Reason #13: He’s a hack

The upcoming "Hawk & Dove" relaunch features a cover by none other than Rob Liefeld, whose art (as you know) I hate with the white-hot intensity of the sun. Here's the cover:

Apparently DC, having already decided to grant an entire line to two characters no one has cared about since the Nineties, went all-in by having the cover drawn by an artist no one has cared about since the Nineties.

Rob Liefeld is a hack. That means he never got the necessary grounding in the fundamentals of professional illustration (or human anatomy), the absolutely essential scaffolding upon which good art is built. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing hacks in general. I consider myself one in many ways, certainly when it comes to programming (I'm totally self-taught, so there are embarrassing gaps in the fundamentals anyone having gone through a structured program would have received). Sometimes, the only way to get clear of the choking jungle is to hack your way through.

But he's a bad hack. Whose hackery inspired twenty years of insipid imitation that gutted the artistic integrity of a medium I love.

Thus, after a long absence I bring you another installment in the "I Hate Rob Liefeld's Art" series!

Rather than type out my review of why this cover is a classic example of Liefeldian Hackery, I give it to you in image format. Enjoy! And if I missed anything, please chime in to let me know.

(Image and characters ©2011, DC Comics, Inc. If they choose to claim ownership of either, that is.)

50 Responses to Reason #13: He’s a hack

  1. Tool says:

    and this guy is a professional artist because…

  2. Trekkie says:

    I’m not quite sure what’s going on with Dove’s hips and thighs. They look twisted rather awkwardly. Or maybe her hips have been dislocated?

  3. Mr. Q says:

    I keep wondering why the f**k do companies like DC, Marvel, and Image still employ this fraud. But the same can be said for hack comedy spoof directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.

    I doubt this book will survive 5 issues let alone twelve.

    Mr. Q

  4. Trekkie says:

    There also seems to be something rather weird going on with Hawk’s torso as well.

  5. Dionne Jinn says:

    Are those red thingys really supposed to be wings? Don’t look like wings to me… I hope he is not going to fly in forest, or anywhere near electricity lines because those a going to get tangled.

  6. ajw says:

    Well at least he improved on foot size. Though it’s still not enough.

  7. Dan says:

    three things I spotted :
    1) the horrible attempt at forced perspective on thier bent left legs, making it look like their feet come right out of thier uppper thighs.
    2)Hawk’s peanut head. Shouldn’t it be much bigger in relation to his massive torso?
    3) Dove’s chest. Seriously, what the hell is going on there? I guess he was trying to show some kind of wind resistance? But with the way she’s positioned, it looks like the right one is coming out from the top of the center of her stomach.
    It’s funny, at first glance, it looks like he’s improved, but when you actually look at it, you see that he’s just not doing the complete over the top 90’s sillyness, and he still has no grasp of how people actually work.

  8. Trekkie says:

    Dove’s wing…things seem to have some kind of transparent gradient or something, since they look clear enough to show the exact contours of her shoulders, but nothing else behind them is visible, not even the rest of the wing-collar.

  9. CPrime says:

    Don’t hold back, Jeff. Tell us how you really feel…

  10. Reader Kate says:

    Also, Hawk’s hands are way too large–half again the size of his head–and his arms are much too short. When you draw a standing figure, the elbows should be a waist level and the wrists at crotch level. Maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much if both characters weren’t ugly as Death backing out of an outhouse.

  11. Gero says:

    Like Dan said, Dove’s chest is majorly messed up. It literally looks like she has one under each arm. Also, Hawk’s fingers go from longest to shortest, instead of getting longer in the middle and then going short again like real ones do (Liefeld does this so much I think it’s what his real hands must look like, which might explain his drawing abilities…)

  12. Gero says:

    Oh, and Hawk has a little nose-bridge beak, too, but it’s a bit harder to see…

  13. Trekkie says:

    With regards to Dove’s weird beak-mask-thing, maybe she stole Hawkgirl’s helmet, but it shrunk in the wash?

  14. Susie Q says:

    @Gero, I think you have a point about Liefeld’s own hands– my brother always draws accidentally, mind you) one shoulder longer than the other– the same one that is longer on his own body.

    Also, looks to me like Hawk has a big hairy moustache that he’s trying to hide to protect his identity.

  15. McKnight57 says:

    A few things I’ve spotted; a) Hawk’s canines are far too long, or at least one is, for a human, b) nobody including superman has that thick of a torso, c) nobody would actually hold their hands in the position that hawk’s are when flying through the air, d) Dove’s hips are far larger than any woman’s hips I’ve ever seen (relative to her size), e) that is the most screwed up pony tail I’ve ever seen, f) going back to Hawk, the forearms are far too short, especially the one on the left of the image.

    Jeff, is there gonna be an Open Critique Day, because I’ve got a character I ned help with.

  16. Me, Myself & I says:

    It looks like Hawks back connects to the rear of his right bicep as well.

  17. Watson Bradshaw says:

    Bamf! Take that you over hyped relic of the nineties, now go get Jim Lee his coffee…and Young-bloods sucked too.

