Liefeld and The Double Standard Debate

I kind of sat on this one for a little bit; surprisingly no one really wrote much about it.

Rob Liefeld was prompted on twitter to explain the status of his Kirkman penned Killraven series which lead to a back and forth between Liefeld and Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort. The end of the fight looked like this.

Tom: You put all of the colored pages into our hands and I’ll publish them, how about that?

Rob: 5 issues fully penciled and paid for @TomBrevoort how many series are fully pencilled in the drawer at the HOI? That is not your criteria for any of your other titles @TomBrevoortmore bullshit. Are there 5 colored issues of all your new books? So Marvel needs 5 issues fully colored in order to solicit comics?? Bwaaahahahahahaha!!! Anyone know if Silvestri’s Hulk has been solicited???? Those 2 issues are not INKED much less colored!!

Robert Kirkman then stepped in and asked the boys to play nice and take the fight off the public forum. But he did side with Liefeld, noting the double standard for Rob is indeed correct, many books have been solicited with much less material.

Now from what’s hard to tell is the dispute here. It seems like Brevoort is under the impression they don’t have all of the pages while Liefeld says everything is done.

Now before you read the rest of the column, I want to make a few points clear.

I do not work for Marvel Comics. I know a few people there but I wouldn’t say I’m buddy buddy with anyone in particular. Yes, I would love to write comics for them but to be quite frank, I’d also love a crack at DC or another publisher that will be mentioned in a minute.

Point number two, I’m a fan of Rob Liefeld’s.  I’ve said it numerous times in these columns that for whatever reason, I like his style. X-Force #1 was what brought me back to comics to be a regular reader. I own a complete set of the original Youngblood run. If I had a chance to write a run on Youngblood or with some of its characters, I would jump at it.

Those things being said, Rob, look at your track record. If you were Marvel, would you solicit anything by you until it was completely in the drawer?

  • Youngblood: Bloodsport
  • Youngblood: Genesis
  • Armageddon Now vol II: Anti-Christ
  • The Mark
  • Youngblood Year One (which was revamped into Genesis)

And these are your own books Rob.

And these are only a few of Liefeld’s “Where are they now”. What about all the lateness in the original run of Youngblood or other books.  Keep in mind, I’m only counting the ones I know I for sure I can blame Liefeld for lateness or non-existence. I also didn’t include any online comics that suddenly disappeared.

And to be fair to Liefeld, I don’t think he’s the only artist who deserves this treatment. I can name half a dozen other artists who I’d throw into the same spot. And maybe in some ways, Marvel is being unfair but I can say this honestly as a fan of Liefeld’s: I’d actually pick up a comic he drew if I knew a substantial part of it, say six issues, were completed and at the publisher’s office.

It’s probably the main reason I haven’t picked up Hawk and Dove #1 yet cause Lord knows I want to. Yes, I know, supposedly the third issue is in the can but honestly, I’ve heard that from so many artists so many times that I’ll believe it when I see six issues come out on time (I’d even give a week or two).

To be complete fair, there are a number of artists that I’d treat the same way and if I were a publisher I’d have to take a hard look at. Rob’s former company mate, Jim Lee is another example of a guy I would not bother to buy a floppy from because I know by issue three, the series will be  going to be late. Yes, I’m fully aware Jim Lee is a head at DC but it sets a bad example. Bryan Hitch is a third. And to go with Liefeld’s point, Mark Silvestri should definitely have a lot done before solicitation.  And there are tons more.

I know both Marvel and DC have started using rotating art teams on books where they know an artist takes time and I think that’s a perfectly viable alternative to being late. There are many artists who know they can’t do a monthly and they’ve figured out various ways of getting around it.

But hey, maybe I’m in the wrong and if anything, I’m more than willing to hear both sides of the argument. Rob Liefeld, if you some how read this, feel free to comment below and we can discuss this further.

Is there a double standard for Rob Liefeld at Marvel? Probably but honestly, it’s a double standard that’s earned at this point. And he’s probably not the only one who deserves it.

