I am writing and drawing a new BRIGADE series and I want to give you FREE copies! A radically re-imagined and re-designed Brigade series is coming your way and I want to launch it with this FREE comic initiative and get as many free copies into as many hands as possible. Follow this link to see the new characters and rewards involved with the BRIGADE kickstarter!
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EXTREME TALENT CONTEST! LIEFELD DRAWS YOUR STORY!
I want to help out young writers and give them a chance at having a short story published in an issue of Youngblood and Bloodstrike. Here’s how you participate.
Step 1 – Write a short story featuring one of my EXTREME CHARACTERS. the story MUST BE EXTREME CHARACTERS ONLY. You are submitting a brief few paragraph’s pitching your idea for a short 5-6 page story.
Step 2 – HIT THE BUTTON. Here on this web site, to the right is a button that says CONTACT ME! This will send your story to my attention.
Step 3 – Wait to be contacted. I will choose 3 winners, 1 every few weeks starting March 6th, 2013. If your pitch is chosen you will be given a work for hire agreement to sign in order to participate.
Step 4 – Submission agreement. Click link below.
I have the absolute highest regard for creators and for the ownership of original properties, and this agreement should in no way be misconstrued as license for us to appropriate your creations. This agreement protects Rob Liefeld from any liabilities involving coincidental similarities to works-‐in-‐progress or other submissions. Any submissions received without a signed agreement will be discarded without review.
5. GOOD LUCK!
Here’s a sequence from the upcoming BLOODSTRIKE….rough pencils. More soon….
Part 3 – Continuing a walk down memory lane commemorating the release of the new X-FORCE OMNIBUS.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was 23 years old and I really needed New Mutants #98 to sing. It had to have significant impact as it was my first issue guiding the book as writer in addition to being the artist. This was the moment I had been striving for since breaking into the comic book field, I had to make it count. The issue was purposely packed with new faces, Gideon, Domino and the most important new face of all was that of DEADPOOL.
In a matter of only a few pages, the team was rocked by the presence of a deadly new nemesis, a contract killer, a bounty hunter that single handily takes down the entire New Mutants roster. Deadpool’s prowess is immediately felt as he comes prepared for to dismantle all their various mutant abilities. Any villain who can walk in the door and take out an entire team of powerful opponents is going to catch the attention of the reader, Deadpool succeeded in going above and beyond our wildest expectations. We had spent ten issues building up Cable as a formidable figure, standing toe to toe with Marvel’s mightiest, Wolverine and Stryfe, he had more than proven his mettle. Deadpool takes him out with relative ease, speaking more to the preparedness of Deadpool than to his own personal power levels. The entire time, Deadpool was cracking wise-ass remarks, establishing him as the “Merc with a Mouth”. Fabian Nicieza and I were firmly on the same page, Deadpool’s depiction was exactly what I had hoped for. As with every issue, I signed off on all the dialogue and Deadpool was unleashed on an unsuspecting world.
Over the course of a few pages, Deadpool dismantles everyone and looks to triumph over Cable and his new ward’s. We had no idea what we had unleashed. My editor called me a few days following the release of New Mutants #98 , he was frantic, ” We need more Deadpool. The phones have been ringing off the hook and the mail is pouring in asking for more Deadpool. I think we have a major new cast member.”
By that time, we had wrapped New Mutants in anticipation of the New X-Force series launching later in the summer, I was drawing issue #1 of X-Force and was asked if I could provide an appearance of Deadpool is issue #1. There was no room to include him, so we included him as a fact file and as one of the trading cards that would be packaged in with X-Force #1. Deadpool would take center stage in X-Force #2, where he would introduce another member of the Weapon X program. Deadpool would appear regularly in X-Force, his popularity demanded it. X-Force was the #1 selling comic in the industry for its first few months, and then remained a staple of the top 3 for months after. Deadpool was appearing in one million comics every month and was included as an action figure in the X-Force line of toys that debuted by popular demand a few months later. His first mini-series by Fabian Nicieza and Joe Mad is one of my favorite depictions of the character ever. That mini-series sold over 500,000 issues, every issue for the duration of its run. Another best selling mini-series followed and another until Deadpool was awarded his own series in 1996. He has been a staple of Marvel’s publishing ever since. There was that weird “Agent X” experiment in the early 2000′s but the less said about that, the better.
