I meant to mention in the body of the post that I do like the character of Badrock, but this subject line will have to do.

§ February 12th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on I meant to mention in the body of the post that I do like the character of Badrock, but this subject line will have to do.

Well, as some of you may have noticed, we had quite the influx of Youngblood and Rob Liefeld supporters in my “tell me why you liked Youngblood” comments thread from Tuesday. I had suspected that some fan site or message board or something took notice and decided to send some Liefeld love my way, and sure enough, it came from the Rob Liefeld message board (WARNING: autoplaying sound at link). In fact, it was Big Rob himself who suggested to his fans there that they should come over here and let me know just how much they loved the title. And, you know, fair enough. Mr. Liefeld recognized that I was trying to bring a more balanced, fair-handed approach to determining Youngblood‘s appeal to its fans. (I can’t link directly to the thread, as it requires a membership, but my man on the inside…well, okay, a friend who happened to have an account there…forwarded me the relevant texts.) There probably aren’t too many friendly ports on the internet seas for Youngblood, so if he wants to send people here to voice their support for the series…hey, send ’em on over. Happy to have them.

Like I said when I started this, I was looking to be fair. The easy thing is to dismiss Youngblood as being indicative of a certain type of craft that embodied the flashy shallowness of many 1990s superhero comics. And I’ll be honest…the comic doesn’t do anything for me. But I can see why it would be appealing, and most of what the Liefeld message boarders had to say confirmed some of those assumptions.

One thing that did surprise me was the level of enthusiasm folks had for Youngblood and the connected shared universe Liefeld and pals created around it. Some of the comments had a measure of defensiveness about them, but I suppose I can’t really fault anyone for that. Youngblood is so often used as a symbol, and usually a negative one, of ’90s comics, that one forgets that there were, in fact, characters and stories and subplots and conflicts. And that there were people who read these comics and invested a measure of emotional attachment into them. And, as noted near the end of the comments, there was a real sense of loss for those fans when the various books dropped off the stands, cutting off access to that world. One of the things I’ve learned in my couple of decades’ worth of comics retail is that every comic is someone’s favorite…you just can’t take for granted that there’s going to be the one comic that’s universally reviled. And for all the slagging Youngblood takes (and, yeah, sure, I’ve done it too, I’m not innocent), it does have its fans.

Even so, that doesn’t mean Youngblood should be beyond criticism, no matter how passionate or enthusiastic its fans may be. My remarks yesterday about that first issue still stand…it’s rough-hewn and awkward. And a glance at later issues reveals little, if any, improvement. And to be frank, a number of the issues I have with the craft in those books I still see in more recent examples of Liefeld’s work.

The conclusion? His work’s not for me. But I do recognize that it’s for somebody. I can understand why people would be excited about Youngblood, why they’d follow his career and his follow-up projects and remain loyal to him. And by most accounts (and by my own general impression of him over the years) he seems to be a friendly guy who’s kind and generous with his fans. So, you know, there’s that.

My plan today was to go through and address several of the comments directly, but the Liefeld message board invasion (and take that in the humorous tone which I intend, Liefeld fans!) has altered my strategy a bit. I’m probably still going to attempt it, which means another day of Youngblood on the site. Hey, if I really hated the book, I wouldn’t be having “Youngblood Week” on the site, right?

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