Freelance Friday: Babewatch edition

You don't have to be a filmmaker to know if you like a movie or not, and to offer a critique of it.

You don't have to be an author to know if you like a book or not, and to offer a critique of it.

And you don't have to be an illustrator to know if you like a particular drawing or not, and to offer a critique of it.

Several times on this blog, I've drawn (get it?!) some fire for coming across as too harsh on a given artist or character or series or costume. Which is fine, that's why they pay me the big bucks. But critique is a perfectly valid -- in some ways, an invaluable -- method of refining your own understanding of what you like and, more importantly, why you like it. Any art form can be appreciated (or not) at a gut level, and it's perfectly fine to live your whole life experiencing it there and no further.

But for a subject you love, like me with comics, there's so much more you can get out of it with a little time and effort. Which is why this week, I'm going to give YOU the chance to play critic.

I want you to go to Marvel's site and check out the preview pages at the bottom for Rob Liefeld's "Deadpool" issue 900. And then I want you to come back here and offer a genuine critique of the work. You don't have to be mean, or glowing in your praise, or sycophantic, or snidely hip, or anything other than honest. I want you to look at the pages of what will surely be one of the best-selling issues of the year, and I want you to think about what you do and don't like. Maybe you'll focus on the panel layouts, or the overall page design. Maybe you'll focus on the costumes or the environment, or the dialog, or the way the action flows.

Whatever it is you choose to comment on, give it some thought and give me your reaction to it. You all know my opinion of his overall "oeuvre" at this point, so there's no surprises there, but I don't want this to just be a bash-fest. The point is for you to take something that generates strong reactions in the viewer (which Deadpool 900 certainly should!) and to examine why you react to it the way you do. To articulate what it is you do and do not like.

Criticism gets a bad rap, because it's awfully easy to slip from knowledgeable commentary for the purpose of enlightening your own understanding to schoolyard heckling. But it's an important part of how we understand art, and I think it's very much worth pursuing.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

33 Responses to Freelance Friday: Babewatch edition

  1. Jose Inoa says:

    The Pros: Liefeld invented Deadpool. That, and I get the ideas that he tries to convey through his pictures. I give Liefeld a brownie point for the second panel of preview page two in the link. That’s funny. Plus, he’s guaranteed a job illustrating comics, and they are relatively few who can claim that privilege.

    The Cons: I give Liefeld a “D-” for panel one of preview page two, and subsequent inconsistencies concerning the human body (drawn or otherwise), designs, special effects (like blood-splatter)… hmmm

    Maybe he should try his hand at making B-Movies…

  2. Amathakathi says:

    Well… I think he’s improved since the 90s, but this is a preview before the addition of otonomontoPOWias and speech bubbles which can really change the look of the panel’s structure.
    The gut feeling I had was… this is a dumb looking comic, I don’t want to read it.
    It didn’t strike as especially bad, but I think it certainly had a lot of help from the colorist.
    There were a few really heinously bad parts though.
    First off I don’t know a lot about Deadpool but I must ask: was all of skin ripped off and a costume painted on in it’s place? Seems that way. Also I’ve never seen such a convoluted Serratus anterior muscle – he should get that looked at.
    Page 1 the girl has terminal anorexia and no toes. Page 2 she is not holding the gun like any sane human would. Perhaps that’s why she is then firing to her right instead of the guy rushing her. The list goes on…
    Most bizarre is that (Deadpool excluded) only once in all of these previews does someone have their mouth closed. Is this set in a world deprived of Tetanus shots?
    I can’t give fair judgement of structure until I see the finished product since I can’t even begin to guess what’s going on anyway, but let’s just say I won’t be anxious to see the finished product either way.

  3. kingmonkey says:

    You know how ugly Deadpool, or anyone for that matter, would be in real life, with eyes that far apart?

    I appreciate the effort Rob puts in trying to find something, anything that can be put around a person’s wrist so that he won’t have to draw it.

  4. Darth_Neko says:

    While I agree jose, Rob did create one of the most funniest comic book characters to ever grace the pages of the Marvel universe and keep us fanboys craping our pants in laughter… His artwork is shit, he really can’t draw hands and his stories don’t make a lick of common sense. It’s like he purposely pisses people off for messing up good comic book characters.

