Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"inventing new characters the way Doritos invents extreme flavors"
January 22, 2013 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Has Slate's well known, some would say even cliched, contrarism jumped the shark, now they've gone so far as to defend Rob Liefeld?

Perhaps, but even the Comics Journal liked the new Prophet.
posted by MartinWisse (52 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I came for Doritos EXTREEM Taco Bell Nacho Cheez Jalapeno Karunch chips, but ended up reading about Rob Liefeld.

Either way, I'm leaving with a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:24 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The new Prophet is REALLY fucking good. And they seem to be defending him not as an artist/writer, but as a man who generously knows when someone else will make his creations way better:

In 2012 he handed many of his characters to indie writers and artists. The results are shockingly good.
...
Liefeld knows that the haters prefer the new books to his originals.


I like to ridicule Liefeld as much as anyone, but yeah, I'm totally on board with this article's general takeaway.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


The new Glory is ALSO really fucking good, and nigh-universally praised - as has been Prophet. So if this article has as its thesis "Prophet and Glory are really fucking good now," I would say they are being the opposite of contrarian.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:31 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read that article yesterday. Liefeld has often brought in talented creators to work on his characters (Alan Moore, for instance), so his current willingness to hand over the keys of Extreme to indie writers and artists isn't exactly a radical change in policy. Say what you will about the man (and many do), but he's never been one to micromanage or get in the way of the talent he hires.

Or maybe more accurately, he doesn't get in the way of the talent that Eric Stephenson hires. It's Stephenson who seems be driving the current success of both the reinvented Extreme titles and Image comics in general.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:32 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget Alan Moore's awesome Supreme stories. Look, I laugh at some of Rob Liefeld's egregious comic art, too, but the Rob Liefeld hate is undeserved and can be as over the top as his work.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:36 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Query: Is there any evidence that Liefeld is a jerk, or generally an unpleasant person?

Because, yeah, if he gets his bad rap just for sucking at his job.....I mean, hell, who doesn't suck at their job, right? If the guy is self aware enough to know that others are better with his creations, enables them to create that better work, and then picks up a paycheck so he can put grub on the table then who am I to fault him?

Rob, if you're not an asshole then, please, carry on drawing those non-feet.
posted by sendai sleep master at 2:36 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Prophet is, as others have noted, really fucking good - there's at least one collection already, if you've not read it at all I'd suggest grabbing it immediately.
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on January 22, 2013


The things people get really, really, really worked up about never ceases to amuse me...
posted by kjs3 at 2:37 PM on January 22, 2013


The man seems to have a good sense about himself. There are less deserving people in the world to have money and fame than Rob Liefield.
posted by JHarris at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2013


Oh, and I really like Prophet when Simon Roy is drawing it, but not so much with Giannis Milonogiannis. His style is just too rough and confusing.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:38 PM on January 22, 2013


Query: Is there any evidence that Liefeld is a jerk, or generally an unpleasant person?

There is evidence in the other direction, actually - that he's really easy to get along with in person and doesn't hold a grudge. This, plus the ability to deliver art on time, seems to be the main reason he still gets work on Marvel/DC comics long after the end of his million-seller days. Networking matters.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:39 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


....but as a man who generously knows when someone else will make his creations way better...

Yeah, Alan Moore taking over Supreme gave us an amazing (and criminally underrated and underread) pastiche of Superman the likes of which I've never seen since.

Liefeld himself is a pretty complicated person. On the one hand, you have the loud ...missteps... of his public persona and all the crap that he gets that we don't really need to run through. On the other hand, he is, by many accounts, an earnest guy who works hard and works consistently and is just doing what he loves regardless of the zeitgeist of the industry. And I honestly don't think anyone would argue that co-founding Image comics is something to sneeze at, either.
posted by griphus at 2:39 PM on January 22, 2013


There is evidence in the other direction, actually - that he's really easy to get along with in person and doesn't hold a grudge. This, plus the ability to deliver art on time, seems to be the main reason he still gets work on Marvel/DC comics long after the end of his million-seller days.

But he can't draw, which is kind of an important thing for a comic book artist.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:41 PM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Rob Liefeld on how to deal with haters.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Query: Is there any evidence that Liefeld is a jerk, or generally an unpleasant person?

The abovementioned public missteps. From what I can tell, it's less "jerk" and more "guy who says stupid things when he gets mad." Whether that's an academic distinction or not is not my place to say.
posted by griphus at 2:43 PM on January 22, 2013


But he can't draw, which is kind of an important thing for a comic book artist.

Important for winning accolades and fans. Not as important as you might think for convincing editors to assign you work.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:43 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2009/07/liefeld-cant-wait-to-someday-undo-shatterstar-development/

Well, he is kind of a homophobe, so there's that.
posted by FritoKAL at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


What the real problem with Liefeld was, back when he first got his reputation, is that he is a godawful artist, not just one who has a radical drawing style, but one who was actually genuinely bad at the basics of comics drawing and storytelling, yet he became one of the hottest artists at Marvel, equal to MacFarlane or Lee, both of which had an equally flashy drawing style but both of which did have those basic skills.

