USA Today fawns over Liefeld's new take on Grifter
"Honestly, that's the stuff going through my brain. I can turn this action up to 11," Liefeld says.No, he can turn it down to zero, courtesy of his poor art (and the samples they provide on the paper look pretty dull too), not to mention his similarly banal writing efforts.
Liefeld and Lee would often send character sketches that each were working on through their fax machines, and he remembers how great a visual Grifter was when Lee created him for the Wildstorm book WildC.A.T.S.And Liefeld certainly didn't keep up with Lee, whose own art puts his to utter shame.
"He brought out the best in all of us because we were always trying to keep up with Jim," says Liefeld, adding he jumped at the chance to "turn up the juice" on Grifter when he was offered the character by Bob Harras, the former Marvel editor in chief who now holds the same position at DC.
As much as he loves a man of action, he also adores injecting new dynamics into series. Liefeld did so in his Marvel years, when he was given control of New Mutants in the late '80s instead of, say, Amazing Spider-Man or Uncanny X-Men.Wow, is that the most superficial description of the situation faced here. Though his art at the time may not have been as bad as the monstrosities he turned out when he joined Image, his take on feet and ankles, for example, was amazingly poor, reduced mostly to pointy, triangular shapes, and even his take on facial features wasn't very good. Their note of his receiving control of New Mutants in its last years instead of the real majors is simply because he just might have succeeded in torpedoing those series undeservedly, and since the New Mutants wasn't doing so well at the time, or was considered expendable by editorial, that's why they forced him upon a series that once began very well in 1982 before falling into neglect.
"People forget what the New Mutants looked like for about three years," he recalls. "It was a chick dressed like Madonna, a guy with baggy pants, a giant talking bird that looked like Big Bird, and Warlock, who was always short-circuiting. Nothing about it screamed, 'You definitely want to put me in your collection along with the other X-books.'
"I thrive on remodeling. Nothing gets me more excited than a good remodel."
And DC is letting him run as wide as he wants with Grifter, who Liefeld feels has the potential to be as popular a one-man-army antihero as Deadpool or Wolverine.
His description of New Mutants is ambiguous - he may be talking about the time before he took over, when the art was actually very competent, and so too were the stories, and then he came along and spoiled everything with his art alone. Oh, did he ever remodel alright.
And the only reason why DC is allowing him to take over Grifter is because they clearly don't see a high value in it like in Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the Justice League. But they won't say that, of course. The true problem here is selective favoratism, and a company's disinterest in selling a particular book according to story (and art) quality, rather than "importance rank", and hiring writers and artists who can actually tell a good story with plausible bases on which to launch.
"He calls himself Grifter — the guy's a slacker," he says. "His natural tendency is to run from the responsibility that he has, and you'll see that both sides have invested heavily in him serving their grand design.Did it ever occur to Liefeld that his description of Grifter could very easily apply to him as well? As an artist, Liefeld's pretty slack himself, and won't take responsibility for his otherwise poor artwork talents, or how his very name is only discouraging the wider audience from bothering about the books he's assigned to.