Thursday, July 26, 2012

Youngblood (McFarlane Toys)

Rob Liefeld has become somewhat of a punching bag for the comic industry ever since the early 1990's. Some of it is merited, but there is a fair amount of the blame that is simply there for the sake of him being the scapegoat.

Like the majority of Image Comics artists, Mr. Liefeld made his departure from Marvel Comics with the idea of being a self published artist seeing all the reward and benefits from creating characters, and not just receiving a tiny kickback from it. His first venture would be Youngblood - A series about a superhero team sanctioned and overseen by the United States government. As one of the flagship titles for Image Comics, it saw major success in terms of sales, but wasn't necessarily critically acclaimed for its story, which led to Liefeld firing his co-writer.

Placo Toys actually attempted a Youngblood toy series in 1995 which saw very little success. When the opportunity arose, Liefeld turned to McFarlane Toys in 1996 in hopes of getting a toy line off the ground.

The series launched with six figures which would become the one and only set released for the line - with the exception of the two pack which contained the Youngblood figure Shaft and the Wetworks figure Mother-One. Shortly after the release of the two pack the series was cancelled. However it is speculated that this was not solely based on the sales of figures, but rather the standing of Mr. Liefeld as CEO of Image Comics.

It was alleged that Liefeld was using his check writing "powers" to pay personal expenses out of Image Comics funds. He was often times accused of making business decisions that were counterproductive to the business, and lost a lot of respect from his fellow Image alumni when it was found that he was recruiting Image talent in hopes of luring employees to his new independent company and projects. However, the most shocking allegation was that he was copying and/or tracing his comics from other people's artwork - Something that to this day has never been proven.

Liefeld announced that he was leaving Image Comics shortly before an official press release from core Image founders announcing that he had been fired. Since then he has struggled to find the foothold in the comic world that he used to have. This is mainly due to his inability to meet deadlines. Even when given the opportunity to produce books again for Marvel's Reborn line, Liefeld did not deliver books as promised, and the contract was terminated.

In 2007 it was announced that he would return to Image Comics, and that several new series were in the works related to Youngblood. The once flagship title of the company is back in production, and slowly picking up steam.

In interviews he often times refers to himself as the Britney Spears of comics. Hot, hot, hot, then suddenly not, not, not. We simply see him as an artist who got too big for his britches, and instead of focusing on his books and meeting deadlines, thought he could get by on selling his name via interviews. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. In spite of all of this though, Liefeld does have a strong following of fans that are eager to buy when he bothers to produce.

Join us next time when we take a look at Toynami's Futurama!

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