In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, you can see how Neal Adams almost single-handedly got DC to break the comic book code with a drug issue.
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and thirty-seven times where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. This time it’s all Neal Adams legends! Click here for the first part of this issue’s legends.
Neal Adams came up with the idea of making a drug problem Green lantern / green arrow on its own before DC was willing to even try to go against the comic book code.
I have written a number of CBLR articles on the comic book code and its effects Fantastic Spider-Man # 96-98 is released without Comics Code approval and how it ultimately changed Comics Code forever, but let’s do a quick refresher before we get into Neal Adams’ role overall.
WHAT WAS THE TRADING CODE AND THE DEPRECIATION OF DRUGS?
One of the annoying aspects of the Comics Code Authority was that there were not necessarily hard and fast rules all the time. For example, as I discussed in a Comic Book Legends Revealed, there was not even technically a rule against depicting substances in comics, but rather there was the following rule:
All elements or techniques which are not specifically mentioned herein but which are contrary to the spirit and intent of the Code and are considered as infringements of good taste or decency are prohibited.
The comic book code then GENERALLY read the rule as saying “you can not depict substances.” However, when it was not in the code itself, Stan Lee got annoyed when the Nixon administration actually contacted him and asked him to get a Marvel Comic to make an anti-drug message. He brought the idea to the code and they said no. There was a debate about changing the code in the future.
Lee did not want to wait, so he decided to just do the problems anyway and just not have the cartoon code on them. He later talked about it with Roy Thomas in TwoMorrows’ cartoon artist # 2:
Roy: Do you think there were any bad feelings on the part of the Code over the Spider-Man drug problems?
Stan: That was the only big problem we had. I could understand them; they were like lawyers, people who take things literally and technically. The code mentioned that one was not allowed to name substances and according to their rules they were right. So I did not even get mad at them back then. I said, “Unscrew it” and just took off the code seal for the three issues. Then we went back to the code again. I never thought about the Code when I wrote a story, because basically I never wanted to do something that in my opinion was too violent or too sexy. I was aware that young people were reading these books, and had there not been a codex, I do not think I would have done the stories differently.
HOW WAS NEAL ADAMS TRYING TO GET DC BREAKING THE COMIC CODE FIRST?
Meanwhile, funny enough, Neal Adams had previously come up with the same idea! He described the situation to Allen W. Wright on Wright’s amazing Robin Hood page (Adams often told the same story in many places, so I could link to many different places for this one, but when I linked to Wright for the last legend, I think that I might as well stick with him):
[W]I had not handled drugs. And that’s why we had to kill the comic book code, because that was the only way to take drugs. So I went home and on my own I wrote pencil and ink and then wrote the first fabric question [cover] with Speedy [Green Arrow’s former sidekick aka Roy Harper] as a junkie. And I handed it to my editor, and he dropped it like a hot potato and said, “What the hell are you doing, Neal? You’re making trouble again.” I said “No, we should print this, Julie [editor Julius Schwartz]. “He said” We will never print this, it will not pass the comic book code. “He said:” First, Neal, it will never be printed – never will be printed – and secondly, I will never pay you for it . “I said” We’ll see. “
Here is the now iconic cover …
Adams then repeated the part about how Marvel laid out the problems without the code approval, and Adams noted that he checked in with Marvel throughout that deal, shocked that while DC said no to HIM, Marvel just did. Looked after Fantastic Spider-Man the problem came out, Adams checked with John Romita, who had been the regular Fantastic Spider-Man pencils, but had recently inserted Gil Kane’s pencils on the series:
I went back to Marvel, I was pretty welcome at Marvel, talking to Johnny, and I said “What happened to the book?” He said “Nothing. Nothing happened.” I said “What do you mean, nothing happened?” He said, “Nothing. No one has even noticed that the comic book code was not on the book.” “Really? Are you kidding? No one noticed, no one wrote a letter, no phone calls, nothing?” “Nothing,” he said. “Nothing happened. No one cared.” Well over at DC Comics they were indifferent. They had a f — ing spell, they were to monkey s – t. Because they had this cover on their desk for a few months and they did nothing. So within a week, the publishers had a meeting of the Comics Code Authority, and they took pretty much all the teeth out of the Comics Code. In about four days. And a week later, Julie Schwartz came to me and said, “We’re making that book,” and I said, “So, you’re going to pay me for that cover. No, Julie?” He said “Get out of my room.”
And then Oliver Queen was told that his department was a drug addict!
As I have written before (I did it both as a legend and then as an abandoned love. Since the legend would require you to scroll down to read it, just read the abandoned love instead), Adams actually took control too end of story, write a new ending where Roy beats Ollie for not being supportive enough while Roy got clean.
WATCH A TV LEGEND THAT HAS BEEN REVEALED!
In the latest TV Legends Revealed – Discover if Kirk Cameron really got the TV wedding between his Growing Pains character, Mike Seaver, and Julie McCullough’s Julie Costello canceled because McCullough appeared in Playboy
SOON PART THREE!
Come back soon to see part 3 of the legends of this episode!
Feel free to send me suggestions for future comic book legends at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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