  18. Myro says:

    How are you still employed, Liefeld? That’s all I have to ask. If I did my job as badly, I’d have been turfed from my place of employment long ago.

  19. MasterBeaty says:

    At least he didn’t draw excessive thigh pouches haha 🙂

  20. TheNate says:

    All that – without mentioning the club feet. That’s restraint.

    Seriously. if I spent 20 years drawing, even with my lack of talent my drawn feet would eventually look a little better. Liefeld’s are as bad as ever.

  21. Addy Elf says:

    With Dove, and I think that I have noticed this trait with a lot of female characters almost regardless of the artist, I have noticed that her hips seem padded. If he was attempting to show an hour glass figure he failed due to the fact that the torso is twisted wrong to pull off such a figure and the padded hips. Actually, looking at it again, it almost looks like he drew a skinnier female on tops (sans her overly heavy looking female bits) and mashed it together with a slightly plumper, almost average range, female on bottom.
    I hope one day that us females get a little more respect within comic art…

  22. Trekkie says:

    At least each character actually has two feet each. Not that they’re particularly good, though.

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    No OCD today, no. Usually this would be a “Sharing Day” since we did OCD last week, but Liefeld mockery took its place. We’ll get back to the critiques next week.

  24. ajw says:

    Too bad, had a great pic of my cop hero, but as always, mockery makes me feel better.

  25. thejay says:

    If you watch it from a distance or just in the first two seconds, it just looks awkward. Then you notice it really is wrong. I would’ve forgiven the obvious faults if the result was a little more exciting than this generic crap. I mean, it’s not just the anatomy. It’s the compostion. It’s the background which says the same thing as the foreground. It’s the general “flowing” – they just don’t look like they’re jumping from the same place. And compared to the clogging all over the page, the sky part looks very empty. Was there supposed to be a headline?
    Kudos to the colorist though. Colorists always manage to make the most horrible things at least semi-presentable, don’t they?

  26. Doornik1142 says:

    Trekkie (4)

    Agreed. His back is much wider than his chest, making his upper torso seem weirdly flat. It looks like his body is made of slightly-squashed play-doh.

  27. Doornik1142 says:

    Myro (18)

    I’ve been told the reason is because the comics industry is actually surprisingly small (much smaller than most people realize) and seniority counts for a lot. Liefeld has done a lot of prominent work in comics and that gives him a fair amount of clout in the comics industry, deserved or not.

  28. Whit says:

    Dove’s thighs are the size of a small European country. And I prefer the male interpretation of the character, but that’s just me.

  29. Jeff Hebert says:

    All good points, folks, thanks.

    In defense of those hiring Liefeld (and of himself), he has made a LOT of money for a lot of publishers. It’s easy (and fun!) to mock the guy’s art, but it was almost unimaginably popular. That doesn’t say much for the taste of your average comics purchaser, but I can’t necessarily blame publishers for hiring someone with a proven track record of moving books, suckage notwithstanding.

  30. GtaMythMaster43 says:

    I think the mouth thing is nitpicking to the max, but the rest, wow, what the Hell made them PAY Robby boy for this?
    It’s craptastic.

  31. Worf says:

    I myself, wish we were being treated to THIS “incarnation” of Hawk and Dove:

    But, alas it isn’t meant to be… Guess this will be another comic I won’t read.

  32. GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Hehehe, Worf, I know all of us nerds love comics or anything involving obviously blatent sexual under tones but that is just to…..porno-ish?
    I don’t know, but it seems to be to obvious.

  33. Myro says:

    Jeff (29): I don’t doubt Liefeld’s popularity and ability to sell books, or rather I don’t doubt that Liefeld is popular. What I question is why was Liefeld popular in the first place, and even more, why is he still popular? And apparently, you and many others in the community ask the same thing.
    What I don’t get, at least now, is that it’s not like there aren’t a lot of people shouting out that the Emperor has no clothes. Still, the vast majority of comic book buyers don’t give a crap that Liefeld’s metaphorically wandering the streets with his business out for all to see anyway. He draws like crap, comic affiicianados publicly decry his art to be crap, and people buy it anyway. It just makes me shake my head.

  34. D says:

    @worf 31: So do I. So much so, I’m using it for my wallpaper. Hope you don’t mind. 😉 And is it just me, or do those models look like Lindsay Lohan and Sarah Michelle Geller?

    @Myro 33: It’s the same with films like Transformers and PotC 4; critics hate them and people love them. Perhaps the reviewers et al are out of touch with the public and can’t or don’t understand that they just want to be entertained.

  35. GtaMythMaster43 says:

    As I was growing up, everything from the early 90’s shined like the brightest gold to me, it was everywhere, Hell, the 90’s was the best era for entertainment in my mind.
    So I think that’s why I have a weakness for Rob’s original work, it was stupid, amateur, and fun for the most of it.
    I think he’s [or was] popular because of the overly laid back “meh” vibe everyone had at the time.

