Word Balloon Podcast

Word Balloon Podcast – Rob Liefeld

Show Notes

On this episode of Word Balloon, Rob Liefeld returns to talk about the 3 DC titles he’s taking over in May, with the challenge of resurrecting interest and sales. They are The Savage Hawkman with art chores by Joe Benitez, Deathstroke (written and drawn by Rob), and Grifter with scripting help from Frank Tieri. All of these books’ sales have dropped dramatically since their #1 debuts. Can Liefeld’s ideas turn the tide and make them hits?

Liefeld talks about what his plans are for all three titles, including Deathstroke’s hunt for the space criminal Lobo starting in issue 9, which will introduce the character to the new 52 DC continuity. Liefeld promises that this Lobo will not be the cartoony parody character he was in previous stories. There’s clearly interest in Rob’s Deathstroke-Lobo plans, because the issue is among the top 25 reordered books by retails according to numbers released last week.

We also talk about the critical acclaim his characters are getting in his revamped Extreme line of books like Prophet, Supreme, Bloodstrike, and Glory. Also, Rob gives his views on writing decompressed stories in today’s comic book market.


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  1. Wow- Rob sure seems like the wrong person to bring Hawk and Dove back.
    If he thinks that the characters are a joke then maybe he just shouldn’t be the one handling them.
    That’s the thing about Liefeld he’ll say anything to anyone and you can never tell what he really thinks.
    Just seems like a lack of integrity.
    He shouldn’t have taken the job if he has such little respect for the characters.

    • That’s not exactly what he said.

      He just wondered if traditional caped outfits are still marketable these days, and gave the specific examples of how superman and batman’s uniforms have become more armor-like, and less like spandex

    • Maybe–
      But wasn’t he in a position to do something about it?
      Seems like some back tracking.

      I do agree with his take on stories becoming too decompressed.
      A larger longer story can be told over time with smaller arcs a long the way.

    • @tomswift–remember that part where he talked about being good at business? A good freelancer knows that you give the client what they want…and if you start trying to ignore the brief and do you own thing, you don’t keep getting the phone calls. I don’t care who you are…every illustrator, designer or any other creative commercial artist has thousands of awesome ideas of the course of a career that a client killed.

      I think he was identifying a much larger problem, but working in the trenches, you can’t always do what you want. This isn’t creator owned….editorial has a very strong influence y’know?

    • Also he did seem to be hinted he was going to make changes (changing Hawk’s look) but he had to make choices and so the book got left before he was able to really play in that sandpit as much as he planned

  2. Just like Hickman’s conversation with you recently, I really enjoyed what Liefeld has to say about the six issue arc and decompression. I feel like he is dead on and even expanded the topic in thoughtful ways. You only have so much time to get people excited and sell them on your story.

  3. Rob is definitely a unique personality. I’m not a fan of his work and his comments hasn’t raised my level of respect for him. The disparagement about decompression is a little off base. Any writing method isn’t good or bad its really up to the level of execution of the writer and the artist. So going off on how terrible and boring it is rather silly. His image books weren’t all that great, but other books that has a similar style weren’t always all that bad. Just like Millar’s Civil War and Kick Ass was good, but I’ve fallen off his current work. I do have to say that Rob does have great points about the nature of some characters and the difficulty to get them do well in the market and you do have to admire that he isn’t trying to take the big books, and rather trying to take some lower level characters and give them a shot. I’m not sure that he will be able to make them successful whether by his efforts or the difficulty to get readers to try something new.

    John does a wonderful job getting all kinds of creators on his show and its always a must listen for me. I love his interviewing skills and would love to see him get Waid and Rucka to do a joint interview on their latest crossover, and maybe even get Wacker to join in. That would be great, and Johnny we would be doing really good.

    • Have you read Civil War lately? I read the trade a couple weeks ago….and it was rough. The main series depended HEAVILY on the tie-ins, so the main series on it’s own is not a satisfying read.

