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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.

Yes, I said "Knyfestryke."

§ February 16th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on Yes, I said "Knyfestryke."

Whittling away at the Youngblood comments some more…again, not responding to every comment, so if I don’t respond to yours, I promise it’s nothing personal:

  • Logan says

    “I love his art, I think it’s dynamic, and has often reminded me of some of the manga I’ve read (albeit, more ‘American’ looking than actual manga, but still). I’ll never understand how manga gets away with unrealistic depictions and Rob gets bashed over the head for his.”

    I think the issue is that manga artists by and large do know their anatomy and how and what to exaggerate to achieve the effects they desire, whereas the depictions evident in Youngblood seemed to be all exaggeration with no foundation in basic anatomy. It’s the idea of knowing the rules before you break them. For example, Jack Kirby knew his anatomy. And Sergio Aragones does as well. And they’re best known for cartoony and exaggerated styles…yet you can still tell in their artwork that there’s an underlying understanding of how the body is put together and how it operates.

    “And I agree with Nimbus, wasn’t the idea for the team being famous a pretty original concept for the time. I mean, the only other celeb superteam I can think of at the time was the FF.”

    A couple of folks brought this up to me, and Logan was the first. Yeah, that was definitely part of the whole FF concept eventually, the idea of Reed and Sue as a celebrity couple. I don’t know that it was part of the initial concept…FF being more an outgrowth of Atlas’ monster and sci-fi books than a full-on superhero book, the idea of celebrity would naturally take a back seat to weird adventures and bizarre monsters. But it is definitely part and parcel of the series now, so good catch, Logan.

  • Roger greened

    “In fact, I was working at Midnight Comics in Albany when the Liefield comics started coming out. They were good for the bottom line, short term, but I HATED them.”

    That is the part of funnybook selling that makes you grit your teeth (ironically enough) is selling lots of something you know is terrible, but you need to do so just so you can keep your doors open and put food on your table. But (and I’m not telling Roger anything he doesn’t already know here, but need to say so before I step on any True Fan’s toes again) that “terrible” is in the eye of the beholder. As I always say, every comic is someone’s favorite, and if they’re coming in and demanding it, hey, I’m happy to sell it to you. The trick here is making sure that folks coming in for a comic that you think will burn brightly and vanish quickly, or the novelty value of which will fade away, are regularly exposed to quality material in your shop as options. Not everyone will bite…a lot of comics that bring in huge numbers of customers, at least initially, will have a customer base that wants only that comic and nothing else (as we’ve seen with the Stephen King and Anita Blake series). But a few will try new things…using one book as an opportunity to sell customers others is just one of those things I have to do as a comics salesman.

    Well, that and babysitting, but let’s not get into that right now.

  • P-TOR logics

    “Feet tend to be stinky.

    Liefeld never allows feet into his drawings.

    Thus, his work is not stinky.

    Ergo, it must be good.

    Post Hoc Ergo Procter Hoc.”

    Including that mostly because it made me laugh.

  • Pal Dan notes

    “When I read the previews, I thought it was a good concept — and if it had turned out to be a comic about a bunch of celebrity superheroes fighting super-crime in between spa treatments and guest shots on Leno, it probably would’ve been a great comic. Ironically, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred did exactly that with X-Force, years later.”

    That run on X-Force gets mentioned once or twice in response to the celebrity thing, too. I wonder if the celebrity thing was emphasized more in Youngblood, how it would have done. Would the people attracted to the book as it actually was put up with more celebrity-based subplots breaking up the action? Well, unless the subplots were treated like the rest of the book: “On the Tonight Show, it’s Shaft from Youngblo…oh my God, look out! It’s Knyfestryke!” (ten pages of fight ensue). I mean, that’s sort of how it was in the first issue, anyway.

    And that reminds me for no good reason…Wonder Man was/is a Hollywood movie star, right? There’s another celebrity superhero right there.

  • Philip says

    “I do love the ‘1st exciting issue’ burst on the cover. It implies that there were other, earlier issues that were not exciting.”

    That is pretty funny. I’m picturing previous non-exciting issues with, like, Badrock sitting on the couch and flipping through channels on the TV, or Shaft signing a bunch of autograph trading cards for Rittenhouse Archives at the kitchen table or something.

