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Monday, June 05, 2017 

The former Comics Alliance writer who sugarcoats Rob Liefeld

The Raleigh Independent interviewed Chris Sims, a former writer for the ultra-leftist, SJW-influenced Comics Alliance (now defunct), who undeservedly became a comics writer to boot, and whose laughable comments here include how he basically upheld awful artists Rob Liefeld as some kind of champion, and no complaints about the editors who made jokes out of the material they were dealing with by employing his "talents". On which note, the article begins with:
Superhero comics hit puberty in 1992, violently sprouting massive muscles, bosoms, and guns, with 'tude to match. The characters and the industry alike seemed volatile and overstated. DC Comics' "Death of Superman" stunt sparked a mainstream media frenzy. Even as the X-Men were everywhere, Marvel Comics grappled with the defection of its money-printing young stars—including X-Force creator Rob Liefeld—to Image Comics, which permanently shook up the work-for-hire market with a creator-owned revolution.
Money printing making? Maybe. But if I were foolish enough to buy his awful artwork, I'd only have to conclude today that I'd wasted considerable money. Let me guess. They're suggesting his junk falls into a so-bad-its-good category? Sorry, it's just no use.

Onto the interview itself, Sims went on to tell just who greenlighted his work at Marvel after reading a webcomic he'd crafted:
We went to Seattle for Emerald City and gave a copy to Tom Brevoort, the executive editor of Marvel. He mentioned it in an online interview when someone asked him what non-Marvel books he was enjoying. By the end of that year we signed a contract with Marvel.
Oh yeah, the editor who's tragically a rabid leftist with nothing but contempt for fans. Figures he'd approve of a guy who's as pretentious as Sims happens to be. Let's not forget the time when former editor Valerie d'Orazio exposed him as an online harassing cybertroll, and all his cronies at Comics Alliance could think to do was claim Gamergate was a cynical culprit! Oh yeah, that was the best one I'd heard all day.

After telling how he grew up on products like the mid-90s X-Men cartoon, he goes on to blabber about one of his biggest influences that he absolutely adored and loved, at least when he was younger:
And it got your foot in the door at Marvel, which brings us to another very nineties topic: Deadpool and Rob Liefeld.

Jordan [White] used to be in the X-Men office, but the Deadpool line grew so big it became its own office. Now Jordan edits Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Deadpool, three huge things for Marvel. Rob wanted to do the graphic novel that would eventually become Deadpool: Bad Blood. He wanted to give Deadpool a Sabretooth, is what he said. And Jordan knew that Chad and I, being the age we were …

I’m the guy who had a really public coming around on Rob Liefeld. I loved him when I was a kid. There was an episode on the Sci Fi channel show The Anti-Gravity Room in 1996, during [Marvel relaunch] “Heroes Reborn,” where Kevin Smith was the guest and reviewed Rob Liefeld’s Captain America. He didn’t like it. I wrote a paper in school rebutting that review.

Then, in my twenties, as a snarky comics blogger, I made the jokes; I was kind of a Liefeld hater. But, and you can probably still find it at Comics Alliance, I had this public awakening, like, You know what, Rob’s good, actually!

I read interviews with Rob and that’s what cracked the code for me. He was talking about how he had editors telling him he didn’t deserve to be selling as many comics as he was. I don’t know how you tell someone that when it’s happening specifically because of him. The second wave of ToyBiz action figures was X-Force, his characters. He brought stuff to the table with an energy and style that, even if it’s not your taste, you kind of have to give him that—that he did it. Rob was a millionaire when he was twenty-one. If I had half that money at twenty-one you couldn’t tell me anything; I’d be the worst! [laughs]
And I have to feel sorry for all the speculators whom he finked out of valuable dollars. What "energy and style"? It was all such creepy-crappy crud laced with long fingers, derivative character designs and stunningly awful anatomies. As unappealing as I think Kevin Smith happens to be (his Black Cat miniseries from the early 2000s was one of his worst in the field), he was right about Liefeld's take on Cap. The art and such was loathsome; one of the most notorious pictures I recall was one where Liefeld made Cap look like an inflated balloon. But did he really sell as big as they say he did? By the time he was working on both Cap and Avengers, sales were plummeting to the kind of numbers we see today, so there is room to question what Sims and others claim.

And wouldn't you know it; as of today, he's been working with Liefeld:
Did you co-write the book with Liefeld?

