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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #136

This is the one-hundred and 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 one-hundred and thirty-five. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

This is a special theme week – all the urban legends this week involve Rob Liefeld!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Superboy was designed to look like Rob Liefeld.

STATUS: False.

This may be one of my oldest unsolved ones, as a guy on Comic Book Resources mentioned this one casually in a thread at CBR, like, RIGHT after I started doing Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed.

The guy mentions it, and he means it as a total compliment. This is not some guy knocking Liefeld, this was a Liefeld fan who was saying Superboy’s look was based on Rob Liefeld meaning it as a honor. You know, like an homage.

492px-Robliefeldpic.jpg

4973_4_0000001.jpg

He said that Karl Kesel mentioned it in an interview. So I asked Karl about it literally two years ago today, and Karl told me:

I have no specific memory of this– the interview OR ever saying this– although there’s something niggling at the back of my head that I’ve heard this rumor before.

I had nothing to do with designing Superboy, visually. Tom Grummett did his usual fantastic job at that– in fact, he drew the initial character sketch during the Superman Summit that came up with the “Reign of the Supermen” storyline… well before I wrote one word about the character. Did Tom model SB on Rob? You’d have to ask him.

I can certainly see similarities in the personalities of the Superboy Tom and I created and Rob– both have endless enthusiasm for what they do and complete confidence in their own abilities, even when they probably shouldn’t have. And they both have an undeniable charisma and charm.

It’s possible someone in an interview once asked me if I had modeled SB on Rob and I agreed it might have happened, sub-consciously– but I don’t actually remember that interview.

So okay, I put it on the ol’ back-burner, until I finally asked Tom Grummett about it, like, last week.

Tom’s reply was quick and to the point!

Nope… no Rob Liefeld connection whatsoever.

So there ya go!

Oh, Tom also added, quite humorously,

For one thing, Superboy didn’t wear a baseball cap.

ECR06_edited.jpg

Cute, Tom, cute!

Thanks to the original guy who brought it up (whose name I’ve long since forgotten) and thanks to Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett for filling me in on the information!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: X-Force #5 was credited to Rob Liefeld, but was actually drawn by two other artists.

STATUS: Basically True.

Apparently, this one has been circulating for awhile, but I did not hear it myself until a reader mentioned it last week.

Reader Andrew asked:

My Urban Legend? X-Force 5 (1st series) – ghost-pencilled by Marat Mychaels or actually pencilled by Rob Liefeld?

4253_4_0005.jpg

Over at Not Blog X, reviewer G. Kendall did a review of X-Force #5 fairly recently, and he asked the same question, basically, along with supplying the following panels from the issue:

xforce5-1.jpgxforce5-2a.jpg

xforce5-2b.jpgxforce5-3.jpg

So I asked Marat Mychaels about it (here‘s Mychaels’ official website), and he filled me in:

That is true. I penciled half the book and Brian Murray penciled the other half over Rob’s lay-outs. We were supposed to be credited. Somehow, in the rush of putting the book out, the editor at the time, Bob Harras, messed up and forgot to add our names.

Rob, Brian and I where all shocked when the book hit the stands without proper credit. I was 19 and told everybody my first published work was coming out…so I was really disappointed. Any way there is the story.

So there ya go!

Thanks to Andrew for the question and big thanks to Marat for the information!

Try to guess which panels are Marat’s and which ones are Brian’s (note – they very well might all be one or the other).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Karl Kesel drew missing feet and hands for Rob Liefeld on Hawk and Dove

STATUS: True.

I really do not mean to pick on Liefeld here.

This stuff happened twenty years ago. It’s really not a big deal. But I have had folks ask me about it in the past, so I figure I might as well get it over with.

3597_4_5.jpg

Yes, on Hawk and Dove, as Rob Liefeld was getting later on his deadlines, he increasingly began to send in his characters without their hands and their feet, with inker Karl Kesel being forced to draw them in for Liefeld.

