“Graveyard Shift” creator Jon Malin defends fellow comic artist Rob Liefeld from detractors

Rob Liefeld is responsible for creating some of Marvel’s most enduring comic book characters from the 1990s. Deadpool, Cable, the X-Force- all of these were born of Liefeld’s brain, after which he went on to become one of the founding fathers of Image Comics. However, that hasn’t stopped Liefeld’s detractors from criticizing his work (including the often-parroted “Rob Liefeld can’t draw feet” joke), while some have even asserted that his contributions to comic book history are exaggerated.

This persistent flurry of criticism apparently doesn’t sit well with Jon Malin, who was at one time an assistant to Liefeld. Now a renowned comic book creator in his own right, Malin himself has been derided for having a “90s art style”, though that hasn’t stopped him from illustrating three separate graphic novels which raised over $100 thousand each (Jawbreakers: Lost Souls, Graveyard Shift Vols. 1 & 2).

In a recent livestream on his YouTube channel, Malin meticulously breaks down some of the criticism, and provides samples of artwork to demonstrate Liefeld’s full contribution to comics beyond whether or not he could draw feet. Malin asserts that the “90s style”, which Liefeld helped to define, is a much more dramatic art style than the artwork found in many current comics, and is therefore more attractive to young teenage boys. Malin describes Liefeld’s art as a “gateway drug” for comics, in that young male readers would see tough, athletic heroes, big guns, and yes – sexy women – all in dramatic and exaggerated poses and would immediately be compelled to buy in. (As a former teenage male myself, I tend to agree)

Liefeld’s promo image for Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” event

One of the most interesting take-aways from Malin’s remarks however, is the motive behind the years of relentless criticism and jokes at Liefeld’s expense. Sure, feet were never Liefeld’s strong suit and we’ve all seen the infamous image of his barrel-chested Captain America (which never actually appeared in any Captain America book), but every artist has a panel or piece of art that really misses the mark, particularly in a fast-paced, deadline-driven industry like comic books. Why is Liefeld the target of so much ridicule even among his own peers? Jon Malin states plainly that he believes it is because of jealousy. Liefeld was a millionaire by the age of 25, and he was very much Marvel’s own “boy wonder” while other veteran creators looked on from the sidelines, wondering why their own paychecks were dwarfed by the upstart phenomenon.

Are any of Jon Malin’s claims about Rob Liefeld accurate? You’ll have to watch his full video below to decide for yourself, then let us know your own take in the comments!

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