Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld on animated series, film and new graphic novel

Rob Liefeld Deadpool Bad Blood
Ryan Reynolds is currently working on Deadpool 2 and Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) is planning to bring a Deadpool animated series to FXX. You can say it’s a great time to be Rob Liefeld, the co-creator of the Merc with a Mouth. Today a new original graphic novel, Deadpool: Bad Blood, comes out. Liefeld did the penciling and inking and teamed up with writers Chris Sims and Chad Bower (X-Men ’92). If you’re in the Los Angeles area, he will also be signing at the launch event at The Grove’s Barnes and Noble on May 17th at 7 p.m. We had the chance to chat with Liefeld on his new graphic novel, Deadpool 2, and the Deadpool animated series.

Nerd Reactor: It was recently revealed that Donald Glover was working on an animated Deadpool series. What are your thoughts on that?

Rob Liefeld: Like you said, it’s recent to everybody else. That cartoon was in motion March 2016. And watching all the pieces come together around it and watching it form, I said yesterday, “Don’t let anybody ever tell you I can’t keep a secret.” That one was buttoned up. The minute that I heard it was going to be an adult cartoon that was a mutual production between Marvel and FXX, I was very excited.

The most exciting part of it really, aside from Donald Glover (he’s the most exciting part of it)… but the second part that people tend to overlook is that it’s another joint venture between Marvel and Fox along the lines of Legion and the new Bryan Singer X-Men show. In one year they’ve certainly made a lot of headway in terms of collaborating.

Having it finally come out is… it’s one of those things you knew, I knew, that fans would freak over it. Especially the adult part of it. The fact that it’s going to be on FXX I think we can already safely assume it’s going to be the top-rated show that network has ever had. I’m going to go to Vegas and make that wager right now.

It’s great news. Donald is obviously a creative dynamo. He and his brother turned their sights towards Deadpool. [Donald] is Lando Calrissian as we speak, he’s the writer, producer, star of “Atlanta”… critically acclaimed and award-winning. And now he’s Deadpool. His pop culture profile is pretty impressive.

Did you get to give input on the show?

I have zero input. I don’t imagine anyone who’s going to influence what Donald and his brother are going to do.

I would never presume to implement anything. It’s the same on the film side. Those guys are wired. Clearly, on the first Deadpool film, they hit one out of the park. It’s like I tell people, “They don’t call me up and tell me how to do comic books.” My hands never get tired of cheering though. I’m a great clapper. Dude, seriously, when you sit back and go, “It’s 2017. Ryan Reynolds is representing Deadpool on the film end, and Donald Glover has him on the TV end. Does this get better?” I’m not sure it does. That’s called jackpot. That’s called awesome. The TV show can’t get here fast enough. It’s going to be great.

Let’s talk about your Deadpool graphic novel that’s coming out.

Again, talk about something that took longer than expected. What I mean by that is I handed that book three months ago. Normally when you hand a book in, you get it back in two weeks. Case in point, my Image Comics work is going to the printer tomorrow. I’ll have it in two weeks. But because it’s a 100-page original hardcover… the printing and manufacturing on a hardcover take longer. For me, I cannot wait to get it out there into people’s hands because it represents a good year in my life. A hundred pages, like 5 issues of a comic that’s kind of a yearly output for me. So I’m thrilled that it’s finally going to be available. I’m very excited and Marvel’s very excited.

I’ve never done a graphic novel. I thought, “Is this like where you hide me in a graphic novel?” I’m wired for monthly comics.

The guys at Marvel were, “No, no, no, Rob. We see this is a prestige. This is what we give Jim Starlin on the Thanos books.”

And I’m like, “That’s a good point. No one’s hiding Jim Starlin.” He’s like a god of my comic book reading. So I’m like, “Prestige. That’s cool. Right on!” When you do that format, it comes at a heavier price also.

Are Domino and Cable going to be a big part of Deadpool: Bad Blood? Who’s the villain?

Domino is in the whole thing. Cable and X-Force from 1991 play about a 20-page chapter in the book. In introducing this new character which we call Thumper. (Marvel is owned by Disney so I’m not sure I could’ve passed Thumper through the system.) I was even nervous to say it out loud. “Rob, say it. Say the name. You have a name for the villain.”

“Umm, I don’t want to say it. You’re going to tell me I can’t. Okay.. Th-Th-Th-Th-Thumper!”

And they’re like, “We went with it. It’s great! It’s passed!”

I’m like, “Well, that was easier than I thought.”