This was the same series that Liefeld drew an issue set in the chaos dimension landscape style without being asked to (as seen in this former installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed). But do note (Liefeld’s wikipedia entry has this a bit wrong), it was NOT a case of Liefeld just doing it for no reason, he was going on the basis of how the chaos dimension had been depicted in an issue of Doom Patrol drawn by Erik Larsen (also featured in a former installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed).

So, anyways, yeah, if you heard that Liefeld had someone else draw the hands and feet in the Hawk and Dove mini-series, you’d be basically correct.

Thanks to the folks who sent in this suggestion (a number of them over the years) and big thanks to Karl Kesel for the information!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

63 Comments

A Comic Book urban legend about Liefeld, funny.
But, isn’t himself a urban legend in comics ???
hehe!

The funniest is the 3rd one about hands & feet. Mouhahahaha !!!
Why do you need feet & hands, especially in a comic book ??? LOL

The horror, the horror…

Hands and feet have always been challenging. A friend of mine (a British artist you will all know if I named and shamed!) struggled for years with hands and feet when he first started out, to the point he’d deliberately crop them out of frames to avoid them.

i had never heard the Liefeld as Superboy rumor, but now that you mention it… damn, he did kinda look like him, didn’t he?

I can honestly say that I both love and hate this week’s CBUL. It’s no big secret that I hate Liefeld’s work… ALL of it. The concept of haveing an entire column talking about him seems like a waste of effort. But then I read it. #1 removes credit from him for a design, #2 removes credit from him for work he didn’t do, and #3 re-enforces his laziness & incompetence as an artist.

Well done, Mr. Cronin. Liefeld bashing is a welcome respite from all the One More Day bashing we’ve occcupied ourselves with this week.

Hands can be tough, but feet? Feet are dead easy.

[...] Among the latest urban legends revealed at CBR is this gem (scroll down): Back when he was working on Hawk & Dove, Rob Liefeld got behind on deadlines and sent art in with no hands or feet on the characters. DC had to bring in another artist to clean up the mess. [...]

Avengers, the best part is that Brian isn’t really Lifeld-Bashing. He’s being very polite and professional in pointing out certain things.

And, to be fair, really only the third legend paints Lifeld in a bad way. The other two clearly aren’t his fault.

Theno

Also, to be fair: DC did not bring in “another artist” to fill out the hands and feet. Karl Kesel was the inker on the project.

In many ways, this is not that different from having layouts by Rob (as with the X-FORCE #5 item); it’s just that Rob presumably provided more detail on everything but hands and feet.

Even then, we don’t necessarily know the whole story. Maybe DC had Kesel redoing the hands and feet, in which case why should Rob bother? Sort of like how Jack Kirby should have turned in his JIMMY OLSEN work without bothering to draw Superman’s facial details, because they had somebody else redo all of those anyway….

The Superboy entry reminds me of a legend that I’ve been hearing for a while now…Anyone know if it’s true that the character of Mephisto is based on the life of Joe Quesada? ;)

THENODRIN: Brian can’t be openly pro- or anti- in these legends. He’s being pure reporter. If, however, reporting the facts shows how incompetent someone is, all the better. So long as he’s never CALLED incompetent in the article, he’s still reporting the facts.

For the actual bashing, that’s where we come in. ;)

I agree with you that the first two didn’t have anything to do with Liefeld’s actions whatsoever. But… when you dislike him as much as I do, you’ll use anything you can to your advantage. Whatever takes away from him, even indirectly, is OK with me.

Maybe the problem with feet is the forshortening that’s so often going to be needed for them?

Here’s one…

This may have been covered elsewhere, or it may be common knowledge, or it may be COMPLETELY my own invention…but at the very least it’s timely with the announcement of the upcoming ongoing series.

Is it true that Warren Ellis’ character Gravel, the combat magician,…and particularly the initial “Strange Kiss” story he appeared in, was originally meant to be a “Hellblazer” story? I don’t remember where I heard this initially, but it seemed pretty plausible.

An urban legend I’d like to see resolved. Twice in my life (once around 1988 or 1989, the other last year) I’ve heard the TV show “The Man From Atlantis” was originally slated to be a Sub-Mariner feature. Yet there are few details about it and Marvel later did a “Man From Atlantis” comic.

