Comic artist Neal Adams, best known for his work with Batman in the 1970s, has died at age 80 of complications from sepsis. The information was confirmed to THR by Adams’ wife, Marilyn.
According to information from The Hollywood Reporter, Adams died in New York after complications from sepsis, a set of severe manifestations throughout the body produced by an infection.
Adams began his career in the 1960s at DC, designing the character Deadman. After stints at Marvel with X-Men and Avengers stories, they returned to the previous publisher and took on the Batman title alongside screenwriter Dennis O’Neill.
Together, the two decoupled Batman from the camp image of the 1960s TV series and the original children’s comics. Villains like Ra’s Al Ghoul and Talia Al-Ghoul, as well as Man-Bat, were created around this time.
The Adams and O’Neill comics are also credited with establishing the myth of the Joker as Batman’s archenemy, removing some of the villain’s comedic appeal to portray him with the deranged personality that has become etched in pop culture.
During his time at DC, he also wrote for titles such as Green Arrow and Green Lantern, the latter helping to create the character John Stewart, one of the publisher’s first black heroes.
Still in the 1970s, during the height of his popularity, Adams surprised the comics industry by breaking with the big publishers to form his own label, Continuity Studios. For the next several decades, he acted as a mentor to independent artists—some, like Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz, would go on to become major names in the industry.
Adams was also a staunch supporter of artists’ rights, campaigning for better working conditions and battling major publishers over contracts that did not guarantee fair compensation for creative work.
Neal Adams is survived by his wife of over 45 years, Marilyn, five children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.