Brain Rot: The Infamous Rob Liefeld Levis Commercial




Beschizza weighs in...two years ago.


Even back whenever this aired (mid-90s?), I remember thinking, of all the comics artists, this is who they picked?


Hands and feet, ha!


Man, didn't realize he was so young when he started. For some reason I always associated his style with that of a middle-aged geezer.


Really I always associated his style with a barely pubescent 12 year old who has the hots for his chetara action figure.


earlier. I was in high school, so no later than spring of '92. I'd put it at '90, +/- a year.

As a Spike Lee fan, I used to love this series of ads. Even though I was fully on-board the Marvel mutant train of that time, I read X-Men, not New Mutants, so I really only knew him because of the ad. At the time, I was around 15yo, I thought his style was cool. After studying drawing more thoroughly for a few years in art school… not so much.


I'm pretty sure the action figure had more realistic proportions.


Inquiring minds want to know: Why was/is this "infamous"?

I've never seen this commercial before today. Hated Liefield's art then, still do now. That was a horrible era; Liefield, Lee, Larson, McFarlane (I think he was the real start of it) and a few others in the Marvel portfolio. I don't remember disliking much from DC though. My wife and I read almost everything from Marvel & DC at the time, but had pretty much stopped with comics by the mid-90s. Partially because of rising costs, partially due to the direction the art was going.


Has Rob's art improved at all in the last 20 years since this was recorded? Pictures maybe?


Ya know, as obvious as Liefeld's flaws are (and they are) his style is also very recognizable and was influential.

None of us are perfect.

Kudos to @Ed_Piskor for copping the best of Liefeld's rhymes in celebrating his hero.

(as well as drawing ammo-pouches before feet).


No, not really since he's set in his ways and still makes money at it. If anything, with new computerized coloring techniques (METAL SKIN GRADIENTS!) and higher print quality the crap-ness of his work stands out even more. I hear he is a nice guy and will do his allotted time of autographing at conventions.*

*you know, for his seven fans


About the best way I'd put it is that it's an inappropriate style for superhero comics, which tend to favor somewhat-exaggerated-but-still-more-or-less-within-normal-bounds-proportioned figures and clean lines. There's a lot of wiggle room within that visual genre--the two most popular artists in superhero comics in the eighties were probably John Byrne and Frank Miller, who had very different approaches to it--and comics on the satirical end of superheroics can often get away with a more "cartoonish" approach. (I'm thinking especially of the artists that are working with Charles Soule on Thunderbolts and She-Hulk.)

You know who Liefeld reminds me of a lot? Don Simpson, who's probably best known within comics for his eighties series Megaton Man (eventually, the character would be published by Image Comics, which Liefeld helped create) and the one-shot story with Alan Moore, "In Pictopia", which decried the grim 'n' gritty era of comics which Moore helped create (Moore, of course, would eventually end up working for Liefeld, revising some of Liefeld's creations--most notably Supreme, a thinly-disguised Superman ripoff--into less grim-n-gritty characters). The thing is, Liefeld seemed to think that the muscles-on-his-muscles approach that Simpson used in an obviously satirical fashion was actually pretty cool.

Still, though, that sort of art could have passed muster in a section of the comics industry that wasn't devoted to the superhero aesthetic: undergrounds and independents. Weirdo, for instance, regularly featured artists who were way worse than Rob, and "oddly-proportioned characters with an excessive amount of superfluous detail" is another way of describing much of Robert Crumb's output in the eighties. (You want a female character who's exaggerated in almost every way? Meet Mode O'Day.) But, of course, that would have paid a lot less, and I don't think that Peter Bagge or Dori Seda were ever offered blue jeans commercials.


I think you articulated that very well. If Liefeld were to just be an outsider he'd get some minor jabs and fond recollections, but the problem was that he became the poster boy and industry standard of the modern era of comics and his ubiquity became highly irritating.

BTW though, I know some women shaped like a Crumb drawing (none like a Liefeld though, since they tend to still have spines).


At least he seems to be able to draw feet now.


I wouldn't say it's infamous, I'd say it's a cultural artifact of note. It was a bittersweet note: on the one hand, it was mainstream media recognition of comics in a way that really hadn't been done before. This was a commercial showing a comic artist as being held up as a cool dude, side by side with other hip artist types in the commercial series. He wasn't being presented as a nerd or loser, but as a guy doing something enviable and awesome, in a commercial directed by one of the hot hip directors of the time.

At the same time, many in comics felt that Liefeld, particularly at that time, was single-handedly damaging and/or destroying the comics medium. Image started with a creator's right stance, but some of their mouthier members made overtures that writers were unnecessary and that only artists were the guys who paid the bills. Given how Liefeld in particular was a very exaggerated artist with some fairly sizable gaps in his abilities (not how Ed parodizes his style, especially with the tiny feet), that rankled many. By being a very outspoken proponent of Image back in the 1990s (both in badmouthing their former employers as well as promoting themselves), Liefeld gained a very polarizing reputation.

In hindsight, it's worth noting that we really haven't seen this approach since. The last time a comics professional really got any sort of exposure like this was when one artist was on MTV's 'Real Life' years ago, afaicr. Liefeld, for his part, at least recognizes who he was and who he is today.

And in answer to codinghorror's question: NO.


Unless his dog chewed the feet of his action toy... and stretched its legs out of shape... and squished every one of its elliptical accessories...


That slip cover plug...

"Eazy E, Spike Lee, Rob Liefeld"



I see improvement. They're extant, they're thicker, but they still look… off


That he seems to have started at about 12 explains a lot.