Liefeld Takes "Youngblood" & "Bloodstrike" to the Extreme

Rob Liefeld is one busy guy. In addition to running the recently resurrected Extreme Studios imprint at Image Comics -- the company he co-founded -- he's also working on several different film projects, returning to "Bloodstrike" and "Youngblood" on a monthly basis and providing one of the most entertaining comics-related Twitter accounts around.

Following his departure from "Deathstroke," "The Savage Hawkman" and "Grifter" at DC Comics, Liefeld has jumped back into his own books with both feet. He's writing and drawing March's "Bloodstrike" #35 and taking over "Youngblood" from screenwriter John McLaughlin ("Parker," "Hitchcock") beginning with #77.

That's not all, though, concepts like "Bloodstrike" and "Godyssey" are currently set up at different places in Hollywood. He's also written a script about the founding of Image Comics called "Icons" which he revealed over on Dream Movie Cast along with his picks for who should be cast. With so much going on, Comic Book Resources spoke with Liefeld about returning to the books he created at Image, leaving DC Comics and his many movie projects.

CBR News: You're back writing and drawing "Bloodstrike" with #35 -- how has it been getting back into all aspects of that character?

Rob Liefeld: Grisly! Seriously, I am having a blast charting the source for my army of Extreme Zombie Warriors! My first issue sets a decidedly different tone, much more visceral and nasty than anything I've done previously.

What did you think of Tim Seeley's run on the book?

I loved it! Tim's stories were smart and dangerous. I loved his portrayal of Cabbot as well as his depiction of the entire Operation: Born Again program. He enhanced several aspects of the Bloodstrike mythology. My only regret is that he didn't get to illustrate an issue of the series as well as write it. Franchesco [Gaston] delivered amazing work on "Bloodstrike."

Will you be taking over on "Bloodstrike" moving forward, or is this just a short stint?

For the foreseeable future, yes. My hope is to get 6-8 issues out a year.

You're also writing "Youngblood," which John McLaughlin was previously heading up, but I know he's become one of Hollywood's busier screenwriters. Will there be a creative shift on that book as well?

Quite a bit of a shift, I think. John is very clever writer and I couldn't imitate what he does on any level. I jumped at his initial proposal, it was so creative and imaginative and he delivered on every level. His last two issues, #75 and #76 were fantastic, the best of his run. Issue #76 is heavy, really well written, I was floored.

As you mentioned, John is very busy, extremely in demand in movies. I just saw "Hitchcock" and "Parker" which he wrote and I'm thrilled that he is writing the film adaptation of "Kung-Fu." Something had to give as we were falling further behind on the schedule and issue #76 was a perfect break. I've received so much input and feedback from the "Youngblood" fans and I'm certain that this shift from John to myself will be seamless and entertaining. We are really pouring it on!

The artist on the series, Jon Malin, has produced great work and his latest work on #77 and #78 are his personal best. It's like Jim Lee and Steve McNiven had a baby! The storytelling, the detail, the figure work and the page design are spectacular. We are bringing back many old faces that fans have been anticipating. Jon's renditions are some of my absolute favorites.

The solicit text for "Youngblood" #77 mentions a big event coming for Extreme in 2013. What can you tell us about that? Will it be a crossover or its own series?

I'm still working that out now, but everything we are doing is building to a giant storyline that includes all the major players in the Extreme Universe.

Youngblood was the team that started it all at Image, how does it feel to have the book still coming out and hitting the 75-issue mark?

It's very satisfying to reach past 75 issues [of] material and be building towards new adventures and a new relevance. I love it.

"Prophet" was on plenty of Best of 2012 lists, did you expect the book to become such a hit with fans when you hired Brandon Graham to write it?

Yes, I knew that it would resonate and draw attention with its singular vision. Brandon is amazing, he is really pushing the envelope with every issue. The best is yet to come, it's not too late to jump on board "Prophet."

With Erik Larsen leaving "Supreme," do you have further plans for that series?

Yes, very specific plans but the book won't return until the summer, and then it will explode!

What was it like having a fellow Image founder working on that project?

