Rob Liefeld: Let’s do this!

It was brought up in the last podcast, and it’s been bandied about on the site, and other unseemly places, but here’s the question. What’s the deal with Liefeld? Are there any fans among you? If so, why? Are you a recovering Liefeld fan?

Before you go in there, check out this interview done with Liefeld by Brian Bendis, to get his side of the story. It’s not a bad interview, and it’s quite in depth. Thanks to Leland for the tip on the article.

I missed the Liefeld onslaught by a few years in my hiatus from comics, and when I got back, he was already a name of some ill repute. But I see his art every now and then, and he might be a great guy, I don’t really know, but Liefeld’s art is not among my favorites.

Someone bought those books. Who was it?


  1. That Cap pic always cracks me up.

    I don’t care for his art either, and I haven’t bought a Liefeld book since the early 90’s (in my foolish youth). However, I have never understood the hatred that seems to follow him around online. If you don’t like his stuff, don’t buy it. In my mind it’s that simple.

    I see the 25 page Rob Liefeld threads on Newsarama every now and then and am amazed at all the insults and vitriol being thrown around. What about the man inspires this type of behavior? I can’t think of any other creator that has this effect on people (maybe John Byrne, but he usually gives cause). Anyone have any idea as to why?

  2. I like him in a kitschy, retro sort of way. I mean, the guy’s stuff was the epitome of the 90’s look, which happened to be the height of my childhood comic book phase. (Stephen Platt was another) I think the reason why people tend to bash so much these days is that it looks especially ridiculous against the hyper realistic art that seems to be the trend of the 2000’s (I’m thinking of Maleev and Cassady in particular).

    If comic book art is anything like fashion or music, then it’ll only take another 5-10 years for this style of art to be considered cool (in some sort of way). At the very least, the current furor over Liefeld’s art has secured him a place in comic history.

  3. Also: Youngblood is teh 120>Also: Youngblood is teh 120>

  4. Say whatever you want about his art. I think its bad, but not as bad as his writing. He wrote a Jesus vs. Zeus story. I mean c’mon!!! Who does that? I don’t consider myself a Liefeld hater, but that is just bad taste. He doesn’t offend me as a Christian. He offends me as a reader. I have bought his stuff in the past and I am curious about this Onslaught Reborn thing. I think it will be hilarious. Like I said, I don’t hate the guy, but I can understand why some people might.

  5. I had no opinion, and then a couple or a few years ago, he released some new Youngblood book written by Mark Millar I think, and I gave it a shot.

    A) It was not good.

    B) I don’t think a second issue ever came out.

  6. Thanks guys for covering the Liefeld issue last podcast. You made a request that anyone who actually enjoys his art give a detailed explanation as to why they do so. Here it is:

    Firstly, yes I fully admit that Rob Liefeld’s pencils are quite flawed. His grasp on human anatomy is over-muscular and excessively exaggerated. He never draws backgrounds, and he only knows two facial expressions: pissed off and slightly annoyed.

    However, if you can look past these defects in his art, which is admittedly a huge feat, you will see some inventive layouts and dynamic angles. His fight scenes have a dynamic feel to them and are usually well-choreographed, and his costumed characters drip intensity.

    Granted, my opinion is at the mercy of youth, being that I am 19, which is relatively young for the average comic fan, but I just like what he does.

    Hope that clarifies why one might enjoy his work and Ron, stay whiney.

  7. Some have suggested thatRob’s idea for a shrink helping superheroes may have come from my fan film Supertalk. But that’s just me being paranoid. Rob would never steal ideas from anyone else I’m sure.

  8. In March 2004, Liefeld hired Mark Millar to write new issues of Youngblood: Bloodsport; as of December 2004, only one issue has been printed.

    In 2004, Robert Kirkman began writing a new series, Youngblood: Imperial, but left after one issue due to his busy schedule. Fabian Nicieza was slated to take over, but so far issues #2-3 have yet to appear, despite solicitations.

    In 2005, Liefeld announced that Joe Casey would be re-assembling and re-scripting the original Youngblood miniseries into a more coherent and sophisticated story, to be titled Maximum Youngblood.

  9. Liefeld, for better or for worse, will always epitomize what chased me out of comics in the early 90s. I collected comics from the mid 80s onward, and Liefeld personally ruined one of my favorite books, not so much with his art (which I didn’t love then and find comically bad now – just look at the Cap, people), but rather the direction he took the New Mutants in. I still can’t stand Cable.

