TAC Table of Contents
In April 1993 it was announced in the Comic Buyer's Guide, Eclipse Books an independent comic book company headed by the talented Cat Yronwode would include in their True Crime series a feature story on the death of George Reeves. According to a statement made in Comics Scoreboard dated July 1993 the idea sprung from the DC's Death of Superman which sold "millions" of copies. This is not to say Eclipse Books was capitalizing on the recent popularity, but she felt the time was right with "a mountain of convincing evidence - much discovered by the fans-that he was murdered." The story written by Valerie Jones and illustrated by Jim Mooney *. The book promised to not only expose the lie, but name the person who murdered George Reeves. Advanced orders reach 8,000 copies.
The idea was to produce the George Reeves story in color, a deviation from the normal B&W comic books this line was noted for. According to Cat Yronwode the one and only way to treat George Reeves with the highest respect was to produce the issue in color. However, in order to break even on the project Ms. Yronwode required a minimum 16,000 copy commitment from the distributor before going to print. She felt True Crime was selling 20,000 copies per issue with less notable public figures and therefore it would not be unreasonable to reach this mark Advanced orders reached 8,000 copies. Soon Ms. Yronwode was communicating to fandom via the Comic Buyers Guide which provided sales statistic and by April 30, the total reached 10,500 copies. It was also stated the comic book would still be published even if the16k is not achieved, but in B&W. The project was considerd very importand to Ms, Yronwode, who would stand by it knowing that distributors would consider it returnable because it was not printed as advertised. At this point Ms. Yronwode basically put her trust in fandon knowing George Reeves is so well beloved as television's Man Of Steel.
I personally ordered ten copies and I'd hope others out there were doing the same. July 16, 1993 issue of CBG announced Eclipse Books had indeed reached the break even point of 16,000 copies due to the phenomenal response of caring fans and retailers. It also announced a colorist was currently hard at work on the project and the book would ship in time for the San Diego Comic Book Convention in August.
Colorist Julia Koch was very excited about the project stating "with 16.5 million colors to choose from, the fun part is working in the colors for that era, which are very Hollywood, with a 50's flavor. I get to choose what sheets George Reeves had on his bed." Cat Yronwode writes in the August 27, 1993 issue of CBG that she received "something quite amazing via Federal Express. To help raise money to defray the production cost gallery artist Chris Yambar donated a two-foot by four-foot portrait painting to be auctioned at the San Diego Comic Book Convention. When Chris heard about the project he wanted to help. Chris had this to say, "I'd like to thank Eclipse Books for having the guts to take a stand for the integrity of George Reeves." It was recently learned John Field won the auction to become the owner of this painting. John also acted as story consultant on the project. All seemed to be going well and suddenly Eclipse Books fell into bankruptcy and the published version of the George Reeves case never materialized.
Growing up reading comics books was always a great joy for me. While it was seen as a substandard form of reading, I never hid the fact I read them. I was into sports like everyone I knew, but I also appreciated the effort comic book publishers went to entertain their readers. Carmine Infantano, Jim Aparo, Curt Swan, Al Plastino, Jim Mooney, Gil Kane, Irv Novack, Kurt Shafenberger were staples at DC Comics. Stan Lee lead the march at Marvel with Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Herb Trembe, Johnny Romita, John Buscema, Sal Buscema and Gene Colan. In the late 60's a new illustrator would take the industry by storm with a style far different, far more realistic and with incredible dynamics. His name is Neal Adams. Popular Sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison would have this to say about Neal Adams:
"There are artists who come along who do wonderful work, innovative work, even stylistically seminal or germinal work, but they don't change the face of the craft or the social conscience of the industry. Neal did that."
Neal Adams arrived to do many Superman covers including the famous cover of Superman no. 233, titled Kryptonite Nevermore, followed by Strange Adventures with Deadman, Batman's The Brave and the Bold, the award winning Green Lantern and Green Arrow series, all with Neal Adams covers and inside pencils. With many of these titles, Neal was teamed up with top industry talents, such as writer Denny O'Neill and Dick Giordano who provided the perfect inks to match the dynamic style of pencils. A highly popular Superman Vs. Muhammed Ali * was illustrated by Neal Adams. Neal also found his way at Marvel doing The Avengers and The Uncanny X-Men, teaming up with writer Roy Thomas and inker Tom Palmer. This is not to say the old guard were obsolete. Not by any means. These gentlemen would remain icons for many years to come. Just that Neal brought a newer, well received slicker style and dynamics. Characters were leaping off the page. It would change the industry on a whole as comic books started growing with its audience. Mr. Adams studied his craft at the High School of Industrial Art and at age 21 had his own Ben Casey syndicated newspaper strip which he hopes to release in book form. Illustrators inspired by Neal would continue and follow for years and years to come. The popular John Byrne, Rich Buckler and Bill Seinkiewics are three prime examples.
