RIP: Dan Adkins

David Spurlock reported the death of industry veteran artist and inker Dan Adkins yesterday at age 76. Adkins worked for all the majors publishers from the 60s on, including Charlton, Marvel, DC, Warren, and so on, with a memorable stint on Doctor Strange perhaps his best known work. Spurlock wrote:

I went to Reading PA yesterday to buy Steranko and Adkins dinner. Neither Steranko nor myself had been able to reach Adkins. After dinner with Steranko, I hit the road back to New York only to be phoned by Steranko who had just received word from Adkins’ son that Dan left this world last week. In addition to many other credits, including T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Dr. Strange and much of the best inking ever done for Marvel, Adkins served as an art director at Marvel, was key to Wood launching Witzend, and he also mentored a number of young artists including Paul Gulacy, Val Mayerik and P. Craig Russell. He is missed.

Adkins was a skilled artist with a smooth, clear line, very much in the style of early 70s mainstream artists, but with a flair all his own. He was also, by all accounts, a character of some dimension. My earliest con dinners in comics were never complete without some Adkins anecdotes, none of them suitable for repeating upon his death. P. Craig Russell also had a FB remembrance:

I was very saddened to hear today of the death of Dan Adkins. As everyone who ever met him would say, he was quite a character.

He was the best assistant/collaborator Wally Wood ever had. His inking work on artists such as Barry Windsor Smith and Gil Kane was incomparable. His Doctor Strange series for Marvel Comics in the late 60’s ran concurrently with his best buddy’s work, Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of Shield. As a high school student I followed those books each month as the two battled it out over who could dazzle the reader more. It was in high school, in choir class, that I met Dan’s paperboy and found out Dan lived only a few miles from me, just outside East Liverpool, Ohio. It was in that little studio that Dan handed me, alongside Val Mayerik and Paul Gulacy, our careers.

His own artwork on a series of stories for Warren Comics Creepy and Eerie magazines in the mid 60’s, shortly after he left Wally Wood’s studio, was his high point and remain an inspiration to this day. Each story was a different exercise in inking techniques, ink wash, crosshatching, zip-tone, etc. His title page for The Day After Doomsday, a virtuoso display of the transposition of the grey tones of a photo into thousands of tiny pen point marks and crosshatching to create texture and light has been a constant goad to me, a high water mark I’ve reached for and never attained.

For 30 some years Dan began and then abandoned numerous projects (illustration 4). In recent years his artistic output consisted of single illustrations of whatever caught his interest, superheroes, movie stars, recreations of classic covers, pigs (illustration 1).

I will miss his shaggy dog stories, his totally unselfconscious personal anecdotes and his complete absence of any sort of interior traffic cop holding up a hand and saying “you can’t say that”.






  1. An amazing talent and I will fondly remember his work.

  2. Jay W says:

    I got to know Dan when he moved to Arizona for a little over a year. I met him through the bookstore where I bought my comics, and he was amazed that I knew so much about his career. We talked on the phone a lot and he invited me over numerous times, to go through his collection of art and comics, and to watch him work. I learned a lot about inking from him.

    One of the things that he was most proud of was “creating” the careers of Craig Russell, Val Mayerik and Paul Gulacy. I loved the work of all three of those creators, especially Craig, and so Dan loved to tell stories about the skills that he man possessed. He was really proud that they were working in the industry.

    He was a great guy.

  3. I always wondered what became of Dan Adkins. He was one of the great inkers. But as a penciler, I will remember his splash page of the Sub-Mariner flying by the mountains. I’m going to have to locate it tonight.

    RIP Dan, you will be greatly missed, and thank you for your wonderful artwork.

  4. george says:

    I first noticed his work on 1968’s Daredevil No. 42 (“Nobody Laughs at the Jester”), which remains one of my all-time favorite comic book stories.

    At about the same time, he was penciling (and later inking) Dr. Strange. His work was always slick and highly detailed. I’ll miss him.


  1. […] [Update posted June 9th 2013; Just found out that Dan Adkins passed away just over a month ago on May 8th. He was 76. See […]

  2. […] Also included in this issue is a Tom Christopher portfolio and a letters column. The latter is a good tie in to what I will discuss next. In the previous issue of MCR, new writer James Vadeboncoeur Jr contributed an article taking artist Dan Adkins to task for what the writer claimed was the most rampant career of “swiping” around. In this issues letters column, many of Adkins’s contemporaries defend their fellow artist, including Berni Wrightson, Jeff Jones, and Mike Kaluta. Adkins himself has both a letter to the editor reply to the article (“Dan Adkins Speaks”), as well as an actual reply article he wrote himself. Vadeboncoeur also has a reply to Adkins’s reply called “Dear Mr. Adkins,” where he attempts to clarify a few points, soothe a few ruffled feathers, yet still sticks to his guns about swiping being unethical. Adkins’s letter and article claims that many more artists use this practice than is known (or reported), and also asserts that Vadeboncoeur is somewhat ignorant of the industry, the practices used by artists, and what is often needed to be done to make a deadline. The illustration below that accompanies Jim’s “Dear Mr. Adkins” puts it in simpler tones. You can see examples of various panels that complemented Adkins’s replies on either side here. I have always loved Adkins’s clean inking style. Some of you may know that Adkins learned and honed much of his craft as Wally Wood’s assistant. Other notable artists that held that position include Larry Hama, Wayne Howard, Mike Zeck, Craig Russell, Paul Gulacy, and Ralph Reese. Sadly Dan died on May 9th of this year. For a well written obituary, go here. […]

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