Reason #11: The Whole Package

Picking apart individual aspects of Rob Liefeld’s art is easy, but sometimes you need to step back and take a look at the “big picture” as it were, a point I was forcibly reminded of when I stumbled upon this example:

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This one has it all, folks, in a much subtler way than you might expect. We’ll take it from the top.

First of all, props to Rob for using cross-hatching in the background. It’s still an amorphous blob just taking up space, but at least he — or more likely, the inker — used an actual artistic technique for the rendering. Still, the use of something, anything, to take up space in the background instead of an actual scene is a big Rob Liefeld staple. This one has the advantage of a random shape and random lines that add nothing to the composition except a vague feeling that this gentleman is about to be eaten by an amoeba.

Which explains why he has an enormous sword bared and ready, up to and including the serrated edges on the top of the blade. I’m trying to figure out why you would want a sword with the rippy bits up there, and I am coming up blank. If you wanted to saw with it you’d have to either do it underhanded or the knuckle guard would get in the way. Of course a nonsensical melee weapon is also a Rob Liefeld staple so we welcome it nonetheless.

But why obsess over a sword when you’ve got grenades! Because just one weapon is never enough for Rob Liefeld, we thankfully have at least seven, hanging from a bandoleer that’s skin-tight across the chest but miraculously loose under the shoulder blade exactly where he needed something to take up space. How lucky! Or course it’s possible those grenades are not part of the other ones, and instead represent some sort of clever underarm explosive device. Because who needs deodorant when you’ve got C4, amirightfellahs?!

Somehow I’ve gotten this far without talking about the head, which is just chock-full of awesomeness. You’ve got the face frame of hair, including longer hair on the cheeks than you’d find on Rapunzel’s noggin. I’m a fairly hirsute fellow and no way in hell I can grow whiskers like that, but I reckon that’s why I write software instead of launching high explosives from my pits.

But it’s the actual face that really nails this as an authentic Liefeldian production. This one has it all folks, the skin pulled taut to the skull, the tooth-baring grin that couldn’t possibly fit on a face with actual jaws, the sullen mismatched eyes, the excessive lines, this is a veritable masterpiece of hack. Throw in the enormous noggin, cleverly concealed by the aforementioned mane of not-Wolverine hair and it just takes your breath away.

But wait, there’s more! Because when I say this drawing has the “whole package” of Liefeld hackery, I mean that literally. I rarely give this advice outside a FedEx delivery station, but check out that guy’s package. Either he’s going Mr. Greenjeans on us with the hiked-up waist line or you could fit his entire alien-like head in that space. And the cross-lines! Good lord, what’s going on in there?! “Yes, is this Marvel HQ? I think I found where Wolverine is hiding …” Maybe that’s why he looks so constipated; there’s nothing like a rabid super-hero with metal claws trying to escape from your pants to make you glad you’re armed to the teeth.

And that, my friends, is reason number 11 why I hate Rob Liefeld’s art.

34 Responses to Reason #11: The Whole Package

  1. Jesus, is that face supposed to be human?

  2. Maybe he’s mad because the not-Cable and not-Deadpool people ran over his left hand with a steamroller…

  3. Just to say something about the teeth on the sword. When you pull the sword out of a body,those teeth will cause much more damage to the person then if there were not teeth. That is using the weapon for the most damage. (I,m a weapon nut, sorry.)

  4. I was wondering about that Hammer, but aren’t those serrations usually on the blade side?

  5. They can be on top or on bottom it will pretty much have the same effect. Anytime that you can disable a person instead of kill them works better, because you not only take them out of action but you also take out the one or two other people that is needed to help the injured. Also think of fish hooks and wasp stingers, they make more damage coming out then they do going in. In the old western movies you wood see the cowboy shot my an arrow and he would pull it right back out. That would not really happen, either it would lodge in, or ripe the sh!! out of him. The thing that needed to be done was to push it the rest of the way through(after braking the long end off) or brake it smooth with the skin and wait until you can have it cut out. Somethings you learn never leave. LOL

  6. Saw-backed swords haven’t been popular since the Napoleonic Era, but get points for being different and looking dangerous.

