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That Time I Inked Art Adams

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

One of the best gigs I ever had was drawing Splash Brannigan for Alan Moore's line of comics, ABC. Splash was both a descendent of Jack Cole's shape-changing Plastic Man and a satirical cousin of Harvey Kurtzman's MAD. Anyhoo, I was informed that they were producing a poster featuring all of the ABC characters. Artist Arthur Adams was doing the layout, with each character to be drawn by their respective artist, and all on the same sheet of Bristol over the layout. Chris Sprouse would draw Tom Strong, Kevin Nowlan would draw Jack B. Quick, Rick Veitch would draw Greyshirt, etc. And I would draw Splash Brannigan.

A few months went by and I got a call from Scott Dunbier, my editor at ABC. The progress on the poster was running late. The original art was being shipped to me that Saturday, and had to be in office on Monday. That means I had to turn it around in time to ship it Saturday afternoon. I pleaded with Scott for more time, but the other artists ahead of me had used all of it.

It got worse. Saturday morning arrived, but no package. It finally came in the afternoon. I called FED-EX to schedule the pickup for later that day, and that left me an hour or two to work, depending on when the driver arrived.

Art Adams had done the layout in blue pencil, and all of the artists that preceded me had done pencils and inks in their own style over that blueline. I looked at the clock, and I looked at the blueline. Art's drawing of Splash was tight for a layout. I figured I had just enough time to ink Art's blue pencil, which I did. I added as much of my own shading as I could. Ideally I would have added Splash's co-star/sidekick Daisy Screensaver, but she wasn't in the bluepencil, there wasn't much room for her, and I wasn't sure I'd have the time to draw her. But I thought I could add a small figure of Daisy's comic book editor, nebbishy Sydney J. Kaput. And I liked the idea and visual of all the heroes doing the hero bit running and flying heroically toward the reader, while rat-like and craven Kaput is fleeing the other way.

While I was still inking Kaput the doorbell rang. I asked the Fed-Ex guy if he could come back in an hour. He said no. The ink was still wet on the board when I put it in in the box. It was about the fastest thing I ever did, and not the way I wanted to handle a poster of a character I co-created. But, all things considered, and in spite of the crazy pressure, I think it tuned out okay. And you can really see the hand of Art Adams in the Splash figure. The poster art was also used on the ABC sketchbook.

And that's how I ended up inking Art Adams.

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Apr 07, 2021

I can't even imagine being asked to do something that quickly. And to have it turn out so good is incredible!

Apr 07, 2021
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It was crazy.

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