Continuing my commentary on the newly released X-FORCE OMNIBUS, I’m focused on New Mutants #98, my first issue as both writer and artist. Except, I didn’t want to provide the actual dialogue, our deadlines were tight enough with me penciling and inking the boards, I didn’t want to hold the book up with writer’s block. I had met the talented Fabian Nicieza early on in my career at Marvel, he was working in the sales department and wanted to break in as a writer. We had attempted to put together a Soviet Super Soldiers mini-series about a year earlier but my schedule didn’t allow it to come together as planned. Fabian had a great ear for dialogue and responded well to my ideas for New Mutants. The decision came down to him and a couple of other writers, but in the end, I favored Fabian because I felt we had a good connection and relationship. I would write out my plots on yellow lined notebook paper, illustrating for him how I was imagining each page and sequence as I drew them. We would usually follow up with a call running through each page and Fabian would produce the fabulous scripts that made the book sing. You won’t ever hear me do anything but praise Fabian, he worked under diverse conditions, many times catching up for the time I lost on the book, and he always came through with fantastic results.
Allow me to apologize in advance for the poor scans of these pages, I’m running a low rent operation here and really, shouldn’t you actually have this book in your collection by now?
So PAGE 1, PANEL ONE, SPLASH! Here is Gideon! My penchant for biblical names was once again in full focus, blame it on my southern baptist upbringing, I love those Bible names. I may even have a son named Luke….
Anyway, Gideon, new character, smiling menacingly, or annoyingly, depending on your view point years later. Nice ponytail. Why the ponytail? Well, anything that could whip around in motion was desired by me in order to provide another element of energy on the page. Capes, webs, braids, ponytails….I’m in! My Art Adams influence is very strong on this page, tiny waist, thick thighs, it’s all there. Art Adams was my east, my west, my north, my south, he was who i aspired to be. The smile is pure Art Adams mojo lite. Ditto the long spingely-fingers. My inking line was very McFarlane-esque, lots of little nicks and pull outs, gritty and bloopy. Yes, those are the professional terms for inking techniques. “Gimme more bloopy lines and work on your pull-out’s” were common verbiage among the comic book jet set circa 1991. The image and the crop of Gideon was a nice reminder that we were treading brand new ground starting with the very first page.
PAGES 2-3. Nothing says “Fear me” more than a pony-tailed vest wearing figure pummeling a room of giant robots. “Hello, I am an exciting new bad guy and I work out in the morning with my robots!” It’s a fail safe, go-to move for all the new bad guys. It worked here as Gideon is introduced via an “us vs. them” action sequence. The “Dear Sebastian” refers to Sebastian Shaw the head of the Hellfire Club, establishing a direct and immediate link to a classic stable of the X-Men universe.
By page 4 of the issue, you see that Gideon is a tough customer, more than just strength, he can fly and assimilate multiple powers at one time. We were very clearly trying to establish his power levels from the outset. By page 5, we have shown that Gideon is a capable and formidable foe with ties to the larger mutant universe.
Next up is a Danger Room sequence mirroring Gideon’s, depicting Cable and Cannonball as they hone their own muatnt powers and abilities. Cable offers distinct and specific directions regarding Cannonball’s force shield while revealing a brand new technological ability in his own cyber-arsenal. I had waited until I had more control of Cable’s character to depict that his arm could actually deploy firepower on his own.He didn’t actually need a gun, his arm had plenty of firepower. Again, part of my strategy was to introduce as many new, complimentary elements to the existing New Mutants cannon as possible. At the end of this sequence, Cable re-affirms to Cannonball that they are soldiers now, not students, further emphasizing the new direction that we had in mind as far back as New Mutants #87.
