His art, with its over muscled and hyper exaggerated movement, is certainly a style that works in his projects. When you look back at the titles that Liefeld worked on, none of them fall into the serious “comics-as-art” case studies. Instead, his books were always the over-the-top super hero adventures with lots of explosions. His men are drawn with more muscle striation than you could find in a He-Man action figure. On the other side, his ladies had hotter and more unnatural proportions than Barbie.
Liefeld works best when he is teamed up with a strong writer. Case in point, look at his run on Hawk & Dove in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Written by Barbara and Karl Kesel, they created a damn fine series that still holds up to this day. Karl’s inking certainly works well with Liefeld’s art, maintaining the kineticism, but keeping it focused.
His work with Louise Simonson and Fabian Nicieza on New Mutants and X-Force respectively is solid. It also brought us Cable and Deadpool, both of which are cornerstones in the X-franchise. Youngblood was certainly a big deal when it came out, as were his Heroes Reborn takes on Captain America and the Avengers.
His fan reception is certainly polarizing. As successful as he is, there is also a vocal number of people who have an immense dislike of him, finding criticisms of his artistic skill and his storytelling.
I’ve never been one of the cynical fan types, but one thing I have noticed is that everyone is looking for the next Watchmen. Instead of enjoying a book for just being an escapist action/adventure fantasy, they unleash their frustrations on it for not being the next big groundbreaking work or for it not advancing the art form.
I think that Liefeld would find Michael Bay to be a kindred spirits of sorts. They both have a similar storytelling mantra, with big action and bigger effects, and not focusing on the more serious or realistic side. Because of that, they have a lot of vocal detractors.
But ultimately, they have dedicated and loyal fanbases, not to mention the ability to create ‘event’ stories that capture outsiders attention. Bay has grossed over $3 billion worldwide. Granted, Liefeld hasn’t generated money to that level but he’s certainly sold some funny books over the years.
Regardless what you think of him, you have to accept that Liefeld loves comics. Whenever you read any of his interviews or listen to him talk at a convention, you cannot argue that he isn’t a fan. He loves this industry. And not only that, he’s always super friendly to his fans.
And besides, how many comic creators have had television commercials?
Check out Lifeld’s blog for all kinds of arty goodness.