The Deadpool reviews are in. Thumbs up for the meta-commentary mixed with lowbrow humor, not-so-up for substantive plot and narrative. But what about the top concern among graphic designers, i.e.: how smart does it look? Well, in a word: Eh. And not surprisingly, considering the film’s Beavis and Butthead-y teaser ads like that billboard which may be the most juvenile takeoff ever on Paul Rand’s Eye-Bee-M. Although Blur Studio visual effects pro Tim Miller does shine with his stunning action sequences, it’s an otherwise lackluster directorial debut. Still, if you’ve found yourself intrigued by the notion of a mad, murderous, mercenary mutant super-antihero with a gift for nonstop, smart-ass snark and fourth-wall-breaking — and who wouldn’t be? You should peruse the source material: those Marvel comic books. But for maximum graphic satisfaction, you also need to be selective.
Primarily, the Deadpool comics series has been produced by undistinguished, interchangeable artists who’ve been following the template that Deadpool’s original illustrator, Rob Liefeld, established 25 years ago. Liefeld defined the look of 1990s superheroes with a drawing style that continue to garner slavish fanboy worship. It’s also been vilified and mocked for a variety of reasons, and even he admits that his art could be considered “vapid.” You can also get a look at a few of his “anatomical abominations” here. But enough about him.
The good news is that there’s also been a significant amount of adventurous and worthwhile Deadpool art that stretches — and even ignores — entrenched house styles, even if only for covers and one-offs. Jason Pearson, Dave Johnson, Skottie Young, and many others have contributed their own unique flair, and often with the sort of absurdist abandon that both reflects and enhances the character’s demented, anarchic personality. In other words: not only are their renderings graphically stunning, they’re also witty and clever in ways that evoke Harvey Kurtzman-era Mad parodies.
So stay home, slather butter substitute over your microwaved popcorn, sample these images and enjoy imagining how awesome it would be if they served as visual inspiration for future Deadpool flicks.
Also check out Todd Klein’s logo studies for Deadpool, here. And Ty Templeton’s “Deadpool for Beginners” Bun-Toon, here. And oh, yes: my Print report on the great Marvel comics artists behind Netflix’s Daredevil, here.