    Sad thing though, I met Rob Liefield at a Comic Convention once and He seemed like a total douche-bag to people. I tried to get X-force #46 signed by him, but he told me to piss off. So if I may say this and get it out of my system, F**k Rob Liefield and the badly drawn comic whore he rode in on.

  5. Collex says:

    Ok, he improved since the 90’s. He doesn’t draw as much lines on people faces as he used to and his knowledge of female anatomy has greatly expanded (he probably got married in the meantime).

    Now does these pages are supposed to follow each other? If yes, theh that’s the worst flow of action I’ve seen. First we are in jungle fighting an horde of awfully-drawn ninjas,then we are outside in the city fighting a giant foot (wtf?) and then we are in a kitchen when there is a girl drinking in the background, Deadpool is fighting more ninjas and finish the last one with by pushing a cat in his mouth (WTF?). I undertsand we don,t have the dialogue to helps us here, but a good comic-book should be able to be followed easily without the need for dialogue. This isn’t the case.

    Another thing I noticed is that Liefield still can’t draw feet. Look at that big foot on page three. Notice how all the toes are of the same size and lenght? Good, now look at your own toes. You can see that your toes decrease in lenght and size, the last one being significantly smaller and shorter than your big toe. Now, I know this is hard to draw. I can’t draw toes convincingly myself. But Rob is a professional artist paid thousand dollar for this. He shouldn’t make ammateurs mistake. Oh, and putting the girl barefeet but not drawing her toes is similarly bad.

    In conclusion, Mr. Liefield is better than he was. He is still a bad artist though.

  6. redvector says:

    Crap that about covers it for me.

  7. redvector says:

    And oh yeah the way draws guns is terrible I’ve seen more menacing air dryers.

  8. Loki says:

    ….spines aren’t supposed to bend that way dude.

  9. The Imp says:

    Hmm. I haven’t looked at a Liefeld comic (except for the pics posted on this blog) for probably a decade.

    My first impression, looking at the first pic/splash page was: wow, that’s not half bad. Nice posing, female anatomy looks mostly correct, and -gasp- there’s at least an attempt at a background. Then I looked closer.

    Why are the grips of those guns so damn big?!? How does he hold onto them? Where are the girl’s toes? And why is there nothing actually behind Deadpool? It’s like you’ve got some random vegetation (that doesn’t actually mesh well with itself) framing absolutely nothing. Are they on a movie set?

    Speaking of backgrounds, I wasn’t surprised to see that the rest of the panels ran true to normal Liefeld form. That is to say, there WEREN’T any backgrounds. Well, apart from that half-assed attempt at drawing plants, which seem to be duplicated or rubber-stamped from panel to panel, and that shoddy-looking house.

    I also notice that he still hasn’t learned how to draw a hand grasping a sword convincingly.

    Overall, I’d say it’s a big, big improvement over his 90s stuff, but he’s still not anything special. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give those panels an overall score of 5. If I was seeing his work for the first time, I wouldn’t be blown away by it by any means, but I wouldn’t throw it down in disgust like I did ten years ago either.

    I think a lot of it is going to depend on how good the story is. I don’t read Deadpool, never have. Is Liefeld the writer? And if so, has his writing improved in the last decade? (It could hardly have gotten any worse…)

  10. The Imp says:

    LMAO! I just noticed Darkvatican’s comment on the message board comments for those pages… 😀

  11. Jordan Banta says:

    Just from the previews, I’m telling you right now I’m not going to go buy it. Or look at it. Or breathe in its general direction. While Rob Liefeld is a renown artist, and created Deadpool, maybe he should have left it alone. it looks like a basic plot, you know, an evil group, a beautiful blond, and a lot of violence. I will give him props on the ways of killing the henchmen. that was clever, shoving a cat down the baddies throat (do I hear PETA knocking?). I DO think that it will sell though, and sell well. and one more question, WHY WAS CANDY FALLING OUT OF HIS UTILITY BELT?!?

  12. darkvatican says:

    I won’t be too surprised if some fanboy of Liefield’s blasts me in the following posts… lol

  13. Deadpool421 says:

    Although Liefield Invented Deadpool, How Dare They Let Them Turn Him Into That Funny Eyed, Wierd Gunned Freak…

    … If Anyone Needs Me Ill Be In The Cupboerd Crying…

  14. Deadpool421 says:

    …By The Way Was That Supposed To Be A Cat On Pages 4 & 5?

