It’s easy to like Rob Liefeld. He basically lived every comics fan’s dream, starting out at age eighteen with no formal training and quickly becoming the most popular artist in comics, literally shaping the artistic style of comics for an entire decade. Then, at the height of his popularity, he left Marvel with some of his peers to form what is still the biggest independent comic company. At the same time, it’s easy to dislike him, mostly because everyone thinks his art sucks. While I have to admit I have a hard time calling his art good, there’s a dynamism to it that lets me enjoy it unironically more and more these days. On top of that, there is Rob’s enthusiasm for both his work and comics in general, and while he gets a lot of (deserved) shit for being late with his comics, I’ve never heard of him being anything but gracious and genuine with his fans. He’s recently extended his outreach by creating an application for smartphones (developed by Curtiss Pope and available in the iOS store and, eventually, for Android), so I decided to give it a go.
Immediately upon loading the app you are greeted with a letter from Rob, which is nice enough.
From there you’re given a menu with a couple of choices:
- The Media/Art button takes you to a selection of random Liefeld art, which is a mishmash of commission pieces (I doubt the Deadpool/Boba Fett drawing is licensed), covers and previews pages for his various series through the years. It’s all obviously grabbed off a Google image search of “Rob Liefeld” and is presented with no attribution as to where it’s from and who the collaborators are. There’s also a video portion which is basically every YouTube video featuring him the app designers could find.
- The Events tab shows The Rob’s upcoming convention appearances. There’s only one on the docket right now.
- New Comics shows a list of what is coming out this week. Of course you have to click through to each title to see who the creators are, so if you’re hoping for it to identify what Rob’s got coming out, you’re SOL.
- About Rob takes you to The Official Rob Liefeld biography which basically informs you why Rob is the best, including some dubious claims as seen below. That said, I’m not expecting Rob Liefeld’s Official App to give all the dirty details.
- Finally we have the Ask Rob selection, which is pretty self-explanatory. Fans can ask Rob direct questions via the app and view previously answered questions. Current answers include what Rob considers his best work (What If…Wolverine Became an Agent of SHIELD*) and what Rob thinks about fan-fiction (he’s ok with it, but did not say whether he’d give my Deadpool/Feral ship his blessing). Again, I don’t expect Rob to get too deep into his process or what he thinks about what’s going on in Gaza right now, but it is a pretty cool portal for fans who don’t have access to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any of the other social media streams to contact him.
So that’s about it. Ultimately the app is harmless, and might be cool for some people out there. It has the feel of creators’ first stabs at websites in the late 1990s, like someone said, “Hey Rob, let’s make an app!” and Rob was cool with it but ultimately they have no idea what the heck it’s for. More likely it’ll be a source of internet snark for a week or so (cough this piece cough) and will be forgotten as soon as I need space on my phone for more cat pictures. Still, like Rob Liefeld, I’m glad it exists because it means that the 90s still lives on a bit longer.
*spoilers: it may be his worst
The Rob Liefeld app is available for download from the App Store in iOS.