    On the plus side, he is actually HOLDING the sword. It looks awkward, but it is definitely in his hand.

    Unfortunately, the grenades are just floating around him. For that matter, he didn’t draw a bandoleer. There’s just parallel lines across the chest. Musculature and shading are visible right through it, confirming him as a lazy artist.

  7. YAY! I’ve been missing these roasts!

    Time to get me booze and then read up! An experience you can’t take in while sober!

  8. No, wait! It’s not a bandolier, it’s a Velcro strip! He put Velcro on his grenades so he can make a huge ripping sound as he pulls them off, thus warning his enemies of his approach and causing more of them to survive that he might pit them on the end of his serrated blade. Because, you know, why kill people with explosions when you can have explosions AND bloody slaying at the same time?

    …At least, that was the only way I could figger the muscles popping through the strap like that…

    Oh, and the amorphous glow is actually him, powering up to lay some DBZ smackdown on somebody’s butt.

  9. Now to contribute to the converstion…

    I personaly think that he would be better with an Arabian Sabre ( http://www.trueswords.com/arabian-sabre-p-802.html ), because it might not do as much damage as the teeth (well, depends on how you use it), but it will be much easier to remove without doing damage to himself.

  10. Sorry that wasn’t a great picture of it, try this one…
    http://www.bladesnewold.com/i/Swords%20Sabers/Arabian-Sabre_1.jpg

  11. This how an artist draws when he’s mentally stuck in high school. Disregarding small details to emphasize a general composition – and failing to do so, because of all the pecky details… Liefield is probably one of those people with more ego than talent. He probably sees what poor job he does, and is too lazy to fix it. MY critique goes to the people who would hire him. Roast them, if anyone.

  12. To tell you the truth, the bayonet is the modern day sword and many countries have bayonets with serrated edges. Also there has not been many battles of late that swords have played a big part in. The knife/sword that is in his hands looks a little like one of the knives that HM3 has in the blades. Besides almost anything with a blade longer then 8″ by definition can be considered a sword.

  13. Matt that sabre would do a real good job. They were mainly for slashing and not stabbing. But if you notice the tip of the sabre most were very sharp and if they were flicked up when being pulled out they could slice doing more damage.

  14. But TheJay, the people who hired him probably aren’t artists. I mean, look at some of the geek movies that have come out lately. They have characters and events that happened in the source material, but they’re shoved willy-nilly into a Hollywood-written plot that has no concern for the rest of the source material.

    ###SPOILER!###
    I mean, Sabretooth is Wolverine’s half-brother? In the four X-men series, not to mention the three movies, that I remember watching since I was a child, I don’t recall ONE mention of that little gem. And he hates Wolverine so much that he…saves his life? Willingly? The only POSSIBLE reason I recall that Sabretooth might save Wolverine is because Wolvie is falling off a cliff, and Sabretooth wants to drop him instead.
    ###END SPOILER###

    So yeah, it might help to fire the execs and replace them with competent individuals, but when is that ever gonna happen? Marvel is the only film company that’s going to give a flying #### about keeping their stories right.

  15. Heck half the stuff they put into movies about comic book characters never happen. But with all the new remakes of the comic book world in the books, how can you tell anymore. I remember when everyone writing the books followed the same time lines. Not anymore.

  16. Ugh. Give it a rest already. As far as the bandolier goes, it’s two strings looped through the pins of the grenades, that’s why you can see the muscles, etc. It’s a really stupid idea IMO. I would think it would be really easy to have the grenades accidently dislodge from their pins.

    And Damien Sabertooth said ” no one gets to kill you but me” or something like that.

  17. Grenade pins are hard to pull out.

  18. Ugh. Give it a rest already. As far as the bandolier goes, it’s two strings looped through the pins of the grenades, that’s why you can see the muscles, etc. It’s a really stupid idea IMO.

    I’ll grant you this, the idea that those are two strings instead of a strap is indeed a stupid one.