  15. Kalkin says:

    It continuesly baffles me, how a guy can draw such great lines, such fine details and then totally screw up overall composition and interaction between different objects. It’s…disturbing. It’s like Liefeld had memorised Comic artist’s Bible part III, but never even leafed through parts I and II. Examples:
    -In the first page deadpool has sword handles, but no actual swords in his back.
    -In the second page, Deadpool’s hand is cut from wrist behind the impractical looking gun. Also, the monkey that I suppose is falling from pouch overlaps it instead. Also the woman has a spine problem.
    -Third page, giant foot has all toes at the same level, instead of the big toe being furthest out. I don’t understand, what Deadpool is doing in front of the truck doors. Is he jumping, hanging on or standing on the dust cloud? Also his ribcage is hugely wide. Did he get run over the chest by that truck or something? Then there are the disappearing, reappearing, shapeshifting, still bladeless swordhandles in his back. Finally I don’t understand, what cyclops monsters are doing in the air. Are they flying, jumping (and what direction), floating, blown away or standing on some surface looking up at Deadpool or something? I don’t get any sense of movement.
    -On page four Deadpool’s bug eye problem climaxes and the swords have transformed again and grips are all unnatural. Also the Deadpool’s boot seems to perform a non-kick in the back of the creeps head.
    -Page five is almost ok, but bazooka man’s hand isn’t gripping bazooka and fat guy has a dislocated jaw.
    -On page six woman breaks her back, swords transform again, Deadpool floats in the air and non-kicks a cyclops again. Apparently these goons have no other expression, except jaws wide open. Perhaps their mouths are permanently open as an after effect of their goonification.

  16. Joshua says:

    2nd Page/2nd Panel: She bulked up awfully fast.

  17. The Imp says:

    @Joshua: LOL, I noticed that too. 😀

  18. Whit says:

    Cover: Ridiculously impossible breasts in the silhouette.

  19. JWMan says:

    Also having little experience with Rob’s work (other than posted work here) my main beefs are inconsistencies in drawing, and panel progression. These are things that would probably stop me from fluid reading and think to myself, “huh?”

    – Gun sizing (mentioned above)
    – 2nd Pic, 2nd panel — Girl bulks ups to shoot a gun (or turns into a man with a mullet), but then back to “normal” proportions.
    – 4th pic — handguards (does he have mini-claymores or samurai swords?)

    Panel Progression:
    – Last pic — what exactly is happening with the cat?

    Yes, there are many others as mentioned by you all, but these caught me at first glance and if I were to be a critic, that would be my mindset. Most people don’t go into something looking to dissect it, but rather to enjoy it. So these are the things that would interrupt my enjoyment of the comic. Whether right or wrong, I come to expect SOMEWHAT ridiculous bodies from superheroes and “damsels”. Not sure how popular comics would be with slightly overweight heroes with acne whose tights bunched and women in loose fitting clothing that don’t have huge breasts, but have cellulite and muffin tops instead.

  20. NGpm says:

    When I first started reading the reviews of Liefeld’s work here, I wasn’t all that familiar with his work. I spoke with a friend of mine who used to do line work and he concurred the general opinion expressed here. I am amazed at how much this sample of his work duplicates much of the criticism. In the initial pane, I am befuddled considering the grip the woman has on the gun in the second pane. I realize she is supposed to be pure eye candy and incapable of defending herself, but who doesn’t know how to squeeze a trigger? What’s up with her foot in the first pane?
    I will confess that, while I am a hobbyist artist and I cannot draw even to the level of Liefeld, I don’t profess it as a career. I don’t think he needs to throw in the towel, but I recommend listening to constructive criticism and working on the compositional issues (and the feet … is she wearing a flesh colored shoe?).
    What is with the feline tonsillectomy? Creative? No. Stupid and senseless? Yes.
    I’m not overly impressed with the work. He’s okay, but he gets billing as if he was the greatest thing since Jack Kirby.

  21. adam H says:

    there’s nothing specific i can point out that hasn’t been said already. i’m very much in the “Any art form can be appreciated (or not) at a gut level…” camp, as i have no experience with drawing comics. so can i just say that from my “gut level” observation this is truly stupid looking?