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Brent Chittenden
Brent Chittenden is a Canadian freelance writer currently writing for alancross.ca, geekhardshow.com and his own pop culture podcast, TATANS. He is readily available for writing and speaking gigs. Brent like sandwiches.
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11 Comments

  1. I think that part of the frustration that people have is that delays are a relatively new phenomenon in the overall history of comic books, coinciding with the rise of the superstar artist.

    When Liefield was doing New Mutants or Silvestri Wolverine or Lee X-Men the books were on time. When they became bigger, formed Image, then came back to Marvel/DC books become later and later.

    All Star Batman and Robin and Image United are such embarrassments that it doesn’t surprise me if a full six issues are required by companies that are trying to deal with unfinished work.

    I am pretty excited about Avenging Spider-Man because I think Zeb Wells is one of the most underrated Spidey scribes out there but I worry that it will become the Battle Chasers of Spider-Man lore. So, as you mentioned, I’ll wait for the trade.

    Delays can happen for many reasons, but some of it seems that artists are working on too many books in addition to other duties they have with companies. They must know they can’t do it all or even hope to meet every deadline. This smacks of hubris and lack of respect for the fans and medium.

  2. I don’t see a problem with Marvel asking for more from artists that have a history of being late on titles.

    If Marvel were to treat everyone according to the history these creators have made for themselves I would understand.

    Liefield perhaps thinks he’s being made an example of. I think Marvel/DC/any publisher should have the right to protect themselves.

  3. Until the 1990s books were always on time: if the regular team didn’t have the work completed a fill-in issue would be published. Often this story would be pulled out of a drawer and wouldn’t relate at all to the current storyline.

    I’m not crazy about delays but did anyone enjoy the fill-ins?

  4. On ASM both Larsen and Bagley were fill in artists for the main penciller and this helped them land the big gig. I think that fill in issues serve a purpose. They actually pause some of the action. TV shows now use a filler episode (one that doesn’t advance the over-arching story) to great effect.

  5. “There are many artists who know they can’t do a monthly and they’ve figured out various ways of getting around it.”

    Any professional comic artist that can’t pencil a page a day isn’t trying hard enough.

  6. I have to agree that any artist who has proved in the past that they cannot produce work on time should have a certain number of issues in the can before the book is solicited. The same goes for scripts from writers. I know that DC has put a script quota on Kevin Smith before – stating that he had to have x number of scripts handed in. Something that Marvel should have done to Smith as well, and then maybe that Spider-man/Black Cat Book wouldn’t have had years between the issues.

    But to get back to Liefeld specifically, Marvel should put a “minimum issues handed in quota” and there should be a clause that states “pencils handed in should include wrists, necks, and anckles.”

  7. I’m with Marvel/Tom on this one. First off, Leifeld is lucky to have a penciling job with any company. This guy is a not a good artist, back in the New Mutant/Image days he was popular due to the fresh look, much like McFarlane and co. After the majority of us woke up and saw his art for what it was, a gimmicky fad, we went back to the artists who could actually produce a “real” page. I like fleshed out backgrounds Mr. Leifeld!!
    I guess I would be the same way with him, he should count his blessings to still be working in this business, so 5 issues in the can is not too much to ask. How he gets these jobs in the first place I will never know. When will this nostalgic sympathy stop?! Stop buying this guys books and we won’t have to give him any more attention, I would rather talk about Rob Granito..lol. So many good artists out there and DC and Marvel keep throwing this guy work?! Must be the “it’s who you know” crap.

  8. I enjoyed well-done fill-in issues.

    I think that any company that has employees or contractors consistently blow deadlines should can them. The special treatment he’s getting here is that he is still getting work rather than being blackballed. As a broadly popular artist, I think he’s enjoying a special treatment designed to allow them to keep using him in a mutually beneficial situation, not hlding him to a double-standard. If his work didn’t sell, he likely wouldn’t be getting any.

    Lastly, I do not see Liefeld, Lee and Silvestri as superstar artists. Neal Adams, Berni Wrightson, Eisner, Kirby, Ditko — those are superstars. These guys are popular period artists.

    And yes, meeting deadlines and keeping in the game regularly is part of becoming a superstar.

    Marvel would benefit more from some Romita/Buscema-types who get it done, solidly and consistently.

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