X-Force #3 (and/or 4, I forget) had Larsen inks — also uncredited?

The original Strange Kiss was a reworked version of Ellis’ first arc for the never published Satana ongoing he was going to do with Ariel Olivetti.

Has Liefeld ever drawn a hand or a foot? Whenever he has them in a panel, the hands are always a blobbed clenched fist and the feet a shapeless stump.

Bob Harras did Marat Mychaels a favor by not publicly crediting him for those pencils.

Dare I say, by the way, that that Hawk and Dove cover by Liefeld looks surprisingly decent? What happened there, was he having a bad day?

Feel free to pick on Liefield. Just hearing the name and the thought of all his hapless imitators just makes me shiver.

I’ve long been suspicious that the great Marc Silvestri has developed a phobia about drawing feet these last few years. Anyone care to investigate that?

How many of these comments are from former fans of liefield’s work, some of them are so bitchy they remind of the time i woke next to a girlfriend and suddenly realised how big her ears were.

Your question regarding whether or nor “Man From Atlantis” was originally slated to be a Namor series was once raised to Frank Robbins, who was affiliated with both characters. If I remember correctly, Robbins answered that although Man From Atlantis was not based on Namor, Dr Merrill (the main supporting character in the series) was indeed based on Betty Dean, Namor’s human friend in the Golden Age.

In Liefild’s defense, I think if Kessel inked him all the time, the pairing would be good. Go look at those Hawk and Dove issues, they were his best work.

I’m a Liefild appologist, im sorry mea culpa!

How many of these comments are from former fans of liefield’s work, some of them are so bitchy they remind of the time i woke next to a girlfriend and suddenly realised how big her ears were.

I love when we get to this point, where there’s no way to defend his artistic ability, so people start insulting each other.

Wait, I meant to say that I HATE it.

I met Rob waay back when, during the Deathmate Tour Image & Valiant did. I found him to be a very nice fellow.

He was a bit overshadowed ’cause Jim Lee was on the same part of the tour, and more people fawned over him than Rob.

Of course, they both got lots more attention than the Valiant guys-most of the attendees were Image fans, not Valiant. But hose guys were great, too.

Sadly, time as removed their names from my mind. Darn, I hate gettin’ old…

Dave

Liefled urban Legends. Love ‘em!

for all liefield bashers out there i submit this site i found:

http://progressiveboink.com/archive/robliefeld.html

enjoy

You got to admit, Superboy on that cover does look a lot like Liefeld.

I thank the comic book gods that I wasn’t really reading them during the Liefeld dark age. I moved onto other interests during the mid-’80′s, and didn’t come back until around 2000. I really dodged a bullet there.

Why doesn’t Mr. Liefeld buy a copy of THE BOOK OF A HUNDRED HANDS by George B. Bridgman or DRAWING DYNAMIC HANDS by Burne Hogarth?

There are reference books out there. The internet is available for searching. Why continue to draw dreadful hands and feet?

Schnitzy Pretzlepants

January 4, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I can honestly say that I both love and hate this week’s CBUL. It’s no big secret that I hate Liefeld’s work… ALL of it. The concept of haveing an entire column talking about him seems like a waste of effort. But then I read it. #1 removes credit from him for a design, #2 removes credit from him for work he didn’t do, and #3 re-enforces his laziness & incompetence as an artist.

Well done, Mr. Cronin. Liefeld bashing is a welcome respite from all the One More Day bashing we’ve occcupied ourselves with this week.

Yeah, but no one does chests like ‘The Field’.

All right. Some comic fans avoid Liefeld like cancer, yet they read articles dedicated to him. I like his work. It`s fun and you bet he`s not Da Vinci. But if I didn`t, I`d just stop reading anything about him, like I do with certain creators. I just don`t get, if you don`t like somebody… AVOID HIM. At least get real enemies, get a life. I`m not a Liefeld supporter, but if I was a detractor, I certanly wouldn`t be here.

