Seeking to disprove stereotypes that comics are merely simplistic or juvenile entertainment for the uncultured; to enlighten the open-minded and encourage the broadening of one's horizons; to examine comics as a text; to deepen appreciation for comics, comic books, and graphic novels as a formidable form of art in all cultures.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rob Liefeld Art Criticism

Back in the early nineties, comic book art in pop culture took a turn for a more edgier, grittier look and feel than it had previously been (and is now), reflecting, perhaps, the stereotypical generation x-er that the publishers were catering to. Writers began focusing less on the shining, boy scout do-gooder heroes and produced stories that more prominently features the anti-hero. Characters like Wolverine, Catwoman, Lobo, and Deadpool became popular for their sarcastic attitudes, no-holds-barred approaches to attaining their goals, and their lack of self-righteousness and morality that seemed to drive the more melodramatically angelic Superman and others who had been conceived in the golden and silver ages of comics.

In this period artists like Rob Liefeld stepped into the limelight, capitalizing on their ability to mass produce gritty, "cutting edge" work that teenagers were going for, stuff that wasn't as clean-looking and handsome as what they were used to being exposed to.

While it's certainly interesting to study Liefeld's work as a reflection or influence on readership and the medium, this is an interesting article that, to me, exposes some of the issues raised by lack of appreciation for comics as a potential to be more -- both by creators and publishers who are looking for the most efficient ways to squeeze pennies from consumers, and by a readership that didn't demand more than mass-produced, superficial entertainment in return for their hard-earned money. For example, ake a look at Liefeld's interpretation of Captain America. What on earth is going on with that chest? Could he not see from the initial stick figure pose that this was going to turn out looking like Cap had shoved a love sac down his shirt and drawn pecs on himself with a sharpie?

I think that Liefeld was/is a talented artist, but I also think he knew he could get away with less than 100% of his effort and still make a fortune. Additonally, as he was in high demand at the time, he probably stretched himself too thin with a heavy workload in the interest of making a few more bucks.

In any case, I think the criticism is a fun and insightful read, but be warned: there is some language in there that you wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable repeating at next Sunday's services.

1 comment:

Carlos the Great said...

Holy crap, Captain America needs to stop pigging out around the holidays. He looks like he's about to pop! Actually, this could be used in an ad campaign against MSG. Water retention is no fun, folks...