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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #36!

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This is the thirty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous thirty-five.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Rob Liefeld once drew a book in landscape style without being asked, leading to the book having to be cut and paste to look like a normal comic book.

STATUS: True

Rob Liefeld’s big break in comics came in the late 80s, when he was the penciller on the Hawk and Dove mini-series for DC. Written by Barbara and Karl Kesel, with inks by Kark Kesel, the mini-series became a really big hit for DC (and led to the Hawk and Dove ongoing series).

In any event, so it goes that in the last issue, Hawk and Dove are in a chaos dimension, and (someone linked me to this particular version of events on a messageboard, but I am afraid I have since lost the link, so if someone finds the link for me, I’ll gladly credit it here)

Without consulting his editors, Rob drew all of this sequence in “landscape” (i.e. you would have had to turn the comic to read it). When asked by the baffled and shocked editor why he had done this, Rob said that’s how it had been drawn the only other time this dimension had been shown.

Inker Karl Kesel had to rotate all the panels and paste them together into a new flow as part of his inking job. The letter column to issue #5 contains an oblique reference to this incident, mentioning that Rob “showed something new to an editor who thought he’d seen everything”.

Here is the issue in question:

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I asked Karl Kesel if this version of events was true, and here is Karl’s answer:

Yes, Rob did draw the entire Chaos Dimension sequence sideways or “landscape” style. He did this without consulting anyone. I’m sure Rob saw this as cool and different and exciting, but the editor, Mike Carlin, was not quite as thrilled. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of having to turn a comic sideways to read a story, especially not in the middle of an issue. It pulls you out of the story by calling far too much attention to itself. It can be done– there was a great issue of the Moore/Bissett/Totleben SWAMP THING that actually had you turn the comic completely around as you read it that was an amazing use of the device; and John Byrne did a FANTASTIC FOUR story set in the Negative Zone where it worked well– but generally I think it’s best to avoid.

Anyway. By the time we reached the last issue of the mini-series, Rob’s sights were clearly on other horizons. He had gotten later and later on deadlines…The Chaos Dimension sequence seemed to be the last straw for Carlin. As I remember it, Mike called me up to tell me that Rob had drawn the sequence sideways for no good reason, and that he (Carlin) was going to cut-and-paste it (using xeroxes) into a readable form and send those to me. Which he did. I lightboxed them onto DC paper and inked them.

By the way: Rob did NOT draw the dimension sideways because that’s how it had been drawn the only other time it had been shown. THIS was the first time it had been shown– Barbara and I created it for this story.

Mike Carlin once said of Rob: “He has it. He just doesn’t have it yet.” And I couldn’t agree more. Rob is one of the most energetic and charming people I’ve ever met– you can’t help but like him– and at the time of H&D his work showed great potential. But success came far too quickly and easily to him, and he never felt the need to develop that potential. Which is really too bad, because if he did I’m certain he would have left a very different mark on the industry. Not that things worked out that badly for him…

Thanks for the info, Karl!

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23 Comments

Don’t forget the Dollar Size issues that had the team-up plus several other features (Captain Marvel, Red Tornado, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, Black Lightning, etc.,,.)

“So, basically, it comes down to, do you believe Bisley?”

Well, alot of us here in the uk certainly don’t, since the way that I and alot of others first noticed this was by having it pointed out to us by Alan Grant at UKCAC…

Erik Larsen actually confirms Rob Liefeld’s telling of the story and refutes Karl Kesel’s comment that the Chaos Dimension was not used prior to Hawk & Dove. Larsen did the sideways art in question in Doom Patrol #14.

More here.