    I don’t think it’s fair that I blame just Liefeld. He really isn’t even at fault for what happened in the 90s, he’s just the poster boy. The stories became more important than the art, and the art stopped telling stories and became giant pin-up page after pin-up page.

    So, sorry Rob. I hate to keep ragging on you. But stay away from my favorite comic books.

  10. I remember last year, McKone’s run on Teen Titans was interrupted by liefeld. I didn’t even bother to read those issues, the art just repeled me. It’s nothing personal it’s just that I can’t stand looking at all the characters with beady eyes and gumless teeth.

    To be fair, i’m beginning to think that his art is just so bad that it stands out over (not better) some current pencillers with no apparent style, that just try to imitate bigger names.

    The thing I can’t understand is, why does he have so much influence over at marvel and D.C?

  11. big muscles does not equate to scary bodybuilderwoman physique….superheroes are in super-shape….but i doubt they are in steroid abuse shape….

  12. I have a complete run of X-Force O.O

  13. Liefeld is the poster boy for the 90s. Many people stopped collecting in the 90s because companies like Marvel and Image took the fan for granted. Books were late with crappy stories and the art looked bad. Today, the fan is being treated with respect with great stories, good art, and a lot less alternate covers. Sorry that Rob is the poster boy for bad 90s art, but he did put himself in that position. Look at the Cap picture and tell me that is good art!

  14. yup, i used to think he was the bee’s knees.
    not sure why..probably because i was about 17 and appreciated style over substance?
    can’t stand looking at his work now. that Cap image on the top of the post is a perfect example why. it looks like cap had a decapitated torso strapped to his own before putting on his costume.
    the man could put a 4 course meal on his pecs. ridiculous. the colors are fantastic, but the drawing is a mess. it’s a shame. he seems like he might be a really nice guy and cool to hang out with.

  15. The only Liefeld issues i’ve ever read are those two Teen Titans issue he did, and that was enough for me.
    With his bad anatomy, lack of backgrounds and the absence of any story telling ability, i’m really surprised he still gets work in the comics industry. But his stuff sells, so someone must like it.

  16. I actually feel bad for the Cap in that picture whenever I see it. He looks like one of the test subjects that was killed by the super soldier formula before they got it right. His last days were filled with debilitating pain; all he could do in the end was grimace.

    As a high school freshman, I went from collecting half the books on the market to buying none at all for many years. I keep meaning to go back through my long boxes and figure out exactly when I stopped and why, but if memory serves it was right around the time the Image boyz rose to prominence. I think my last issue of “Uncanny” was the first appearance of Gambit. I would tentatively go back to the shop every once in a while and pick something up (I do have two copies or more of Jim Lee’s X-Men #1, as required by law) but everything I found there was basically a pin-up poster book with word balloons in it. Lots of sideways two-page splashes of guys jumping with their teeth clenched. I imagine when people are hatin’ on Liefeld, that’s why.

    I don’t have any animosity towards Liefeld, though, even after seeing what a weird direction he took New Mutants in. If I’m grumbling about the excesses of the nineties, I’m probably grumbling the word “McFarlane.”

  17. For me, it comes down to the fact that comic books are a storytelling medium, and Rob Liefeld does not tell good stories. Well-founded criticism of his anatomical renderings aside, his artwork is generally limited to action poses. (Remember the guy in study hall who used to draw pictures of Wolverine on the back of his spiral notebook? That, to me, is Rob Liefeld.) Liefeld doesn’t put much effort into backgrounds either. Often times, his characters are posing or fighting in little more than white space. His writing plays to his artistic limitations, and his characters are uncomfortably derivative.
    I’m a chronic nitpicker, and could write volumes on what bugs me about his body of work. In the end, though, I don’t buy Liefeld books because I know I’m not going to get a good story.

  18. Who doesn’t love Robby’s signature “crouch” drawing or his famed “left leg kick-out” I mean come on?!…Sheesh, this guy is a brutal artist and the only thing he is full of is Sh– and himself…give up crouchy leg kick boy!

  19. I like as many straps and buckles about the legs and arms as I can get. Match that with crouchy leg kick, with pointy feet, and that’s the liefeld magic.

