Friday, August 3, 2012

Dear Liefeld: Stop Taking Credit for Deadpool

I swear, I'm not doing this on purpose. Deadpool just keeps coming up for some reason. I'm not trying to turn my blog into a one-stop-shop for opinions on Deadpool, though admittedly, I have many. But I could just not let this stand.

OK, so this morning I found this little snippet regarding Rob Liefeld putting his foot in his mouth on Twitter (an event as reliable as the tides). Allow me to share with those of you who don't like to follow links:

As the article points out, these tweets have stirred up quite a controversy. Most people are gravitating around the fact that he's calling a lot of really talented people "D-List". Rob Liefeld. Calling OTHER people "D-List". Rob Liefeld.

Look at that. He can't even draw BART SIMPSON properly.

Rob Liefeld, probably the most overrated comic artist who ever lived has effectively called out a bunch of artists whose worst art still looks better than Liefeld's best.

But that's not what annoys me. Heck, that's not all that annoying. It's mostly just funny.

The part that annoys me is his statement that Deadpool is such a great character that he continues to do well despite the supposed "D-List" talent that's been handling him.

In case you don't know, Deadpool was originally a creation of Rob Liefeld's while he was working on "New Mutants" with Fabian Nicieza near the end of the 80's. At the time, Liefeld's art was considered stylistic and novel. Him, Frank Miller, and Todd McFarlane would largely define the artistic style of the 90's... big muscles, big guns, big tits, horrible anatomy, and lots of scowling. Few remember that time fondly.

Deadpool was originally brought in as a random super-mercenary who was hired to take down the New Mutants. In his first appearance, he basically lacked any real personality or the aspects of his character that he is well-known for today. He was pretty much just a really good mercenary who wore a two-tone mask and liked to use a variety of weapons. Who does that remind us of?

In case you're wondering, no, this is not just a coincidence. Liefeld is actually really well-known for ripping off characters from other comic book universes and yes, Deadpool was originally just a rip-off of Deathstroke.

Now, I'm not faulting Liefeld for this. This has been going on for decades. Marvel had Namor so DC made Aquaman. DC had Flash so Marvel had Quicksilver. Marvel had Asgard so DC had New Genesis. The Atom/Ant-Man, Green Arrow/Hawkeye, Black Canary/Siryn, Bumblebee/Wasp,. This is just the way the business is and there's really no reason to single out Liefeld for doing it.

But anyone who knows both Deadpool and Deathstroke knows that they are decidedly very different. Deadpool is younger, has a healing factor, he has a very different origin, and most notably, he has a sense of humor. So if he was intended to just be a Deathstroke clone, what happened?

Well, when writer Fabian Nicieza saw Liefeld's design and ideas for Deadpool, he pretty much instantly recognized that it was just a Deathstroke knock-off, so he decided to own up to it as a sort of joke. He even went so far as to give him the real name Wade Wilson (Deathstroke's real name is Slade Wilson). Most other writers probably would have just told Liefeld to make a character that WASN'T a blatant rip-off, but Nicieza decided to embrace it instead. Instead of a knock-off, Deadpool became a parody.

While Deadpool's first few appearances were very straight-forward, what made him stick out was that Nicieza gave him a sense of humor, even though he wasn't really MEANT to be a humorous character. I like to think it's because Nicieza was kind of making fun of both Deathstroke and Liefeld's original intent. Eventually, Nicieza (and readers) liked the character enough to give him his own mini-series, Circle Chase. From there, Joe Kelly took over the character and the rest is history.

So what's my point? My point is that in Liefeld's flurry of tweets, he's not just implying that the "D-List" (in his mind anyway) talent currently handling Deadpool is a testament to how good a character Deadpool is, he's implying that Deadpool is a testament to how awesome he is. He's gloating. He's pointing out how awesome Deadpool is because he created him and Liefeld is a well-known egomaniac.

Now that I've laid all that out, I'd like to talk to Rob Liefeld directly.

Rob... as far as I'm concerned, you didn't create Deadpool. You DREW him, sure, but you basically just copied a character design from George Perez, made it look more like Spider-Man, and then added on a lot of pouches. Nicieza gave him a sense of humor and made him popular. Joe Kelly gave him depth, a unique history, and his signature style. You just gave him a body and a costume.

All you did was basically create a character so bland and blatantly derivative that Nicieza couldn't help but have fun with him. He couldn't possibly be taken seriously, so Nicieza didn't.

And don't even TRY to claim that you had always intended to make him a funny character. You NEVER make funny characters. Every single character you ever created and wrote yourself is enormous, oversexed, ultra-violent  never smiles, and barely knows how to communicate without grunts and bullets. Without Nicieza, Deadpool would have just been a Deathstroke rip-off. He would have just been a mercenary sent to take out the New Mutants.

Don't get me wrong, Liefeld. I do acknowledge that if it weren't for you, Deadpool wouldn't exist, but you have no right to be PROUD of Deadpool. You're the deadbeat dad who spent his son's childhood in a crack-house in L.A. and then comes back twenty years later to find his son became successful and then says, "That's my boy!" before asking for a loan. Yeah. You're basically the dad from Adam Sandler's "The Waterboy".

Deadpool TRANSCENDED your initial vision and design. He OVERCAME the fact that you had no imagination. He became popular IN SPITE of you. If anything, THAT is the TRUE testament to the strength of his character.

Oh, and for the record, I'm really glad that you've given up drawing superhero comics. Have a lovely retirement.


  1. I was going to write an article about this exact same thing but the parts where you address him where better than I could have ever have even put it.

    1. Sorry to steal your thunder, but thanks for the compliment!

    2. Just stumbled across this tirade while looking for more info on Liefeld quitting/calling out the DC editors, and I have to say, this is the greatest critique I've ever read... on anything. (Maybe I don't read enough...) I was never a fan of Liefeld's art, and with the advent of social media, he proves time and again what a jerkoff he is, giving so many more reasons to dislike him. He's so unprofessional, both in the execution of his work, and how he handles himself. WHY DID DC GIVE HIM A JOB? Sorry. Now I'm ranting... But yeah, terrific commentary on what a maroon Rob Liefeld is.

  2. You should definitely take a look at these video about James Brown who claims that his idea about Deadpool was stole by Rob Lifeld and Marvel.