An artistic note is that I did not ink either of these pages, I was running behind and needed assistance. Art Thibert inked page 8 and Joe Rubenstein inked page 9. Neither gentleman has been credited in the past, so after 23 years, I figured they were due!
It was almost a year into my run on New Mutants that I was offered the opportunity to both write and draw the book. As with any creative endeavor, the old guard changeth and Louise Simonson was moving on after a long and successful run. Our sales had more than quadrupled by this point and the book was riding a wave of surging popularity with retailers and fans alike. the introduction of Cable had created a stir and driven increased attention to the book. In short, I was living the dream, but now it was time to step up to the plate and see if I could hit a home run in the major leagues. It all started with this cover.
This cover tells the whole story, all of the changes and drama to come was right there in full view. I felt tremendous pressure to make an immediate impact with my first issue writing the comic, I had to prove to readers and skeptical retailers that the book was in good hands under my direction. It was my intention to load that first issue with as much excitement as I could muster between 22 pages. This was the time to lay the groundwork for a new path for the series as we prepared to launch a new team and a new concept with X-Force. Three new players were set to be introduced, Domino,an assassin with a mysterious past tied to Cable, Gideon, a wealthy mutants with designs on Roberto/Sunspot and his family fortune and a contract killer known as Deadpool.
Each character was important in establishing our new storyline. Gideon was the first member of a clandestine mutant group known as the Externals. His arrival put a powerful new presence into the mix and his connections to Roberto and his father’s corporate empire would provide drama and conflict as he exerted his will on Sunspot. I had to clear out some existing characters to make room for the new one’s I was introducing and Gideon helped service that agenda while also giving us a new threat that would loom larger down the road.
Domino was the love interest that the book sorely needed, but rather than some damsel in distress, I needed a dynamic counterpart to Cable. Domino, black and white, like a Domino, had mutant powers of probabilities, you never knew which way the luck would fall when she was present. She didn’t rely on that though, she relied on her physical skills and training, and her arsenal of knives and weapons. She knew Cable and that in and of itself was going to give the book another layer of mystery as we could examine how and why she knew the new headmaster.
Deadpool was a name I had on my list for sometime, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t taken already, so I scooped it up. I was obsessed with Wolverine and the fact that Wolverine was actually labeled Weapon X, a product of experiments that produced at least NINE others before him. I pitched Deadpool as Danny Devito from the movie Twins, Devito was described as the “crap” before they got to the perfection of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character. He was tossed out and I felt there was a great story to be told with the experiment right before Wolverine, a project, a guinea pig that had failed to come together as planned. He would be disfigured and dismissed and pissed off. And a smart ass. Visually I was creating Spider-Man with guns and swords. During this time, Todd McFarlane was my closest friend in the industry and he would always rub it my face about how easy he had it with Spider Man because he wore a full face mask with big eyes. No eyeballs, nose or mouth to line up, just a mask. I wanted one of those characters, no one in New Mutants wore a full face mask, I needed something simple and fun dammit! Deadpool was my entry into the Spider Man derby, and it paid off bigger and better than planned. I used the black and red Spidey motif, added pouches, swords and a gun and felt that he would be a powerful graphic visual in the book. A deranged killer with a contract on Cable, a character capable of taking down the entire team, he was as much of a sure thing as I could bank on given the books increased popularity and influence.
So that’s the behind the scenes on the cover to the comic that has proven to be one of the most sought after books of it’s age. I’ll start commentary on the interiors in part 2.
NEXT: Fabulous Fabian!
It’s safe to say that there is no one on the planet more thrilled with the release of the X-Force Omnibus today. Feels like I’ve waited some twenty-three years for this and then I realize that, no, I really have waited twenty-three years for this! And so have you, the reader and fans that put this series over the top. I figured that there was no better time to share the insight and history that went in to creating this historical and record setting work. You don’t sell 5 million copies of a brand new book with just luck! This is the first is a series of posts that will share how a book that was set to be canceled provided the spring board for shaping a new direction in the comic book marketplace.
