Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Rob Liefeld, The (Con) Artist

Ron Garney, 1995XXXXXXRob Liefeld, 1997

I received some great emails this morning regarding the Rob Liefeld Wizard World PWNage. Here's one from my friend G:

... you just made my year. How Rob Liefeld became popular is a greater mystery than the Kennedy assassination and the Bermuda Triangle. I wish I could've been at [the show].

Years later, and I'm still so angry. You're absolutely right — that Captain America picture puts on display, front and center, so many of the things Rob Liefeld not only has no idea about, but cannot seem to grasp even once it has been taught to him (c'mon; I just assume at some point Jim Lee or Marc Silvestri or Erik Larsen came up to him and said, "Uh, dude, let me show you... people don't often stand on their tip toes all the time..."): perspective, anatomy, proportion...

Not only was the move funny, but insightful. I almost guarantee in his own arrogance and embarrassment Rob Liefeld has never read a drawing manual. But maybe he has, and it's just physically impossible for him to draw correctly. In all these years, I've think I've come to realize why he was popular: it was just that period in comics. Comics were becoming somewhat mainstream and 80s-fied (Jerry Bruckheimer action movie-fied): lots of flash, big colors, etc. The casual new comic book fan had no idea they were looking at art that — and I can't overstate this enough — is in the realm of laughable for even a fifth grader. And a retarded fifth grader at that.

More evidence

And let's not even discuss his supreme lack of unoriginality (exemplified by his Lobo ripoff, "Lone Wolf" or "Blood Wolf" or — see, in my anger I can't even remember it). Every new stylistic nuance that came along, he would rip it off. Stephen Platt became known for drawing huge and complicated veins on muscles. Suddenly, Rob Liefeld did the same. Of course, in a much worse manner.

G goes on to say:

I was reading some of the discussion of the comments section in this site you linked to in your article: The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings. There's a guy, Michael Davis, who seems pretty intelligent and himself some type of insider in the comic book industry, who takes on the herculean and thankless task of trying to defend Rob Liefeld. And his tact is fairly sound: he says Rob Liefeld, despite his obvious drawbacks as an artist, did much for the industry. He says Liefeld's work is "not for everybody." In these points, I actually have to agree with him. He makes a solid and well evidenced argument. However, he also writes that Rob Liefeld is "not the greatest artist." He grossly understates this assessment.

Anybody who has ever looked at another comic book (one not pencilled by Rob Liefeld) or any type of competent figure drawing will know that Liefeld easily is the absolute f#*king worst artist in the history of mainstream comic books. That's not an understatement. You can say that. He not only lacks, but he actively destroys what I mentioned before: basic — BASIC — drawing tenets like perspective, anatomy, and proportion. Lets put aside all talk of big guns and huge muscles — everyone was doing that. He couldn't correctly draw in 2 dimensions the arm holding that gun. I hate chick lit. Its stories are vapid, and it lacks strong character development and themes. But the authors and/or editors can f#*king spell and use correct grammar. If Rob Liefeld wrote a book, his lack of basic drawing technique would translate to him using a period to begin sentences and then throwing a question mark in the middle of a clause because it looks cool. To quote comics: AAARGH!

John Byrne, 1982XXXXXRob Liefeld, 1990

Regarding the blatant rip-off of John Byrne's art, G adds:

Just awful. I took a look at the drawings and I said to myself, "which one is Rob Liefeld? Neither of [the drawings] are nearly close enough to his shitty technique. Then I realized it was the because he ripped it off so exactly. I would almost bet he traced it. Like they said in
Chasing Amy: "f#*king tracer." Seriously, someone in the comments section tried to argue that many artists look to their heroes and mentors and giants of the industry for inspiration and often try to imitate their work. Imitation as flattery and exact duplication are two different things. Not only are the poses the exact same, but the style, the proportions, the angles... hell, he even has the secondary character of the robot doing the exact same thing. It's easily the best Rob Liefeld art I've ever seen, and it's because he traced a f#*king John Byrne picture. John Byrne shouldn't be flattered; he should be pissed and preparing a boxing glove with broken glass glued to it to punch Rob Liefeld in the face (obviously I've been burying this stuff deep down.)

Hilarious! G is extremely insightful (not to mention a very gifted writer, but more on that another day.) He's the guy
who brought to my attention something so epic (at least in the category of Comics) by showing me — one fateful day, a couple of years ago — just what travesties were taking place at the hands of Ron Liefeld. I never knew until he pointed me toward the mile-high stack of evidence!

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