Youngblood: really, honestly, the last post on the topic from me, at least for now.

§ February 17th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on Youngblood: really, honestly, the last post on the topic from me, at least for now.

Well, here we go again. I think I’m just going to wrap it up with this installment and move on before the angry villagers come up the hill with their torches and rakes. But I do thank everyone for their comments, even the folks were a tad miffed with me (like the first commentator I’ll be discussing today), and I was glad I felt just guilty enough about my offhand remark about the Youngblood movie to ask for opinions from the comic’s fans. It was a lot of fun reading what you all had to say, and I hope it was the same for you, reading what I had to say.

I haven’t seen any more traffic from the Liefeld message board, and I think most of the people who came from there to comment have since moved on…but if they are reading this…hey, thanks for dropping by!

Anyway, let me respond to a few more comments and we can put this all behind us.

  • Will/Guyver didn’t appear to be very happy with me:

    “Guys like this really get to me. They started reading comics way back when and somehow think that todays comics in anyway compare to the comics of yesteryear.”

    I’m not even sure where to start with this. First, Youngblood is hardly “todays [sic] comics” — it’s nearly two decades old. Secondly, my personal reaction to it wasn’t to compare it to anything. It was to judge it on its own merits, and by its own merits, I didn’t think much of it, while, as I’ve explained interminably over the last few days, I can see its appeal for some readers.

    “Comics back then were made for kids, for preteens and teens alike. Only a few of the comics on the market were actually marketed to adults, and those had very limited sales and rarely saw light of day in your traditional comic shop.

    “Now its the other way around. Comics are written for adults, and only a very small quantity of them are actually written for kids, and you rarely see these in your traditional comic shops. So why do people have to treat comics of yesteryear like they’re suppose to be some best selling novel by some prestigious new york best selling writer”

    You realize that a lot of these same arguments were being made back in the early ’90s as well? I seem to remember Mark Waid saying that he wrote Impulse as a kid’s comic…and that it was too bad there weren’t any actual kids buying it.

    The industry has been facing an aging of its readership for quite a while now, and the question of “where’s the next generation of comic fans going to come from” has yet to really be answered. The actual question may be “where is the next generation of comic fans going,” and the answer to that may be “online comics.” Or “anything that doesn’t involve actual reading,” if you catch me on one my cynical days (usually a day ending in the letter “y”). But there are still plenty of young’uns left in the comics-reading audience…I see them all the time at our shop. But that really depends on the quality of shop, I suppose…if it’s attractive to kids, they’ll show up.

    The “why do people treat old comics like they’re best selling novels” argument is kind of a straw man, since that wasn’t what anyone was doing. People were just giving their honest reaction to the comic, and until the Liefeld Army popped in, the reaction was by and large negative. And I think the negative arguments were put forward just as effectively as the fans put forward their positive arguments. I realize that, judging by most online reaction, you’d think Youngblood blighted the land and poisoned the water, so that I really can’t blame any of the book’s fans for being a bit defensive when they see my site and think “oh, great, here’s another guy piling on.” Which, you know, that’s why I called out for some positive thoughts on the book in the first place…to kind of balance things out a bit.

    “Please take a look at the history of comics….”

    You are so saying this to the wrong person.

    “…kindly take your thumb out of your a$$….

    Ah, so that’s where it was. I’d been wondering.

    “…and enjoy the comic for what its meant to be; entertaining to a 12-16 year old boy!”

    And you know, fair enough. That’s pretty much the argument people have been making in favor of the book over the last couple of days anyway.

    “I mean you don’t pick up old superman comics from the 60’s and 70’s and say ”Wow how horrible this writing is! I can’t believe the art in these things!’ No, you say ‘Man this is classic stuff, check out how retro everything is in this thing, look at the self contained stories they used to write!'”

    No, we pretty much make fun of those, too. Well, we did about four or five years ago, until we all pretty much burnt out on that particular source of humor and left it to those “Superman Is A Jerk” sites to repeat the jokes everyone else has already made.

