El Diablo is owned by the fine people at DC Comics.
Since I shorted you all for a few days, I thought I'd share something extra special today. Many years ago, I got a fantastic gift from my friend Phil Hester (yeah... the same dude who draws El Diablo). Phil had managed to purchase a page from a convention retailer for a pretty ridiculous sum. The page was under-priced, even if it had been drawn by an average artist. It wasn't drawn by an average artist, though, it was drawn by Neal Adams and inked by Dick Giordano. As such, it was a freaking steal. Phil, knowing that I was a fat bigger Adams fanatic than he was, was kind enough to pass the page on to me. It hangs in a special spot in my studio, both as a token of my friend's generosity, and as a nice piece of work from Neal Adams' career.
Neal did this issue of The Brave and the Bold very early in his DC career... sometime, I believe, toward the end of his run on the Deadman series. This job also marks one of the first Adams/Giordano pairings. In my opinion, it's a moderately successful pairing at this stage. Frankly, while Dick would go on to do some great work over Neal, he would never ink him as well as Neal could have himself. In this early effort, you can really see Dick fighting to come to grips with Neal's fine, expressive pencils. The inking is still a little ham-fisted, as Dick tries to convert Neal's grays to black and white.
Still, the inks are solid, and they reproduced well. Dick understood the printing limitations of his art form better than almost anyone, and always worked accordingly. Yeah... I wish I had a page from this era that Neal had inked himself, but the art is only slightly diminished by the slightly insensitive inking.
I would not have posted this page in sections, as is my usual policy here. Neal's page layout is too complex- the panels too inter-dependent- to chop up. So, since I wanted to do something a little special today, I thought this whole page was appropriate. Again, this is early Neal... he would get a lot better. But, there is a lot to admire here.
The layout is pretty spectacular. It doesn't flow as naturally as possible, or even as naturally as Neal would do just a few years later. It does flow, though, and it works in getting the reader into the battle between Batman and The Creeper. I particularly like the first panel. The design accomplishes a number of facts very efficiently. The height of the rooftop, Batman's vulnerable position, and the Creeper's agility are all set up, seemingly with little effort. I also like panel two, with the money shot of Batman, and the flipping prowess of The Creeper. I still think it all works pretty well here. Things get a little less clear from here on out, but I don't mind. What the young Neal sometime lacked in clarity, he more than made up for in sheer excitement. I particularly like the laughter sound effect, and the sweeping motion of the girder in the final two panels.
As with a lot of the pieces from my collection, I love this piece for its exuberance. You can sense Neal at play here... a young man having a blast with the toolbox of a new medium.
Okay... enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more next Tuesday!
Both Batman and The Creeper are owned by DC.