Yesterday, the sage and eminent Clager posted pictures of the Suicide Squad and a close-up of Will Smith in full Deadshot costume, mask and all. I, as I am wont to do late on Sunday evenings when the night grows close and the whiskey grows closer, joked to her that with that many pouches, Rob Liefeld must have gotten into the costume room, and oh my god we can’t see Will Smith’s feet in the close-up so even that makes sense.
I know, I’m hilarious, right?
Anyway, the point is that I know all about how Liefeld was a terrible comics artist despite getting in on half the big names during the nineties and making enough money to fill a football stadium. I can recall individual pictures he butchered with hilarity: the women with 60 inch busts, 6 inch waists, and anatomically impossible twists in their spine that compounded a pair of right angles so that their torsos were a full foot in front of their hips despite being parallel. The infinite pouches, the feet so small and triangular that they’d be at home in 19th century China. Guns with implausible numbers of barrels. I can cite the names of the characters he butchered with his dime-store drawings, the comic titles he worked on.
And I have never read a single one of his comics.
My knowledge and well-informed opinion of his work is entirely based on second hand evidence, on the lists and pages that have sprung up all over the Internet. In the parlance of historians, I’m working completely off of secondary sources.
This is another in the weird unintended consequences of the infinite information of the Internet. You can become casually indistinguishable from an expert so long as you read enough web pages while you’re wasting time. Does that mean you know as much as someone who has done the leg work? Of course not. But you can get by on the Internet.
There’s the stick in the mud knee jerk reaction that this ease of finding information and accompanying analysis means that people no longer have to work for it, and that it’s somehow cheapened. I kind of get that feeling but also hate it at an instinctual level, because it’s mistaking work for productivity. It’s pretending that having to work for something inherently means that the work is part of what makes it worthwhile. You know, like how ice water never tasted as fresh once you had an ice dispenser instead of having to chisel a few chunks off the month’s block in the icebox. Uphill in the snow both ways doesn’t mean that your grandfather got more out of school, it just means his legs hurt when he did. That mentality is the classic mistake of letting your means become your ends.
So don’t read Liefeld. Collective intelligence lets you have an informed opinion while choosing what you experience for yourself.