The thing with Thumper was the idea to create a sustainable foe for Deadpool. I’ve read all the Deadpool comics. When he’s not killing the Marvel universe, and he’s not fighting Wolverine or Sabretooth (they’re certainly not his rogue’s gallery)… over the years whether he’s battled Howard the Duck villains like Doctor Bong, or he’s battled HYDRA, or he’s battled Skrulls, again, this guy doesn’t have a sustainable rogue’s gallery. He borrows a lot from other people. I guess it’s funny since it’s Deadpool. He has to borrow bad guys. The idea with Thumper was to give [Deadpool] a sustainable foe with a history and possibly tethers to other links that can come back and continue to provide story and conflict for him.

By the third act of the book, I realized we had way too much story to fit in 100 pages. I think we cut the story to the right point. I’m going to tell you right now when I read the script by Chris and Chad… I’ve said this before, I’m a huge John Wick fan. And both John Wick movies ended with me wanting another one to start immediately. Moreso the sequel. I thought John Wick 2 really whet your appetite for the next conflict as best as anything I’ve seen. That’s up there with the Empire Strikes Back cliffhanger as I’ve experienced as a 13-year-old in 1980. But the thing is we tried to do the same here. You’ve been introduced to Thumper. And you want to come back and learn more of that story and where it takes Deadpool.

X-Force is featured in a flashback which shows how long Thumper has been haunting Deadpool. They had kind of a funny exchange because he and Domino are both telling how they remember the sequence. Domino doesn’t quite remember it the same way as Deadpool. But it features Cable, Shatterstar, Domino, Warpath, and MLF (Mutant Liberation Front). And while I was drawing it, I was like, “Am I in a time machine? Is it 1991 again?”

It’s fun to relive all this stuff. Everything old is new again.

There are those who aren’t fans of comics in the ’90s. However, I was raised with ’90s comics, so I’m happy for you.

Let me tell you something. People who don’t like ’90s comics, they’re wrong. Let’s just end it right there. You know why they don’t like ’90s comics? Because of all the bad imitations that the people who are trying to keep up with the people who are successful in the ’90s were doing. I can do an entire panel on this. Everything became parody at some point. I mean, there are even issues of X-Force that I opened up in the ’90s after I left, and I said, “This guy is trying to do a version of Cable that he thinks I was doing. It’s gone way too far. He looks like a Swiss Army knife.” On that level, I will concede that. Guys who follow Todd on Spider-Man or Eric Larsen on Spider-Man… he was awash in webbing. I’m like, “You’ve overdone this. You’re trying to overcompensate. Maybe you’ve hit on the wrong thing.”

There is so much great material in the ’90s. The thing that everyone is finding out right now is that the fanbase which I believe is underserved and semi-told to stand in the corner when the clock hit 2000, because the people at both companies were having inner dialogue of whether the ’90s was a good thing. We had that era where everybody started to look like Neo from The Matrix with their duster jacket and their cool sunglasses. And that ran across both companies. That was not sustainable, I can tell you that much.

Then slowly as that well’s been tapped again, every time it comes up with oil. Because I meet those fans, I see them at C2E2, I see them Emerald City, I see them at WonderCon, I see them at San Diego, they are energetic, they are brilliant, and they want those style of comics book and they are great in number. If there’s one thing I’m an expert at, it’s my own fanbase. I go out there and meet them, we engage, we talk, we take pictures. It’s not an accident that suddenly the focus has returned. So there, you got some political commentary in there from me… comic book politics.

How excited are you with David Leitch directing Deadpool 2?

Oh, come on, man. I gotta be honest. I think I’m seeing a cut of Atomic Blonde in two weeks. I’m going to a screening, and I couldn’t be more excited. He’s redefining action. Deadpool is an action hero, he’s an action figure. He has always been, from the day he was brought to life on the page, depicted with flying kicks and great hand-to-hand combat skills. Some of my favorite stuff with him in the first movie is his hand-to-hand combat, how it was shot, and how it was depicted. [Leitch] is the perfect choice to take it to the next level.

Deadpool: Bad Blood Synopsis

Deadpool—more popular than ever before—in his first Original Graphic Novel! Deapool’s been shooting, stabbing and otherwise annoying people for a long time now. He’s made a lot of enemies. One he can’t quite place is the brutal Thumper, who keeps showing up out of the blue to pound him into jelly. What is Deadpool’s past connection to this beefy face-masher? And what’s up with Cable, Domino, and the others on the cover? Are they going to show up in the book? (Hint: They are!)

Deadpool: Bad Blood is available now for $14.99. You can purchase it at Marvel.com. It is drawn by Rob Liefeld and written by Chris Sims and Chad Bower.

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 8953 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, editor-in-chief.

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