Know When To Fold Them

Today at The Journal, the indefatigable Rachel Davies returns with a review of Anneli Furmark's Red Winter

While many comic books involving tense political climates announce it clearly, or feature the political climate as the meaning for the book, Red Winter’s 1970’s Sweden, following the fall of the social-democratic party, isn’t so much important on its own, but in the way that it affects our protagonist, secondary to the romantic emotional tether of the book. Books like Art Spiegelman’s infamous Maus or Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less grapple with the way politics affect our lives in a very head-on way––the central tension of these books is parsing through a problematic history, and using politics as a lens on love, and other emotions. Furmark has strayed from that route, and uses love as a means to view politics, commenting on almost exclusively the ways that a political affiliation problematizes a relationship between two people.

It must be Drawn & Quarterly day here at TCJ, because that's not all-we've also got a visit from Robert "Bobbie" Sikoryak, who documented his most recent book tour for you, the Journal reader. As is his wont, said documentation comes in comic form, and features a loving tribute to the "other" Robert in comics--sweet Liefeld. Before agreeing to run the piece, I extensively confirmed with D&Q and Sikoryak that Liefeld's work would be treated with the utmost respect, and they assured me that was the case. It's not so much that I'm a super huge Liefeld fan, although I do have a lot of fondness for the way Matt wrote about him, but that I'm not a super huge fan of that thing where 80% of the comics internet started talking about the feet thing all the time. Same thing with the tv show 24--for the entire time it was running, every guy and their best guy friend had the same joke, asking about when Kiefer went to the bathroom, and everyone always asked it with the same gee-golly tone of voice that made it clear they believed they were the first person to ever make that observation. Liefeld was/is the same way--he's the guy that turns every pencildick into Manny Farber with the fucking feet comments. It doesn't matter that there's like 800 zillion super-hero artists who couldn't draw a flatscreen television set without lightboxing an IKEA catalog, all of whom have completely escaped criticism since the dawn of their miserable, dull-ass careers, Rob Liefeld is somehow the exemplification of the failing of modern illustration because of some affectation that had absolutely zero bearing on his job, which was to draw giant steroid cases with guns shooting at Spider-man rip-offs while women with the most insane hair you've ever seen screamed so big you could trace their gumline with a cricket bat. Until I started reading the comments section to Rob Liefeld articles, my opinion on the guy was that I had zero interest in reading any of his comics ever again, but ever since he became the target joke for people who call themselves intellectuals while also calling Saga an "indie" comic, I sort of fell in love with him. That being said, I've met him a few times and he always seemed deliriously happy with his station in life, so maybe I should just let it go, it's not a battle that needs fighting. I also did try to read some X-Force a few years ago and it was an impossible slog. I guess the whole point of this complaint is: sharpen your knives?

8 Responses to Know When To Fold Them

  1. Wigcultist says:

    Very, very funny stuff

  2. Alex says:

    Everybody laying into Liefeld is hacky but, as you say with X-Force, the guy just didn’t/doesn’t make great comics. More importantly to his reputation, he has a twenty year history of being terrible to the people who work for/with him, whether it be the since-confirmed story about him punching and choking his employee Dan Fraga at the Extreme Offices in the 90s or telling the New York Times in 2016 that Fabian Nicieza is Deadpool’s creator in name only comparing the importance of his contributions to that of a random janitor passing through the Marvel offices.

    My problem with Rob Liefeld isn’t that he can’t draw part of the human figure, it’s that he’s got a past full of well-documented verbal and, at least once, physical abuse. Dude is a creep.

  3. Alex says:

    I can’t believe I’m linking to an Ain’t It Cool interview, but Rob Liefeld made a huge deal about how comics should be creator-owned and then didn’t pay his employees royalties on their books, even, apparently, one that was created, written and drawn by the same dude

    I feel like the “haha feet” BS slowly led to a backlash to the idea that Liefeld was awful, which in turn led to everybody forgetting how he burned all of those bridges he burned from the mid-90s to a couple years ago. I’m not saying every artist needs to be this Annie Koyama-type great person where everybody who works with them walks away saying they’re incredibly generous people who changed their lives for the better, but, I don’t know, maybe we should remember how awful a person this dude is before we give him a big reassessment and praise him for having a great attitude (toward fans on twitter).

  4. A Brau says:

    Alex, the point isn’t that Liefeld is good, the point is that people who like Saga are lame-ass norms, not even a half-step removed from fans of The Walking Dead and craft beer, with no business assessing art of any kind.

  5. Bertram Yulico says:

    Rob Liefeld is the Mark Wahlberg of comics.

  6. I didn’t realise he was so awful.

    How does that square with his approach to working with Brandon Graham and other recent vintage creators, has he mellowed or are they at enough of an arms length to avoid it?

  7. Nemo says:

    Wasn’t the other Robert in comics, Kirkman? Anyway, this phenomenon of some “indie” creators holding Rob Liefeld and his work in great regard is one of the strangest things ever…

  8. Oliver says:

    “Wasn’t the other Robert in comics, Kirkman?”

    Or Kanigher.

    Indie creators venerating Liefeld is the equivalent of ‘mumblecore’ directors praising Edward D. Wood. If criticising Liefeld is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

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