I swear to god, guys. After this I’ll stop talking about comics for a little while but I had to mention it. E. Christopher Clark of Geek Force Five brought this to my attention this morning. It’s funny these days when some off-hand tweet makes news but this is coming from Rob Liefeld – who I’m trying so hard not to bag on right now – and interpreting it’s ironic 140 characters could be a challenge. From the looks of things, Rob has been working on a screenplay about the rise and fall of Image Comics during its hey-day. His twitter feed is being bombarded with replies about who to cast but all I know right now is that whoever gets cast as Rob is going to have the hardest time getting that Rob Liefeld hair circa-1990 just right.
It’s funny because it’s coming from Rob Liefeld, an artist whose hubris knows no end. If you’re just tuning in and don’t know who Liefeld is, in a nutshell, he rose through the ranks of Marvel Comics’ artists incredibly fast and was part of a new wave of comic artists at the time characterized by guys like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen. Their art was high-definition and hyper-detailed but among them, the only one without any formal art training was Liefeld and it showed. His grasp on anatomy was questionable at the best of times and in defiance of physics at the worst. He embodied the fanboy dream, basically. They even did a Levis ad with him directed by Spike Lee.
Liefeld’s books are uniformly terrible but there’s something to this. See, Image Comics marked a sea change in the way comic book publishers did business. Back in the old days, if you were a writer or an artist and you created a character or a book, you were just a writer or an artist working for the company and those books and characters became the property of the publisher who could then paste the likenesses of those characters on anything they wanted and make a mint. Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld and all these other guys were running wild at Marvel coming up with new books and characters and making the company a lot of money because they were in at the ground floor of a new wave of comic book popularity. Sick of making an artist’s wage and having massive star power behind him, Todd McFarlane led the exodus away from the major publishers and established Image Comics, where the creators of books and characters owned those books and characters and were free to do with them what they liked.
And it worked.
For a little while.
Image did gangbusters business because its creators were making high-gloss comics with variant gimmicky covers, loaded them with T&A and gore and served them to a market full of teenage boys hungry for violence and sex appeal in their comics. Unfortunately, not much of Image’s early output was any good and a couple of years into its run, the comic book bubble burst leaving thousands of unsold comics and a lot of companies in major debt, including Image. Eventually Image split up into a bunch of different subsidiaries, each belonging to a different artist. Liefeld, by the way, was booted from the entire operation for being a gigantic dick.
Even though Rob Liefeld has a bad reputation among comic book fans and insiders alike and he can’t write for shit, the story of Image and comic books in general circa 1990, is a very fascinating topic. You must understand that these young artists were like fucking rock stars at the time. The Wall Street Journal published an article about the massive profitability of buying and selling comic collections at auction and it injected shit tons of money into the industry. If you were buying comics back then, think of how many dingy pop-up comic stores appeared in your area back then. It was crazy and comics were big money. Image Comics pretty much changed everything with its wild theory of indie comic practice on a major scale and things were never the same again. If they can make a movie about Mark Fucking Zuckerberg and Facebook, they can make a god damn movie about Image Comics and it’ll be a lot more interesting, I’m sure.