It was an absolute honor and a privilege. I am a huge Erik Larsen fan, his work has tremendous energy and great variety to how he chooses to depict different genres. His writing is even better. The last twenty years of "Savage Dragon" have proven to be some of the freshest and clever comics published. Having him finish the Alan Moore arc and re-direct Supreme on a new path was no easy task and he pulled it off with style to spare.

Joe Keatinge's run on "Glory" has been incredibly well regarded, but the series is coming to a close. is that due to the story running its course, sales or a combination of the two?

I've never ever looked at the sales on the books. Never. Its never been an issue. What Ross [Campbell] and Joe achieved on "Glory" was similar to what Brandon has achieved on "Prophet" in that they have crafted an all-new way that people see the character. Their achievement on "Glory" is such a personal reflection of their unique creative styles that I can't just slot a creative team in behind them, and say, "Follow this..." I would have to see a take or a creative vision equal to what they produced in order to continue the book at this point. That's a tall order. I'm leaving the door wide open to continue it but at this point it's not in the near future.

Glory will be involved in an upcoming story or two in other titles and she will reflect the portrayal that Joe and Ross have established. Unlike "Prophet," "Glory" takes place in the here and the now, so I have to pay respects and am happy to do so. With Brandon, when he is finished, that door on that vision will close. Bottom line, no one loves Joe and Ross' "Glory" more than me, NO ONE. But they had a finite story that they have told and that is the end of that chapter. I hope they re-visit the character in the future.

Are there any other books you're looking to relaunch in 2013 that you want to talk about? Any other creator-owned work in progress?

I've always got a number of things I'm juggling and when the time is right I'll put them out there. I've been quietly crafting my dream project since February of last year, but its not far along enough as yet.

Last year you not only relaunched Extreme but, also worked at and then left DC Comics -- how was it having both those experiences going on at the same time?

It was weird. On one hand I was letting these amazing creators do whatever the hell they wanted with my characters while I was being a loyal custodian and doing whatever DC wanted, making changes and implementing their particular brand of nutso-bat-shit-crazy into their product. Eventually, we all know how that worked out, I had to unplug from the Matrix and jump off the grid.

On a related note, were there things you saw while at DC that changed how you work with your Extreme creators?

No, I started working with the Extreme folks before I lined up my DC gigs, "Prophet" and "Glory" were underway in early 2011, they were announced in fall 2011 and started shipping in 2012. I believe when you pick a creative team, you have to let them run -- if not, then why did you pick them. The DC thing was just awesome to experience up close and personal. Even with all the leaks from others and all the commentary, even from me, you have NO IDEA how crazy it was. Changes on a 24-hour basis because the corporate directive or the editorial directive woke up in the middle of the night and decided they saw a rainbow. Or a unicorn. Just crazy. And at this point, there's enough out there that you can't just write it off or dismiss it. And here's the deal, I LIKE THOSE PEOPLE. I don't wish any of them ill. My whack editor is gone, but the rest of them are decent, they are just running a crazy house. It was great fun while it lasted, but I had to get out before the cuckoo-birds laid eggs in my head.

How is the "Bloodstrike" film coming along?

I just finished a detailed outline for the "Bloodstrike" film. We will move forward after the outline is approved with the producers. In the meantime I wrote a screenplay for another Extreme property that I won't name at this time but I'm making the media versions of these properties my top priority while the window of opportunity is open.

It was recently announced that "Godyssey" has been optioned -- will the film feature Glory and Avengelyne or take a different approach to the overall story?

Neither Glory or Avengelyne are in the story. I took the name "Godyssey" because I have ownership of it and I tailored a different story. It has elements of the one-off I did that featured Avengelyne but it's in a much different direction. It's more expansive than the original.

Since going public with the "Icons" screenplay and your choices for actors, has there been any movement on that project?

Are you kidding me? My phone and e-mail BLEW UP with interested parties. I was shocked at the positive response. We'll see how it develops and I will keep you posted!

To see what Rob Liefeld is up to next check out "Youngblood" #77 on March 6 and "Bloodstrike" #35 on the 20th.

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