Ah, Rob Liefeld…the worst comics artist I can ever remember.

I always thought Mike Mignola was the best at not drawing feet. Seemed like everything he drew took place on a pile of rubble or somewhere with a lot of low-lying fog or smoke.

I met Liefeld on the same Deathmate tour an earlier poster mentioned and at a couple convention appearances and also found him to be a pretty decent guy. I’m not a big fan of his art – everybody looks like they’ve had their faces scratched by a pack of wild cats, but I can’t say anything bad about him personally.

Hey, thanks for the link! I think I restrained myself from mentioning Boomer’s googly eyes in my review, but wow, check those things out…

I’m not surprised that Liefeld was cited as a basis for the Superboy introduced during ‘Reign of the Supermen’, as the four Super-contenders seemed to be a nod towards DC’s competition:

Superboy – Image
John Henry Irons/Steel – Valiant
the Eradicator – Marvel
the Cyborg (Hank Henshaw) – Dark Horse

Maybe that’s worth following up on?

The X-Force 5 debacle? I’m not sure it was an honest mistake. Marvel seemed to be quite prone to commit these errors back then.

X-Factor 91 is another example (though they did post a correction in the following issue) – illustrated by Jan Duuresema doing her best Quesada impression, with a Quesada cover, and credited to Quesada.

I’m sure theer are other examples.

Surely the issues would have been promoted and solicited with the “name” artists as selling points – it’d be in Marvel’s interests to “mistakenly” credit the superstar artists over the alternative.

Are credit boxes the work of the letterer? Were they back then? Wouldn’t the letterer know who’s pencils they were working over?

I find the whole thing fishy.

I will first go on record as saying that I have never liked Mr. Liefeld.
Ever.
I have never met him nor had any kind of contact with him, but honestly, everytime I see a picture of him I just want to jump into my monitor screen and throat-punch him into submission.
But, who knows? If I ever did meet him in person, my opinion might change. Until then, the more he stays away from comics, the happier I’ll be.

That goes for Stan “The Liar” Lee too.

I’m not entirely sure it’s a case of Wikipedia having it wrong, it’s a case of the truth being a little confused. Your own post which is used to source that Wikipedia statement basically asserts (through Kesel’s words) that Liefeld was not telling the truth when he said that that was the way the dimension had been depicted before. It’s only down in the comments that this assertion is disputed by the guy who brings up Doom Patrol #14, and then Kesel himself disputes the disputer by saying that that was a Chaos Dimension, but not the Chaos Dimension he had invented for that H&D story.

And Rob has replied to this column on his forums (I don’t think you can read thir threads unless you’re a member):

“Seriously, does anyone research or investigate these stories Mr. Cronin or do you just print whatever horsenuts people feed you.

I like Karl Kesel but the idea that he was drawing hands and or feet for me is completely BS. Do you have xeroxes of my pencils that you can substantiate this with? I know for certain that Karl did nothing but re-draw my faces poorly and I’ll now go digging for pencils of Hawk and Dove #5 to rebuff this nonsense.

And as for all the “Karl Kesel made Rob so much better”, how do they explain the radical career shifts we took after Hawk and Dove. I continued on a successful path, inked my own work, sold millions, revamped titles, shook the comic world to the core and he……..inked and wrote comics. Wow I really suffered right…..

The Superboy thing is a big who cares? and outside my control so I don’t care.

The X-Force thing is an incident where credit wasn’t correctly allotted. A few issues later after I provided detailed layouts for Mike Mignola for an entire issue, I didn’t receive the credit as layouts or breakdowns. As Marat said both he and Brian drew over my distinct layouts, therefore I actually did draw a portion of each page and I inked them all as well. Again this is omitted from the article. Another example of a lack of investigating.

Seriously, I’m flattered by the constant attention but do some homework….”

I always knew something was off about that issue of X-Force (the one that MArat Mychaels and Brian Murray drew). Even as a 12 year old, I noticed something was different with that one drawing of Cable (the one where he’s talking to Siryn).