Weird that I just happened to check this page a few days after the last posting…

I’m sure Erik drew a Chaos Dimension sideways in Doom Patrol #14. I don’t have the comic, but I trust him. And, based on that fact, it’s almost certain that Rob drew the Hawk & Dove Chaos Dimension sideways because of that. It’s not hard to connect those dots. But the H&D Chaos Dimension was never intended to be the DP Chaos Dimension and, unless Erik’s is made up entirely of floating rock islands (the way the H&D dimension is) then the two dimensions don’t even look the same. Barbara and I created that dimension-of-floating-rock-islands because we thought it would look cool. We had never been told to match any pre-existing Chaos Dimension, and weren’t trying to. We certainly didn’t match any Chaos Dimension that had previously appeared in, say, a Dr. Fate story (and, clearly, neither did Erik). And that’s what’s so great about Chaos– it’s never the same!

Bottom line: The Hawk & Dove Chaos Dimension had not appeared earlier in Doom Patrol 14. Totally different dimensions.

[]
B: No. What’s the big deal about a penis? I mean, we’ve all got them.
W: And it was for mature readers.
B: Yeah, but I’m quite sure that even juveniles have got them.
[]

Oooo, how enlightened. It even sounds witty until you realize what he’s saying. Bare penises on the covers of comics? Yeah, somehow I don’t feel like an uptight puritan for thinking that’s in bad taste.

– Z

You should feel like an uptight puritan simply for actually believing that’s supposed to be a penis in the first place. It’s just Bisley’s normal overly-muscled art style and a LOT of people with immature minds.

Even after being told there’s supposedly a penis there, I’m still not entirely sure WHAT PART is supposed to be the penis because none of it really looks 100% like a penis. If you can find a “penis” in the drawing of that arm, I’m totally positive that you could find a “penis” in at least a quarter of ALL Bisley’s drawings when using that same hyper-muscled style.

Oh, I’m sure it was an accident — I just find Bisley’s defense ridiculous.

– Z

I’m sorry, but if it called the Chaos Dimension, I can see exactly where someone would think, “Hey, this has been drawn this way before.”

What is someone supposed to think, “OH, it’s that OTHER chaos dimension…”

Yeah. right.

Actually, Superman and Batman *had* regularly teamed up, even before SUPERMAN #76…he and Robin were regular guests on the Superman radio show! Their first meeting there was recounted by Jim Harmon in THE GREAT RADIO HEROES and adapted into comic form by Roy Thomas in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #282, iirc. So it wasn’t such a reach to have the two teaming up together in comics…it’d been happening for years prior on the airwaves. So much for that.

I’m glad to know you put a full 2 seconds of reading time into the column.

This corner is clearly not snark free.

Hehe, true, but come on, popping in two and a half years later to make a pissy wrongheaded comment? It’s not unreasonable to respond with some snark, right? :)

Well, I never saw this site before around the time I posted. I am sorry you took my comment as pissy. I was trying to make some humor.

and my comment is correct. It refers to the fact that a chaos dimension had already been drawn at that point by putting it sideways in the Doom Patrol.

go ahead and be snarky, it just makes you look petty when you are wrong.

BTW, my comment shave nothing to do with the fact that the statement is true. I just believe RL had a reason to do it based on previous stuff, but he was a moron for not mentioning it before he drew it.

Hey, I also think everyone is talking about me whenever they say things! We should team up.

Yeah, Eric, man, I wasn’t replying to you – I was replying to the fellow who posted seven minutes before my reply. :)

Oh sweet Jesus, I am sorry.

S’all good.

What’s the big deal about a penis? I mean, we’ve all got them.

Actually, half the people I know don’t have penises.

Screaming Yellow Zonker Harris

March 23, 2009 at 9:21 am

“Roderick T. Long
February 26, 2009 at 7:09 pm

What’s the big deal about a penis? I mean, we’ve all got them.

Actually, half the people I know don’t have penises.”

Yeah? Would any of them like to borrow mine for a while?

. . . yeah, I know. I know. I’m sorry. Long morning. Won’t happen again.

Bisley’s response was surprisingly (and refreshingly) mature.

All this time, and no one’s suggested that the Workd’s Finest #7 cover is far more suggestive than the Lobo one….

M-Wolverine – Yes. A thousand times, yes.

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