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Liefeld’s Teen Titans Talk

Liefeld’s Teen Titans Talk
by Jennifer M. Contino – 09-30-2005 – courtesy of

Artist Rob Liefeld helped return Hawk and Dove to comic greatness in the late ’80s limited series. Now he’s working with Gail Simone on the newest incarnation of the team, running through the pages of a two-part Teen Titans story arc. Which Titans are his favorite? What does he think about working with Simone? Will he work on the Titans again? What’s this about a Titans East? Find out here ….

Although artist Rob Liefeld might be remembered for his work on Marvel Comics’ New Mutants/X-Force series, as well as his own creations, the artist did some of his earliest comic book work on the new post-Crisis version of the Hawk and Dove. Working with Karl and Barbara Kesel, he designed the new female Dove and helped carve her and Hawk’s place in the DCU. Now, the story he’s crafted with Gail Simone explores the new Hawk and Dove team in town.

As longtime DC fans know, during the Armageddon 2000 series, Hawk was revealed as the big bad going through time and trying to reshape the world in his image – or at least the image of what he imagined it should be. Since that time, Hawk’s appeared as Monarch in several series and was apparently killed in the pages of Justice Society of America. A few months ago an all new Hawk was introduced in the pages of Teen Titans. She and her sister, Dove, helped the Titans take on a deranged Dr. Light, seeking revenge against the teens for the sins of the “fathers” in the Justice League.

Liefeld said he was introduced to the new Hawk last summer. Writer Geoff Johns gave him a preview of the character and told him a little about his plans. Liefeld said it didn’t’ take long for him to become enamored with the hero and “dig her.” He said, “I love the new Hawk, she’s great. They get much more involved in the action in the second issue. There was a lot to set up in the first issue.”

“I have a small sense of ownership to Dove,” Liefeld continued. “I designed the character in the late ’80s and originally her costume would reveal no hair at all if I didn’t throw down with the Kesel’s over it. We finally compromised on the ponytail-do, but you have no idea the effort that took.”

Liefeld revealed some details about the two-parter. “Our is about the nefarious Kestrel, long time Hawk and Dove nemesis, and his attempt to wipe out the new Hawk n’ Dove. When I co-created Kestrel with Barbara and Karl Kesel way back in the mini-series, he was very predator-like, very much a hostile force of evil working on behalf of the agents of Chaos to disrupt the balance of good and evil, tilting it towards evil. I’m happy to report that nothing has changed. It’s very much like how would the Titans fare against a berzerker-raged-but-more-powerful-Wolverine. Kestrel is very Wolverine-like, complete with razor-sharp talons and he attacks the Titans at the end of the first issue and is relentless in the second part of the story.”

The artist has been a fan of the Teen Titans as long as he’s liked comics. He told us long before he became a fan of the X-Men or Avengers, he was reading Teen Titans – that’s the ’70s incarnation, not the most recent group under the banner. “The Titans comics by Bob Rozakis and Don Heck where the ‘Titans West’ were introduced blew my mind,” Liefeld said. “It was a grab full of teen super heroes and I couldn’t get enough. I also loved the Teen Titans segments in the old Aquaman cartoons – the ones where Kid Flash’s costume colors were reversed. I just loved the Titans.”

“Y’know the perfect rendition of any DC Comic property, heck, any comic property period, as far as I’m concerned is the animated Teen Titans show,” he continued. “It mixes dark, themes with tremendous action and humor. I’m such a big fan of that show and its style, vibe and look that I wish more comics, DC or Marvel were influenced by it. Its fun and I like fun comics. I don’t mind the dark stuff mind you, I just don’t want to leave out the fun at the expense of the dark.”

He loves the Titans but did admit it was tough to find his own “voice” with the heroes, especially since he just had two issues to create. “It was a short time frame,” Liefeld said. “No one’s first rendition is their defining rendition of any character, it takes time to get comfortable and develop your own interpretation to its fullest potential. I know I only scratched the surface with my first two issues. [I enjoyed] being able to draw on the lore that came before. Geoff and Mike McKone laid a strong foundation with this new incarnation. I’m just enjoying playing with the toys they refined.”

“The line up is great,” he continued. “I love this Robin with Cyborg and this Wonder Girl and Superboy, even though I didn’t get to draw him. Great line up, combining Titans with Young Justice – its provided the best line up in their history. Gail really carries the load for Geoff effortlessly. She’s a natural with these characters. She writes a great Titans team. Her Robin is really strong – she really has his voice down. I would love to work with her again real soon! I love, love, loved drawing Robin. What a great looking character. He’s very much center stage throughout the story. Cyborg [was a challenge to draw]. Keeping track of all his various dials and buttons was tough.”

Liefeld has drawn teen heroes and characters before. He’s also been criticized as drawing his teen leads a little too “old” looking, among other things. When asked about how feedback or criticism from fans affects his work, Liefeld said he doesn’t think about it. He explained, “New Mutants sold 130,000 copies prior to me jumping on board. I drew my version and we sold one million copies of our last issue leading into X-Force. Teens come in all shapes and sizes. I don’t sweat the critics.”

