Sunday, February 15, 2009

GRIT YOUR TEETH, GRIT YOUR TEETH DAMMIT

This coming rant is a sort of reply to a chain of posts by Mike Sterling over at the Progressive Ruin. He made a comment about the Youngblood movie allegedly on the way, and opened up his blog to a discussion about Liefeld. I've been checking it out in morbid fascination because straight up, I am not a fan of Rob Liefeld. I would just about go as far as calling him a blight on the industry, but I realize that without him the current industry wouldn't exist the way it does and........wait, never mind, he is a blight. GRIT THOSE TEETH

No, really, I mean without him as a founder of Image such things as The Maxx, Powers & Walking Dead and all the good Image books may never have existed, at least not in the same way as we know them. So I will extend a begrudging hand of thanks in that regard. And from everything I've ever heard, he's supposed to be a really nice guy. So y'know, yay for that. BUT.
Above image found here

For the love of god, can't you afford to go to art school by now? I actually think maybe this is some sort of social experiment, and behind locked doors Liefeld is actually recreating like the Sistine Chapel and shit. Except God has a quadrillion little pouches and belts.
Above image found here

One of my problems though with the original Image crew is just the sheer lack of actual creativity. This from people waving the flag of creative freedom in their pursuit to escape being held down by editorial forces. I mean, really, look:

Jim Lee's WildC.A.T.S.= It's the friggin' X-Men. Look, there's Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, & Psylock.
Rob Liefeld's Youngblood=The Avengers with a mix of X-Men. Savage Dragon=Visually he's just the Hulk with a fin on his head, but after that the similarities do mostly stop. Hell, I enjoyed the first 50 issues or so when I was younger, should probably give them a reread.
Shadowhawk=Batman & Wolverine.

Spawn=Batman & Spider-Man

I don't want to take away the amount of work it was to start a new company and push forward with it. I don't want to take away the opportunities they made for other creators. But. C'mon. I don't want to hear any talk about how creative these guys were.

It's not like I'm bringing up anything new here, but Sterling's post combined with the solicitation for Liefeld's new project, SMASH! just brought this rant to the forefront of my brain.

The industry is full of this type of stuff, but it's more obvious when someone is playing with an archetype as an homage or when trying to do something new with an old concept. Astro City & Planetary being good examples. The base designs of the characters are all from existing concepts, but we know that's the point. Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think I have ever read an article with any of these guys explaining the same of their characters. Maybe Supreme, but I doubt it. Maybe they probably said something along the lines of yes, their characters are visually offering a tribute to established characters. I hope at least that much was said at some point. Otherwise, all that money was made off of ripped off concepts. And this is something the entire industry is guilty of at one point or the other. Are the X-Men just a rip off of the Doom Patrol? Are the Doom Patrol a rip off of the Fantastic Four? Messy business, we should probably just leave it and enjoy the stories we prefer to enjoy.

Advice I should probably take for myself, just as long as I don't have to hear about how creative these guys are and what artistic geniuses they must be. Kirkman, I'm sorry, but Liefeld is not the Kirby of our generation. Kirby is the Kirby of our generation, and he will be the Kirby of every generation because dammit, he's Jack Friggin' Kirby.

11 comments:

Amelyn said...

That picture of Captain America always disturbed me. He look like he's suffering of some kind on tumor or an alien is about to burst out of his chest. BLAM!

Continually Spicy said...

I'm fairly sure he's almost as busty as Lady Death in that picture. Possibly more.

wiec? said...

i miss astro city. when's i coming back?

you on the money as far as Kirby goes. Kirby is eternal.

and i thought that Captain America thing was a joke. it looks like something a kid would hang on mom's refridgerator.

oh and i dunno about you but i want to jump on board with Team Blood Force! Blood Force Assemble!

no? okay i'll shut up now.

Mike said...

Liefeld has said as much. That Smash is obviously a hulk like character, that he is using as a tool to reintroduce the Extreme universe. I have no problem with that, and agree with the points you made about Astro City and the like. You got to understand that for a generation of fans, these characters that the Image guys created are the Superman and X-men to us. They're our characters. Also, if you do a youtube search, you can find a video of Liefeld explaining the Cap pic, and that it was a mistake to release it. Interesting watch.

Continually Spicy said...

Wiec-
Not sure, haven't heard anything new on the Astro City front :(
Team Bloodforce would be extreme to the max.