    And you can say McFarlane as well, and he might be worse overall, but at least at one time he was good, and the work he did drawing Spider-man resonates even today. Same thing with John Byrne. But they both turned into their own kinds of monsters.

  20. The conversation got me curious about ol’ Rob, so I thought that I would do some research. Got on and poked around. Check out his take on his Titans run. He states that his run sold more comics than the previous runs and would had sold more if varient covers were used. (I hate varient covers and will stop collecting comics again if this becomes the norm)
    Here is his quote:
    “And here’s the rub, the royalty check shows that the issue sold 84,000 copies. Not the 74,000 reported. My jaw dropped in astonishment. And that’s direct market, not newstand.
    My DC tale is a sorid one that will not be told today, but sometime in the near future. Fact of the matter is that the previous non-Liefeld issue sold 67,000 copies, which means that we sold an additional 8,000 up front and a whopping 10,000 additional re-ordered copies.”

    My question is: you bought these issues?

  21. Don’t get me wrong; I bought the living hell out of those McFarlane comics in the twilight of the eighties. His runs on Hulk and Amazing Spider-Man were some of my faves at the time, and every time Spidey thwips a web that doesn’t look like a fishnet stocking we have Todd to thank. I’ve just grown to think of him as the epitome of the egotistical artist who thinks he can write but can’t, which may be how other people think of Mr. Liefeld. I remember browsing TM’s “Spider-Man” and seeing letters in the letter columns where fans were writing, “Oh my God! What are you doing? Get away from my Spider-Man!” I’d never seen anything like that.

  22. i dont…and my exposure to him is limited…but the bottom line is that if people like liefeld then they like him…taste in art is based on what interests you after it catches your eye…if you are appalled by what he draws or if you like it its your opinion…but sales isnt the only factor…some hardcore fans will buy through a period of bad art becasue they want to keep up with the story…i have a coworker who loves the avenger and has the last 15 years worth and says that there is at least 3 or four years of bad art in there…

  23. Back in the early 90’s I was (sadly 🙂 a huge Liefeld fanboy, but let me explain! At the time I assumed that comic books were still kids fare, superfriendsesque, bloodless, goodguys always win fests.

    One time at a family gathering my cousin-in-law told me about how he had grown up with the guy who created one of the X-men (which I knew through the cartoon series.) He told me that his friend was starting and new comic called Youngblood and that I should look for it.

    Well I did, and when I did all my stereotypical views of what comics were went down the toilet. What Liefeld was doing had more action, colors, blood and gore than I had ever seen, and I ate it up. (yeah I was a young teen at the time so I was EASILY impressed by blood & gore 🙂

    I didn’t realize how derivative his characters were, I didn’t noticed how his faces only had two expression “constipated”, and “saliva angry”, I didn’t notice the lame backgrounds, and I didn’t care that the anatomy of his characters were hideous. I totally bought into the “fight the system” attitude of Image’s David to Marvel & DC’s Goliath. I bought into the excuses in the letter section where they shot down anyone who questioned the anatomy of the characters with the “we like to draw exciting characters” excuse. I didn’t even really notice the insane amount of delays. Most importantly I had fun, and that’s the best thing about comics.

    Eventually I moved on from those comics (because I got a Sega Genesis, and it demanded all my money. I didn’t come back to comics until I read Ruka’s excellent monetization of No Man’s Land. When I did I started to realize the gaping flaws in the early 90’s exposing, and more importantly Rob’s work. Then I made the mistake of going back through those old comic issues, and it was even more glaring. Still, despite this, I had a warm spot in my heart for Rob simply for the fact that without him I might have never been exposed to comics.

    Then I started to read wizard again, and view message boards and I started to realize how much people loathed Mr. Liefeld and even though I was now aware of his artistic “failings” the intense hatred really surprised me.

    So about a year ago I posed the question why in the DC message boards: and on my blog, in this bog post: blog post.

    It made a little more sense when I found out about the plagiarism charges, and was reminded about money people lost on speculation. I summed up my conclusions on this blog post: Suffice it to say I think I understand the hatred but I know that if he ever relaunches Younblood (for the 3millonth time) Bloodstrike, or Prophet. I’ll probably be a big enough sucker to pick up the first issue, I owe it to the guy, he introduced me to comics 🙂

    Anyways Bloodstrike had it’s moments (when Keith Giffen was writing 😉

  24. Liefeld should draw Bane.

  25. X-Modem, that is the first reasonable explanation of why someone would defend him I’ve read. I think I went through the same things with a lot of bands I liked too, which I can’t think of any at the moment (Stone Temple Pilots maybe?).

