Liefeld Talks Titans

A preview of his versions of the characters got people…talking to say the least. Come August, Rob Liefeld will jump over to DC’s Teen Titans for a two-issue guest-stint, illustrating a story written by Gail Simone, and featuring the new Hawk & Dove.

While we’ve seen his art, we caught up with the creator for a quick chat and surprising facts about his history with the Teen Titans.

Newsarama: First off, you were a big Titans fan as a kid, right?

Rob Liefeld: I was a major, big time fan of the Teen Titans as a kid. I loved the comic in the mid 70's incarnation prior to Marv Wolfman and George Perez's ‘80s re-launch. I loved the Aquaman cartoon because it had the Teen Titan feature on it, the one where Kid Flash's costume colors were reversed to red on top and yellow legs...I love the Titans, yes.

A little known fact is that I was an early member of the ‘80s Teen Titans fan club, Titan Talk along with my early Youngblood collaborator and current Wildstorm exec Hank Kanalz. And even more little known is that I'm on the guest book in Teen Titans #50, the Wedding of Donna Troy. George had my name added to the guest list. If I'd been on time with my photo, George would have drawn me in the book. See, I've always been late, deadline challenged…even as a kid.

NRAMA: And for fans who may not know, in the early ‘90s you were in negotiations with DC about doing a Titans limited series with Arsenal and Speedy which eventually morphed into...

RL: I proposed a new Titans book in 1991, Team Titans was the proposal, Jon Peterson who edited the book approved it, Marv Wolfman signed on to co-write it and then I couldn't make the deal with Dick Giordano. God bless him, we just couldn't make the numbers work. So I took my proposal and merged it with an existing indie project I had called Youngblood. Next thing you know, POOF...Image comics was born.

NRAMA: Can you tell us about the circumstances surrounding that time and that project?

RL: Shaft was intended to be Speedy. Vogue was a new Harlequin design, Combat was a Kh'undian warrior circa the Legion of Super Heroes, ditto for Photon and Die Hard was a Star Labs android. I forgot who Chapel was supposed to be. So there you have it, the secret origin of Youngblood.

NRAMA: Before that, you did some work for DC back in the late ‘80s, mostly notably the Hawk & Dove miniseries, but haven't done anything for them in over 15 years. Why such a long absence?

RL: I have no idea. I did a little three page Superman/Aquaman sequence a few years back but that was mostly due to Jeph Loeb's influence. Certainly Dan Didio is a reason I'm working there right now. Jeph Loeb and Geoff Johns were both instrumental in opening the door. Marvel took up five of those years, Image another five and somewhere along the line time just passed by. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity. While I'm not a Mark Waid level DC trivia master, I'm pretty informed on DC, I've always bought a pretty equal amount of DC books to Marvel and I just love the DCU.

NRAMA: So this wasn’t a sudden thing?

RL: Nope - I'd been talking to Geoff Johns for years, on and off, most recently when he was telling me about the new Hawk, this was back in August of this past year. I told him I should draw a variant cover, I was dying to do anything Titans related. It didn't happen but then this opportunity opened up. I submitted a fan drawing of the Titans to show how I'd draw them, next thing you know, I'm helping out on the summer schedule.

NRAMA: Well obviously, your fill-in begs the question – any plans for any future DC work?

RL: Hell yes. Can't say what though.

NRAMA: For these issues, you're working on a book with an established tone and style, as opposed to characters like X-Force that you largely created and stylized. Will this require you to alter or adjust your usual style at all?

RL: Yes, definitely yes. I'm still feeling my way through these characters, figuring them out. I don't want to go too off the mark with any of them. I drew Cyborg too small then I drew him too big, now I think I have a feel for him. Ditto for Robin. I'm still finding my way with Wonder Girl and the others. I've already heard from fans I need to tone down her chest and I will, no problem. I'll probably just get used to them when the arc is over.

NRAMA: Finally, who are you having the most fun drawing, and how far are you into the work?

RL: I got the plot early last week, and I'm 8 pages into it. I'm already in the groove. X-Force already answered the question of whether I can deliver or not. Case closed. You’ll see the issues on time.

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