Jack Ader: 1918 - 2011

Another comic book legend has passed - DC Comic's Jack Adler. Jack started at DC in the mid 1940s and remained there for decades, producing some of the most beautifully coloured covers that I think I've ever seen - his colour work on titles such as Mystery Into Space are things of wonder to look at and made a strong impact upon a lot of people, both then and now.  Computer colours can't come anywhere near what Jack Adler was able to do with his paints and palette.  I never met nor spoke to Jack, but someone I know very well worked with him for quite a number of years. Here, in the words and pictures of Alan Kupperberg (with a contribution from Steve Mitchell), is Jack Adler.

JACK ADLER by Alan Kupperberg
R.I.P. Jack Adler, DC Comics color maven. You were quite a piece of work, sir. A talented woodworker, photographer, inventor, teacher and probably the most gifted comic book colorist that ever lived When I went to work for Jack at NPP in 1971, he became my first "professional" father. I rapidly becames Jack's "Mini-Me." I began dressing like him and walking like him and talking like him. It was pathetic, but amusing. Adler ran DC's coloring department, among his other duties. When Tommy Nicoletti, Jerry Serpe, or Paul Reinman would deliver the color guides for a Jack Kirby book, Adler would review it, as he did all their efforts. Adler would often "throw" a YRB2 (red brown) or a YBR2 (dark green) into a panel behind a three-quarter character close-up with an open background. A touch as small as this would invariably make an already sizzling Kirby page pop like a firecracker.

Art copyright Alan Kupperberg
Yelling was Jack's default mode. Jack got things mixed up in his mind. While it's true that I liberated a good deal of art from DC, I never had Jack's cover. I returned art to Wrightson. Now, Bernie is a talented artist. But he's NOT the brightest bulb in the bunch. So, Brainiac goes to Carmine. He could have said, "This artwork found it's way back to me. Why can't DC return my art directly? Why do I have to depend on the kindness of strangers?" Instead, Bernie the Brain names me as his benefactor. Jack called me, yelling, naturally, demanding the return of the artwork. Which I did in post and in haste. Both. Three decades later, Jack Adler had, in his mind, conflated all missing art with me. But the art was heaped up all over the place. I know MANY folks walked away with stuff. Gil Kane was notorious. Joe Orlando and Mark Hanerfeld walked away with tons of stuff. People yet alive, I will not name. They ALL took stuff.  However I know I returned art to DC. For all of Jack's mishagoss, he was the best at his craft.

I'm really very upset about Jack's death. I'm sure there was a great deal of ambivalence that flowed BOTH ways. But I had hoped to see that looney old bugger at least once more.

Alan Kupperberg

Jack was an original. So gifted. He was, however, paranoid and combative, which made for stormy days at DC. Also, he did provide me and the entire production dept. ringside seats for some epic arguments, most of which were with Joe Orlando. The world is too civilized now, and verbal brawls like theirs would never be tolerated. Too bad, cause they were fun to watch! - Steve Mitchell 

Art copyright Alan Kupperberg


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