Artist Spotlight – Rob Liefeld
Welcome back everyone, today’s spotlight shines on the extraordinary Rob Liefeld! The legend of Liefeld began during the early-’90s comic book boom, when Rob blasted onto New Mutants by tearing it down and creating a new team filled with his own characters, whilst astonishing the world with his hyper-kinetic art style. Comic book readers were instantly enthralled by this brash, brilliant star, and Marvel duly rewarded Rob with his own title – starting with the (in?)famous X-Force #1. Rob’s legacy was forever cemented by co-creating multimedia superstars such as Deadpool, Cable and X-Force during those stellar runs.
Rob subsequently teamed with Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee, together the three hottest artists in the industry, to lead the Marvel revolt which resulted in the formation of Image Comics. Extreme Studios, whose titles included Youngblood, was eventually contracted to work on Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” event, where Rob penciled Captain America. He then broke away from Image, forming Awesome Comics, whose publications include Alan Moore’s Supreme. Eventually, the prodigal son returned to Marvel, where he worked with Deadpool, Cable and X-Force. In 2011, Rob did a short stint on DC’s Hawk & Dove, the title which launched his professional career.
Though routinely ridiculed for wonky anatomy and gross exaggeration of the human form (Rob certainly isn’t the only artist to do this), he still retains many fans who got hooked on comics through the Liefeld style and enjoy his distinctive, energetic line-work. Love or hate him, there’s no denying that Rob brought a freshness and zest to comic art. You can tell he had immense fun on New Mutants and X-Force, with each (sometimes anatomically-suspect) image bursting with vigorous energy!
Rob may have had an even bigger impact off the comic book page than on it, by shattering existing stereotypes of geek culture, and bringing comics to the wider world. The 1990 Levi’s TV commercial directed by Spike Lee featuring the young, tanned, fresh-faced Liefeld rewrote the narrative on comic book creators, and coupled with the rise of Image Comics, transformed comic book artists into mainstream pop culture darlings! The brashness and fearlessness of trailblazers like Rob led to the industry-altering formation of Image Comics, which established Todd, Jim and Rob as comic book immortals.
Rob penciled thirteen issues of NM, including the landmark issues 87 and 98, which introduced Cable and Deadpool respectively. This was the run which catapulted Rob into comic fandom’s consciousness, and NM OA has historically commanded the highest prices out of all Liefeld artwork. NM OA values have steadily moved up over recent years, with pages featuring team member/s generally starting at $1.5k.
Rob fully unleashed himself on XF, producing art that was even more frenetic and OTT than his NM work – exemplified by XF #4, the outrageous ‘sideways’ issue! In my opinion, XF was Rob’s defining, high-water mark artistically, containing art that perfectly captured the enthusiasm and excess of the early-’90s. XF OA prices have jumped over the past couple years, and just about caught up with NM prices. Rob drew a whopping nine issues of XF before breaking off to form Image Comics.
Side Note: The most sought-after Liefeld OA comes from his early-Marvel period, mainly his short runs on NM and XF (22 issues total). This is similar to the other prominent Image founders, whose most in-demand art come from relatively small bodies of work (e.g. Jim only drew 26 issues total of UXM and XM). Compare this to earlier artist greats, many of whose most desired works come from long runs on certain titles, or from specific periods during which they produced a variety work. This translates to a much larger amount of prime OA in the market from ‘Old Masters’, versus a much more limited supply from the prominent Image founders. This scarcity combined with the growing demand for Image founders’ early-Marvel OA – due to their artistic, industry and cultural impact – leads me to believe that such artwork will continue to appreciate in value over the coming years.
Aside from his NM and XF OA, the rest of Rob’s artwork is still relatively affordable, especially post-2000 pieces. Some may even prefer his later work, as it’s arguably more restrained and anatomically-accurate! The following pieces could be considered pretty good buys, taking into account the popular characters featured and large, dynamic images.
Where can I buy Rob Liefeld OA?
The Artist’s Choice is offering several of Rob’s modern covers and commissions. Romitaman Original Art has some Liefeld pieces for sale, including the above double-page splashes. There are also some pieces in the CAF classifieds; and keep an eye on the various auction sites. Finally, enjoy viewing some of Rob’s spirited work in CAF members’ galleries.
Until next time, happy collecting!