Oct 15, 2007

A rebuttal.

Rob Liefeld, the most controversial artist in the comic book industry, has just bashed Alan Moore, the industry's greatest living writer (even Stan Lee says so... kinda.) in this interview.

I'm going to copy and paste the interview now, and annotate it with my reactions in red. This'll be like a letter to Rob.


Rob Liefeld shoots on Alan Moore

“This could be an entire other article, sell this to Wizard magazine, 'Rob Liefeld goes after Alan Moore'” -- Rob Liefeld, during our interview for this week's cover. Since I don't work for Wizard, and this particular tangent didn't make it into the paper, you're gonna get it here, because it's just too good not to share: the “controversial” artist talking some smack on one of comicdom's most acclaimed writers, creator of Watchmen and V for Vendetta among many others... It seems to me the writer of this article knew exactly the reaction this would get.

“Alan Moore – he just did his own thing. We just stayed out of his way. He had written a miniseries for us called Badrock/Violator...at the time, Alan was doing purposefully campy, over-the-top kinda stuff. We loved the few stories he had done for Superman, and I’m not stupid so we just got out of the way [writing Liefeld's SUPREME] and let him roll.” Stayed out of his way? I'd hardly call publishing his raw, unedited, clearly-not-intended-to-be-seen proposals for Glory or Youngblood staying out of his way. Moreso, I don't really think finishing his last, unfinished issue of Youngblood and publishing it with a different artist and a ghost writer is staying out of his way. And even moreso, I really don't think injecting yourself into the last issue of Supreme or drawing the framing sequence for Judgment Day when you were clearly incapable (your anatomy is wrong, as usual, and you skipped out on the backgrounds, again, and, well... just look at it. Just... look at it.)
“We didn’t get the right artist for him until about ten issues in, then the second year, they put together a great run. No, you didn't. Because God forbid you do your job as the editor and publisher and actually get him the right artist. In your bullpen that had Chris Sprouse, Rick Veitch, Steve Skroce, Ian Churchill, and Brandon Peterson, you - YOU - picked Joe Bennett, and stuck with him. That 24 issues was as well –received a comic as you’re gonna find, I still meet people who are like, wow, that was great, but we had no input. That was Alan. And to me, honestly, that was Alan’s last great stuff. Promethea, Top Ten, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Greyshirt were all as great or greater than Supreme. I have friends I have gotten into comics because of the first three. They brought in new readers. Supreme would not have done that. Because when Awesome, my main investor went belly up --my investor had a video game company, a recording company, and a comic book company, and overnight, they were all gone -- and Alan, I think had really dug what he was doing with us, because by then he’d expanded it from Supreme to Youngblood, to Glory...I still have all his original proposals, they’re a riot, dude. He’s definitely taking archetypes and doing the Alan Moore version... Yes. That much was obvious. That's why people bought them, Rob. That's why they were acclaimed. And that's why, if you were smart enough and kept him on board, you would've put together a really good comic book company. I called him up one time and said, 'Hey Alan, how about we do a Teen Titans style book,' and he went quiet and he goes 'That’s what Youngblood is.' I thought that was our Avengers-type book.” Except, in the proposals YOU published, Rob, that were written by Alan, he CLEARLY states that Youngblood was based on the Titans template. A bunch of young superheroes learning their place in the world. Did you just not read the proposals, Rob?

“But then he took that formula and just kinda did that same thing, I mean, Tom Strong is Supreme, it’s flattering that he found his groove back with us and started winning awards back with us Except Tom Strong is not Supreme. Just because they were both drawn by Chris Sprouse, you cannot at all make this claim. Tom Strong is a far more versatile character than Supreme, who was never anything more than a Superman knock-off. Blame the actual people who created Supreme for that.... oh wait, that was you. because people forget, he’d fallen off the map, you can’t really find a great Alan Moore book from ’90 to like ’96, when he did Supreme, even the stuff he did for Todd [McFarlane] was derided like he was asleep at the wheel, like he didn’t care because it was campy, How about the first two issues of Big Numbers, which is such a critical success even though it never finished, that its plot alone frightens other writers? How about the first two books of Lost Girls, which would later become a 75 page pornographic comic, which sells almost exclusively on Alan's name alone? (Yes, fear him.) How about Brought to Light, which was such an indicting account of CIA history that it actually got his house put under surveillance, or A Small Killing, which proves that you don't need superheroes to do good comics? What about his critically acclaimed novel, Voice of the Fire, or his voice performances? What about that book... that really thick, research-heavy book... which is now being taught in college courses and was made into a movie with Johnny Depp, From Hell? OH WAIT, you mean "great" as in something you'd read. Maybe you don't read anything without superheroes. Even so, there was 1963, which is still flat out great. With better art, too, because at least Jim Valentino got him the right artist. whereas with Supreme he gave it that Silver Age with a twist, and nobody was doing that. Actually, Big Bang was doing that, Rob. Published by Image. You know, that company you partially owned for a while. And again, what he did for Supreme was ripped off for the next five years by all the other writers. He’s always been a trendsetter.”
“If you’ve done business with Alan, you have a different opinion of Alan. He markets himself as a poet, but he’s just a ruthless businessman, like everybody else, he kept wanting to more work because he just wanted to get paid. Jeph Loeb, he can tell you.” I've always thought that ruthless businessmen wanted to get paid more for less work. It sounds like Alan wants to be paid proportionately for more work. Which... uh... makes him... just a businessman. And Rob, if the man wants to get paid, maybe it's because you were late with payments. And also, you won't give him royalties.

“You worship at the altar of Alan, and then you go, oh, he’s just another guy that’s looking to get paid, and that’s why he’d do 3-4 books a month for us. Literally, he’d send three scripts through the copy machine” Sounds like a hell of a hand to have around, Rob. I don't see it being any different from Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, or... uh... hell, your boy, Jeph Loeb.

“He’s brilliant, but to me I think he’s been revealed as someone who’s spiraled wildly out of control. Like, he had a falling out with Wildstorm, you know, he’s having another falling out with DC, he won’t work for Marvel. At some point you put yourself on line and go, well, gee, Alan, is it everyone else, or is it you?” Wildstorm is owned by DC, and the problems Alan is having with Wildstorm are actually problems with DC editorial, who promised to stay away from his work when he signed back on. Alan's relationship with Wildstorm itself is still all right. He's just moving on to more personal projects. You know, the kind you don't read.

“Alan just wants to get paid more money, that’s it. Sorry Alan. I got my body of work out of Alan Moore, he doesn’t intimidate me, I don’t put him on a pedestal like Jack Kirby and Frank Miller,. Yes, Rob, because unlike Jack and Frank, you actually OWE Alan money. He’s just a guy who wants to get paid, and he cuts deals for himself that he doesn’t like down the line, and then he gets whiny and cries about it...Hey man, he worked for me for two years, I was quiet for like ten years. Oh, so he's not really a shrewd businessman at all then, is what you're saying? And then I watched him burn every other bridge, and I go “Hmm.” Jim Lee. Scott Dunbier. Wildstorm in general, if not DC. Avatar Press. Top Shelf. That's not burning a bridge, Rob. It's creating and maintaining them. Although we didn’t have a falling out with him. He just stopped working with us, because he now wanted to invest in his new universe with Wildstorm comics, Actually, it's been pretty well-documented that the reason he wanted to invest in his new universe is because your company went belly up, and he wanted to make sure he and the artists he was working with had a regular gig. He had a LOT of issues planned out for you. and again, like I said, OOPS! That went up in flames. If by "in flames", you mean "wrapped each series nicely, tightly, and beautifully that the whole thing is now published in hardback editions, and that he went all out on the last issue of Promethea and once again innovated, then... yes. He went up in flames. FLAMES OF GLORY. He gives 'temperamental artist' a new meaning.”
“And he comes out and he lets everybody know now 'I’m going to crap all over the adaptations you do,' He doesn't like the adaptations. He's been pretty clear. he’s shown no loyalty to his fellow artists like Dave Gibbons or David Lloyd. Which is, I guess, why he makes sure all the money goes to them and he gets none of it, right? Oh wait, I forgot - he just wants to get paid. He knows that by coming out and crapping on the movie, he’s gonna keep a certain percentage of the fan base away. He’s an interesting cat, someone should do a documentary, I’m waiting for the CRUMB version of Alan Moore.”
“He once called us up to tell us that he had just been in the dream realm and talking to Socrates and Shakespeare, and to Moses, dead serious, and that they talked for what seemed to be months, but when he woke up, only an evening had passed, and he came up with these great ideas. And I’m tellin’ ya, I think it’s shtick, dude. I think it’s all shtick. I’m gonna start saying that stuff. Cuz you know what? It makes you instantly interesting. Like 'O yeah, last night I was hanging out with Socrates. Came to me in a dream. We played poker . We dropped acid.' That’s the kinda stuff Alan would say all the time, and he’d say 'Oh, I’ve been practicing dark magic.'” Except that Alan was giving interesting interviews way before he got into magic. And also, at this point, you are insulting what is essentially the man's religion. (And Grant's, too, I believe.) And also, WHO CARES, ROB, where he gets his ideas from? He puts the work out, doesn't he?

Liefeld goes on to describe a comic book pitched to him by Moore that he still owns the rights to, entitled War Child. Written shortly after Moore saw Pulp Fiction for the first time, it's a knights-of-the-round-table concept set in a Tarantino-esque inner city gangland setting. Sounds amazing.

“I have him on tape for 4 hours just talking about it; it’s my most cherished possession”
“You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Alan describe the heroes – this is in the near future – getting trapped in an amusement park in Compton, where one of the rides you go on is a drive-by shooting.” Sounds interesting.

“A couple of the artists I gave it to handed it back. The first ten pages is some of the most difficult, visually, it’s hard to crack. Alan's scripts have been pretty well-documented as full scripts, to the point where if you just do what he says, you have something to draw. We've seen examples of this, and artists as good as Gene Ha and as mediocre as Stephen Platt have worked well with his scripts. You're clearly giving it to the wrong artists. We’ll probably publish it in script form. I can’t crack this, life’s too short.”
“There’s standing atop a building, looking in through the window at a certain angle, while the person is sitting doing their hair looking at themselves in the mirror...and the panel descriptions, you go, how do I shoot this? I could shoot it with a camera, but like all the storyboards? It’s just very difficult.” It just sounds to me like you have to draw involved scenarios which involves hands, backgrounds, nuance, and perspective. Oh, wait, I forgot, Rob Liefeld doesn't do basic anatomy, let alone any of those things...

“He’s a genius, undoubtedly, a showman, and a good one, a shrewd businessman, or just... a businessman, and a whiner. which is funny, because the only things Alan has ever complained about are censorship of his work, which is something all artists have complained about, and he's had nothing - NOTHING - but good things to say about all his collaborators. Except you. I have no intention of working with him again.” No one wants to see that happen anyway, Rob.


Paul C said...

I just stumbled across this while browsing your old blog posts. I remember reading this interview ages ago and getting angry. I'm so glad someone's done a rebuttal!

Fair play to Liefeld, he's done very well for himself but when you compare his work to just about every other artist working in comics you can't help but wonder how much of his success is down to being in the right place at the right time. You've got to admire his nerve taking shots at Moore. Not only is Moore a genius but I bet even he can draw better feet than Liefeld.

Duy Tano said...

Unfortunately, I did the rebuttal back when it was just on my personal blog, so I doubt anyone but you's ever seen it. I just thought, of all the complaints you could have, at least pick the ones that are valid. Rob complaining that Alan is a "shrewd businessman" is just ridiculous, because if Alan sucks at any one thing, it's BEING A BUSINESSMAN.

I think Rob Liefeld was definitely in the right place at the right time, thriving in an era when storytelling took a back seat to pin-up art, and hope took a back seat to angst.

As for Moore being an artist, he CAN draw. I've seen some of his early stuff, and it does look amateurish, but he at least draws, you know, feet. More recently, there's this: http://www.moorereppion.com/wordpress/wp-content/2010/04/Dodgem-Logic-issue-3.jpg

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