It was done Marvel style, so Rob drew all the pages based on a plot we came up with together, and then we scripted it over those pages. Chad and I got on the phone with Rob, who brought us the idea of Thumper being this figure from Deadpool’s past coming back after him. I think he already had the first ten pages laid out. We worked with him on fleshing out that plot, and then we let Rob be Rob.
I'm sure they did. Replete with sloppy facial linings and other dreadful details. One more reason why I won't be buying, no thank you.
Was there any awkwardness in working with someone you’d been critical of once?

I don’t think so. Honestly, talking to Rob was fascinating. The thing people forget about Rob, because his style is so crystallized from the nineties, is that he’s a twenty-seven-year veteran of the industry. He’s smart. He knows what to do. He’s not the guy a lot of people expect. I think he feels a lot of pride and ownership of Deadpool, but the first thing he told us on the phone was that there’s a Deadpool for everybody: for people who like the comedy book, the hard-R violence, the psychological Rick Remender X-Force stuff, which he said was his favorite.
Of course Liefeld's not the guy one might expect. That's because he's got his leftist side, and/or contempt for the audience, which predictably goes unmentioned here. I once read several years ago, possibly in excerpts from Sean Howe's history of Marvel, that when Liefeld was hired by their editors, they made no attempt to encourage improvement in his approach to artwork. One of the first titles he worked on was the tail end of the New Mutants' run (later to be succeeded by X-Force, which was pretty time-wasting in itself). Apparently, they must've decided along the way it was an expendable title, hence, they assigned an otherwise weak artist and let the book collapse. Why they didn't just cancel it outright I have no idea.
I think a lot of people would imagine Liefeld being megalomaniacal to work with, but it sounds like that wasn’t the case.

Not at all. He was really open to suggestions. Chad came up with the title Bad Blood, and Rob was a little reluctant because it’s another “blood” thing, Youngblood, Bloodstrike. But the more he thought about it, it was a good title, and he talked on Instagram about doing a sequel called Badder Blood, which is perfect. The challenges of scripting that comic were like any other; there were pieces we were scripting without having the rest of it, getting pages as they came in. But that wasn’t a Rob thing; that was just a comics-deadlines thing. Rob was great to work with, and now Chad’s writing Youngblood.
If memory serves, Liefeld refused to take a lower sum of wages when he was doing the Heroes Reborn stunt in 1996-97 (a strong hint it wasn't selling well), even as Jim Lee was willing to allow a cut in the wages. Granted, Liefeld may have changed since, but the fact remains that there was a time when he was pretty shameless in his business conduct. Sims goes on to say the following when bringing up the original Swordquest adaptation, which he's now co-writing a new take on:
Tell us about Swordquest. Unless they’ve read the novel Ready Player One, a lot of people probably don’t remember the crazy story about the contest.

This is a real-world story, something that actually happened.

There was so much money in video games in the early eighties and Atari was dominating the home console market. Adventure had been a big success for them, so they decided to do another fantasy-style role-playing game. The idea was to do four games with a different comic packed in with each game. The comics were by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Dick Giordano, and George Perez. I try to tell people that's like if Brian Bendis and Jim Lee did a comic for Call of Duty. So they clearly backed a truckload of money up to somebody.
Ah, how fascinating. Sims is a fan of Bendis, the man who dumbed down the Avengers, starting with the hack job he did to Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Disassembled in 2004. And whose take on the X-Women was also terrible. Which is reason enough to question Sims' fandom for Marvel, and DC. If he doesn't think Liefeld is what he really happens to be - an otherwise untalented, derivative artist - it should come as no surprise he can't see Bendis as the pretentious scriptwriter he happens to be either.

Having read this interview in its entirety, I can only conclude Sims is a laughless joke. And it's regrettable that, not only does he minimize the poor quality of Liefeld's art, he doesn't consider how comicdom ruined itself by continuing to employ such an awful artist, and even influencing at least a few other artists to imitate his style at the expense of their true talents (Herb Trimpe was one guy who made this mistake, IIRC). It's a shame "creators" with poor skills are being sugarcoated, because if we don't accept and recognize mistakes made, it's no surprise the mistakes will continue unabated.

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I've seen and reviewed Sims's writing for the Action Age webcomic group and a Christmas superhero story for Flashback Comics. He's not a bad writer, but unless Marvel is trying to smooth things over so Sims isn't called out for working with and praising Liefeld it's odd that he's speaking positively about him. I'm not surprised he likes Bendis for some reason but I can't help but think he's only praising Liefeld for PR for the comic.

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