One of the odder debates ricocheting around the comics industry these days is over the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the art style currently employed by Frank Miller. And while it’s unlikely that the legendary “Dark Knight” creator will be jumping on social media any time soon to defend his current work, he just got a rather outspoken surrogate in his corner: Rob Liefeld.
In a new interview on Screen Rant about life after the “Deadpool” movie, the ever opinionated artist behind the Merc With a Mouth and countless other comics opened up on his preferred methods of comics making and defended the new Miller work in no uncertain terms.
“I will fight you – I will fight a line of people in a ring – you don’t like Frank’s new stuff? Let’s go! Let’s go right now!” Liefeld said. “He is… the gestures? Storytelling? The page design? It’s superior.”
The comments come after Miller’s latest contributions to DC Comics’ “Dark Knight III: The Master Race”“Dark Knight III: The Master Race” have garnered both scrutiny and praise online. Over a decade ago when the cartoonist returned to the world of his “Dark Knight Returns” with “DK2,” the critical response to Miller’s increasing idiosyncratic style was mixed at best. But in the intervening years, his jagged mark making and exaggerated cartooning have earned more and more fans amongst a newer generation of comics makers.
Most recently, a well-traveled blog post by comics artist James Harvey that took DC to task for coloring Miller’s new work too close to their highly detailed and photo-realistic house style set the web on fire. And it appears that Liefeld is ready to defend the more stylized approach Miller utilizes in his current comics as well.
“If you want your pretty Alex Ross paintings, he’s doing stuff for The Beatles right now in Vegas. He’s out there, you can go find him, and he’s [also] doing some Spider-Man covers,” Liefeld explained. “But, again, Walt Simonson? Super stylish. Frank Miller? Super stylish. John Byrne, you know… the first time I thought that American comics had met the manga/anime – the anime I watched and the manga that I read – was John Byrne with all the big big big eyes he put on people (especially women!) All the guys I loved were really stylized, and I was just never somebody who chased the photo stuff. Jack Kirby… the entire breadth of his career is just this unbridled unchained energy on the page, and none of that looks like reality. And that’s stuff I’m drawn to.”
Liefeld went on to say that the modern comics artists he follows hew much closer to that stylized look and feel more so than the classical anatomy of, say, a Neal Adams. “I fully believe the industry is embracing more stylized work now. Stuff like ‘ODY-C’ at Image? My God, [artist] Christian Ward? Whoa. The stuff Brandon Graham is doing for me on ‘Prophet’? Vey stylized. To me, my favorite – fan-favorite – artist of all time who had a limited body of work and some covers was Art Adams. I love the skinny legs and the long waists and the long thighs and skinny ankles. And is there a more stylized artist than Mike Mignola right now? He continues to become a minimalist.
“That’s the stuff that’s fun to look at, y’know? That’s the stuff that turns my crank, and I see a lot more of it than I did. We’ve swung back – completely back. You look at what people are doing on Spider-Gwen and Gwenpool and even the [regular] Deadpool artists… some of it looks “underground” influenced, it’s cool, y’know? So I think the art form is in the best place it’s ever been.”
For more with Liefeld, check out Screen Rant, and feel free to sound off on modern Miller on the CBR Forums.
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