Mike-
I can understand that to a certain level. But let me put out an example here of how I percieve some of this stuff. I one time had a customer who picked up a copy of the Straczynski Supreme Power stuff, and he wouldn't stop raving about it. He then read Watchmen and decided it was not as great a piece of work because it felt like too much of a Supreme Power story. Now, I view Supreme Power as a combination of Rising Stars, Squadron Supreme, and the Watchmen. While I conceed that Supreme Power was mostly enjoyable, I don't at all view it as original. So on many levels, that customers perception bugged me simply because he didn't give the original source material its due credit.

If you are going to do a tribute to an existing character, you have to bring something new to the table. Liefeld has personally never done that for me because plot and storyline wise I always find him to be lacking. For example, Liefeld and Mark Millar did an issue of Youngblood where Shaft fights the reanimated corpses of Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcom X. I personally found this distasteful, as did a number of my customers and friends who are african american. Nothing new was brought to the table.

I understand for sure what you are saying about how these characters are some peoples Superman & X-Men. I feel that way about many characters as well, including the Maxx, Transformers, GI Joe, and many many more that an older generation might not care for. However. I have spent the time to go back and find more out about the original characters, Jack Kirby's Fourth World or Ditko's the Question for example, and feel that I have found a rich treasure trove of concepts and characters that the '90's couldn't offer. To me, it's also the same concept that Jack Kirby is the Jack Kirby of every generation. Superman is the Superman of every generation. There are so many great stories out there for him and I would love it if more people would just try to find them instead of just saying he's not for them. But this is where personal taste come into play more. A lot of people would prefer to read a story where the Darkness rips people in half instead of a story of the big blue boyscout. It just comes down to taste often times.

I used to love Gen 13 and hey, I bought Spawn when I was 13 as well. But I go back and I realize that wow.......this stuff isn't really that great. Have I sold off my run of Gen13? No, not yet. Nostalgia is a strong factor in my collection. Well, not so strong, I sold all my Spawns a long time ago. But you get the point.

I guess what I am trying to get at is I really do agree with you, some things just feel like they belong to you, especially when you were reading them at a certain point in your life and thought they were awesome. But what I want to offer as well though is that at a certain point you need to go back and do your due diligence out of respect for the people who built this industry. I say that more from a retailer's perspective because I feel like I should be aware of what I am telling people and what I am recommending them. I want to be able to read a customer, and know exactly what I should try to aim them towards because everyone has different tastes. I will still order Liefeld books for the store because I know people may want them, and if they give me the impression that is their taste then I will aim them in that direction. But I want to be able to aim them past that if I can, because honestly how many of those Image guys still actually produce work on any sort of regular schedule? At some point those readers will hit a brick wall and will have to try something new if they desire to keep going with this hobby.

So yeah, that was an especially long rant, sorry.

Continually Spicy said...

Wiec! Just found out, new Astro City!
http://www.newsarama.com/comics/090217-may-2009-dc-solicitations.html

Tlieso said...

Cap looks like those deformed strippers on Maury.

Mike said...

I understand that, and I have done my diligence. My top list of favorite artists include, Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Dan Fraga, Rob Liefeld, John Buscema and Art Adams, yes, all in the same list. I just find I get something different from each one. For example I just spent an entire night watching old grindhouse Hong Kong Kung Fu flicks, like "Kid with the Golden Arm". I love these movies, but tomorrow, I may want to only watch "Cinema Paridiso" the next day maybe "Saving Private Ryan". Beauty can be found in all sorts of places, you just have to enjoy the things you like sometimes.

Continually Spicy said...

Mike-
Well said, I completly agree. You just enjoy the things you enjoy. I never wanted to give the impression that I am hating on the people who do like Liefeld. There are tons of things I know most people think are horrible that I love. Everyone gives me a weird look when I start talking about Lordi >_>

Sometimes, the stuff just clicks with you.

pete doree said...

I've never seen that picture of Cap before ( I got out of comics in the mid '80's, mainly because of garbage like that,and only got back in the last 5 years or so. Looks like I didn't miss much ) It's actually laughable, and a little scary, that anybody ever thought that kind of shit was acceptable.
As far as anybody saying this guy is on a par with Kirby, that person needs to buy a new dictionary. There's a difference between 'mildly influential in terms of spawning ( arf! ) imitators who are even less talented than you' and carrying an entire industry on your back, even years after your death.
Great post!

Continually Spicy said...

Thx for reading Pete!