So he became a symbol of everything that was wrong with superhero comics in the early nineties, flash and speculation over substance, even more so when he dropped the ball at Image, starting zillions of shitty titles full of half baked ideas and even worse artwork by his imitators. Also that Levis ad.

And then a few years later he burned his bridges with the rest of the original Image creators over shitty business practises, got Extreme/Awesome going, then started to redeem himself by giving Alan Moore the keys to his toybox and allow him to use his bad Superman clone to actually tell the sort of silver age stories Moore could never do with the real one.

Flashforward a few years, get a new generation of people in charge at the big two who actually grew up with his comics and he got back to doing work for them, he came back to Image and he got good, independent creators to take over his old series.

I love the new Prophet and Glory myself as well, together with Saga they're the best new Image series in a long time, superhero comics I'm actually excited to buy again.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


NOW FACE THE QUIZZLERTRON: THE BRANDON GRAHAM INTERVIEW
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on January 22, 2013


FritoKAL: "http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2009/07/liefeld-cant-wait-to-someday-undo-shatterstar-development/

Well, he is kind of a homophobe, so there's that
"

I can kind of see that he created the character as heterosexual and doesn't think that should be changed. I'd personally agree that it's preferable to see characters created as gay, with that a part of their development, than to have this kind of random retcon of an established character.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2013


Well, he is kind of a homophobe, so there's that"

I've always seen his comments on Shatterstar as just good old fashioned stupidity.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:56 PM on January 22, 2013


Query: Is there any evidence that Liefeld is a jerk, or generally an unpleasant person?

The Extreme relaunch (at least Rob's part in it) was marred by his burying every Deadpool creative team, ever. Which led to some brief, depressing discussions regarding how this might reflect Rob views of Keatinge, Graham, and Seeley's work.

Dig further back and you find some pretty upset former collaborators. Sean Howe's Marvel Comics the Untold Story has a few brief stories. Any disagreements post 1995 you're likely to find online without much digging. Here's Dan Fraga on AICN (sorry) talking about Rob reinventing the WFH wheel he was working under at Marvel.
posted by lilnemo at 2:56 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Basically the post-Liefeld Prophet stuff is actually one of the best examples I've ever seen of taking a really basic canon and Yes-And-ing the hell out of it, which is pretty much my favorite thing. It ranks way up there with Alan Moore turning the fun, wacky, childlike Captain Marvel into an extended meditation on apotheosis and posthuman morality. Haven't gotten a chance to check out the new Glory yet, but I am excited to!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:59 PM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rob Liefeld is a Bro. (The definitions in Urban Dictionary are too harsh, but it's the closest link I could find with only a couple minutes Googling.) He's an athletic, alpha male type, generally good-natured, but with deeply held convictions and prejudices that aren't always apparent on the surface. Not great with organization or detail, but really good at expressing the feel of something. That's where his art has always succeeded, at conveying an emotional "feel" of bro-ness and comic book cool. It's terribly drawn, but the emotion certainly comes through.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:08 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


“Rob Liefeld is to today,” says Rob Liefeld, “as Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan are to my kids.”
posted by oneironaut at 3:16 PM on January 22, 2013


They're the worst. I can't read their stuff anymore. So glib and simple. Bad writing, just bad. Read anything else or nothing at all.
posted by Napierzaza at 3:28 PM on January 22, 2013


I'm just here to say that Tapatio Doritos is the best thing ever.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The new spin on Prophet tickles my brain the same way Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories do. It's an excellent title.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:55 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He created Cable? I think that's worth defending. Unless he also created Cable's convoluted origin story.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:06 PM on January 22, 2013


I dig the hell out of Prophet, but I have long since given up on trying to understand 90% of what's going on in it after the first three (Brandon Graham) issues. And I just recently started reading Glory, which I came to with very little in the way of expectation and with which I quickly fell in love.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:06 PM on January 22, 2013


I'll echo the previous accolades for the new Prophet - Brandon Graham is an awesome world builder and writer, not to mention artist but he's not doing the art on the book.

My two cents are that this article has painted Liefeld in a light which makes me think favorably of him, something which I've not done to date as I've always thought of him as a lucky hack who wouldn't know body proportions if it hit him in the misdrawn feet. But kudos for reminding me that everyone is not all good nor all bad - and for that alone this article was worth my time.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:08 PM on January 22, 2013


Because people seemed pretty enthusiastic about them I went out yesterday and picked up the first trade and the subsequent singles of Saga (haven't started yet) and Harbinger (read the trade last night - not bad) and also intended to do the same for Prophet, but the first trade covers #21-#26 and the earliest floppy issue I can find is #28. Turns out #27 is super-rare and Mr Graham on Twitter suggests that the second trade might not be out until like June so I guess what I'm saying is does anybody have a copy of Prophet #27 they want to sell me?
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:10 PM on January 22, 2013