I was twenty years old when Marvel made me a generous offer to leave DC and work on the “X-books”. Back in those days, the mid-to-late Eighties, the X-books were the brass ring, the gold standard for comic book sales, everyone aspired to work on them. The industry was beginning to experience a surge in royalties for creators, basically a percentage of a books sales that was allocated to creators, and no books sold more or paid more than the X-Men. Bob Harras was the editor of the X-office and he was looking to shake his office up with new talent and fresh ideas. He had contacted myself as well as Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio with designs on us taking over a number of the X-books. Back then, late eighties, there were only four X-books, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Wolverine and New Mutants. I was initially offered X-Factor but knew in my heart that it was a bad career move to follow the legendary Walt Simonson wh0 had just completed an amazing run. It was too soon for me to take a crack at drawing the original X-Men, I was not up to snuff. Bob told me that New Mutants was available but I would need to wait longer as he wanted to give more time to transition that team out. I felt my work and my influences would shine much more on New Mutants with its young cast and greater potential to try something new. Bob warned me that New Mutants was far from a sure thing in terms of job security as they were considering canceling the title. New Mutants was the dog of the X-Men office. While the other titles averaged 350,000 in sales during that period,New Mutants was selling only 115,000. They told me that I could work with editorial as well as the writer, Louise Simonson, in order to craft new characters and a new creative direction. I really felt I could make a difference and was chomping at the bit to get going on New Mutants.
The first order of business in turning around the sinking ship of the New Mutants was to change the tone of the book. I had purchased every issue of the New Mutants since it launched and in the years leading up to my actually taking over the book, I felt it had taken a decidedly goof turn for the worse. The stories didn’t have the same weight and danger that the rest of the X-books exhibited. Characters such as Birdbrain and Warlock dominated the landscape of the book, tilting it in a comical direction. It’s always important to examine what came before you and why it was not working, in this case I felt that the books short comings were painfully obvious. I don’t know who decided on the direction of the book, what input editorial had, and I want to make it perfectly clear that I think Louise Simonson is a talented writer and that Brett Blevins was producing fantastic art, it just wasn’t reflective of the edgier tone reflected in the rest of the X-Men books. Examples of Birdbrain and Warlock in earlier issues are displayed below.
The plan was to focus the book in a more serious, dangerous direction by providing a new leader for the team. Previous mentor’s for the team had been Professor X and Magneto. I had enjoyed the run of stories where Magneto acted as the schoolmaster, particularly the struggle he had controlling his prejudice and bias against mankind and not allowing that to taint his leadership of the kids. He struggled to follow the more honorable path Professor X established. Editorial gave me a wide berth to create a new figure that would lead the kids, presumably with Louise Simonson’s blessing. Some geographical and practical background should be established here in order to best communicate the manner in which information was transmitted in 1988-1991. I lived in Southern California while both Marvel and Lousise Simonson were located in New York. Fed Ex was the primary method that notes and illustrations were passed back and forth. I spoke to Louise once during our tenure, editorial assumed control of the operations and didn’t encourage talent speaking often if at all. I was also the young twenty-year old working to establish myself while Louise was a well established veteran, I was flat-out intimidated by her accomplishments.
I sketched up several drawings of a character named CABLE, a time-traveling mutant who had seen the destruction that awaited the mutants and arrived in their present in order to change the course of history. Obvious shades of Terminator and The Time Machine were on display in my breakdown for Cable. He was a scientist, a cyborg, a soldier, but most of all, he was a man who knew how every one would die, he was a man with secrets. He would re-form the New Mutants as a para-military mutant force with a survivalist agenda. I pitched Cable as the man in the middle of the two extreme positions represented by Xaiver and Magneto. Xaiver, the pacificist, Magneto the extreme radical and Cable, who believes they should prepare for the war that’s coming, not let it come to them while hoping for the best. His aggressive position would threaten both Prof. X and Magneto. He would operate as the wild-card, the true X factor. The kids would respond to his empowerment, some would struggle, it would open up many new potential story-telling avenues for everyone.
Now if we could only agree on his name….
