comic book productino art by Scott Dutton

Cleaned up for production. An outline layer of the Manhattan background has a lineart feel to it.

Comic book colouring by Scott Dutton

Colour added. The colour photo has been softened and blurred to remove its details, but still carry its colour values. The final result simplifies the photo to work as a unique background without detracting from Adams’ powerful drawing.

Comic book design and packaging by Scott Dutton

Trade dress added.