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Monday 3 October 2011

Neal Adams and his Theory

A few months ago, Fortean Times carried an article entitled "Morning of the Mutants", about the comic book artist Jack Kirby (issue 277, July 2011). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Kirby was no stranger to Fortean themes... a point which is expounded in greater detail in the FT article. In particular, the article suggests that the idea for the X-Men, the mutant super-team that Kirby helped to create for Marvel Comics in 1963, can be traced to Pauwels and Bergier's seminal "New Age" opus The Morning of the Magicians, which was first translated into English in the same year.

Jack Kirby was the first artist to draw The X-Men, but many others followed. Surprising as it may seem today, The X-Men was Marvel's poorest-selling title during the 1960s, and artists didn't like to be associated with it for too long. In 1969, however, when the title was teetering on the brink of cancellation, one young artist specifically asked to work on it -- because he thought the management had lost interest in it, so they'd leave him a free hand to draw whatever he wanted! This was Neal Adams, who (thanks to his work at Marvel's rival, DC Comics) was one of the most sought-after artists of the day. With his realistically drawn faces, innovative panel layouts and unusual "camera angles" his style was about as different from Jack Kirby's as it was possible to get (the example page here comes from issue 65 of The X-Men, cover-dated February 1970).

Neal Adams, like Kirby, has been mentioned in Fortean Times. But unlike Kirby, who had a prestigious Forum article to himself, Adams suffered the ignominy of being lumped together with the month's batch of mad scientists, conspiracy theorists and miscellaneous crackpots in the Hierophant's column of August 2004 (FT 186). You see, in addition to being a great artist, Neal Adams is a bit of a maverick scientist. He's developed a theory that the planet Earth is growing, and that new matter is continuously being created at its centre.

Full details of the theory can be found at Neal Adams Science: A New Model of the Universe. It was prompted by the observation that the continents all fit together, with no gaps between them, if the Earth is shrunk to a third of its current size. Adams postulates that this was its size at some point in the past, and that the planet has subsequently grown in size and mass due to the action of previously unknown particles called "Prime Matter". Well, maybe... and it's certainly no more contrived than the textbook narrative involving continental drift and plate tectonics!

As a footnote... I picked that particular page to scan because it contained the word "Theory", although the dialogue was written by Dennis O'Neil and not by Adams himself. However the text ("Theory? No, gentlemen, this is fact! I've observed a planet -- about the size of Pluto -- rushing toward the Earth... already it is disrupting many ecological systems! Barring a miracle, we are doomed!") sounds strikingly reminiscent of the Nibiru/Planet-X rumours currently doing the rounds of the New Age community!

[This post was reworked slightly on 4 Oct 11, because a few people complained that I was being overly sarcastic about Neal's theory... which I really didn't mean to be.]


Shamus said...

Neal has a theory but it's not based on science. He;s not really doing any evidenced based research as much as arm-chair pondering.

twas_brillig said...

Neal Adams, beyond being an accomplished illustrator, has done far more than armchair pondering, he has created a model to support his theory, while your comment Shamus, is nothing more than armchair debunking.