    But I get what you’re saying. There are certainly comics from every era that seem like, at least to most people with some measure of taste and discretion, irredeemable crap. I’ve read more than my fair share of horrible Superman comics. But I’ve read some really great Superman comics, too. I can pick some classic stories from every decade of the character’s existence. Well, okay, the 2000s have been a bit on the thin side, but there’s still some good stuff in there somewhere.

    But there is a lot of Superman to choose from. And there’s only one Youngblood. (Well, until the spin-offs started.) And, for various reasons, critical history has not been kind to Youngblood‘s legacy. But if you look back with nostalgic fondness on Youngblood…good on you. No, seriously, if that makes you happy, if that comic is what ignited your love for the medium, I do genuinely feel that’s a good thing.

    “Why pay this guy any attention? He’s whats wrong with comics today, the people buying them.”

    If I may toot my own horn a bit, people pay attention to me because I’ve been in comics retail for over twenty years, reading comics for thirty-five, and write about them in what I hope is an intelligent and entertaining manner. I’m not just some anonymous nobody randomly throwing out hasty judgments and trolling insults. My real name’s in the title of the site, my picture’s easy to find (heck, it’s even currently in this week’s logo banner…that’s a face made for radio if ever you’ve seen one), and you can look up our shop (Ralph’s Comic Corner) and give me a call if you wanted to. (Just don’t do it on Wednesdays…that’s new comics day and I’m busy!)

    And if I’m what’s wrong with the industry, then by God, I’d hate to see what’s right.

    “Youngblood rocked back when I was 12, because I was 12 and it was marketed towards me. You don’t market tripple X movies to 12 year olds, just like you don’t market 400 bucks worth of comics to read a single story, to 12 year olds. Comics back in the 90’s were awesome because they were made for us back when we were still in the 90’s.”

    Like has been argued on this site over the last few days, no one’s denying the appeal of the comic for a certain demographic. Even some of the initial respondents who concluded that Youngblood was awful admitted that they liked it when they were younger. I don’t know who said about the music industry “every generation deserves its bubblegum pop,” but that applies to comics, too.

    “Sure the writing isn’t on par with whats out today, sure the art isn’t photo-realistic like dang near every comic out on the market these days, but dangit, when I was 12 I didn’t want to see photo realistic art! I wanted awesome story lines that were cool to read and to look at, and that didn’t require me to buy out the entire comic book shop to read a single story. That’s what youngblood represents to me.”

    And that’s a fair enough argument, wanting a fun comic that was easy to follow without much of a financial commitment. If Youngblood fit that bill for you…great! Other people’s negative opinions don’t take away your positive ones. They’re just opinions, is all.

  • Jeremy assumes

    “All the haters that want rob to fail are just jealous because thier idol, Alan Moore is washed up and all his movies suck balls.”

    I wouldn’t say Alan Moore is washed up…from all reports his next installment in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the bee’s knees. But I think Mr. Moore would be the first to agree with your opinion on movies made of his work.

  • Cesar relates

    “My experience with Rob and Youngblood got further when I was one of the winners of his YB contest in 2005, getting an amazing prize I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
    I had to draw a very short Youngblood story I had some ideas for.
    I won, and now that splash page with Cable from X-Force 2004 is in my wall, dedicated to me by Rob. You guys dont know how many times I have told this story to my girlfriend, relatives and friends.
    That made Youngblood a part of my life.”

    That is a pretty cool story, Cesar…thanks for sharing it. Like I noted the other day, by all accounts Liefeld is very involved with his fans, and he is clearly very interactive with them on his message board, so I’ve no beef with him on a personal level. Regardless of any opinion I may hold on his work, he seems like a genuinely nice guy.

  • Dave had some good things to say about Liefeld and Youngblood, and also said this:

    “And the crossovers annoyed me (Babewatch, Extreme Prejudice, Sacrifice, etc, etc). I would have given anything to see Rob do a a strong 20 issue run on Youngblood but it never happened.”