    If you don’t like reading the posts in this category, here’s an idea — don’t. I’m not holding a saw-bladed giant dagger to your eyeballs and forcin’ ya.

  19. maybe our favourite mutant is still mutating, that’s why he has those whiskers.

  20. Jeff or the Picture?

  21. @J

    Even if it were strings ,which is very likely, that doesn’t account for them disappearing at at least 2 different parts (that is all I saw but then again I wasn’t looking hard.)

    http://s51.photobucket.com/albums/f374/Deemanboy24/?action=view&current=problems1.png

    Look at where I highlighted. The string simply disappears only to reappear after the grenade pin.

    The problem with Liefeld is that he was lazy. He used the same tired character designs for every character he made. If it was female she had outrageous breasts, impossibly skinny waist and tiny feet and ankles. If it was a guy he had outrageous muscles,thighs and every vein in his body was bulging as if trying to escape the horrible picture. He threw away backgrounds for single colors and said to hell with continuity in most of his comics. He drove a lot of long term comic fans away from comics because he turned it into a laughable medium with designs such as the one posted above. I would respect him if he had tried to be original with each character or at least didn’t try to copy his own characters a thousand times. I would respect him if his stories were decent. I would respect him if he paid attention to detail. He doesn’t.

  22. I actually hated wolverines origin in the movie, i mean in the comics his story was really dramatic with his wifes death and everything, but the movies sucked it all right out, I also fought that they just killed (*COUGH* Spoiler *COUGH*) deadpool by giving him those powers at the end of the movie, I mean Laser Vision and the Adamantium swords coming out of his arms (I hoped it was Omega Red but I Was P***ed when I figured out).

  23. and to add on to my rant. Look at the fingers on the left hand of the character. See them? Good. They are flat and have almost zero roundness to them. On the left side of the picture on his shoulder if you follow the bottom string of the “whatever the heck is holding his grenades on” you’ll see it vanishes once it hits his air even though it should reappear a few times.

  24. I can not say anything about the art. I have been drawing for many years now and I do not have a job with any comic book. I have seen Jeff’s work and know that he can draw. I have posted a few of my drawings on my thread, and I know what my drawing skills are. I have taught quite a few people how to draw and I have told them all unless they could do better then don’t down someone for what they have done. We all see art in different ways. Show how you would do it if you was drawing the character, old school pen and paper.

  25. as some folks have already said… the knife is weird, but almost authentic. I have a WWI bayonet, and it has saw teeth on the back, for the reasons already mentioned. Nasty, but very real. No other defense of his art will come from here though… but for the saw teeth? poorly drawn, but real.

    Kaufkin
    another sword / sharp pointie nut. (who can’t spell)

  26. Denise Adams

    For those of us who can’t draw our way out of a paper bag, it’s good to see the comments you posted, Jeff, and then go back and look at the picture. Had to tell you — made me chuckle as you were right on the money.

  27. @hammerknight

    I disagree. Just because I can not draw doesn’t mean I can not judge others peoples art. That is like saying I can’t judge a movie because I can’t make one. The fact is that he is lazy. I’m not necessarily downing on the art but on the fact he left parts of the art out and said “Screw it. No one will notice the lines missing.” It’s an insult to his readers.

  28. HK, I’m afraid I have to agree with DJ (assuming the Widget is still allowed lol) If you read a story, then see the movie, but they do the movie wrong, does that mean you can’t make a judgement? And for what reason–you can’t write, or nobody likes you enough to give you $30 mil to play with?

    Several people on here, I’m almost ashamed to say, talk about how good I am on Hero Machine. I can remember two off the top of my head that said I was the best. I may or may not agree, but the fact is, Jeff did all the work here :)

    The only reason I’m as good as I am is art training, observation and attention to detail. I came up with an idea to use the Spandex neck to create a slight shadow underneath the chin. Inventive? maybe. Attention to detail? Absolutely. I’m nearly psychotic about it sometimes.