  • Snapper calls a kettle black by saying

    “Wait, was his name actually Shaft? Ah-haha, I never even realised.”

    I believe much hay has been made of “Rob Liefeld’s 7-inch Shaft” action figure…including by me. Hey, who doesn’t love a good penis joke?

  • Jack reminds us

    “…There was a certain amount of near-hysteria in the comics stores back then. At least around here, everyone got caught up in the comics boom, and it just seemed to fill the stores, resulting in people buying just about anything. It was an odd time.”

    As someone working the counter through that time, I can say that Jack ain’t wrong. There was a lot of money to be made in comics, in making them and selling them, and there was a certain measure of excitement and anticipation for anything new. There was indeed a lot of buying of things simply because it was new or exciting or simply because everyone else wanted it, too.

    There are days when I miss that. Sure, it wasn’t good for the industry in the long run, as it’s far easier for disillusion to set in regarding the piles of junk comics you’ve accumulated and not enjoyed. But man, there seriously was a lot of money going around in this hobby.

  • Eric L wonders

    “I wonder how different things would have been if Liefeld had hired a writer to write Youngblood using his high concept.”

    That’s hard to say…I think Liefeld working from someone else’s plot may possibly have minimized the crazy action and oft-noted “energy” of those initial issues of Youngblood. Maybe it would have made for a better book in the long run, but would it have attracted the fans it did? Would it have attracted different fans? Would it have made no difference? I really don’t know. Interesting to think about, though.

    One thing to keep in mind is that the other contemporaneous Youngblood titles, with far less Liefeld involvement, sold far less and are by and large forgotten. When you think of Youngblood, by God you think of Liefeld’s initial series. Whether this provides a clue as to the result of this hypothetical situation, I leave up to the dear reader.

  • Alan says, among other things

    “I tried his Hawk and Dove.”

    That Hawk and Dove series had very little of the exaggerated energetic style Liefeld would demonstrate in Youngblood and others…to the point where those critical of his later work would look at that series and say “Geez, what happened to the guy? This wasn’t so bad.” Of course, he was drawing in the more staid and traditional style, or may have just been heavily inked…I really don’t know. And I do have somewhere a copy of a Malibu Comics house ad for a pre-Image Youngblood, with Liefeld drawing in that more traditional superhero style.

    If it had come out like that, I doubt I’d be spending this much time still talking about it.

  • That unstoppable comics blogger Johnny Bacardi had this to say:

    “Liefeld’s stuff was stocky and grotesque, where McFarlane’s was lithe and grotesque; everybody bulked-up, grimacing and straining, except the women, who were constantly posing. I thought it was way too overheated and ugly, so I was never interested in buying more.”

    “Overheated and ugly” is a good way to describe what happened to superhero books in the ’90s. A lot of art in books from the boom-and-crash period attempted to emulate what appeared to be the new trend in comics illustration and…well, quite frankly, whatever you think of Liefeld’s art, there really only is one Liefeld, and woe betide you if you think you’re going to duplicate that ineffable Liefeldness.

And that’s enough for today, as next on the agenda is getting into the comments from the pro-Liefeld faction that descended upon my site all at once. Even some of the more irritated and angered respondents have some points that deserve addressing, and I’m looking forward to doing so.

Hopefully you’re not all burned out on Youngblood-talk yet. I’ll be done soon, I promise!

In other news:

Okay, at least I started.

§ February 15th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on Okay, at least I started.

So I’m going to try to reply to some of the comments left on my Youngblood post from the other day. I’m not going to get through them all in one go, and I’m not to respond to all of them, but I told you folks I was going to reply to what you had to say, and by God I’m going to do the kind of half-baked job you’ve come to expect from ProgRuinCo.

So let’s go:

  • Gardner says he loved the Youngblood, and drops in a link to his discussion of the book on his site. Okay, that’s not really a “reply” to his comment as it is just reposting his link, but I’ve got a lot of these to get through. Cut me some slack.
  • Steve said

    “…Wasn’t it unusual in those days for a superteam to be considered famous, like film and music celebrities? That was different, wasn’t it?”

    A few folks brought that up, and yeah, that was sort of a unique twist. The Wild Card novels are the other major superhero franchise that sort of embraced the celebrity-culture thing.

