e’s had a hand in creating X-Men universe stalwarts Cable and Domino, is the brains behind superhero team Youngblood, and is one of the founders of Image Comics, whose groundbreaking business model allows creators to maintain the rights to their work. But writer/artist Rob Liefeld is arguably most synonymous with Marvel’s iconic Merc With A Mouth, Deadpool.
Famously outspoken, when we sit down to talk Heroes & Inspirations he’s like a singularity of unbridled enthusiasm, riffing on his favourite movies, TV shows and comics – occasionally punctuating the conversation with a carefully placed sound effect to illustrate a point. But it’s clear where his heart really lies. “Comic books are always my preference,” he laughs. “Even the best movie isn’t better than the best comic book, in my opinion.”NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER
My dad would take me to the barber shop and at that point, probably aged seven, I was reading Harvey comics like Casper and Richie Rich. But this guy had Marvel comics, so he was cool. My very first Marvel comic I believe was Fantastic Four, and it had Namor, the Sub-Mariner, bursting out of the ocean on the cover. Namor was my absolute favourite. This guy was like Wolverine before Wolverine – he was angry, he was kicking ass. That literally gave me the Marvel Comics bug, and from there I was sunk.
THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES
I always liked the guys who weren’t the stars – like The Legion Of Superheroes. They are not currently even being published, but, they’re one of DC’s best comics. Timber Wolf, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl... you say those to somebody, they don’t know who they are, because they haven’t had a movie or TV show, aside from a cartoon that ran for one season a couple of years back. But I thought they were the greatest-looking, with the costume designs by Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell… I also liked Moon Knight, and Wolverine before he became the most popular thing everywhere. I was clearly attracted to the rogue characters. The do-gooders were not as intriguing!
HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY
I bought the book How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way, and after that you understood that there was a way to do a Marvel comic. Marvel comics had more edge, more muscle, more energy. I think I’ve put that in my my work all these years. How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way was Marvel’s bible, and [artist] John Buscema has a page where he explains, “Here’s a regular person and here’s a Marvel super”. The regular guy has a good physique, could be an athlete in any sport. But then Captain America is standing next to him, and he’s clearly modified – bigger, stronger, more, y’know,
Taking in Namor and Westeros via a stop-off in a galaxy far, far away, the Deadpool creator tells Richard Edwards about his big genre loves and influences
awesome. I just took that and said, “That’s how I want my stuff to look!”
I modelled what I wanted to do after the popular writer/artists. When Frank Miller took over Daredevil it got better. When Walt Simonson took over Thor it got better. When John Byrne took over Fantastic Four it got better. They controlled the imagery. When you write you are creating the pacing; every page turn is something that you dictate, so that’s what I set out to do. You’ve got to control the page turns, the layout, the design, all of it. At some point if you’re not in control of the writing you’re losing half of the battle, you’re not connecting as much as you could.
I saw it 32 times in 1977. Every Saturday and Sunday my mom and dad would drop me off
I was clearly attracted to rogue characters. The do-gooders weren’t as intriguing!
and we would see two showings, and that lasted for two months. With my friends, we’d agree to watch a different segment of the film at a given time – it would be like, “Okay everybody look to the right of the Cantina so we can see all the characters…” You didn’t have a VCR, so if you were going to see something you were going to see it then and then only.
People forget how revolutionary it was. I tell people to go back and watch Logan’s Run, which was out one year before. When Logan and Francis shoot their guns, the gun flares and then a squib on the wall explodes. There was no laser like in Star Trek and it looked kind of cheesy. Then in one year it took such a leap, it was like I’d seen the future. The movie was ahead of its time in every possible way.
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN AND THE BIONIC WOMAN
I loved Star Trek with Shatner and the original Battlestar Galactica – they were appointment television for me as a kid, and I still think they’re better than most of the stuff that’s out today. But for action and imagination in the late ’70s, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman were top. They crossed over their worlds, they created characters that you loved, you loved OSI that they worked for, and then you had an army of fembots! And when they teamed up to battle Sasquatch it was the most exciting part of my childhood. They were like really great superhero action movies.
GAME OF THRONES
I watch a lot of long-form television. Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galactica is still underheralded as one of the best shows that was ever on TV, and I’m consumed with Game Of Thrones like everybody. I think it certainly hurt the perception of the
Hobbit movies. Lord Of The Rings was the standard and it seemed inconceivable at the time, but this TV show has turned the tables, because if you grew up on the Lord Of The Rings movies, where do you go next? Well there’s that level of sex, betrayal and violence which feels more real. All the new books that I have coming out are more R-rated, because I don’t want to do PG-13 comics you can get anywhere. I’m not sure I’d be the best person to take you back and do a Fantastic Four story, because I’d want Reed and Sue to have sex!
THE DEADPOOL MOVIE
[Director] Tim Miller, [writers] Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, [star] Ryan Reynolds – I say all their names because I want everyone to know those are the guys that you can credit with pulling off the greatest vision of Deadpool. I made him, I introduced him, and I’m telling you right now, he’s never been better than in that film. They found the right tone, the perfect balance. Everyone else in the Deadpool movie is in a straight R-rated film, and Deadpool is the chaos and the insanity, which is why we love him. Sometimes in the comic book, everybody’s nuts, and I think if that had been on screen you wouldn’t have had the same connection. At the end of the day, it’s a vengeance movie – somebody did him wrong, and he’s going to exact vengeance on them. They weren’t saving the planet, they weren’t chasing a McGuffin, so it’s very focused.
Deadpool: Bad Blood, by Liefeld, Chad Bowers and Chris Sims, is out now.
I’m not sure I’d be the best person for Fantastic Four. I’d want Reed and Sue to have sex!