    Rob Liefeld: the William Shatner of comic artists. every time i see either of their work, i think, “who is this guy’s agent?”they’re guaranteed to sell and we all pay attention, but no one knows why. maybe that’s unfair though, as Shatner is well known to be a nice guy in person.

  22. Stan says:

    What happened to the rock he was posing on in the 1st pic? All the cyclop guys are in the same pose (arms out with mouth open and one and a half thighs showing). He recycles a lot of his stuff too. I’ve seen the Spider-man pose where he’s jumping over the couch, before. A lot. From him. Cat pops out of the guys mouth head 1st when it was stuffed in head 1st. Not holding 1 side of the pouch belt that’s bent the wrong way. Plus no buttons on the pouches.

    For a guy that likes to draw misc. stuff on characters he tends to forget them from panel to panel on the same page.

  23. Bill says:

    I like his artwork..his guns and uniform style could use some work though..

  24. Dave says:

    I was just reading a Deadpool comic illustrated by Liefeld and thinking about how much I hated him, so I Googled him and was so happy to see before I even finished typing “Liefeld,” my computer predicted many entries, the top three, not including the name itself, were “Rob Liefeld worst drawings,” “Rob Liefeld 40 worst” and “Rob Liefeld can’t draw.”

    He is the worst comic artist I’ve seen, bar none. It’s depressing to see my favorite character portrayed so badly.

  25. Ben Angotti says:

    I think everything has been covered, except the fact that when Rob draws surprised/startled women, they look like they just sat on a fencepost.
    As a kid in the 90’s I actually bought some of his comics! I think the flashy lines and shiny surfaces trick us into not seeing the crab hands, hidden wrists, pointy feet, prepubescent take on female anatomy, lack of/wavy line backgrounds, dildo guns with two barrel holes, incoherent panel flow, superman flying powers that every character seems to have, or the plain fact that this guy cannot draw human anatomy or even distort it convincingly. I give full marks to his colorist though. He must hate his life.

  26. Creg Bradley says:

    Oh, god. Well, pretty much all the reasons you hate Rob’s art is on display here, except for the writing, which we don’t have the word balloons to appreciate. Let’s make some quick general points though. In Rob’s world:

    (1) Everyone has Mr. Fantastic-like strechable bodies.
    A few examples: On page 1, frame 1, the woman’s right arm has stretched in a zig-zag behind Deadpool’s leg because the arm and the shoulder are not attached any human possible way. In page 2, panel 2, the woman’s left arm has stretched amazingly from the top of the arm for her to have both hands on the gun and yet have the left shoulder that far back. Deadpool’s joints are also superstretchy. His left lower arm is able to rotate at the elbow on page 3, frame 3, and something weird has happened to his left leg in page 4, frame 1, where his shin bone has stretched up to protect his kneecap. Etc.

    (2) Nobody actually holds anything.
    The ever present not-held guns and swords are present, of course, but really, it’s everything. For example, on page 5, panel 1, the woman is not actually being grabbed or held by Deadpool; she’s kind of hovering there and his hand is kind of at the side of her arm, but there’s no indication of actual contact. The double page 6-7 has it in spades. The woman is not holding the wine bottle and most aggregiously, it looks like the cat has jumped down the goon’s throat without assistance and Deadpool is perhaps going to grab it back out because he sure isn’t doing anything with the cat himself. Etc.

    (3) Inanimate objects are held together by magic.
    Vehicle wheels don’t need axles and aren’t aligned with each other anyway. The garage (?) wall is made of shingles that aren’t attached to each other or to anything behind them like plywood or studs. Deadpool’s backpack is glued to his back because the shoulder straps aren’t always there and are therefore unnecessary. Etc.

    (4) Nobody, especially the woman, ever looks at what is actually happening around them.
    * Page 1, frame 2: The woman is looking at the ground.
    * Page 2, frame 2: The woman is looking over her left shoulder at the patch of open sky.
    * Page 3, frame 2: The man is looking past the corner of the truck rather than at Deadpool.
    * Page 4, frame 3: The woman is looking at the truck’s ceiling where the camera is hidden rather than at the action happening outside the truck.
    * Etc.