    I mean, superheroes would be famous, sure, but there wasn’t a lot of focus on the pop-culture impact those characters would have had in their fictional universes. I’m trying to remember…since Elongated Man went public with his identity fairly early on, were there stories about, say, newspapers or ladies’ magazines covering the crime-fighting couple of Ralph and Sue? Seems like if there was going to be this sort of thing in, say, a Silver Age comic, it might be with the Elongated Man.

  • phil_from_germany doesn’t really have anything to say about Youngblood, but does say a few things about another title from the same era, Bloodstrike:

    “In issue four, the whole team was just brutally, brutally murdered by Supreme. Then they were brought back as Zombies! That’s where the ‘House’ got their ‘ideas’ from! Bloodstrike was way rad.”

    God bless you, phil_from_germany. I had no idea this happened. And I almost certainly have something to say about Supreme a little later.

    I was trying to think of another comic where several superheroes were killed and then brought back as zombies, but…well, the Comics Code was a bit itchy about zombies, so that probably put the kibosh on that sort of thing.

    Plus, I just like the name “Bloodstrike.” And it had one of my favorite cover gimmicks…the heat sensitive “blood stains” and the cover blurb extolling you to “rub the blood” to make the spots disappear. Oh, comics.

  • Moosenlawyer (which puts a great image in my mind, by the way) had a reaction to Youngblood that seems to be fairly common:

    “His art was different and dynamic. At the time, I thought the art of some established artists was kind of stodgy, while his was full of energy.

    “However, I quickly tired of it.”

    And like I’ve mentioned in a post or three in the last week, and what Steve says earlier in this very comments section, that seems to be one of the factors in Liefeld’s early popularity…that for whatever technical deficiencies his art may have had, the overall effect is one that attracted people. It simply appeared fresh and exciting, but for some regular exposure created a familiarity with his artwork that eventually bred contempt.

  • That Augie cat sez, he sez

    “…Seeing how he saved a lot of those early issues with new scripting is a fascinating lesson in the comics process….”

    That really has me intrigued…seems to me that if you have a problem with Youngblood as a whole, that simply rescripting the original wouldn’t seem like enough to do drastically change the book. But you say it helps…hmm, have to take a look into it. Maybe do a side-by-side comparison of the two.

  • The Chris Sims, Esq. says this embarrassing thing which bears repeating:

    “I will confess that when I was fourteen and Heroes Reborn came out, I was all about some Rob Liefeld/Jeph Loeb Captain America for a few months.”

    And I want to make fun of him for it, but all I can see is “Chris Sims was fourteen when that version of Cap came out” and now I feel old. Darn you and your youth, Christopher “Boom Boom” Sims! Darn you to heck.

  • Christ, I Need A Drink (hey, that’s the name he left) asks:

    “So has anyone maintained a readership of a Rob Liefeld [book] for more than just a few issues?”

    Well, outside of New Mutants, how many books have had Liefeld on art chores for more than, say, a year? (I mean, aside from Onslaught Reborn, which simply took over a year to come out.) His runs, by and large, are just a few issues.

  • Another link from the comments, this time to this review of Youngblood #0 through #4.
  • Ostrakos states

    “I think, though, what I really liked about not just Youngblood, but all those early Image books, was that a bunch of star creators I loved at the time were given the chance to do comics exactly how they wanted and to let the ideas flow. Not all were great, not all were good, and some, in hindsight, were downright awful, but there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement, and I liked getting caught up in it.”

    There’s certainly something to be said for that, letting creators unleash their unfettered vision upon the world. Say what you will about Youngblood, but you can’t deny what you see on the page was pulled directly out of Liefeld’s brain.

    I remember thinking at the time, however, that with this kind of funnybook artist star power starting a new venture, with all eyes upon them, that it was a shame what they ended up putting out was just more superhero books. What if, say, McFarlane drew a western title? Would you like to see a McFarlane-drawn western title? I’d like to see a McFarlane western. (I mean, for God’s sake, get someone else to script it, sure.) Imagine a million fans of McFarlane on Spider-Man all deciding that they’re going to read a western comic.

    That’s a marketplace I’d have a hard time imagining, nowadays. (Okay, granted, I may have a had a hard time imagining it then, too…no matter how popular McFarlane may have been, would a comic by him in a currently under-utilized, and perhaps little demanded, genre still sell?)