It should be noted that Mr. Adams in the late 70's was a major influence in helping Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman gain a well deserved, long overdue compensation from DC/Warner Brothers. This came in the form of a pension for the rest of their lives. The events that took place before the settlement was tragic and it is the respectful reason you now see both their names listed on the Front Page of The Adventures Continue Web-site. Mr. Adams chronicles this event in the recent available soft bound book-azine titled The Krypton Companion, by TwoMorrows Publishing, edited by Michael Eury - September 2006. This is an incredible behind the scenes look at the history of Superman comic books. For those interested this companion includes an image of Gene LeBell's "Mr. Kryptonite" costume. The one and only costume worn during the 1957 nationwide personal appearance tour with George, Noel Neill and Natividad Vacio. Proof it still exist. According to Gene, someone came to his house many years ago to borrow it for the weekend and never returned it.
In time, Mr. Adams ventured off on his own to start Continuity Associates, now known as Continuity Studios doing mainly commercial work. He would from time to time return to the comics field, publishing a whole line of comics created and designed by himself. Titles such as Ms. Mystic, a goddess like character dedicated to protect Earth's environment and Mega Man, a muscle bound super-hero. For those with a great interest, Neal Adams is currently working on a new Batman one-shot comic book project for DC Comics. Neal is the definitive Batman illustrator and I hope he'll return for more annual Batman adventures with DC Comics.
In 1993, during Eclipse Book's campaign, an advertisement was published showcasing an illustration of George Reeves for the True Crime Special. It would be an example of the cover as rendered by...Mr. Neal Adams.
Unfortunately, to date the Jim Mooney pages have yet to be seen by the public. Eclipse shortly thereafter went bankrupt, as already stated. We can only hope someday we will have the opportunity to see these pages. Below is the only known remains of True Crime Special #1. The two images are of both Neal's original illustration and the final advertisement layout.
Image provided by Jason "Spyda" Adams. Image provided by Lou Koza
Today Mr. Adams continues to meet with fans, old and new by being friendly and accessable at the local New York area comic book and memorabilia shows. I've come to speak to Neal several times in the last three years and I find his knowledge of the industry he cares deeply for extremely interesting. When meeting Neal Adams you won't find a more humbled, down to earth man when discussing his achievements and talents. He is polite and gracious. When he does look skyward and proclaim the words "Yes, I'm great," chuckle along because Neal is really just having a good laugh at himself. His interviews throughout the years are always insightful and enjoyable. I've also spoken to Neal's son Jason "Spyda" Adams who has a wonderful ability to sculpt figures such as Tarzan. Neal illustrated a series of Tarzan paintings which where featured on the cover of Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan paperback novels in the early 70's. I commented to Spyda about how it must be great to have the natural talent flow down from his father. But Jason corrected me by stating it's not the biological genes he and his siblings were dealt, but the many years of hard work put into developing their own skills. Something to be said about "practice makes perfect." Spyda is a believer it is dedication that got him to his level of talent. I agree and indeed the Adams family has worked hard for many years to bring interesting entertainment to their audience.
For more of Mr. Adams' amazing talents, you'll find his Continuity Studios web-site a fun place to visit.
Editor's note: If you read this article prior to January 16, 2007 then you will notice the events of the Eclispe Books campaign have changed. The purpose of this article was and still is to give a very brief history of that campaign leading up to the Neal Adams illustration, the main focus of this essay. Thirteen years ago I filed this information and rarely looked at it. When I decided to revisit the subject I had a difficult time finding these papers. It crossed my mind that I might have discarding it, odd I would have since I save everything relative to George. Just the same, I'm getting old like everyone else and therefore couldn't think of any other explanation. However, just one night ago, while reorganizing (added a new file cabinet) I found to my surprise the Comics Buyers Guide references I had searched for hours last month. Turns out it was filed exactly where I placed it in 1993, and benefits from no aging whatsoever. Unfortunately, it confirms my memory is not as accurate or good as it once was. In writing the initial essay I had unintentionally confused the reason True Crime Special #1 had not been printed was because it fell short to reach the 16,000 copies order. In actuality, as you've now already read above the target was reached. It was ultimately and unfortunately Eclipse's bankruptcy the reason the issue was not printed and made available to the readers who obviously did support the campaign.
Thanks for Watching.
Lou (January 2, 2007)