I’m jus’ talkin’ ’bout Shaft.
This week at Ok, PANIC! we’re celebrating the life and work of Rob Liefeld. I have a feeling that we’re doing this ironically. I’m not a fan of ironic enjoyment of anything, but it is incredibly hard to like Liefeld on any level other than irony. But I am going to try.
In Defense of Rob Liefeld.
He is not a good artist. That needs to be said off the bat. I am not a fan of his work, and via interviews and whatnot, I’m certainly not a fan of the man either. I don’t hate the man. Never met him. If I were to ever meet him, I would shake his hand, tell him that it was nice to meet him and then make every attempt to avoid conversation. Incidentally, I do this to everyone.
And I don’t hate his work. Again, it’s not good by any means. But Liefeld is such an easy target, I do try to look at his work critically and find some good. Believe me, it’s there, and that is the greatest crime Liefeld has committed. He’s never lived up to his potential. There are flashes of artistic brilliance in his work at times, but it’s few and far between and surrounded by manure. If you look at his early work, you can see the influences of John Byrne, George Perez and Art Adams – all masters of the medium. Somewhere along the line, with the popularity of Todd McFarlane (whose art I love) and Jim Lee (whose art I don’t), Liefeld started incorporating their styles into his work. Instead of refining and trying to create his own voice, he became a mish-mash of styles, coupled with youthfull energy and enthusiam, you get steaming hot piles of New Mutants and X-Force. And once he became an A-Lister, he got complacent, and his art never evolved.
Which is a shame. I think if he had been able to focus on one thing, instead of trying to buckshot the industry with everything he ever thought of, he might have been able to turn around the bad taste he left in fan’s mouths when he began dropping projects left and right, never to be completed. He might have refined his art to be competent and perhaps even visionary. It’s there. You can see it in the crap he churns out. There’s gold in them thar turds. Or maybe just a chunk of corn.
My other theory is that he’s actually very awesome and is fully aware of what he’s been doing and how he’s been doing it. He’s simply fucking with us all and laughing at us for loving and hating it.
The above drawing is a parody of his worst attributes. When Rob Liefeld was revealed as the topic for this week’s Ok, PANIC!, I drew two pieces. The more respectful companion drawing is over at www.ok-panic.net. I had fun drawing both for different reasons. I’d actually like to draw some more Youngblood characters in the style of the piece on Ok, PANIC!. We’ll see.
This week on Gutter Trash: John Carpenter’s The Thing.