  26. “Saliva angry” is my favorite phrase of the week.

  27. Liefeld should draw Bane.

    I read this quickly and thought you were suggesting he draw Bone, which would be hysterical…

  28. I used to like Liefeld because it was a crazy style. Image had totally taken over comics with each artists respective looks. For years I bought into Youngblood and at one time had every appearance of McFarlane’s Spawn. Then I got smart…

    Now, especially reading the Titans issues, I see what it is. Just a crazy style with no respect to anatomy or even just good art.

    But him on Bone, that WOULD be something…

  29. I’m totally going to ask for a sketch of Bone from him in SD…

  30. Please get this nasty eye sore off the front of your site…… Please?

  31. It’s like an Escher painting. I just keep looking at it, trying to make sense of the madness. It’s like his body is turned towards us, and his head is turned towards us, but nothing fits quite right. It is simply mesmerizing.

  32. I was thinking something similar the other day, though the name that popped into my head was Picasso. It’s like the artist forgot mid-drawing whether the subject was in profile or at an angle, so we get to see this cubist front and side view simultaneously.

    Or Cap is terribly sick.

  33. Clearly Cap is a robot whose circuitry access panel chest plate has swung open.

  34. �Who is this little minx?�

  35. Perhaps Rob got Cap’s powers mixed up with Mr. Fantastic? And now he has a flexy chest.

  36. dont know alot of his stuff but from what iv seen of his art makes me wonder who the idiot was that hired him.
    a good artist convinces you that every thing they put on the page is deliberate even if it looks weird but his work is mostly accident.

  37. Let’s take a look at the man’s history:

    Interesting stuff in there.

  38. I left comics in the early nineties… for financial reasons… and looking back now it was a good move…

    I am a bit in the dark about this period and so can you answer me a question?

    Is Rob Liefield the bastard son of Eric Larson… the bain of my late eighties/early nineties Spider-man life?

  39. When he replaced McFarlane on Amazing, I was one pissed off junior high schooler. I hear you!

    However, in retrospect, Eric became someone I liked, rather than someone I avoid.

  40. Erik Larsen RULZ

  41. yeah, Mcfarlane was a really tough act to follow, but i quickly grew to like Larson’s work.
    however, when Bagley took over after Larson, it took me a LONG time to appreciate Bagleys work.
    (i still think he needs to practice facial expressions a bit more. his faces seem off a good amount of time.)

  42. Same here, johnnydestructo. The only thing I liked about Bagley’s run on Amazing is the way he drew Spider-Man himself. Still don’t like him too much. At least he’s not BAD. Just gets the job done, the way Kubert does. Or something.

  43. Any artist who is pretty decent and can draw 18 books a year without any delays gets a gold star. So Bagley’s alright by me.

  44. Back on topic – there is an article at Newsarama right now about Keith Giffen optioning “Tag” for a movie. How is this on topic you may ask? Start reading the comments below the thread where Liefeld makes a comment that Giffen’s Tag may be a swipe of a older Liefeld property. Insults, threats and hatred ensue. Again, I am amazed at the polarizing effect Liefeld has on the comics community. Here is the link:

  45. Fantastic find.

    I can’t believe he’d go and post there. THAT is not the mark of a professional. Comics superstar and mogul to internet troll all in one short decade.

  46. Wow this whole “Tag” controversy is funny, especially being Bloodstrike was one of my earliest, amd favorite comics.

    The funny thing is Giffen coming in on the 3rd and 4th issue (if memory serves me correctly) of Bloodstrike was a DRAMATIC improvement over the first couple of issues written by Rob. I could have cared less about the character Tag until Giffen had her use her powers to basically rape a date rapist, then all of the sudden I was like “this character is creepy”, before that moment I’m like ohh she freezes people, that’s all their is to her blech. Intellectually I think Giffen “owned” tag more than Rob ever did 🙂

  47. If laughing is wrong, I don’t want to be right:

    a little Liefeld flava in ya ear.

  48. Jimski
    That’s probably the single greatest thing I’ve ever seen