Reason #5: He can’t handle the truth

When I say Rob Liefeld can’t handle the truth, I mean the truth is that he can’t handle anything with a handle. Like swords:

badswordholding-composite

Study those for a bit and see if you can tell the fundamental mistake he’s making. Pay particular attention to the one at the top right of the image and try to imagine how in the hell anyone could actually use a sword “held” like that, with the hilt perpendicular to the hand instead of parallel.

Once you’re ready — feel free to put on sunglasses or something, facing directly into this sort of thing can lead to blindness — take a look at how he treats hand-held guns (and there are even more guns than swords in any Liefeld comic):

badgunholding-composite

Why are there no fingers curling around the handle of the guns on the left and on the right? What the hell is his left arm grasping in the center image? Again, there’s a pattern here. See if you can spot it.

Give up? The explanation is pretty straight-forward, particularly if you remember that Rob Liefeld is a lazy artist:

He draws the figures first, with their hands however he knows to draw them, and then adds the items in the hands later. As if they were an afterthought. Which they are, because while shooting guns is kewl, hands holding guns are not. Think I’m crazy? Take a look at this beauty:

xf1-badgunholding

First of all, where the hell is that thing pointing? If it’s like every other gun ever manufactured in the history of projectile-throwing, the handle ought to be on the opposite side of the sights, otherwise aiming it would be a cast-iron bitch. But in this case that would mean he’s going to be pulling the trigger with his penis, which I think even Rob Liefeld understands is probably less than optimal battlefield strategy.

But he didn’t draw the gun until after he was done drawing the figure, you see, and by then he was bored with the whole thing and couldn’t be bothered with actually drawing his weapon parallel to the arm holding it. That’s why you’ve got the penis-fired orientation and the fact that he’s holding it as if it were pointing towards the bottom right side of the panel, and yet the barrel is practically facing the viewer.

Still don’t believe me? Consider this, then:

xf2-badswordholding

I defy you to explain that weapon in that hand in that position any other way. Liefeld only knows how to draw hands in three or four different positions. And figuring out how to jam a weapon in those positions takes too much time, so he just crams them in however they’ll fit, twisting them however he needs till it looks right enough to get out the door.

Here’s what happened with that particular cover, I guaran-damn-tee you. He drew the figure first, thinking “It’ll be awesome to see Cannonball reflected in the sword!” But then when he was done with the fun part — the figure — he realized that if he put the sword actually in its hands, the thick part of the blade would be off-panel, and you couldn’t see the reflection. So instead of just redrawing the hands, he skewed the sword blade thirty degrees and called it kewl.

Because he’s lazy.

And he doesn’t know how to draw things in hands.

And that is reason number six why I hate Rob Liefeld’s art.

About Jeff Hebert

Jeff is a 44 year old city boy who has somehow found himself located in Colorado, fulfilling his lifetime dream of making a living drawing super-heroes all day.

32 Responses to Reason #5: He can’t handle the truth

  1. You just don’t understand Liefeld. He is drawing stuff this way because it’s a message man! A message that the world is a messed up so place so his art should be as well!

    That or he just sucks.

    My guess is the second one.

  2. Maybe you’re onto something, DJ. Perhaps the larger, existential meaning of this technique is to say “I will fit the world to fit me whether it will or it won’t.” Maybe it’s a defiant triumph of individualism triumphing over the material, of mind over matter, of …

    Nah.

  3. *runs to get her bottle of booze*

    You cheer up my Fridays, you do!

  4. A) I -can- imagine using a sword with it grasped the way that the one you singled out is held. I can imagine using it to accidentally sever my own leg.

    B) I think the guy with the metal arm is holding his stomach in that middle shot of the guns.

    C) Are we sure that’s a gun, and not, say, a laser tonfa? That doesn’t make any sense to me, but at least it would be held -something- like that! (Of course, even if this did turn out to be the case, it’s not a very good laser tonfa, either…)

    D) The katana (ironic name, considering) is perfectly normal. It’s just either entering a patch of reality where everything’s being twisted slightly kata, or exiting one where everything’s twisted slightly ana. (Four-dimensional directions.)

  5. William A. Peterson

    Okay, Jeff, pick on poor Rob all you want…
    Just as soon as you even come close to drawing half as many panels a month as he had to, when he was churning this stuff out!
    The Comics Industry pays for productivity, and reliability…
    Quality is, at best, an optional extra!

  6. Shorter Willie: “Rob Liefeld was too busy raking in cash to do a good job so lay off!”

    I tell you what, Willie, if you want to use that kind of justification, how about this:

    When you come close to writing half as many columns as I have about how crappy Rob Liefeld’s art is, you can criticize me for it.