  • Dumma says a few things that probably deserve more thought than I’m about to give, since it’s getting late and I’m pretty wiped out as I write this:

    “I haven’t read any Youngblood but I still have my Spawn issues and frankly, they hold up as well as they ever did, and by that I mean they’re more entretaining and sometimes even insightful(I kid you not) than your average Batman story, and not just at the time either, hell Spawn is better than Nightwing has ever been.”

    This goes back to what was stated in the previous comment…that what we’re getting in these early Image books is, for good or ill, the creator’s more-or-less undiluted vision. It’s a fair bet that a book like that could contain more challenging (in every sense of the word) content than a book that has to run through editors, the lawyers, licensing concerns, etc. Not to say that a corporately-owned book couldn’t manage levels of depth, but the creator-owned book has the advantage of a little more freedom.

    “As for Liefeld art, sure is not great but I sure as hell have seen worse, much much worse; his characters desings may be reviled in the comic community but if ask anyone outside of it what hey think of his characters you’ll get a positive reaction more often than not, hell some of his desing are almost Kirbyesque (just look at Stryfe’s helment.)”

    Personally, my issues with Liefeld have more been on a layout/anatomy basis. The actual character designs seem like a secondary problem, if it is in fact a problem. There’s some…familiarity to a design or two, but it’s not as if Liefeld was the first person to create a superhero that looked like a previous hero.

    “Just ’cause the fandom hates something doesn’t mean that it’s bad or that the public at large thinks it’s bad.”

    That’s something I realize all the time at the shop. The mountains on the internet are molehills with my regular customer base. Reading online, you’d think Final Crisis and “Batman: R.I.P.” were traveling the country, kicking puppies and unscrewing saltshaker tops. But in our store they sold immensely well, and had my customers really and truly excited.

    More to the topic, for all the slagging Liefeld gets, you put him on a Marvel comic, and that comic sells like crazy. Sells on the stand, sells as a back issue. People may say they’re not fans of his, but someone is buying these books.

And that’s it for now. If I don’t get some sleep, the hallucinations will come oh look it’s Bigfoot and he has a Shamrock Shake waiting for me in his UFO.

But before I get that Sasquatch-supplied shake, let me state that I’m very proud to be the the top personal-website referrer to the mighty Neilalien, the Alpha of comics weblogging. Neil’s been doing the comics blog thing for years, and we are all simply following in his footsteps. Keep up the good work, pal…it wouldn’t be the same without you around!

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?

I’m sorry, I don’t have a clever Youngblood-related title for this post.

§ February 11th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on I’m sorry, I don’t have a clever Youngblood-related title for this post.

Thank you for your comments from yesterday’s post regarding Youngblood.

I reread the first issue of Youngblood prior to writing this post. Well, skimmed it, anyway, as it’s hard going. It’s disjointed action pieces and peculiar anatomy and awkward poses and people shouting at each other through gritted teeth…granted, it’s not much different from most superhero books, but it has that extra veneer of sloppiness and amateurishness that made it the embodiment of ’90s comics.

But at the same time…it’s colorful, it’s action-packed, it’s filled with a bunch of unusual characters, and it just plain looks exciting. And at the time, it looked different from, and in some ways more modern than, the more staid superhero offerings from Marvel and DC.

I know I’m not saying anything new here. There have been eighteen years of “how the hell did that thing sell?” commentary and there’s not a whole lot I’m going to be able to add. But I do remember the day it came out, when we had a line stretching around the store, customers each with a copy of Youngblood #1 in hand. Some excited by the prospect of a superhero alternative to the Big Two created by former Marvel artists, some driven into the store by creator Rob Liefeld’s appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show The Dennis Miller Show (or whatever…I wasn’t sure the last time I talked about this either) the night before plugging the book, some picking up the book because hey — everyone else is, and maybe even one or two people who picked it up because they thought it looked neat.

But it sold. A lot. And it continued to sell, for a while.

Some of what you folks had to say explaining why you read and/or enjoyed Youngblood jibes with what I’ve believed regarding the series’ initial success. The hype, the series’ rough promise, the exciting presentation, even its symbolic significance as the first title from this new upstart imprint created by expatriated Marvel artists…all perfectly acceptable reasons to throw down your $2.50 and give a comic a shot. It may not have been, you know, good in a traditional sense…it’s pretty much the very definition of trash entertainment. But here I am, nearly twenty years later, and I’m still talking about it.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I’m probably going to go through and respond directly to several of your comments, so if anyone has anything they’d like to add to the discussion, feel free to join in.