    For one of the contests, someone complained that it had taken them an hour and a half to finish their character, including a special effect. I’m not going to criticize anyone’s art on here unless I get a go-ahead from Jeff, but I spend an hour and a half or more just adding details to my work. My one and only entry for #8 has literally taken most of the spare time I had this week that wasn’t devoted to typing my posts. (Be sure to tune in tomorrow, btw. It’s HUGE!) I spent more than an hour and a half on this guy’s ARM, for pete’s sake.

    Anyway, so no, I don’t feel that it’s right to deny the right to judge when the mistakes are so obvious. Besides, as rich as he is, he can afford free advice from his customers. “Yeah, service industry. As in SERVE US, not the other way around.” (Lewis Black, Accepted) It’s the same thing I told Jeff when I made him that list–if three people say it, maybe ignore it. If thirty people say it, you’d better listen.

  29. @ DJ and Damien no where in my statement did I say anything about judging people. The people I have taught to draw all downed themselves for not being able to draw. I try to show them all they have to do is try. Everyone can drawn, some better then other. But if all you do is go around finding the bad points you miss the good one. If you don’t like the artist then don’t read the books, or write the publisher and tell them. As for blowing my own horn, you don’t see me telling everyone that I’m the best, read the post I get on my thread and see what they say. No one is perfect, and everyone can be helped in one way or another.
    @Jeff I enjoy the panels that you post, and I enjoy Hero machine a lot. No offense at all towards you.

  30. @Hammerknight: No offense taken, and I think it’s a great point to make that it’s important to be supportive. However, I think DJ’s also right that when someone makes the jump to being a professional, getting paid to do what they do, criticism is not only justifiable but vital.

    In the case of Liefeld in particular, you’re not talking about a couple of guys just trying to get by, you’re talking about someone who made tens of millions of dollars and set the course of comics for more than a decade. A course which, for many, was disastrous. As DJ said, it drove me and many of my friends out of mainstream super-hero comics for a long time, and that just breaks my heart.

    So I criticize Liefeld because of what he did to an art form I love. It’s criticism that is richly deserved and in my opinion absolutely necessary, because I don’t ever want to see it happen again. It was the triumph of form over substance, of flash over talent, of gimmick versus skill, of hackery over craft.

    I also criticize him because it’s fun. I mean come on, even if you think it’s pointless like J does, that was still a funny post. “I reckon that’s why I write software instead of launching high explosives from my pits” — that’s comedy gold, folks. GOLD!

  31. What drove me away from comics was the price.

  32. I agree. When you jump from high school to pro comic work, criticism is absolutely VITAL!! It can be the line that improve a prototype comic cover from shoddy to good. For example in the crotchless costumes cover, I threw in my own comment regarding the composition and costumes. The pic in general, had numerous errors in anatomy and composition that made the comic book cover one of the worst ever. The costumes there added another level of lameness, so in my opinion, This is definitely one of the worst ever.
    http://www.heromachine.com/2009/03/11/i-bet-superman-never-had-to-wear-crotchless-pants/#comments

    If I were a comic book artist, I would first make a few prelimiary sketches, and ask other’s opinions on what works and what doen’t work before making the final draft. Also I would encourage my mates to criticize my art so i can improve it. Liefield OBIVIOUSLY didn’t listen to his peer’s advice, and it often shows in his work. That frankly annoys the hell out of all of us.

  33. Now you’ve done it. I have this image seared into my head now.

    Liefeld: Hey Todd. How’s this look?
    McFarlane: I like it.
    Liefeld: You sure? The anatomy doesn’t look a little off to you?
    McFarlane: Trust me, Rob. It looks great.

  34. Edwin Havilland

    But wait, there’s more! His left pectoral is much, much flatter and tighter than his right, which looks to be covered by a layer of fat. There’s also those weird, thick lines over it which form a rotated diamond.

    The point of his elbows is on the side of the joint, rather than on the outside/back (where it belongs), and his right forearm has the outside muscles and elbow joint turned facing us and visible, even though they should be out of view since the palm of his hand is facing upward. It’s like he twisted the heck out of his wrist.