    Sounds fair! Until then I think we’ll all continue blowing off a little harmless steam and having a good time making fun of a multi-millionaire who got rich by cranking out crap, mkay?

  7. Reason#1 I love Rob Liefeld’s art:
    Thanks to him we get every friday an interesting and entertaining read ;D

  8. I hope you’ll do a “cracked item” special at some point. You won’t run out of material for that!

  9. He even sux at hiding his lack of professionalism behind computer assisted coloring.

  10. William A. Peterson

    Jeff, I could do so, and easily…
    Though I doubt you would want me to!
    As the saying goes…
    “Those who can, do. Those who can’t do, teach. Those who cannot teach, criticize.”
    I can’t really do, but I can at least teach, sometimes.
    You can do, a little, but I doubt you could keep up with the production schedules required of any regular Comic Book artist.
    I’m *not* complementing the quality of his art (Heavens forfend!), just suggesting that what he’s trying to do is very different than the standards you’re trying to hold him to would suggest…

    AND, unlike many of the people who’ve responded, I am utterly bored with this topic…
    It’s much akin to shooting fish in a barrel, only using high-explosive ammo!

  11. Then Willy, don’t read these posts if they don’t interest you. It’s ok, I won’t mind — not everything is of interest to everyone. I’ve explained why I keep writing about the topic, several times now. Clearly you don’t have the same feelings about it as I do, which is fine — it’s a big world, not everything is going to interest everyone the same way.

    So how about from now on we just take it as a given that you find all of this — the talk about Rob Liefeld’s impact on the comics industry, our yukking it up over how language has changed in the last fifty years, the silliness of random panels taken out of context, all of it — as boring and beneath you and a waste of time. That way you don’t have to read it, you don’t have to waste time telling us you hate it (I think we’re all pretty clear on that point), and the rest of us “children”, as you so pleasantly put it, can get on with snickering in the back of the class.

    Sneering contempt and condescension get really old after a while, you know?

  12. In my opinion, as long as Liefeld gets paid for producing this crap — and the good lord knows that he still does — I have all the reasons to laugh and point, and tell where things are going wrong.

    It is one thing to exaggerate dimensions and character’s physical properties for effect. Stuart Immonen gets away with it because he knows how to do it (see NextWave, for example).

    The same applies to crazy amounts of detail; John Cassaday knows when a crazy amount of details makes a beautiful picture (such as the gorgeous shiftship in Planetary, which is like a Faberge egg of spaceships), and thus avoids a disaster.

    As we’ve already seen, “crazy amounts of detail” in Liefeldese translates as “massive amounts of lines over face and cracked items”. Let us not to talk about exaggerated physical characteristics. And even if he has been in business for two decades… he has not learned anything at all. His drawings are still crap.

    I am not his mother, obliged to ruffle his hair and tell him what a clever boy he is for whatever thing he draws. I’m a part of paying audience, and I vote with my euros: he’s not gonna make a single cent out of me, and I’m more than happy to tell it to others as well why he’s not worth it.

    Being prolific is not good enough when all you can do is vomit forth things that are an eyesore; you could say that bulls are very prolific too, but all they produce is pure BS.

  13. @the good Mr. Hebert: Here’s a thought: As well as critique Rob Leifeld’s godawful artwork, why not tell us about the artists you do like, and give examples of their artwork? In previous comments in different posts, I have mentioned Neil Adams, Rich Buckler, Steve Ditko, hoping that you would give your opinions of their artworks. Like I said, just a thought.

  14. Thanks Danny, I’ve commented on several current artists who I like in the past (Ryan Ottley, Bryan Hitch, Jeff Smith’s “Bone”, the stuff in “Fables” and “Thor”, etc.) and will make an effort to include some more positive things going forward.

    But geez, people, making fun of Rob Liefeld is FUN! There are hundreds of sites you can go to for “current comics reviews”, I’m not up enough on what’s out now to be an interesting or well-informed commenter. What I have are hundreds of really bad comics from back in the day, a large percentage of which (through no action of my own, it’s just how they came in the Big Comics Stack of Doom) are from Image and Liefeld. In going through them I was reminded of how awful he was, and is, and how terrible the entire phenomenon was for the comics industry in general.

    So that’s what I write about on Fridays, because Fridays are supposed to be blow-off have-a-good-time days, and because his art was AWFUL, and because it ruined comics for me and a lot of my friends for a long, long time, and because it’s funny.

    “Steve Ditko drew some awesome comics in the Sixties” is not as interesting, at least to me, as looking at a guy and a company that set the agenda for the entire industry for the last fifteen years, and whose influence has waned and been eclipsed only in the last five or so.