Yes, I’m going for a third day of Youngblood discussion. Hey, I once talked about the Batman and Robin movie for the better part of a week. I’m not proud.

And what the heck…here’s Rob’s jeans commerical:

There is love enough in the world for even this.

§ February 10th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on There is love enough in the world for even this.

Okay, so I may have been a bit hard on Youngblood yesterday. Well, I don’t want people thinking that I don’t play fair, so I’m opening up the floor here to you folks.

What I want from you is your best defense of Youngblood. And I mean the original Rob Liefeld-era Youngblood. Not the three or so issues by Alan Moore. Not the currently running series. But the original, classic, clenched teeth and speedlines and by God full-on Liefeldness of the original run. And maybe even Team Youngblood and Youngblood Strikefile, if you’re so inclined.

Give me your best shot. Tell me why you liked these comics. And I know some of you did…these comics did sell very well for a while, and even taking into consideration that a bunch were squirreled away for future investment and never cracked open, at least some issues were read. And enjoyed.

I’m not looking for facetious answers, and I’m not looking to make fun of anyone. Youngblood has a certain…reputation for its quality, but I know the book had its fans and I want to hear why. Leave your comments anonymously if you’d like. Just tell me why you were a fan of the book. I really do want to know.

So, please, have at it.

In which I finally have something to say about Fell.

§ February 9th, 2009 § Filed under youngbloodgate Comments Off on In which I finally have something to say about Fell.

  • Over at Dave Olbrich’s Funny Book Fanatic site, my little weblog thingie here has been declared BLOG OF THE MONTH, which puts me in the running for Dave’s BLOG OF THE YEAR in, presumably, about 10 months. So vote early, vote often!

    Sincerely, though, thanks a lot, Dave! It’s greatly appreciated, especially coming from a former editor of one of my all time favorite comic magazines, Amazing Heroes. (And if you all haven’t visited yet, Funny Book Fanatic is a fun site, and well worth visiting. And I’d probably say that even if I didn’t get BLOG OF THE MONTH!)

  • Flush twice, it’s a long way to Hollywood: Brett Ratner to possibly inflict Youngblood movie upon unsuspecting public.

    It’s actually come up a couple of times over the past week at the shop that the currently-running Youngblood comic book series isn’t all that bad, but, you know, good luck convincing anybody of that. Its symbolic value as a representation of ’90s funnybook excess is such an insurmountable barrier that pretty much anyone working on the book is doing so in near-obscurity. Even Alan Moore’s too brief stint on the title did nothing to counter the long-cast shadow of THIS.

    Again, like I said, the current incarnation is fine. But if you’re reading it and enjoying it, it’s like you’re part of a secret club. The “Hey, This Version of Youngblood Ain’t So Bad” Club, with, on average, about one member per comic shop.

  • We’ve been having a brief uptick in sales on Fell, Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s crime comic with the $1.99 price point gimmick. I’ve mentioned in the past that we keep every issue in stock and on display on one of the comic racks in the shop not devoted to new releases, and it’s remained a consistent seller. I’ve explained before why I like having this comic around, and I certainly hope we see a new issue soon.

    Keeping every issue of a series on display, as opposed to simply keeping them all available in a back issue bin, can be a difficult strategy to implement if you’re short on rack space…a common problem when there’s a dozen X-Men or Batman comics out at any given time. But sometimes it pays off…until very recently, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Lenore, which were also continuously kept on display at our shop, were selling gangbusters for us. If we’d simply thrown each issue in the back issue boxes as the new one came out, I don’t know that we would have sold anywhere near as many. Well, okay, I know we wouldn’t have sold as many. (I’m not sure what’s causing the recent dip in sales I mentioned…either the local market is saturated, or perhaps this particular style of comic is falling out of favor…I don’t know.)

    The “keep ’em all on the rack” strategy doesn’t work with everything…there’ve been a couple of other titles I’ve tried this with, but got no rack sales love. And of course it helps if all the issues are kept in print…something that’s certainly worked to Fell‘s benefit, with some issues having gone into sixth printings.

  • Mr. Dan Kelly brings you…restaurant superhero murals of Evanston, Illinois! Who else would dare?