NEXT UP: PART TWO, The Cable Connection.
THE CABLE CONUNDRUM
As I reflect on this period at Marvel, I hope that I’m communicating that this is by far my favorite period in my career. It was sky’s the limit and I was very fortunate to gain access to some of my favorite characters and comics that I had treasured growing up. My experience at Marvel during this time was amazing, my peers and I were provided a tremendous opportunity to let our creativity and imaginations explode on the page. At twenty years of age, I could not have asked for a more fulfilling and life altering professional experience.
My goal in creating Cable was simple, establish a character that would be the next Wolverine. Create the same air of mystery and intrigue that had made Wolverine my favorite character in comics. A character from the future has all the obvious leverage and it was my intention to give Cable many layers as to who he was, what his true purpose and mission was would be revealed over time and further invest the readers in his every move. As far as I was aware, everyone involved was on board as we prepared to change the course and direction of the New Mutants. Except the name Cable was proving to be difficult for everyone to agree on. Bob called and asked if he shouldn’t be named “QUINN” I was vehemently opposed, feeling that the name was too soft. Louise offered up Commander X, which wasn’t horrible, but I felt it sounded like a G.I. Joe character , cartoonish. Fortunately for all, Cable won the day. I continued to lobby hard for my convictions, which would be a recurring theme as my time on the title played out.
Bob called to tell me that orders on my first issue had gone up 15,000 in sales, a positive sign as I was only bringing my artistic skill on board as far as the retailers knew it. My first issue, New Mutants #86 was more of the same non-serious fare that the New Mutants was treading. The team fought against Vulture, a vintage Spider Man foe with no existing ties to the X-men pantheon. It was with my second issue, New Mutants #87 that the change in direction would become crystal clear. We introduced Cable as well as a slew of new villains known as the MLF, the Mutant Liberation Force. Wildside, Fourarm, Tempo, Thumbelina, Zero, Reaper and Stryfe. There were two historic runs that shaped me as a kid, one was Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men run and the other was Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. A staple of both series was the constant influx of new villains and rogues to challenge the heroes, that’s what we were shooting for with the MLF.
Out of the gate, a dynamic new soldier, Cable, exploded into action, in conflict with this new mutant threat. He crosses paths with the New Mutants and exerts his leadership and brash style. Stryfe arrived with his heavy armor and powerful presence and by the end of the issue I really felt that Louise and I had re-set the book on a decidedly different course. Issue 387 set the stage for everything that was to come. Editorial was allowing me to help shape and construct the future of the book, I remain as grateful now as I was then, if slightly less hyperactive.
In the subsequent issues, Cable and the New Mutants continued to bond and explore the parameters of their new dynamics while facing off against classic X-Men rogues such as Blob, Pyro and Sabretooth. I was lobbying for a Wolverine showdown from day one and we finally received the green light to have Wolverine guest star in two issues! I was ecstatic. My new guy was gonna throw down with my favorite character of all time, he had to win right???
NEXT: THE DEADPOOL DILEMMA!
Deadpool explodes in action with even more images from the upcoming Deadpool video game! How can this game NOT live up to the hype with all these dynamic new images being released? Enjoy!
New Deadpool images continue to arrive as the hype builds for the most anticipated Marvel game in a decade! These new images find Deadpool in violent conflicts with all sorts of nemesis, including another popular Liefeld creation, CABLE!
Great swordplay is a signature of any Deadpool action and looks to be essential in Deapool’s gameplay!
Where’s John Woo when you need him? Double fisted double taps galore are in store when the Deadpool game arrives!
Deadpool’s healing factor will likely be put to the test based on this image. How many times can the Merc with Mouth defy death? Given that Death actually plays a character in the Deadpool game we are to bound to find out!
Cable looks to have a powerful presence in the Deadpool game, fitting as their history together was established in Deadpool’s first appearance in New Mutants #98. I should know since I wrote and drew that milestone. Heh.
More action as Deadpool scraps with rival mercenaries! Blood looks to be spilling in every direction in this image!