    Like I said, if you don’t find it interesting, go read something else on Fridays. If enough people don’t find it interesting, I’ll end up writing about something else, I’m sure.

  15. I’m pretty sure there are far more people who find the topic funny than don’t. It’s just most of us who have nothing to say but “Hells to the yeah!” and “*snicker*” don’t bother to post.

    The least funny thing in this blog is…William A. Peterson. Honestly, why stick around if you hate the material, man?

  16. Wow… some of those actually made me dizzy… I can see how some of them might work, albeit poorly or awkwardly, but most of them are like trying to make those impossible triangles make sense. I can’t really say much against Liefeld, being a mediocre artist myself, but at least I admit my art is terrible and don’t try to sell it to people…

    (To Will:) I can understand your perspective, but there’s no need to criticize Jeff for making fun of Liefeld. He points out ironic and blatantly obvious mistakes that a *professional* artist makes, and he makes most of the rest of us laugh about. Don’t ruin our fun by making negative comments. If you don’t like it, don’t read it or don’t comment on it.

  17. Could Liefeld be the next great M.C. Escher?

  18. “Could Liefeld be the next great M.C. Escher?”

    Nope. Because in order to make pictures that work and enthrall like Escher’s, you have to understand perspective. I believe it has been adequately demonstrated that he does not understand perspective, what with strange and bendy swords and guns going around. :(

  19. Danny Beaty

    Jeff, if I didn’t find your articles intresting I wouldn’t comment on them.

  20. Danny Beaty

    Make that “interesting”.

  21. You really should get off this guy’s case. It’s just making you look even more petty and jealous. Enough is enough.

  22. Thanks J, that was very insightful.

    Man am I grumpy today!

  23. And I’m glad you do comment, Danny Beaty, you’re always funny and relevant. So thanks for sharing!

  24. I realized my earlier comment (the portion aimed at William A. Peterson) was much more insulting than it needed to be, and I’d like to apologize for that. All I really wanted to say was this:

    Hooters isn’t the only place for hot wings. If you want a more refined dining experience, that’s cool. But you’re more likely to get it by switching to a different restaurant for your hot wing fix than you are by complaining to the Hooters management about all the big-breasted waitresses in tight t-shirts.

    (And I *would* apologize for basically calling HeroMachine the Hooters of the Comic Blogosphere, but considering the Evolution of Breasts post, and the many joyful “I like boobies!” responses, I’m gonna go ahead and stand by that one. [I will, however, apologize for all my run-on sentences; in their defense, they're training for a marathon.])

  25. A friend said she was training for a half marathon with another friend of hers. So I asked “Does that mean each of you only has to do a quarter marathon? And if so, can I get a hundred of my friends together so we only have to each go a couple of feet, while still being able to claim we ran a marathon?”

    Math is hard. Friends are good. And man do I hate Hooters. The restaurant, not the … well, let’s just end this here before it gets (more) embarrassing.

    Good luck with the marathon, Xstacy!

  26. Alright Jeff, you trash Hooters and I draw a line in the sand! Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic considering it’s a highly successful brand that will suffer little from poking fun at it. (Poking…heheheh) Pardon the childish humor. Anyway, I believe Jeff has pointed out much the same thing about Liefeld in that the guy has made a lot of money and what he or we say means little to him one would think. All in good fun here, and plenty to have fun with I might add.

    So question, How many people would it take to actually not have to move to finish the marathon? Or couldn’t I just have Rob draw a picture of the finish line and add me later? Just sayin’.

  27. Only my sentences are in training–they love to run. Me, I only run when chased. Sorry, I get silly when I’m short on sleep. :D

  28. Howdy! I thought I’d point out the reflection in the sword. The person reflected in the sword would have to be somewhere to the swordsman’s right…and hollering at the person the sword is actually pointed um…toward? Near? Certainly not at…
    I don’t know the context, but if the person being menaced by the sword is supposed to be the person reflected in the sword’s surface. . .um this picture is broken.

  29. Assuming the weapons are all drawn correctly….how many bones would one have to break to position themselves like that. I vote we ask Mr. Liefeld to model for us, after we crush his comic butchering hands with a hammer of course.

  30. I don’t want anything BAD to happen to Rob, like I’ve said he seems to be a nice enough fellow in real life. I just hate his art is all.

  31. No Jeff, I think I like the idea of making Rob “try” to emulate one of his poses in real life. MAYBE then he will learn what not to do (and in the process have to spend months in physical therapy after trying just once)… or maybe he needs to have a little talk with Mr. Alex Ross.

  32. I abslutely agree. His poses are unrealistic, and can be incredibly painful in real life.