One thing I really have to give to Rob Liefeld, he definitely knows how to deal with people reacting to his work.
This last Friday, he retweeted a tweet I had made about him and Todd McFarlane, in which I sort of called them both douches. I didn’t know what to make of him retweeting it, if he was pissed about it or something, and I tweeted my confusion. Should you like to read all this or follow my further Twitter adventures, by the way, here’s the link: http://twitter.com/bloodoftheland . Instead of being pissed, he replied that he thought my tweet was funny, and then also went on to say that he had seen the drawing I did of him for my Douchebags of Comics trading card series, and he liked that, too.
Basically, he was being totally cool about it, completely capable of laughing at himself. It was almost enough to make me feel bad about the whole thing. Almost, but not quite. Considering that he was being so cool about it and that I was going to Image Expo this weekend, I thought it would be pretty hilarious if I got him to sign the drawing I had done of him, so I brought it with me to try.
Rob was one of the only ones of the Image original founders doing a solo signing by himself early in the day, that I saw anyway, and he was being completely approachable, nice and chatty with the people coming up to him, and willing to sign about as many books as people brought. I know that because the people in front of us in line had an entire backpack full of older things they wanted signed, including some old issues of Wizard magazine still kept pristinely in their original polybags. I was getting irritated at them in line, just watching them assemble the giant stack of stuff they were going to ask for signatures on, but when they handed it to Rob he didn’t bat an eye about it.
I gave him the drawing I had done of him, and told him who I was, and I told him he could deface it, draw on it, write whatever he wanted. I figured I’d at least give him the chance to talk back about it. Instead, he wrote that it was funny, and also wrote “Spicket!” on there for me himself.
I also, before going up to him, found a table that sold me a copy of Hawk and Dove issue #1, because I felt that it might be really rude to ask Liefeld to sign something I had drawn, but not ask him to sign anything he had actually drawn himself. I’m not sure if that would be more or less rude than asking him to sign a portrait of him that I had done for a series of cards called Douchebags of Comics, but I figured at least I wouldn’t be piling one rudeness onto another.
Liefeld signed the Hawk and Dove comic for me, too, and didn’t seem remotely phased by any of it.
Actually, in addition to signing the comics, he talked to me for several minutes, was complimentary toward my drawing, and said that he had read the blog I’d done attached to it. That last part kind of took me back for a second, because I had been kind of hoping that he had just seen the picture and not read the blog I had done with it.
In that blog, I *might have*, among other things, said that Liefeld looked like a, “mentally handicapped circus clown.” I think I have a pretty good sense of humor about myself, and a pretty strong level of confidence in my abilities, but if somebody said all that stuff about me, I might have been somewhat miffed, or, if the remarks came from another person who works in my field, at least tempted to make a return shot about their own artistic output. Liefeld, on the other hand, told me that he thought I was talented.
So, Liefeld’s earned major points from me this weekend. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t say what I said in my blog, but I think I made it pretty clear in that blog that my Douchebags of Comics card series will include different sorts of douchebags, and I said there that I don’t think Liefeld is a bad person, and I don’t think he’s insane like Dave Sim, or evil like Orson Scott Card, I just don’t like his art. Specifically, I think that the flashy sort of 90′s style comics art, which is what Liefeld is known for, and the industry that decides it would rather produce that sort of art than other kinds, is a big obstacle for the kinds of comics that I would like to see being made. That said, Liefeld wins this round, because he completely understood the parts of me doing these cards that are supposed to be funny, and also understood the parts of my opinions that he doesn’t agree with and let them roll off his back.
As for the Douchebags of Comics cards in general, this experience actually totally reaffirmed my feelings that I’m doing them right. Liefeld took what I said and didn’t want to make a battle about it, and he took it how I meant it. It also made me extremely aware of what I knew before, which is that the world of comics is a small place. If you throw a pebble into that pond, somebody will notice the ripples. So that made me extra determined that, if I’m going to make a card of somebody, I should know what the fuck I’m talking about and be able to defend it. To that end, I’ve been reading a lot of Dave Sim this weekend and, oh man… Talk about a whole different level of douche. That’s gonna have to be saved for another blog, or maybe a few of them.
To print the cards up, I’m thinking of doing a Kickstarter, and giving away the original drawings I’m doing for the series as rewards for people who give money. I’m gonna be posting more details about that in the next few days, as I work on them. I think the portrait I did of Rob Liefeld, complete with his signature on it, is gonna be a great prize to give to one of the people who give the most to the Kickstarter. If you’re curious about getting original art from the series, or about the other rewards I’m planning to give, keep checking back and I’ll be posting more info about it as it develops!