Relatively few superhero characters created in the last forty years have hung around as long as Deadpool -- but one of the things you might notice is that most of the new characters created during that period -- whether it's Lobo or Booster Gold or Sentry -- have come into comics almost fully-formed, with a look and a personality that may get tweaked or exaggerated, but which is instantly recognizable and immediately appealing. That aspect of Deadpool -- how his personality and especially his iconic look have remained largely unchanged in the thirty years since his creation -- is something that the character's creator, writer/artist Rob Liefeld, is proud of.
Part of that is the strength of Liefeld's initial design. Another part is the parade of remarkable creators who have had their hands on the character in almost every ongoing iteration since Liefeld left Marvel to help found Image Comics shortly after introducing Deadpool to the world. And in Deadpool Nerdy 30, the creator himself gets a chance to do a visual history of Deadpool's looks throughout history...complete with mimicking the styles and eccentricities of creators like Ed McGuinness and Skottie Young.
"That page is the most important page in the whole book to me, for me, because I've been looking forward to doing that for years," Liefeld told ComicBook. "Because Steve Ditko became somewhat of a recluse, we did not ever see him come out. Can you imagine? I put myself in the shoes of the creators who did the stuff before me, like Spider-Man, like Ditko. I would have loved to have seen it if Ditko said, 'All right, here's where Romita, Sr. kicked in, and here's where Gil Kane altered it, and here's where Ross Andru, and here's McFarlane, and Bagley.' Oh my gosh, that would be great. Or Todd [McFarlane] draw everyone's versions of Venom, because Todd's Venom didn't have the tongue. So you go to Larsen, and then...it's fun watching."
Liefeld drove the point home by imagining how cool it would have been to see somebody like Jack Kirby weigh in to draw a Kirby-fied version of each of the people who followed him on characters like the Fantastic Four -- "here's how John Byrne drew the thing. Here's how Moebius drew the Thing" -- in his later years.
"So that page in particular, I am so proud of that," Liefeld said. "I sat with my Skottie Young pen, and I'm like, 'I will nail this.' And I told the colorist, 'You have to color it just like this.' And the Ed McGuinness, because Ed McGuinness really was the first guy to draw him more boxy and thick, and so I wanted to pull that off. But also, over the years, the tip on his head is ridiculous. And so there are some people who draw it to the point where it's like the cape in The Incredibles, like, 'you're going to pull him down from the tip of his head.' It's kind of goofy. So I wanted to kind of have Deadpool going, 'Here's this look, here's this look, here's this look. And I was a Venom.'"
At this point, almost everybody in Marvel has been a Venom. Does that really count?
"Venompool is my favorite anything anywhere. Okay?" Liefeld said, "so he was definitely making the cut....All I've ever had is my instincts, and I kind of go by what I think people would want to see, so I felt people would get a kick out of that."
It wasn't just Deadpool's costumes, either; besides a little space dedicated to his powers and gear -- Who's Who style -- Liefeld managed to sneak himself into the book too.
"Several times!" Liefeld added when we pointed it out. "I'm on the cover. I'm down there....I have always had a classic, kind of cartoony version of myself, but yeah, we had to introduce the pouch-maker. I always told [director] Tim Miller, because he's like, 'Well, what would you like to do?' I said, 'I would like to be the guy who delivers the pouches to his address, like, special delivery.' Sometimes, you've got to improvise, so I gave myself like, 'Deadpool wants you to meet the pouch-maker.' And old man Liefeld's not as easy to draw a young man Liefeld, but I'm the pouch guy. I started with Joe Kelly, maybe Deadpool #900, where we showed what was in the pouches. He literally takes the pouches off and turns them upside down. You see stuff that's in there. And this time, I'm like, 'No, we need to go to the pouch manufacturer.'"
According to Liefeld, the idea of Deapdool using his fourth-wall-breaking ability to do a look back on his 30 years in comics seemed like the obvious thing to do when editor C.B. Cebulski offered him a spot on the Nerdy 30 creative team.
"I think he should talk about New Mutants #98," Liefeld said, explaining his pitch to the editor. "He should talk about how important he's become. He should talk about how he raced past the Cable in popularity. He should talk about the different looks and his different powers. There's a Spider-Man annual that at the end, to fill pages, it's like, 'This is Peter Parker. This is how he became Spider-Man. These are his powers. He can climb walls, he can spin webs.' So I did a page where like, 'I can cut things with my sword, and I can shoot you with my gun.' And then there's a healing factor page. So literally, I thought something was going to get censored, but I'm really happy mine didn't."
Deadpool Nerdy 30 #1 is available now at comic shops, or available digitally on platforms like ComiXology.