      I agree that comics *in general* needs to move away from long, drawn out story arcs. But that said, I wouldn’t trade Scott Snyder’s Batman work for anything. So maybe the better perspective is that creators need to give a story exactly the length it needs — no less, no more. To show the flip side of my previous statement, I just dropped Swamp Thing because we’re 8 months in and — despite quality writing and art — I just wasn’t hooked.

      Same deal across the street with Marvel. I’m switching to trades on Ultimate Spider-man after the next issue not because it’s a bad book — it’s totally not — but because I don’t feel like I need to read it every month. The story is great, and the art is incredible, but I’m just not getting enough in one sitting every month. On the other hand, I’ve been loving the X-books lately (WATXM, Legacy, New Mutants and Uncanny) and they’ve been really good about 3-4 issue arcs lately!

    • No I haven’t I just remembered that I did like it better than Secret Invasion, but liked Siege better than Civil War. I agree that the tie ins were excessive, but I didn’t read the ones that I wasn’t interested in. Execution is the major factor in any attempt in storytelling. Short or long if you can’t do it right it will leave the audience with a bad experience. Its a very tricky skillset and I wouldn’t criticize any method of storytelling I just try and get something out of the creators I enjoy. I like Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns and Brian Bendis, but I’ve dropped some of their books because I wasn’t enjoying it. Doesn’t mean I hate them I just couldn’t keep going with some of their stories, but I’ve also gone back to their books when I see that their story changed and I enjoyed them. I’ve also dropped Millar after Kick-Ass 2 #2 and won’t go back to his work unless I hear that he has gotten better because I couldn’t take his stories anymore.

    • @Ken You’re onto something with trade waiting decompressed titles. Given me a bit to think about there. Hmmm…. (<- sound of thought)

    • @ken-yeah i totally agree. Its been written about A LOT how as a society our attention spans are getting shorter, and there are just too many entertainment alternatives out there to get our time and money, dragging a story out for 6 months seems like a very old way of doing things.

    • Mongo asked “would love to see him get Waid and Rucka to do a joint interview on their latest crossover, and maybe even get Wacker to join in. That would be great, and Johnny we would be doing really good.”

      I already did that months ago when I presented the Marvel press conference the three did to support the crossover.


    • John, I loved that Word Balloon of the Marvel press conference. I was thinking something more in the line of another Rucka Debrief, but I can see how that would be going over old ground again. I just think that it would be pretty cool to get the dynamic of Waid, Rucka and Wacker in a regular Word Balloon format. I also would love to see Waid and Rucka do the next Marvel event because I think they are so good.

  4. John, great show as always. Your interviews with Rob always clearly display his raw enthusiasm for comics, both the industry and the creations therein. It’s probably the least I’ve heard you speak in any interview, it’s sort of like trying to rein in Robin Williams. Not a critique, you still manage to steer the conversation and ask insightful questions, but man, once he gets going on something, he takes a while to wind down huh? I’m not a fan of his work (or agree with some of his opinions), but really enjoy listening to his thoughts. One can’t deny that he has fans and the millions of books he has sold (not all of them were purely speculator purchased), so he must be doing something that rings true to comic fans.

  5. this was a great interview! you know, i like making fun of liefeld as much as the next guy, but i’m secretly jealous of him. first of all, feet or no feet, he does draw better than i do. secondly, i only wish that i loved my job as much as he does. i picture him drawing deathstroke wide-eyed and loving every minute of it. that’s certainly not how i feel at work.

  6. Only listened to half the show so far, but Rob is always a great time. He’s so enthusiastic about the medium and has some good insight. Can’t wait to hear the rest today.

  7. I have a blog and somehow I got inspired by Rob HAWK & DOVE
    You can see it at http://tagalog3p.blogspot.com.es/

    thanks Rob Liefeld for your job

    thanks John Siuntres for your job

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