    Just imagine if Liefeld stuck with just Youngblood, the same way Erik Larsen’s been cranking out the Savage Dragon for the last couple of decades. Picture 150 consecutive issues of Youngblood, all by Liefeld, slowly building his personal superhero universe. Granted, the folks ill-disposed toward his work would say, “great, 150 issues of this,” but a long run of a single series rather than five or ten issues here and there, in fits and starts, in multiple series over a long period of time, would have been better regarded by history, I think.

  • Jeremy, again, has this to say:

    “Supreme was a great character and a super fun book before moore took over.”

    That’s an argument I’ve heard in the shop more than a few times. Now, I thought the idea of Supreme was a pretty good one…a Superman-type character leaves Earth in the early part of the century, and returns to a changed world, as a changed man, in the current day. I didn’t really care anything for the execution…until Alan Moore took over the book and turned it into a tribute/desconstruction/reimagining of the Silver Age-era Superman books. It was pretty highly regarded, as far as I knew, so the first time someone complained about the “weird, new, stupid Supreme” it came as a bit of a surprise. But, to each his own, right? Right.

  • MikeG sez

    “But I also loved how expendable Liefeld made all of his characters seem. Like one of them might just get his head blown or ripped off at any minute.”

    That’s a good point, actually…these were Liefeld’s characters, and not being beholden to a corporation or to licensing, he could do whatever he wanted to them. I could see where there was a genuine sense of menace or suspense in Youngblood that didn’t exist in, say, X-Men.

    “So picture this, you grow up with the DC Universe, and then suddenly they go out of business and everything stops. I think the sudden stop that happened after Rob left Image was hard on a lot of fans and turned people off. And then when the investor pulled out of Awesome Comics, and that all stopped too. It was hard for a lot of people, me included.”

    That’s a good take on the situation…fans investing themselves into a superhero universe, only to have the various doors to it slammed shut. (Valiant fans had to deal with this, too. Twice, even!) I imagine that was pretty frustrating.

    “…He also does the best convention sketches around!”

    That’s good to hear, because I totally plan on getting a Swamp Thing sketch from Mr. Liefeld someday!

  • Okay, I’m going to let Jeremy have the last word from the comments, because, well, he was the last on the page. Plus he says nice things about my site, and you all know how I am about appeals to my vanity:

    “this place is so much cooler than newsarama. all the people over there are just full of hate and not willing to give robs art a second look mainly due to the fact that they think its ‘the in thing’ to hate Liefeld. They never tell you why they hate it, they just spew venom. Also, so many over there keep saying that Rob has no fans, no one reads his books and his books never sold yet when confronted with proof they still deny it. Here there seems to be educated adults…for the most part that can actually agree to disagree”

    And that’s what I was hoping for, Jeremy…some love for the seemingly unloved, that turned out to be quite loved after all. We may differ on our thoughts about Youngblood, its quality, and its legacy, but I was very pleased to hear what you all had to say.

I skipped over a lot of comments from fans extolling the virtues of Mr. Liefeld and his work, if only because I don’t have any real responses to them beyond “I’m glad you like his work.” I’m not dismissing them by any means; I was just trying to avoid excessive repetition…I repeated myself enough as it is. I think I’ve pretty much established by now my opinions on his material, and my acceptance of some of your opinions on his material. Just take as a given that I understand and appreciate your enthusiasm, and let me reiterate my thanks for dropping by and letting me know how you feel. And thanks of course to Rob Liefeld himself for being a good sport about it.

I also didn’t directly address any of the remarks talking up the looming Youngblood movie, because…well, what can I say, really? “Glad you all are looking forward to it!” …However, it did just flash through my mind, that perhaps if they really Speed Racered it up, with a completely thorough world-building that effectively duplicated the look and feel of the original Liefeld comics…well, I suspect that would blow some eyeballs out through the backs of heads in the theatre.

I’d totally pay money to see that. Well, the movie, not the eyeballs thing.

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