I'm reminded of when John Byrne blamed Peter David for spoiling the death of Guardian in Alpha Flight. David, working for Marvel's sales teams at the time, had distributed some photocopy pages of an upcoming Alpha Flight issue to a handful of retailers at an event, after clearing the pages with editorial. While they showed a graveyard scene, it was presented in a way that looked as if it were a dream sequence. However, at the meeting, John Byrne got rather angry complaining that Marvel had spoiled they were killing off Guardian. Something which the retailers there present were surprised to learn.
Well, what goes around, comes around. Yesterday, artist Tone Rodriguez posted on his Facebook page, read by a few dozen fans, the following retailer variant cover to the new Mighty Crusaders series that Rob Liefeld is writing and drawing for Archie Comics, with the first issue, The Shield. Saying,
Sooooo, this is Happening!
The SHIELD #1 CAMELOT BOOKS AND COMICS EXCLUSIVE COVER
From ARCHIE COMICS The Mighty Crusaders rise again with The SHIELD by the Absolutely Amazing Rob Liefeld
You can only grab this EXCLUSIVE COVER from Camelot Books and Comics Drawn by me and Colored by the Fabulous Raymund Lee.
How exciting. Suggesting a dark future Old Man Shield coming to the past to deal with his past self, Cable-style. Causing Rob Liefeld to post the same cover to his Facebook page, read by hundreds of thousands, of people, saying;
When a key plot point/element is revealed on a retail variant cover – it's probably time to exit the stage on this one…. like seriously?
There went that project….
Which no one would probably have thought about too hard about, let alone seen, unless Rob Liefeld had posted it on his Facebook page complaining that it had been spoiled. Still, if Rob was looking for an excuse to jump of a project in favour of something else, that might do the trick. Has he quit the project? He went on to elaborate.
"About 9 months back, while I was drawing the 2nd issue of my Snake Eyes: Deadgame mini series for IDW, my editor called me up, John Barber, love the guy, he says "Hey, we have a couple retailers who are asking us if they can use any of the New characters or story reveals on the retail variants they are crafting, I know the answer is likely "no" but I figured I'd ask anyways." I said, I hadn't introduced these characters yet and I damn well. don't want them premiering outside of my introducing them in the story" He said, "Yup, that's what I thought, just wanted to check" and it wasn't an issue. You see the variant cover game is such, and the margins so delicate, that everyone wants to one up the next guy in making their product "more valuable" "more HOT" to have the ability to say "1st appearance of…." on their cover. The variant game is so expensive that each player in the game wants to have more skin in the derby so as to stand out. This has become the challenge of the day. A story or twist can pop up on a Saturday afternoon on some Facebook feed and you see it for the very first time as you have been tagged in it. And it has the big twist you've been secretly hiding. Had this been shared with me, as with IDW, I'd have killed it, on the spot.
So, earlier this week I posted to one of my groups how I'm trying to keep all the contents of one of my upcoming projects under wraps. I want the reveals and the twists to be fresh and happen organically. I love the story and art and was trying to protect it as best I can. And I had succeeded in doing so. The cover with the big twist being publicly shared as I'm walking out the door to a farewell party for friends was like the big gut punch. All the wind goes out of the sails and the enthusiasm with it. It's this practice, (one that IDW shielded me from, that's an ironic statement huh? ) that needs better management. Everyone is trying to one up the other guy because the shelf life on these comics is so small. Publishers need to do better. So, I've been around the block, entering 35 years of working in the comics business. I love crafting & drawing stories, I have a full plate of projects I'm currently into.
I'll just double on the next. No hard feelings. Don't feel bad for me, I'm happy with all the great opportunities ahead. Carry on!
Looks like he has quit. He also updated, saying;
UPDATE – Archie informed me they did not grant permission for this to be posted and shared, much less tagged to my page. Anyway, it would have been great, but this was kind of the back breaker. Really dumb. It was fun while it lasted… on to the next!
Of course, Rob knows all about cover spoilers… remember this one?
Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1 by Rob Liefeld is published on the 30th of June.
MIGHTY CRUSADERS ONE SHOT THE SHIELD CVR A ROB LIEFELD
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
(W) Rob Liefeld (A/CA) Rob Liefeld
FIRST ISSUE IN AN ALL-NEW SERIES OF MIGHTY CRUSADERS ONE-SHOTS BY ROB LIEFELD! Legendary, best-selling author and comic creator Rob Liefeld reimagines Archie's iconic Mighty Crusaders library of characters in this new comic book series, starting with America's first patriotic superhero: The Shield! In Shops: Jun 30, 2021 SRP: $3.99