Now, I’m not one to defend Liefeld’s art (as it were), but Urban Legend #3 doesn’t seem to be too much of a controversial point to me. Inkers frequently “finish” the penciler’s art, and making an unusually big deal out of the fact that Kesel added details to many of Liefeld’s figures reinforces the false notion that inkers simply “trace” the lines put down by pencilers and does a bit of a disservice to the profession of comics inking.

Granted, the trend today is for inkers to do just that (trace over every line the penciler puts down), which leads to all sorts of delays, since the art is essentially drawn twice, first by the penciler, and then by the inker who has to recreate every line in ink (which in turn leads to “stiffer” looking art,since the lines aren’t spontaneously created), as opposed to back in the day when the penciler could quickly lay down roughs and save time by not having to draw details and leave the detailing to the inker. That’s how you could have pencilers back then working on 2, 3, or even 4 monthly titles… sometimes, their “pencils” weren’t any more detailed than thumbnail sketches.

As a corollary, this is also probably why most people consider Liefeld’s art on Hawk & Dove as his best work, despite it being early in his career. Kesel is a great inker and a superlative penciler, so it stands to reason that some of that talent would inevitably shine through in any work he inks, even one of as dubious quality as Liefeld’s.

Liefeld-bashing is so 1998. Let it go, people. Move on.

“Superboy – Image
John Henry Irons/Steel – Valiant
the Eradicator – Marvel
the Cyborg (Hank Henshaw) – Dark Horse”

how is John Henry Irons a parody of Valiant?

Well from what I recall the Valiant universe was originally a more hard sci-fi oriented universe, and one of its most prominent heroes was another armored guy, X-O Manowar. The Cyborg as Dark Horse is more puzzling to me. Is it because of Terminator?

“And as for all the “Karl Kesel made Rob so much better”, how do they explain the radical career shifts we took after Hawk and Dove. I continued on a successful path, inked my own work, sold millions, revamped titles, shook the comic world to the core and he……..inked and wrote comics. Wow I really suffered right…..”

Just when I think “Liefeld may have matured somewhat over the years, maybe I shouldn’t bash him so much for what he was like a decade and a half ago,” he proves me wrong.

I love somebody got in a Joe Quesada/Mephisto bash here. I’ve always noticed that it’s the opposite regarding feet in Movies and in Comic books. Movies always have feet shown as an opening shot. Comic books always seemed to avoid showing them. I noticed that when I began studying the artwork. Sometimes, even great artists, will show feet as like a diamond shape or something.

Man, that reply from Liefeld is hilarious!

I almost feel pity for him. Almost.

LOL I remember a very true story I heard at a Con from an established pro who told me that, when the 90s craze with “gimmick” covers was ongoing, he and a few bullpenners around the studio late at night took turns Farting on a cover Liefeld did; thereby making it a “Fart-Stamped” cover instead of a ‘foil-stamped’ one. The next day, they told Liefeld the copy of the comic they had smelled like flowers, and they were mystified, and he picked it up and smelled it, but then laughed and thought they were refering to his artwork, as in, it “smells like roses”- but as a good-natured slight against him. He never realized they’d been passing gas on that thing all night! I laugh every time i think of that one.

I’m enquiring about something i’ve seen mentioned latley amongst DC fans.

Morrison’s hyper crisis that never came to be… he gave a pretty good description of it in an old interview. He described the story as involving a menace that “ate a pivotal portion of the 20th century” causing the time line to go nuts. Superman would go on to try to build a bridge of events through time, etc. Hypertime would end up being explored and watched over by the “Challengers beyond the unknown”… amongst all this was a lot of other stuff that strangely syncs up with a lot of things currently going on in the DCU. Mr. Mind, the challengers showing up in Brave and the Bold, the new Challengers in Countdown, Super “man” Prime punching reality and travelling the multiverse seeking the perfect Earth…

…Morrison also mentioned the Guardians of the Universe becoming the Guardians of the Multiverse. This isn’t quite going on, but they are trying to guard the secret of the multiverse right now.