You can get it digitally from Comixology, like, right now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:19 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know. But having a trade, and then issues 28-33 in floppy format, and then issue 27 in digital format, would drive me insane :-(
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 4:24 PM on January 22, 2013


This is my favorite comic book panel ever. It's both the best and worst thing any professional comic artist has ever done. You could hang it up in a gallery and say it's a commentary on the insane exaggeration in comic books or condemn it for being impossibly, absurdly incompetent with regards to the most basic aspects of everything in art. And here he is with his little penis hanging out.
posted by stavrogin at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other Liefeld news, he's apparently written a script about himself and the founding of Image Comics.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:44 PM on January 22, 2013


Since Prophet rebooted I've been fascinated by the idea that one of the most innovative books at Image right now is being made as work for hire by people who don't own the rights to the characters they are working with, while the person who first created these characters two decades previously has wandered off to Hollywood where he is constantly chasing a big break into the movie business. It all sounds strangely familiar, doesn't it true believers?
posted by thecjm at 4:53 PM on January 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Cap fuckup is no worse than the ridiculous boobs-n-butt poses in nearly every single comic out there. Same inability to understand anatomy and perspective, it's just that for female characters it is a given, a standard actually taught by the innumerable 'How To Draw' books.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:55 PM on January 22, 2013


But can he draw their feet?
posted by Renoroc at 5:13 PM on January 22, 2013


Because.

Pouches.
posted by Samizdata at 5:33 PM on January 22, 2013


This is why titles are bad, folks. DORITO FRAUD.
posted by elizardbits at 6:07 PM on January 22, 2013


It all sounds strangely familiar, doesn't it true believers?

Ha! Holy crap, you're right.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 6:41 PM on January 22, 2013


A lot of the Liefeld hate comes from his ostensibly taking work either from comics legends who contributed more to the field in any random month than he ever has, but can't find work now, or interesting and exciting new talent that has to hold onto their day job while Rob makes a small mint drawing either old DC and Marvel characters or thinly-disguised ripoffs of same (Supreme, Glory and Prophet are Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America, at least in their original, pre-reboot incarnations). But arguably Todd McFarlane (because of his former lawsuit involving Neil Gaiman and helping to spawn (heh) the comic-book action figure industry, not to mention his involvement with the bankrupt videogame company 38 Studios) and Jim Lee (sold WildStorm to DC, including Alan Moore's America's Best Comics imprint, after he told Moore that he wouldn't, and is probably as responsible as anyone for the New 52 reboot) have done more damage to comics. Liefeld, despite having the public relations instincts of Honey Boo Boo's mom, is guilty of nothing more than making money off peddling a severely-overdrawn version of a junior high school nerd's notebook.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:28 PM on January 22, 2013


Great excerpt from Marvel: The Untold Story on the image exodus: Marvel’s Bottom Line
posted by Artw at 8:40 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The things people get really, really, really worked up about never ceases to amuse me...

Oh hello, have we met?
posted by DarlingBri at 11:50 PM on January 22, 2013


Out of the original Image founders, the one I have the most respect for is Erik "Name Withheld" Larsen, even if he can be a giant douche sometimes and isn't one to let a feud die other than of old age. He saw in Image a chance to finally get all his old childhood creations (back) into print and took it, then stuck with it, still writing and drawing Savage Dragon, years after everybody else gave up on their projects.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:51 PM on January 22, 2013


Important for winning accolades and fans. Not as important as you might think for convincing editors to assign you work.

It's useful to recall the freelancer triangle: punctual, pleasant, talented. If you can manage two out of the three, you are at least in with a chance of building a career. All three and you could be a star.

(And, since Liefeld was for a time genuinely seen as exemplifying what good superhero comic book art was supposed to look like - amazing to us now, but there you go - he subjectively had all three.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slate didn't start this. Lionizing Liefeld is kind of the new thing. I suspect it's because a new wave of people have now gotten to the age where whatever they enjoyed when they were twelve is now the absolute pinnacle of achievement.
posted by Legomancer at 4:34 AM on January 23, 2013


I don't think that's true at all, especially because most of the "hey, maybe we should stop constantly shitting on this dude who, really, is not exactly the nadir of our industry" stuff is neither lionization, nor reaching the point where people are saying "well, it's good art." The general theme, as far as I can tell, is that maybe there's no reason to be such utter dicks about someone who is, and always has been, working very hard, all the while being subjected to barrages of insults about his life's work, regardless of its quality. And god knows there's more than enough reason for a call for comics fans to be slightly less dickish about something they don't like.
posted by griphus at 7:11 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm still okay at laughing at his lamentable drawing skills, FWIW, and his even worse storytelling has me shaking my head. But yeah, I do not begrudge his inexplicable popularity as he seems to have done okay out of it.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on January 23, 2013


For balance, here is Adam X the X-Treme.
posted by Artw at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2013


Important Brandon Graham Twitter update!
posted by Artw at 12:42 AM on January 25, 2013


« Older Credit Rating Agencies and their role after the Cr...  |  New Yorkers Caught Checking Th... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments