Oct 19, 2017

On Weezie and Fabe: Creators of Cable and Deadpool

Rob Liefeld is easy to make fun of. The dude is known for lazy artwork, omitting details such as feet and more than a couple of facial expressions. But there's a reason he sticks to the style that he's had since 1990, and that reason is that back then, that style brought him money. With an established fan base, there's little incentive for him to improve because of critics' preferences. He's also a co-creator of Cable and Deadpool, making him one of the single most successful creators of all time. Seriously, can you name five people post-1970 who created not one, but two successful characters that have an established fan following, and be recognized for it?

But he didn't do it alone. Let's make sure we recognize Louise "Weezie" Simonson and Fabian Nicieza.

Louise Simonson and Fabian Nicieza: Credit Where It's Due
by Duy

Let's start with Deadpool, who debuted in The New Mutants #88, February 1991. This is a character that Rob Liefeld designed. Deadpool looks like this.

He gave this design to Fabian Nicieza, who reacted just like anyone who read comics in the 1980s would. One of the biggest comics of the previous decade was Marv Wolfman and George Perez's The New Teen Titans, a title that will forever be connected to the X-Men, and their biggest enemy was Deathstroke the Terminator. Who looks like this.

So Fabian basically told Rob, "This is Deathstroke from the Teen Titans," and then gave the new character the real name of Wade Wilson, as an inside joke referring to Deathstroke's real name being Slade Wilson. Nicieza then gave Deadpool the exact opposite personality as Deathstroke, making him a bantering loudmouth who loved puns (the logical extension of Spider-Man) as opposed to a superserious mercenary with a lot of pathos.

Deadpool is probably the biggest superhero character created after 1990 (the competition: Spawn, Harley Quinn [who wasn't created in comics], and... that's it. No, really.) and Rob Liefeld gets most of the credit for creating him. But what makes Deadpool special is his personality, and for that you should thank Fabian Nicieza. I've actually made the joke that Deadpool was really created by Fabian Nicieza and George Perez. It's really only a half-joke.

This post isn't meant to disparage Rob, however; he still brought these characters to life. In the case of Cable, who debuted 11 issues and 11 months earlier, Rob said in a 2009 interview:

I was given a directive to create a new leader for the New Mutants. There was no name, no description besides a 'man of action', the opposite of Xavier. I created the look, the name, much of the history of the character. After I named him Cable, Bob suggested Quinn and Louise had Commander X.

Walt Simonson gave a comprehensive recounting of it back in 1991 for and reposted it on his Facebook group here. You can read it in its entirety, but the whole point is that Cable was a collaborative creation, borne out of Bob Harras's desire to create a new leader for the New Mutants, Weezie's desire to have that new leader be "a kick-ass, take charge kind of guy who would treat the team as a squad of soldiers," and Rob Liefeld's designs for Stryfe. Stryfe was a villain whose design, Harras thought, would do well for a good guy.

The working title, as Rob pointed out above, was Commander X, but the name was never going to be final. Rob suggested "Cable" and Weezie, who has a reputation for making artists happy, agreed.

Cable was a mystery man and there wasn't much known about him. Later creators added more layers to him, and in the 1993 Cable ongoing series, in which neither Weezie nor Rob were involved, they decided to make him the time-traveling older version of Nathan Summers, Scott "Cyclops" Summers' son from his first marriage to Jean Grey–lookalike Madelyne Pryor, who was given up in 1991, because the X-Men are complicated and they hate me. Point is, that's a defining and vital aspect of Cable's character, and none of his creators had anything to do with it.

Rob Liefeld gets most of the credit for these two characters, and a part of that is just because Rob Liefeld is the most famous person in this whole equation. But if you love these characters, be sure to thank Fabian Nicieza and Louise Simonson. Besides bringing them to life and making sure they had personalities beyond your standard 90s badass, they're both very excellent — and very underrated — writers.

Friendly reminder that Fabian Nicieza also co-created Gambit and the New Warriors, and Weezie Simonson also co-created Apocalypse and Steel.

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