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Untapped Story Potential:
It just hit me that there are very few movies dealing with what goes behind the scenes in the comic book industry.
There are some seriously dramatic untapped stories here. How about a biography chronicling
the rise of Stan Lee, and his partnership with Jack Kirby? I’d pay to see that.
How about some short films about the creators of Superman and how their character changed everything, but almost never made it to print? How about the story of Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman, dying penniless? To me, that sounds like an Oscar winning role. (The academy is due to nominate some Batman inspired material.) Movies like these would make the biographies of comic book creators seem just as interesting as biographies of rock stars.
But many aspects of those stories are controversial. How much of the stories can Stan Lee take credit for? Did Jack Kirby plot out the stories? Where the artists mistreated? I don’t know, and with lawyers that could shout ‘slander’ at any moment, these are stories that might be avoided for a while.
How about the near collapse of the comic industry in the mid-90’s? There is a story to be told that period. Where quantity was put over quality, and for a short moment, the general public forgot how a collectors market worked.
The 1990’s and Image
During the late 80’s and early 90’s, comics started being published in droves. New technology was making it easier for individual companies to publish books, and the role of computers in colouring was just introduced.
During the 90’s, many of the most famous artists and writers got sick of not being able to keep control of their main characters and many of them left Marvel and DC to help start their own company, Image Comics.
Jim Lee was famous for doing some of the greatest art that the X-Men have ever seen. His
designs are what the 90’s X-men cartoon models were based off.
Todd McFarland is famous for creating Spawn, and giving Spiderman cool looking webs, and bedrooms scenes. He later went on to start his own toy line.
Rob Liefeld is infamous. Liefeld created two of the most famous mutants in comics today, Cable and Deadpool. He reinvented X-Force, he started Youngblood, and helped pave the way for the rest of Image’s EXTREME line of titles.
Today, Jim Lee is still drawing comics and selling some of the most successful titles in the industry. Todd McFarland is staying out of the public eye, and gaining credibility for his high quality toy products. But the comic community (and nerd community in general) doesn’t seem as forgiving to Rob Liefeld.
He is considered to be one of the worst artists of all time. While I don’t think he is in the same league as Alex Ross, or Jack Kirby, I do think this is an over-exaggeration. Liefield’s disproportionate and anatomically incorrect figures became a style that overtook comics in the early 90’s. He wasn’t the only artist doing it, he had many (sub-par) imitators; he just became the poster boy for doing it.
Rob Liefield also became the poster boy for living the American dream through comics. Despite having no formal art training, Rob Liefield became one of the most famous and most successful artists in the industry. Much of this stems from being the right place at the right time, and having an art style that became a fad.
His haters would probably mention that the mullets were a fad too.
Liefield made his fame through writing Youngblood, and helping to start up Image Comics. However, during his time at Image Comics, he had complaints launched against him. He was accused of using Image Comics funds to promote Maximum Press, a non-Image publication. He had his head in the idea of working Hollywood at the time, and would often focus on meetings with Stephen Spielberg or Tom Cruise, while sleeping during his meetings at Image.
Eventually, Liefeld was voted out of Image, he claimed that he appealed had to short of a notice time. Then he resigned minutes before a vote in a second meeting that would have forced him out. He went to work at Awesome Comics, and later Marvel, before finally returning in Image Comics in 2007.
Why Tell This Man’s Story?
So why would I want to see a movie about this guy? Because his life can make a great story. We went from overnight superstar, to stressed out employer, to fallen icon, and now is still considered by some to be a pariah of the industry. Despite this, Liefeld is still working for in the Industry and creating comics.
This is a very human tale about a very human person. Liefeld isn’t the greatest artist, but managed to tap into the zeitgeist of the times, getting himself opportunities that you and I can only dream of. The fact that he didn’t turn into a (positive) icon of the comics industry is mainly the results of his own flaws and his inability to overcome him. This is the reason for most misfortunes (or downfalls) in traditional tragedies.
But Mr. Liefeld is now in his 40’s and seems more humbled. Although, there is a pride that can be seen in him that will never fully get extinguished. Because of this, (to me at least,) he seems like a compelling person.
Why Do I Want To Be Him?
I have this habit of seeing myself in others. However, for better or worse, I see more of myself in Rob Liefeld than most other celebrities. If I got a break that I wasn’t ready for, I could see myself squandering it, and falling fast. I probably wouldn’t do it in the same way he did, but I’m no stranger to having bad times in my career.
On top of that, I think I should play him in this eventual movie (as long as it starts filming in the next three years.) I have no formal acting training, just like Rob has no formal art training. So right away, there is something I can connect to.
I also occasionally draw in my spare time. I’m not the best, and will probably never get published, but many of my friends (and enemies) are artists, so I know about the process of drawing and respect it immensely. I’m also a big fan of pouches and pockets. I fill every pocket I can until it bulges like a pouch.
Oh, and if you squint your eyes, I kind of look like him. (Yes, that previous image is a low resolution picture of me beside a low resolution picture of Mr. Liefeld.)
Anyways, if anyone wants to see this film, just let Hollywood know. I’m sure Rob would be up for it. I know I am.
Here is some art of mine if anyone wants to compare it to Liefeld's. (Sorry the pencil lines are so light, it's how I draw.)