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ISSUE NO. 841
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Tomahawk covers by
Adams, Adler and Saladino
Pictured below is a DC house ad by for Tomahawk #115, followed by the book's cover, drawn by Bob Brown, with lettering by Ira Schnapp. We present these images for the purpose of contrast, because with the book's next issue, cover chores were taken over by Neal Adams, with lettering by Gaspar Saladino and coloring by Jack Adler. Quelle difference!
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Reader, as you know, there was a time when Neal Adams seemed to be drawing almost every cover of every book DC published. We're all familiar with these covers, almost to the point where many of us can truthfully say we've seen, and practically memorized, every single one of them!

But when most people think of Adams' DC covers, they think primairly of his superhero art, or perhaps hi moody, "kids running from supernatural danger" mystery book covers.

But there's a whole bunch of covers many Adams fans are not as familiar with-- his work on Tomahawk! The work the artist did on this book is superb, and enhanced by the bombastic lettering of Gaspar Saladino (who we covered at great length in a series that culminated in Dial B for BLOG #500. Pictured below is a new photo of Gaspar in his prime (taken by his daughter, and posted by Todd Klein) which was not included in that series...
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An unheralded aspect of Adams' Tomahawk covers was their absolutely superb COLORING, done by DC's ace colorist, Jack Adler, pictured right Xin a portrait drawn by Neal Adams, and below in a photograph courtesy of Todd Klein.

Since Tomahawk was considered marginal, and not "important" like Superman or Batman, Adler had a tremendous amount of artistic freedom, and he used it to its fullest, producing risky, experimental color schemes never before seen in comics.

Adler was a genius at coloring, but he was also an expert in production techniques. He never just threw colors on a page and hoped for the best. He actually knew exactly how those colors were going to be printed and reproduced.

Adler could mix the simple "process colors" of cyan, yellow, magenta and black into an incredible rainbow of infinite shades. He could, and he DID -- not once or twice, but countless times.

In the Adler biography seen below, the title DC Profiles #8 is intentionally printed upside down as a satirical coment on Adler's propensity for correcting errrors in DC comics.
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BELOW: Jack Adler and Carmine Infantino.
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In the direct currents ad for Tomahawk #116, pictured below, the sky appears to be brown.
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On the printed cover, the sky isn't brown -- it's red, a masterful blending of shades and tones that's practically like a painting unto itself. And look at the subtlty on Tomahawk's frontier clothing. You can practically feel the buckskin!


Neal Adams commented on this cover in Alter Ego #56.

"I went to Jack and described what I wanted to do. [I said, "I'm trying to do an action scene, and Tomahawk's on the ground. This Indian's coming up behind him, and I want this background to look like paint."

"At first Jack would freak out, then he'd get into it. He'd (do one version), show it to me, and he'd say, 'Now I'm going to do it over again. I don't like this. I rthink I'll do this again. We're going to make all the strokes go in one direction.' "

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WIth Adams' second cover for the title, depicting a midnight hanging, everything turned to shades of blue except the book's logo, a pure yellow that bursts off th page when contrasted against those deep shadows and midnight blues.
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For his third Adams cover, Adler turned the whole world green, except for the blazing red lettering meant to draw the eye to what one of the Rangers is saying. Why focus the eye on these words, delineated by Gaspar Saladino?

Because without them, it's just a scene of a guy hanging from a tree. Who cares? But when we read that word balloon, we realize the "guy" is our hero, Tomahawk, and we understnd that he's being tried for MURDER! (Gasp!)

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The house a below gives us a chance to see what the boo's cover looks like without any color. It's good, it's great, it's wonderful. But WITH color, it become mesmerizing.
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See what I mean?
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ABOVE: This house ad by Gaspar Saladino, seems to contain several dictionaries worth of words, but the Adams/Adler cover is SO powerful and eye-catching it still dominates the ad.

Take a look at the cover in a bigger version, and you can really appreciate the subtly of theorange-colored sky in the background. Those redish streaks were NOT part of the original artwork -- they were done by Jack Adler.
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BELOW: Neal Adams original cover art, which was reworked for the published cover seen above. See how drab it looks without color?
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ABOVE: Another cover, another sky. This time, Adler adds massive streaks of brown into the mix. When was the last time you saw a brown sky? Never? And yet here, it looks not only perfectly natural but wonderful.

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ABOVE: It's important for different issue of any given comic book to LOOK different, so readers won't think they've already bought the issue. After a series of warm, orange, yellow and brown sunsets, it was time for a radical change, which Adler accomplished by depicting a dark grey sky on the top of this cover, which matched perfectly with the blue-green water at the bottom.

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Here, Adler goes for a mono-chromatic PINK sky, dominated by a solid RED sun, and offset by 100% yellow lettering for the book's logo, and the story title, hand lettered by Gaspar, who adds a subtle ethnic touch to blocky letters simply by making the letter "O" in "for" into a diamond shape.

This is fun, isn't it, reader? Don't worry -- we're not done yet, far from it. There are still many more Adams/Adler/Saladino masterpieces to go in this series, so we're going to continue it in our next issue!

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MORE Tomahawk covers
by Adams, Adler and Saladino!
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