here is not an inker
more closely associated with Don Newton than Dan Adkins. Dan inked 49 Don Newton
stories, in Dan's own words, "one for each year of his life." Dan ranks as one
of my favorite Newton inkers. Dan is an interesting guy, a fellow who just sort
of accidentally fell into a career in comics.
Adkins recalled in Alter Ego how his work on his fanzine turned into a career in
"I met him (Wally Wood) through Bill Pearson. I saw a letter of Pearson's in
Amazing Stories [sf magazine]. His address was Phoenix, Arizona, and I was
stationed at Luke Field outside Phoenix, so I thought he might know some girls
there! I was nineteen at the time. He didn't really want to meet anybody; he was
sort of a shy guy. But I went out and talked to him that night, and showed him
my collection of fanzines.
Later, up in New York, I was doing art for the science-fiction magazines, but
I couldn't make enough money at it, so I worked in advertising while I was also
drawing for Amazing and Fantastic and Infinity and
Half of these were put out by Larry Shaw, who also published one of the first
monster magazines, Monster Parade, 'way before Famous Monsters of Filmland. Part
of Monster Parade was stories, for which we did illustrations. While I was doing
all this, Pearson had moved to New York, too, and I guess he wanted to get into
writing. He had this big apartment in the '70s over near the river, and he got
to meet Wally through (Roy) Krenkel or somebody.
I went up to Wally's with Pearson to get a full-page drawing from Wally for
my fanzine Outlet. But Wally was too busy to do a drawing for me,
unless-[laughs] Well, he offered me work to help him out! I had drawn nine pages
of a war story, but I didn't show him my science-fiction illustrations. Later
on, I showed him my sf drawings, and he said that if I'd shown him those, he
wouldn't have hired me, because they weren't as good as the war story, which was
my latest work! [laughs] So anyway, I started working as Wally's assistant,
helping him on the first "Iron Maiden" story in the first issue of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. That was around June or July of 1965."
Dan would work as Wally Wood's
assistant for a few years before branching off on his own solo career at Warren,
Marvel, DC and Charlton among others. When you read this website though, the
name of Dan Adkins just keeps popping up. Dan was a huge supporter of Don's and
in 2001 I wrote Dan and asked him a number of questions regarding Don and he was
kind enough to respond.
Q: You were in Ohio, Don was in Arizona, yet you begin doing work
together in 1972. How did this come about?
I met Don through the mail. He wrote me. I inked a drawing of his for Bill
Wilson, who published The Collector, and Don wrote me after that.
I moved to Arizona in 1974. My wife's family is there. Her three brothers and
two sisters and her mother. Mine are in Ohio. I was stationed at Luke Field,
outside of Phoenix, in 1955.
letters I have received from Howard Siegel, your name starts to be mentioned
around 1974, but mainly in connection with work that Don was assisting you on,
including his first credited work at Marvel on Giant-Size Defenders #3.Don
was really happy with his work on this book and thought his stuff looked better
than most of the rest of the book. He mentioned being surprised that he did not
get more work from Marvel at that time.
penciled over (Jim) Starlin's layout on nine pages of Giant-Size Defenders
#3. I thought his pages better than my own finishes as well. Marvel did
not, which I never understood. John Romita Sr. never liked Don Newton's stuff,
said he was a Classics Illustrated artist, not a Marvel one.
Q: So his not getting work at Marvel had nothing to do with him not
living on the east coast? That was always Don's thought, yet, you lived in
Arizona and had no problem getting work.
lived in New York City, Brooklyn and Queens from 1959 to 1968. I knew a lot of
editors, artists and writers. Don Newton did not. And a lot of editors did not
like Don's work. I know because I showed it around. They wanted more action.
