Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bloodlines: Rob Liefeld

I HATE Rob Liefeld.

I know, I know, that's a common sentiment. But, I don't hate him because it's vogue, I started hating Rob long before the Internet came about.

See, somewhere in my basement I have a complete set of Brigade, and several issues of Youngblood (including at least two "ALL NEW!" #1 issues). Granted, I picked many of them up for cheap, but I still paid money for them. Good money. And I even read them. I thought Youngblood was cool, even if I couldn't distinguish the characters from one another, even if, at 11, I could see the blatant similarities between Troll and Wolverine, or Badrock and the Thing, or Shaft and Hawkeye.

Then, see, I grew up. I realized how poor Rob's art was, and moreso, how poor his writing was. He draws pin-ups, and for that, he's not entirely terrible. What's terrible is when his art is meant to tell a story. It doesn't.

This is not to say that his art is good otherwise. He has no concept of anatomy (especially feet, hands, faces, and boobs) or backgrounds. Those faults might be forgivable in some people, but the further problem is that Rob doesn't care about his faults. He's so certain of his infallibility that he doesn't even use rulers to make sure his lines are straight. His style hasn't improved in the past ten years. If anything, it's gotten worse.

So, I've gone several years without having to deal with Robby, enjoying a little chuckle every time he solicited another new Youngblood series or another company of his went down the tubes. I was happy with that, with Rob kept at a fairly long distance from my pull list. Then, he got a two-issue gig on one of my top books, Teen Titans, with an otherwise good writer, Gail Simone. Naturally, the preview art is plagued with all the usual Liefeld problems. Like straight lines:
Robin

I could easily nitpick all the little problems of Liefeld's art, but I really don't care that much. Like I said, many of his faults could be accepted in better artists. Ed McGuinness is one of my favorite artists right now, but his characters are often overmuscled; sometimes people look squat and short. But, his style is cartoony and streamlined enough, and his characters are always at least in proportion to themselves, so you don't usually notice. Rob's art lacks internal consistency and a sense of proportion, which only serves to underscore the other flaws. A good artist works to overcome his flaws, and does things to take your attention away from them. Robby's art is like a neon sign over a train wreck. You can't help but see the flaws, and all his stylistic flairs bring out the problems even more.

Some people like his art because it's "dynamic" and "action-packed." Check out the preview pages at Newsarama and tell me how dynamic it is to show three full pages where the main action is "people looking at the reader."

You know how unsettling and unnatural it is to have an actor in a movie or TV show look directly at the camera? Comics can get away with that a lot more, but after awhile it is a little unsettling.

I've really waffled on whether or not I'm going to pick up these issues. I like Simone, I like Hawk and Dove, I like the Titans, and I've bought every issue of this series. Yet, the art is really, really grating on me. I wish DC didn't make me make these decisions.

1 comment:

elfie said...

I absolutely agree with you. I detest, DETEST Liefeld's art. He was the one who made me drop the X-Force titles. You know what I hate the most? The way he draws the mouths... It's just hideous.