January 24, 2013

Rob Liefeld: Still the shameless self-promoter

Get this: Way- overhyped comics guy Rob Liefeld has penned -- wait for it -- a 100 page screenplay about the formation of Image Comics.

One question: Why?

Well, of course anyone familiar with this hack knows why: I doubt anyone in the industry has a bigger (and undeserved) ego than Liefeld. In the terrific book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, author Sean Howe says that, essentially, Liefeld came upon the comics scene at precisely the right time. The early 90s were a time of ridiculous speculation in the industry; Marvel and main rival DC were churning out crossover after crossover (so readers would have to buy multiple titles to figure out what the heck was going on), putting out books with special covers (foil and chromium) and other "special" gimmicks. But perhaps most importantly they were [re]introducing a lot of "Number 1" editions. Fans hoarded these editions with the hope that years down the line they'd be able sell them for a lot of money.

It didn't work (for the fans, that is). Though Liefeld-drawn issues and titles with new Liefeld characters sold millions of copies, the novelty of all the gimmicks quickly died out. Comic shops had a glut of #1 issues (which, years later, you could pick up for around 50 cents in bargain bins). Still, Liefeld and other Marvel guys, their egos now as bloated as their wallets, ditched Stan Lee's company and founded Image Comics. (To give you an idea of the conceit the Image guys had, Howe notes that Todd MacFarlane, who gained fame drawing Spider-Man and created Spawn for Image, once bragged to a Marvel editor that he could sell a million issues of a comic that contained only blank pages -- as long as his name was on it.) (Minor correction added 1/27: MacFarlane actually said to editor Danny Fingeroth, "You sell a million, I'll listen to you. If I can turn in 22 blank pages and the kids buy a million copies, who cares how comic books have been done for the past 50 years?")

Just like when they were at Marvel, some of the Image guys (like Liefeld) were missing deadlines, which royally pissed off dealers who were (obviously) eagerly awaiting the books from these "hot" creators. Still, throughout the decade, Liefeld and crew remained in demand ...

... so much in demand that in the late 90s Marvel asked Liefeld and co-Image guy Jim Lee to return to the company in order to "re-imagine" some of their marquee characters: Capt. America, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. In what was dubbed "Heroes Reborn," these heroes were cast off into a "pocket universe" where the Image duo would rework the heroes' origins and pretty much do as they wished. While Lee's books -- Iron Man and Fantastic Four did well, Liefeld's books, in particular Captain America, were dismal. Marvel ended up relieving Liefeld of his "Heroes Reborn" contract.

Take a gander at some of Liefeld's Captain America (vol. 2) #1 (courtesy of my now-defunct comics blog). First, here's Cap (Steve Rogers) and a guy named Abe:

Notice above that Rogers is about what -- roughly a head taller than Abe? Not so fast:

Look! Somehow, Rogers miraculously grew about two feet, or Abe suddenly contracted osteoporosis and shrunk by same!

And then there's Rob's remarkable grasp of human anatomy:

Yep, there sure are a lot of people out there with arms that dwarf people's entire bodies! Yet, perhaps there is no picture which best exemplifies Liefeld's anatomical ineptitude than this one:

C'mon, say it with me: "W. T. F.??"

The "Reborn" titles were merely a [bad] extension of what made the Image guys famous -- huge, action-based panels with ridiculously proportioned characters ... and very minimal story-telling/dialogue. To show you just how minimal, former Iron Man fanzine Advanced Iron's Bill Egan did an analysis of "Reborn" Iron Man and Acclaim Comics' X-O Manowar. Here's what he found:

Average # of panels per page: Iron Man: 3.18; X-O: 4.5 Total # of panels: Iron Man: 70; X-O: 99

Average # of words per page: Iron Man: 38.9; X-O: 136.23
Total # of words: Iron Man: 856; X-O: 2997.

See? X-O Manowar had roughly three and a half times more written story than Iron Man.

At any rate, if you contain your laughter, be sure to check out some of the pages of the Liefeld's aforementioned screenplay. (Note, too, his bad grammar.) Also, scroll down to see whom Rob wants to play who in the film (he wants Star Trek's Chris Pine and John Cho to play him and Jim Lee respectively).

Posted by Hube at January 24, 2013 08:39 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I love it when you do comic book posts, Rhodey! Keep 'em coming. (A fisking of DC's "The New 52" or "DCnu" or whatever they are calling it would be a good topic.)

Posted by: art.the.nerd at January 25, 2013 10:57 AM

Thanks, Art! I'm not a big DC fan, but I do follow DC news so keep tuning in -- you never know! :-)

Posted by: Hube at January 25, 2013 10:59 AM

Anything that has Rob Liefeld's name attached it is something to avoid. Wonder if he (or his phony blog troll) will show up here defending himself like at FCmm once.

Posted by: Carl at January 25, 2013 02:11 PM

And I never knew that McFarlane said that... I just lost a bit of respect for him.

Posted by: Carl at January 26, 2013 02:30 PM

Actually, Carl, it wasn't quite what he said. Close, but not quite. I've added a correction to keep the record straight.

Posted by: Hube at January 27, 2013 05:34 PM