    (5) Nobody is actually in motion, everything is just posed. See page 3, frame 1, frame 2, frame 3, etc.
    (6) The environment can make things appear and disappear at a moments notice. The rock that Deadpool was standing on on page 1 disappears on page 2. Where is the jeep with the foot on it from page 3, frame 1? Did it morph into a moving truck by frame 2? Which way is the truck actually facing anyway? Etc.
    (8) Etc.
    (9) Etc.

    Gaaaah! *Gouges eyes out*

  27. Wesley Belk says:

    Besides everything that’s been mentioned and totally agree with, the fat guy’s expression is EXACTLY the same every time we see him. It absolutely does not change from one panel to the next nor from page to page… His drawings are horrendous and make me cringe every time I see them.

  28. andy says:

    All these years as an artist and Rob still can’t draw feet or hands for a damn. I like how he draws the characters first (rather badly, and in no proper relation to each other), and then adds the items held in hand as a total afterthought. He’s Rob Liefeld. He can’t be bothered wit simple things as physics, proportions, and logical sense! He’s got more money than any of us will see in a lifetime, and he was in a button-fly jeans commercial that was all about him for god’s sakes! He’s the man!

  29. Aspiring Comic Artist says:

    Okay, as an artist who’s still working out how to translate natural human movement, emotion, and expression as simply as possible, here is my take.

    Looking at Liefeld’s art just annoys me. It doesn’t inspire a great feeling of hatred or anything, it’s just like a sliver in my hand that I can’t get out but I feel every time it brushes against anything.
    SO, these are the main thing that stand out to me, just regarding his treatment of the human form.

    1. Expressions. Just try making any of the expressions that he draws. When you are surprised, do you open your mouth and bare both your upper and lower teeth? Try it in front of a mirror – but you can’t have those creases on either side of your nose! He doesn’t draw them.
    For that matter, you know that perpetual frowny-snarl wrinkly thing going on between Deadpool’s far-too-widely-set eyes? Yeah, human brow muscles aren’t shaped that way. They don’t even go that direction.

    2. Surface. What the hell kind of fabric does Liefeld have around him for reference? Look at Deadpool! The fabric is supposedly thin and tight enough to show the (bizarre) creases in his brow as well as every single muscle in his chest, but somehow too solid to show his nose and mouth – and I’m not even going to touch the creepily smooth and featureless expanse that is his groin. Um. Literally or figuratively.

    3. Movement. WHY DO EVERYONE JUMP AROUND LIKE FROGS? Does he not know how awkward it is to bend your legs like that? Has he ever tried it? Does he understand how the human pelvis works? He should; I assume he has one.
    Okay, look at the page – uh – with the giant foot-thingie crushing a car at the top. Middle of the page. Can you tell me which direction Deadpool jumped in from? If he came from the left, why is his right leg tucked up and bent back the direction he came from? When you jump, aren’t your knees generally pointing the direction you’re going? If he came from the right, why is his back foot going to touch down before his forward one does? If he came from above, why are his legs so far apart? That’s no way to land, at least not without injuring yourself.
    How about those zombie things in the lower right corner – did they get catapulted in? How does one achieve such height and velocity without some sort of launcher?

    It’s just the logic that bugs me – in that there is none. His art makes no sense, physically, and boy does it dig at me after all the work I’ve put into trying to realistically replicate the way people move and stuff.

    But hey, good on him for creating the Merc With The Mouth, sort of. I guess.

  30. lolol says:

    @aspiring comic artist:

    Am also an artist who’s still working out how to translate natural human movement, and I 100% agree with you. You’d think after 30 years of practice Rob would’ve actually learnt to draw real humans… oh wait, but of course, this is Liefeldverse with different laws of physics and human-like aliens.

  31. Edwin Havilland says:

    Page 4, panels 4 and 5:

    The fat dude and the enemy guy are having a heated shouting match. The chick is in awe of their shouting prowess, but the seem to be quite even. SUDDENLY, Deadpool busts in, screaming at a harsh 176 dB (that’s, like, shotgun blast loud), winning the shouting match!
    He screams so powerfully, in fact, that it teleports the characters to the side of a garage somewhere, out of the truck.

  32. P.F. Bruns says:

    Liefeld made a lot of money in the 1990s. He took a lot of time off.

    Why was there no art school for him in the meantime?