With Morrison writing Final Crisis, and so much of the DCU syncing up with old ideas, could this be Hypercrisis finally coming into form? Or is this just another example of comic book stories syncing up with old ideas, some kind of strange metatextual or jungian event over at DC, happening in a strangely Morrison-story fashion?

That last Cable pic (at least the face) is definitely by Brian Murray. :)

Man, that reply from Liefeld is hilarious!

I almost feel pity for him. Almost.

I can’t even get that far. He defends himself like he draws – like a spoiled twelve-year-old playing at being a grownup.

Dare I say, by the way, that that Hawk and Dove cover by Liefeld looks surprisingly decent? What happened there, was he having a bad day?

It’s not just the cover. The interior art for the whole miniseries is good. Strange but true.

I’m not going to honestly claim to know how much of that quality is down to Karl Kesel, but certainly Hawk and Dove put him straight to the top of my list of artists to watch out for and I was horrified the first time I saw Leifeld’s Marvel work and found it to be downright ugly.

Superboy – Image
John Henry Irons/Steel – Valiant
the Eradicator – Marvel
the Cyborg (Hank Henshaw) – Dark Horse

I like your theory, but Steel seems a much better fit for Marvel than The Eradicator.

That link is hilarious. Laughed my ass off.

Can’t stand his work, and can’t stand his attitude.

Speaking of Liefeld, I have a question. The pencils in New Mutants #95 is credited to “Rob Liefeld and co.” What does this mean?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Superboy was designed to look like Rob Liefeld.

STATUS: False.

Thank Christ!!

[...] add in whole new images on top of the previously drawn art. (Karl Kesel, for example, would assume foot-drawing chores from penciller Rob Liefeld.) If an editor can make a hack journalist’s prose sing, use that [...]

[...] possible that all of this can be credited to Todd McFarlane coming back and making corrections, much like Karl Kesel did on Liefeld’s first work, but at least for the moment (and backed up by seeing hands and feet in Deadpool #900), I’m [...]

The funniest thing about this entire post? Rob Liefield’s 1) inability to read this in the proper context, as it is CLEARLY not an attack on him, at all, and the third entry is just a case of you-said/i-said; and 2) posting a “reply” to this post on his, subscription-only, website. Man up, and come to the discussion if you’re really so “offended”, don’t whine from behind your paywall. Jesus, I am neutral on him as an artist, mainly because I’ve stayed away from his work, but I certainly am no fan of him as a person.

Hands and feet are a general point of frustration for most artists. Myself and a fellow artist actually were just recently talking about it. I said that it made me feel good to know that, no matter how much natural talent or training someone has, EVERYBODY struggles with hands. At least at the beginning.

If any of you artists out there can say that you’ve never had that problem, you are definitely the exception, and very lucky.

Well that certainly explains why Liefeld’s first Hawk and Dove run still looks better than ANYTHING he’s EVER done in his ENTIRE career.

I never had much of a problem with hands or feet myself, and I could show proof, but shamefully pimping my website is tacky.

[...] Over at Occasional Superheroine, Valerie D’Orazio raises a good point about Firestar – sounds like a question for Urban Legends… [...]

I’d be willing to bet that most of these critics here replying to this, can barely draw a stick figure. Its like a fat person criticizing a cover model for having a belly that is “a bit too soft”. Its laughable. Aside from that, comic book art is not an exact science anyway, it is an artform that allows for a TON of exaggeration, in every respect. Any true artist would know this. So why complain about a certain artist not “drawing things correctly” when there is no true “correct” way to draw comic art? I personally can’t stand Sam Keith’s artwork, so you know what I do? I don’t buy it. Do I then go bash the guy every chance I get? And make fun of his HUUUUGE feet and hands, and black splatters all over? No.

Mr. Liefeld, if you happen to see this: Keep up the good work, and keep progressing. Oh, and keep bringing back cool Wildstorm characters in the New 52 :)

[…] more practical footwear in general. Feet are not usually that important to artists. Some of them cannot draw feet of either gender. But while male superheroes have long had nondescript bootie-looking footwear, many heroines have […]

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