Q: You inked three of Newton's horror stories at Charlton. In the
Comics Journal #93 you mentioned that you guys got $25 a page and split
the money 50-50. What bothered you most at Charlton, the crappy pay or the
Crappy pay, $12.50 is correct. That was my share.
did these collaborations come about? Did Don ask you to ink his work or did the
request come from Charlton?
probably asked Don if I could ink him. He may have asked me, can't be sure.
you doing any other work for Charlton at this time?
penciled and inked a war cover for Charlton, while in Ohio, so I had already
worked for them before Newton. They were trying to get me to pencil and ink for
them. They had something called "Liberty Belle."
Q: It was not much later
that you moved back to the east coast. Was that when you stopped working
together at Charlton?
moved to New York in December 1974. If the three stories were published in 1975
-- that was it for Charlton. I became Art director of Marvel's black and
whites...and I had a contract with Marvel for free lance. I couldn't work for
other companies till it was up.
long did you live in Phoenix?
Eight months, give or take a month.
moved on before Don began work on The Phantom, but I wondered what
you thought of his work on that book.
like the Phantom paintings. I'm not too fond of Newton's inks. Too sketchy. I
think he learned to draw more ideal figures, instead of realistic, but he never
learned to ink for reproduction. Too thin of a line, too sketchy. He never quite
got over drawing awkward figures either.
would be two years before Don "broke in" at DC, right after Charlton cancelled
The Phantom and there you are again, inking his
first DC work in DC Special #28. Do you recall how you got that
thought the first story Don and I did for DC was The New Gods
stuff. I think (Joe) Orlando wanted me to ink Newton.
between the Charlton work and the first DC work Don did a cover painting for
Unknown World's of Science Fiction for Marvel; did you have anything
to do with him getting that assignment?
was the Art Editor of Unknown World's of Science Fiction. I asked
Roy Thomas if I could give Newton a cover to do. I did a layout to show Roy and
sent it to Don. He improved upon my rough -- made it a much better cover.
mentions in a number of letters to Howard that you were always encouraging
him to move east and, it appears, at one point, that you almost talked him into
it. Was this to assist him in getting more DC and Marvel work?
wanted Don to move east so that I would have an artist friend to go to New York
with -- I usually delivered my jobs in person -- three hours from here to New
York by bus. Three more back, of course. (Jim) Steranko is here, but he
seldom went to New York, and he drives. I don't like riding in cars. And, of
course, it would help Newton to get work. He liked to pencil, I liked to ink.
Made a good team.
hated it back here -- too many trees, curved roads, hills, no pools -- winter
weather. He liked Phoenix. He bought a house in Reading, came to Reading, stayed
two days. Sold the house, went back to Phoenix. Then he married that last wife.
According to my records, you inked 694 pages of Newton artwork, 260 more than
Alfredo Alcala, your nearest competitor, and your involvement with Don goes from
the beginning of his career to the very end. I've only seen one strip of Don's
in pencil and I though it was breath-taking, the amount of detail in the pencils
astounded me. It seems like most inkers simplified Don's work, but you didn't
seem to do so. Did you ink Don differently than you inked other pencilers? Was
his work harder to ink or easier?
think I inked 49 stories of Don's. One for each year of his life. There is only
one way to ink, "What is going to work here?" It's that simple. There's many
answers -- I've inked over 70 artists. No one was hard. Some were boring. Some
took a long time. Some didn't do their job, and you had to finish their pencils.
Gene Colan comes to mind -- but his work was exciting. John Buscema (tight
pencils) and Newton were my favorites. Don was enjoyable.
you rather the penciler provide all of the details as Don did, or do you prefer
looser pencils that give you more freedom in inking choices?
penciler gets more money than the inker. I want him to put every damn line in
there -- otherwise, give the inker more money. If it's a bad penciler, you
sometimes wish he hadn't put all that stuff in there -- you're going to have to
change it -- at least some. But as long as he's paid more, let him earn his
last words on Don Newton?
Don was a child. A big baby. I really liked the guy. When Wally Wood died, I was
sad, but I didn't cry. We all knew how he drank and it was expected. When Newton
died, I cried for two days -- such a shame.
The Art of Don Newton
Content powered by iContribute!