Rob Liefeld will be developing Dave Cockrum’s Futurians in an exclusive publishing arrangement that includes tv, film and print media. The announcement comes from Liefeld Media and author Clifford Meth, who represents the Cockrum family and the Estate of Dave Cockrum.
“Paty Cockrum and I are delighted that Rob Liefeld is taking on The Futurians,” said Meth. “Dave Cockrum was best known as the creator of Nightcrawler and the designer of Marvel’s X-Men icons Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird and Mystique. But The Futurians were by far Dave’s favorite characters that he created. His graphic novels for Marvel and other companies that featured The Futurians were beloved by Dave’s fans. Decades later, they are still sought after by collectors.”
“Rob Liefeld is the perfect creator to take on this project. Rob is a fan-favorite storyteller whose personality, like Dave’s, is comics incarnate. He loves the medium, grew up on Dave’s work, and developed a number of his own extremely popular characters such as Deadpool and Cable. Rob will know exactly what to do with The Futurians and we can’t wait to see it.”
"I just want to tell people about Dave Cockrum," Rob Liefeld enthused during a conversation with ComicBook.com yesterday. "He's so talented, and his stuff is so cool."
Cockrum, known for his deep bench of contributions to comics, passed away in 2006, but his best-loved creator-owned series slated for a comeback in late 2017.
The Futurians was a short-lived but much-loved superhero property created by Cockrum in the '80s and periodically revisited all the way up through 2010, always with either Cockrum, or Meth, or both at the helm.
"My midlife crisis was being obsessed with my Bronze Age upbringing in comics and my belief that those were the best comics that were ever made," Liefeld said. "And I always wanted more of The Futurians."
Liefeld, a co-founder of Image Comics and one of the best-selling comic book artists of the last 30 years, tried and failed to make the deal happen once before, decades ago now; a failure back then didn't discourage the writer/artist/publisher from continuing to think about what he feels is an underappreciated part of Cockrum's long, acclaimed career as a writer and artist.
Praising the concepts as well as the designs, Liefeld said that he believes the franchise has a potential to drive toys, animation, merchandising, and the like, largely because of the creativity and vision Cockrum brought to the project, which debuted in Marvel Graphic Novel #9 in 1983.
"Dave was one of my earliest and biggest influences, and so in probably the mid-90s I reached out to him, to see if we could make a deal for The Futurians," Liefeld told ComicBook.com. "Dave had not had the best of experiences prior to that. In reading one of his Forewords in the last Futurians book, he alluded to such. So, I didn't hold it against him. I just hoped and waited for the day that this would come again."
It did -- helped along by the fact that Cockrum's longtime friend and collaborator Clifford Meth had come to know Liefeld in the intervening years.
"I contacted the Cockrum estate months ago, saying that I would be interested in discussing if there was a possibility, if they weren't already tied up," Liefeld explained. "I have known Cliff for a while, and he was quick to engage me. We just had to loop Paty in, and she was very amicable, and then it was just about putting the right parameters together, but all I wanted was to be able to get a greenlight to make more Futurians stories."
Even with that green light, though, Liefeld's understanding is that Marvel still owns an interest in the contents of Marvel Graphic Novel #9, which cannot be reprinted without the consent of both Marvel and the Cockrum Estate.
That understanding comes from a 1985 interview, a photo of which Liefeld provided. You can see it, along with some of Liefeld's Futurians art, in the attached image gallery.
"I would think that the new stuff will come first," Liefeld said, indicating that the Futurians characters will likely be introduced as part of the Extreme Universe of titles before getting their own miniseries. "The older Futurians, a new packaging in that, I think, is overdue....In an interview with Dave on The Futurians in Amazing Heroes -- which was my favorite of the fan press in an age before Wizard -- Dave talked about how he talked to Marvel about publishing The Futurians, and when he had decided to go with another company, he went to the then-Editor-in-Chief at the time, Jim Shooter, and asked him 'Hey, could I have that film?' And they're like 'No, we're on, like, a fourth printing! We're not letting this book go!'"
Cockrum would later lament, in the introduction to a collected edition in 1995, that he had been taken in by big promises at another publisher, and that if he had stayed at Marvel the series would likely have had a much longer lifespan.
"I will definitely be pursuing Marvel now, because the original graphic novel is wonderful," Liefeld said. "If this suddenly puts people on buying those, great, they should be read. They should be seen. They're fantastic."
The original graphic novel -- as well as the follow-up miniseries and the Avatar miniseries (centering on one of the main characters from The Futurians) -- can be found relatively inexpensively on eBay.
"He would let me sit next to him when he came out to these LA shows, and I would just talk to him while he drew in my book," Liefeld recalled. "He was a super, super friendly guy, but when you look at his effect on comics, he is under-celebrated, in my opinion. You have no idea how much Dave Cockrum you've enjoyed."
Liefeld noted that one of Cockrum's most notable character designs -- Colossus, the X-Men hero -- has already appeared on the big screen alongside one of Liefeld's own characters, Deadpool. With Lilandra (another Cockrum co-creation) set to debut in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Liefeld hopes as much as other fans do that other Cockrum characters like the Starjammers will follow.
"It's just exciting, man, and part of the timing of this is the opportunity to take Futurians in the direction of cartoons, toys, and film and television," Liefeld told ComicBook.com. "That's something everybody's excited about and I'm excited about. Again [Cockrum was] a great character designer, you see that stuff. All of these Futurians would look great on my desk as plastic figures. So I have a big appetite for that -- and no, I'm not looking at the 40 Deadpool action figures on my desk right now. Dave was a tremendous creator, a tremendous artist, a tremendous character designer. I am thrilled that we're doing The Futurians."
"I believe this is some of his best work, so to be the caretaker for that at this time, I take it extremely seriously; it's an honor," Liefeld added. "It's an absolute honor."
Look for the debut of The Futurians in the fall, likely in one of the existing Extreme titles.