He told THE PULSE how he keeps his characters looking youthful and different from older ones. “Generally, if you render the face heavier, whether it’s a boy or girl, woman or man, they’ll look older, less lines, less age is sort of a given. I tried to render them less, keep them more open on their faces. Robin won’t be confused for Cable.”

Liefeld was generous with the art on his first issue of Teen Titans. He donated it to help those suffering from the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Liefeld told us how he came to donate his work. “A friend of mine called me and told me he was putting together auctions for Katrina on eBay, the Titans art was sitting next to me on my desk and I just grabbed it and told him I’d put that stuff up for the auction. An art collector buddy of mine always says that the most recent work you have is the most likely to sell, so with that in mind, I put up the Titans pages. Like the rest of the world, that flood really disturbed me and I wanted to help, the Titans stuff made the most sense. We’ve raised 7500.00 to date, with more to come.”

Liefeld told THE PULSE he hopes to help expand the Teen Titans franchise. He explained, “I originally went over to DC to work on a brand new Titans series, Titans East. We talked at length about all the possibilities of expanding the Titans corner of the DCU. During the Doctor Light arc that Geoff did last spring he included the entire roster of Titan members, everyone from Red Star, Pantha, Bumblebee, Tempest, Wildebeest and so many more. Those are the characters that interest me the most, those so-called secondary characters that have been neglected for so long. Throw in Captain Marvel Jr. and Supergirl and wowza you have a helluva line up. At least that was the prevailing notion throughout our talks. We had talked with a writer, we were inching forward on the project and then Dan Didio called and asked if I’d pinch hit on the regular Titans series over the summer to do some fill-ins. So the idea for me was never to do the regular book but to help expand the franchise. There are those who believe the Titans can carry another series and there are those who don’t, when DC decides what they want to do post-Crisis, they know I’m ready to go. Mine and Gail’s stint sold really well for DC, we jumped the book to it’s highest sales in the last year, so the audience is definitely there for more Titans stuff. In the interim we’ve discussed some exciting Titan mini-series that I’m mum on, but they’re pretty all very tempting.”

“I really want to do a Titans East book eventually because those other characters really deserve their share of the spotlight, similar to how they threw Bumblebee, Tempest, Cyborg and Speedy together as Titans East in the fantastic Titans cartoon, the other members could really shine,” he continued. “Time will tell if there’s an audience for more Titans books. In the meantime I’m booked for the next 18 months at the very least.”

Liefeld couldn’t talk about any of his upcoming projects … yet.

Whatever happened to Liefeld’s Titans East?

In its various forms, Lying In the Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for twelve long glorious and quite scary years. This week, there was some ‘news’ on Rob Liefeld’s possible future with Titans projects: “Rob Liefeld’s recent work on “Teen Titans” with Gail Simone was initially seen as a first foot in the door at DC and a chance for Liefeld to expand certain DC properties in ways that he has been successful with in the past. Indeed it appears he had a number of projects in the pipeline there.”

“But this week, something changed and Liefeld was suddenly off any Titans project and DC as a whole. “It was definitely fun while it lasted.”

“Titans Talk” Whatever Happened to Titans East?
by Rob Liefeld – 05/26/2006 – courtesy of

Holy Crap! I just got a Teen Titans royalty! And here’s the rub, the royalty check shows that the issue sold 84,000 copies. Not the 74,000 reported. My jaw dropped in astonishment. And that’s direct market, not newstand.

My DC tale is a sorid one that will not be told today, but sometime in the near future. Fact of the matter is that the previous non-Liefeld issue sold 67,000 copies, which means that we sold an additional 8,000 up front and a whopping 10,000 additional re-ordered copies.

So is it in bad taste for me to discuss this, yes, probably. But if I don’t no one else will, so I do. DC had a juggernaut in their hands, plain and simple. Without the promise of a variant cover which in all honesty were about as easy to come by as a taco stand in Tijauna this time last year, and zippo promotions, other than the postage stamp placement in Previews, we posted huge gains.

They just put a variant cover on the OYL launch and it sold 82,000 to date.

My DC insider told me they were keeping the man down and now I’m staring at evidence of confirmation. Ugly but true, it happens in business. Unless you actually are in business to sell comics and make profits for your company and when given the opportunity to do so you supress it. Then, well then it’s just plain stupid and sad.

Let’s just say I’m feeling really strong about our Onslaught Reborn prospects right about now….

Why discuss sales? Because like box office and ratings, they matter, like it or not.

For the record, the 85,000 would have placed us as the #11 book last August. No bells, no whistles. A variant would have put us at 100,000. That probably would have posed a problem. Your best selling Titans comic is a fill in. I get it.

My DC memoirs alone will burn ears…..the grass is most definitely not always greener. I submit the recent exodus of talent back to Marvel as proof.

To commemorate this unexpected occasion, I’m posting the unpublished sketch version of an early version of my cover to Teen Titans #28. Now that I look at it, I prolly should have gone with this one. Live and learn.

Have a great holiday folks,



End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author