The Week In Creative Differences: John Rozum and Rob Liefeld

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By Todd Allen

20850 400x600 The Week In Creative Differences: John Rozum and Rob LiefeldIn comics, were one privy to what goes on in the editorial suite, you could probably do “The Hour In Creative Differences,” not “The Week.”  That said, there have been a couple cases of creative differences that have bubbled to the surface in the last week or so: the circumstances of how John Rozum came to leave Static Shock and the demise of The Infinite from Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld.

First up, we have Rozum.  Rozum should be best known for his wonderful Xombi comic, which found plenty of love from critics but not nearly enough love from readers last year.  Rozum found himself in the odd position of being hired to write a comic, but wasn’t actually asked to do any writing.  OK, you’re thinking this isn’t that unusual… but this time, there wasn’t an Event dictating the plot, just his artist/co-writer and editor. In Rozum’s words:

To say I was disappointed with how things turned out is an understatement. From the first issue on, I was essentially benched by Harvey Richards and artist/writer Scott McDaniel. All of my ideas and suggestions were met with disdain, and Scott McDaniel lectured me on how my method for writing was wrong because it wasn’t what the Robert McKee screenwriting book he read told him was the way to do things. The man who’d never written anything was suddenly more expert than me and the editor was agreeing with him. Scott had also never read a Static comic book, nor seen the cartoon series, yet was telling me that my dialogue didn’t sound true to the character and would “fix it.”

Essentially, Rozum didn’t like where the book was going and was reduced to dialogue coach by the sound of it.  Hearing the story, I’m a little surprised he left his name on the book and swap in Alan Smithee or some such pseudonym as a placeholder.  From someone who with Milestone’s original incarnation, this must have been pretty frustrating.  On the other hand… something went wrong at an editorial level with a Dwayne McDuffie creation?

But, if the book’s not remotely what you were trying to do and you’re getting a negative reputation with both potential employers and fans, I don’t see where you have any choice, but to make a statement.  These things happen.

Rozum also goes out of his way to diffuse some of the charges of institutionalized racism that have been making the rounds on the message boards:

Static Shock did not get cancelled because DC has some racist motivation against minority characters, or the Milestone characters.Static Shock was cancelled, in my opinion, because it wasn’t a good comic book. If it had been, people would have stuck with it, just as they have with Animal Man, who is a C-list character elevated by the talents of its creative team being allowed to do what they do best. DC wanted Static Shock to succeed as much as anyone did. They would never have started the series if they didn’t think it had a chance to do so.

Personally, I’d be up for more Xombi… but I suspect the sales were just too low for that to be happening.

Then, just so you don’t think that creative differences only happen at DC and Marvel, we have the strange case of The Infinite. This is the Robert Kirkman/Rob Liefeld project over at Skybound.  News broke on Liefeld’s twitter and then hit the wires.

The short version?  Liefeld used a new inker on issue 5.  Skybound/Kirkman apparently didn’t like the inked pages.  Everybody walked away unhappy.  Or at least that’s what Liefeld appears to be saying.  I haven’t heard the Skybound/Kirkman side of the story yet.

On the other hand, it isn’t like both Kirkman and Liefeld don’t have plenty of other projects to pay attention to.  Schedules like those two have, one problem project could have a domino effect on two or three others if they’re not careful.

Comments

  1. Chris Hero says:

    I *loved* the Milestone line way back in the day. I’ve been unbelievably sad with how the people who made those great comics have been treated over the years.

    The Infinite stuff…I also would like to hear the Skybound side of things. It wasn’t the best comic ever, but it was fun. I would like to see that story conclude somehow, but it sounds like emotions won’t allow a conclusion.

  2. Having seen examples of pencils and inks for those Liefeld pages over at Bleeding Cool, my own conclusion is that (1) what Liefeld did were glorified pencils, not layouts, (2) the end result looked nothing like a Liefeld comic, but (3) the end result looked better than anything Liefeld has ever drawn. The change was so huge, it reminded me a bit of the whole Nelson-redrawing-John-Byrne’s-Action-Comics-pages thing from a few years ago.

  3. Duh, I got my #1 backwards. What that should have said is “what Liefeld did were glorified layouts, not pencils.”

  4. I’d like to think there’s more to the story than what we’re hearing on The Infinite. Those are seriously some of the best Liefeld pages I’ve ever seen – the combination of his roughs and the really nice finishes are enough to make me think this Liefeld guy is pretty good. ;) I find it hard to imagine they were rejected for quality.

  5. Nawid A says:

    Infinite was going to be cancelled anyway, sales were dropping like mad.

  6. Solmaker says:

    I dropped Infinite because I disliked the art and couldn’t tell the characters apart, so I had a hard time following or caring about the story. But those inked pages from #5 look so good, I probably would have picked up the book again. Odd if Kirkman – a big Liefeld fan – fired Liefeld for his art not looking Liefeld-y enough! Hard to tell if we’re getting the full story… Kirkman usually seems pretty sensible.

  7. Please proofread articles before posting them. I’m not talking about minor nitpicks like “it’s” vs. “its” (as much as I love to complain about those); I’m talking about things like:

    “Hearing the story, I’m a little surprised he left his name on the book and swap in Alan Smithee or some such pseudonym as a placeholder. From someone who with Milestone’s original incarnation, this must have been pretty frustrating.”

    IOW, me having to reread the above sentences two or three times before it becomes clear that my reading comprehension level hasn’t suddenly dropped; you’ve left out a key word in each one.

  8. Scott McDaniel’s name will always immediately prevent me from picking up a title he’s doing art on.

    And I just can’t believe Rob Liefeld is making the kind of mad money he is probably making, after seeing his sad pencil pages over on Bleeding Cool. The inker is the artist on that book, NOT him.

  9. I was appalled at what a poor comic the new 52 Static was. I couldn’t believe Rozum could produce something that bad. Now I know how it happened.

    I understand the impulse to have artists write, because so many artists have turned out to be good or even great writers, but obviously somebody neglected to request a sample from McDaniel.

    The Milestone characters really are great and I wish I could read more of them, especially Xombi, Rocket, and Hardware.

  10. Snikt Snakt says:

    Why Liefeld continues to get work boggles my mind…

  11. Zoomy says:

    That’s very different from Rozum’s original statement about why he left – was he still hoping to get another writing job at DC back then? :)

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