  36. GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Opps, that was to Myro, posted early, I have to agree with D about Transformers and critics, most critics and reviewers are nothing but a bunch of over demanding imbeciles that are lucky that they don’t choke on their own spit every night while they’re asleep from their own sheer stupidity. I mean Avatar better then 2001 a Space Odyssey? As if. [Can’t say where but a California critic I believe said that, don’t qoute me, but I heard that, perhaps on the radio.] And every B,B- or C+ film is treated like it’s a P.O.S turkey film, I don’t understand how critics work or where their heads are, besides up their asses and in the sand.

  37. Worf says:

    I know this comment is a bit late to the party, but after being treated to the fail that is Liefeld, I, in my infinite arrogance, and inspired by the very pic I posted here earlier, thought I could do better….
    So I give you Hawk and Dove in HM3:

  38. Tool says:

    What gets me sometimes is that kids are reading and looking at comics like this growing up thinking that this is cool art and story. Which may lead them to being bad artist or writer later on. I know its only a possibility but I say we weed out the people like this now and get back to the good comics and show these kids nowadays the good stuff. Alas comics seem to be a dying trend, my favorite comic place back in my home town had to close down due to low profits and combination theft and vandalism.

  39. Doornik1142 says:

    GtaMythMaster43 (36)

    Going off that, I have a theory for Liefeld’s continued popularity.

    I think it’s because the majority of comic readers are still, by and large, very young people. And young people don’t know enough about art and anatomy to see all the flaws in Liefeld’s work. I was ten years old in 1995 and I remember being really impressed with Liefeld’s signature style. It seemed so crisp and fresh to me, especially compared to the old Silver Age comics my cousin had collected. Then when I got a little older I started talking to some older comic fans over the internet and discovered, to my total surprise, that Liefeld’s art style was universally despised among older fans. The very same art style I had once considered the awesomest thing ever. And when I started examining their complaints I realized they were exactly right. Liefeld’s art had always been horrible, but somehow I never noticed it when I was a kid.

    Maybe that’s what’s happening. Everyone thinks Liefeld’s art looks great when they’re young, then they grow up a little and discover it really sucks.

  40. punkjay says:

    This guy always makes the girl’s waist WAAAY too small! If she stands up her torso will fall right off her waist!

  41. Myro says:

    On a somewhat related note, has anyone heard about Brett Ratner wanting to do a Youngblood movie? I know it sounds like an unholy alliance of suckage, but at least look at it this way: at least Ratner isn’t trying to screw up something good, like he did for X-Men 3. I mean, he could have chosen to try to make Sandman.

  42. GtaMythMaster43 says:


  43. Dan says:

    @Myro 34, you have to remember, it was the 90’s. Vanilla Ice sold a ton of records, but I doubt you could find people now who would say he’s worth listing to. It was kinda a right place, right time thing. Marvel put him on a book that no one was reading, (New Mutants), that never had a history of good artwork. While Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, and Whilce Portacio were doing Uncanny and X-Factor, New Mutants was kinda twisting in the wind. It was on of the factors of why it was cancelled and changed into X-Force. There was such a thirst for all things X, and since it was the “darker” book, people loved it. Plus, you have to remember, we didn’t know how bad of a hack he was in 1992. We didn’t have the internet to be able to see his blatent thievery. Unless you were able to pick something out yourself, you had to wait for word of mouth to find out that he was stealing. The real first signs of how hated he was came from Youngblood. When he left X-Force people were actually upset. There Youndblood #1 came out, then I think it was like 3 months before #2 came out. I don’t remember the specifics, but I know it was some of the worst schedualing for releasing issue, and that’s when people started to take notice. It was like “Why are we waiting so long for this garbage?”

  44. Myro says:

    Dan (44): You have a point. Unfortunately for me, a lot of what was making comic books popular at that time was also what was driving me away. I wasn’t into the darker stories, and the art was gritty and not terribly attractive. I may have listened to a lot of Nirvana and other grunge rock back then, but I can’t say I was that “angsty.”
    Still, I know Liefeld’s popularity has waned since then, but he can still sell, and I don’t know why. There are plenty or critics out there telling us in detail what exactly sucks about Liefeld’s art. And you bring up another point. Liefeld is reported to be quite the primadonna while working, and is notorious for missing deadlines. It’s a wonder that people put up with it.

  45. Dan says:

    @Myro 45, the other thing you have to remember is that back then he was McFarlane’s sidekick, and that carried a ton of weight. As to why he sells books now, I think people buy them to laugh at his stuff. I don’t know a single person, even one’s who claimed to have liked him back in the day, that will say they like him now.

  46. Schuyler says:


    I’m not against a redo on Hawk and Dove, but not at the expense of other more established series, like JSA.

    And Liefeld’s grasp of anatomy comes from the same people that bring us Barbie.

  47. lulu says:

    I was scanning through the new DC covers and when I came to this one I paused thinking “WTF this one sucks, can this bitch not draw a hawk or a dove?”… I don’t know why I had to see the signature to know it was Liefeld, the dentist’s wet dream going on in Hawk’s mouth should have clued me in.

  48. jakjak13 says:

    Don’t forget the baby seal wearing a glue on bird beak in the background.

  49. P.F. Bruns says:

    Not pictured: Hawk’s neck.