Here’s a look at some of Jack Adler’s phenomenal work in the 70s.
The collaboration between Neal Adams and Jack Adler in the late 60s, resulted in some spectacular covers. I recall reading that Adams pushed Adler to increase the number of colours available, as Adams was frustrated by the constraints of DC’s colour palette. The cover to Tomahawk #116 (May-June, 1968), is a good example of what the two could create when firing on all cylinders. Adams did some wonderful covers with Adler on some of these lesser known DC titles, and they are worth tracking down.
Adler was not directly credited for too many covers, but his name was included on the cover to Shazam! #6 (October, 1973). This is a good example of the mixed media covers Adler worked on during the 70s. If the late 50s and early 60s were the era of the Ink Wash or Grey Tone Cover, the 70s was the Partial Photo cover. Both this cover and the cover to Shazam #2 are nerd's mother lode, as they are both Partial Photo Covers and Infinity Covers (and I collect those with a slightly disturbing passion).
One of the earliest experiments with this mixed media effect was the Partial Photo Cover to Flash #203 (February, 1971). It was a terrific idea for an inter-dimensional cover, and Neal Adams’ almost photo-realistic pencils helps to pull it off.
Even with all of these Partial Photo covers, there was still plenty of room for painted covers with a wash technique. One of the finest Adams/Adler covers, in my not so humble opinion, is Witching Hour #13 (February-March, 1971). Whereas Adams had been pushing Adler for more and more colours, they decided to take a step back and allow this one to come across almost as a charcoal painting. I really love how Adams went with an LB Cole style spider. Brilliant stuff.
While it may appear that Neal Adams and Jack Adler were joined at the hip during this era, Adler actually worked with a good number of DC’s creators on their cover art. While I like Jack Sparling’s artwork, I can admit that he isn’t in the same league as a Neal Adams. When he teamed up with Jack Adler on some great cover concepts, however, the results were amazing. The cover to House of Secrets #105 (February, 1973), is one of the greatest covers from that title.
Another terrific result of the Sparling/Adler collaboration is the cover to Secrets of Sinister House #9 (February, 1973), produced the very same month as the House of Secrets cover. The loosening of the Code rules allowed for covers such as this, and the tone used by Sparling and Adler added a great deal of atmosphere. This series was quite short-lived, and I can only assume it would have lasted longer had they published more issues with covers of this caliber.
One of the more unique collaborations during this era was the cover to Plop! #18 (November-December, 1975) by Basil Wolverton and Jack Adler (who received a rare cover credit). New York City became such a fixture in these Partial Photo Covers that I’m surprised Marvel didn’t start doing the same considering many of their stories actually took place in the Big Apple.
Superman was the subject of a handful of partial photo covers, my favourite being Action Comics #419 (December, 1972). Working once again with Neal Adams, Adler and his production team helped create this wonderful bird’s eye view of Superman soaring above the city (NYC stepping in for Metropolis in this case). Adler would team up again with Adams for the partial photo cover to Superman #263 (April, 1973) and with Curt Swan for the rather cheesy ‘Horse Phantom of Metropolis Cover’ to Superman #289 (July, 1975).
Speaking of cheese, I thought it would be fun to end with the cover to Amazing World of DC Comics #10 (January, 1976), DC’s in-house pro-zine. Not only does this book feature some nice Murphy Anderson art embellished by Adler’s production crew, but the man himself makes a cover appearance. In addition, it also features an interview with Adler. I’m sure fans at the time were clamoring for Adams, Wrightson and Kaluta, but from my perspective – I’m glad they took the time to focus on the production department.
Of course, it is difficult to say how much of a role Jack Adler had in some of these covers, but as the visionary head of the production department I can only assume that he worked very closely in bringing the final product together. Between the Grey Tone/Wash Covers and the Partial Photo Covers, there are plenty of Jack Alder influenced covers from this period and they are a lot more affordable to track down than the ones we looked at a few weeks back. They pop up in everything from Green Lantern/Green Arrow to From Beyond the Unknown. So, next time you’re flipping through DC books at your LCS or at a convention – keep an eye out for ones with the Adler touch.
For more random chatter about old comic books, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent