Youngblood Bloodsport 1C NM Mark Millar Arcade 2003 Frank Quitely Cover Liefeld


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Youngblood Bloodsport (2003 Arcade Comics) #1C

Published Jul 2003 by Arcade Comics
Frank Quitely Cover
By Mark Millar & Rob Liefeld

Beyond The Authority. Beyond The Ultimates. Wizard Top Writer, Mark Millar, teams with Rob Liefeld to celebrate the Youngblood 10-Year Anniversary in this brand new series!

Rob Liefeld Talks “Youngblood: Bloodsport”
UPDATED: Four years ago, “Youngblood: Bloodsport” #1 made a huge splash on the comics scene. Issue 2 never arrived. This September, Mark Millar and series creator Rob Liefeld return to finish what they started.

In comics, the occasional delayed issue is inevitable, but then there are the series that become famous for remaining unfinished. “Daredevil: Target,” “Ultimate Wolverine/Hulk,” Crossgen’s “Negation War,” and even the assorted titles from the 1970s compiled in DC’s “Cancelled Comics Cavalcade.” Soon, however, Mark Millar and Rob Liefeld’s “Youngblood: Bloodsport” can be crossed off that list. In September, Image Comics will publish “Youngblood: Bloodsport” #2, four years after the first issue arrived in stores. CBR News spoke with Liefeld about the series and explained why it’s been so long in coming.

“Bloodsport” is set 15 years in the future, relative to the ongoing “Youngblood” series by Joe Casey and Derec Donovan, a world in which the sale of over-the-counter super powers has rendered the original squad all but obsolete. “The entire team is assembled in order to compete for one available spot on an inter-dimensional Youngblood squad,” Liefeld explained. “It’s a fight to the death and it’s filmed for all the world to see, written as only Mark Millar could imagine it.”

“‘Youngblood: Bloodsport’ has a number of great moments,” the artist continued. “I love the scene in issue #1 in the diner with Shaft and Badrock talking about their place in the fast changing pop-culture. It could just as soon be me and Todd McFarlane talking, or Erik Larsen and Marc Silvestri, it reads as a referendum on the Image age of comics as discussed by two Image Comics creations.”

Though Liefeld has had a fair amount of work in comics over the last few years, including short runs on “X-Force” and “Teen Titans,” and has dabbled in other media, his affection for the Youngblood characters is clear. “As a creator, Youngblood are my favorite kids. I love Cable, Deadpool, and X-Force, but I share custody with them, I don’t get to see them everyday like I do Youngblood,” the artist said. “As a concept, the ‘Bloods haven’t been explored nearly enough in my opinion. There’s been maybe 100 Youngblood issues in 15 years, mostly due to my lack of exploitation of the team, so there’s plenty of ground to cover.”

It’s hard to talk about “Bloodsport” without mentioning the delay of four years between issue 1 and 2. Liefeld admits that he could have handled the situation better. “What happened was, I was stupid,” he said. “‘Youngblood: Bloodsport’ served as sort of my ‘Pulp Fiction,’ in that Mark Millar played the role of Quentin Tarantino to my John Travolta and the book flat out exceeded all expectations. Mark was coming off his amazing ‘Authority’ run and the ‘Ultimates’ was exploding, as was his ‘Ultimate X-Men’ launch, and I know that it shocked people that, with his star shining so bright he would agree to work on a ‘Youngblood’ story with me.

“When we published ‘Bloodsport’ #1 in summer 2004, we at Arcade Comics decided to self-distribute the comic, we offered it direct from the publisher to any retailer and we used the convention season to facilitate the task of reaching so many influential retailers. Big retail chains bought cases upon cases from us, many acting as secondary distributors to their regions. Mile High, Midtown, Lone Star, Atomic Comics, these were just a few of the chains that bought and sold buckets of ‘Bloodsport.’ We were getting calls to re-fill orders; stores were blowing out of the book. We moved all 60,000 copies of ‘Youngblood: Bloodsport’ that season, and six months later sold our overages through Diamond to the rest of the direct market and we moved another 10,000 copies.

“What happened next is what I call the Travolta-‘Pulp Fiction’ effect. I hadn’t drawn anything in 3 years leading up to ‘Bloodsport.’ I did some ‘Wolverine’ issues in 2000 for Marvel and basically rode off into the sunset, started a family and left comics behind for 3 years. So re-entering the market in 2004 with the hottest writer on the planet had a carryover effect. Mark really changed everything and his involvement really broke down barriers for me, and we’ve been great friends ever since. We talk all the time and obviously I’m a tremendous fan of everything he writes. So the next thing you know, my phone is ringing off the hook and I’m being offered all this work, covers, mini-series. Anyway, Marvel called me to do covers for ‘Cable-Deadpool’ and then we talked about me doing ‘X-Force’ again, Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada contacted me, asked me if I was interested and I was so excited at the prospect of re-visiting ‘X-Force,’ especially after the response to ‘Youngblood,’ I jumped at the chance. I started ‘X-Force’ right before the rest of ‘Bloodsport’ came in. Mark delivered scripts of #2 and #3 as I was drawing ‘X-Force,’ I swore I’d jump back in, then ‘Teen Titans’ happened, then the Onslaught anniversary and I didn’t manage my time or opportunities well.

“‘Bloodsport’ turned my career as a penciller back on, and I left it behind at the altar. Not good form.”

Now, though, Liefeld believes he can do the series justice. “When Image and I renewed our vows last year and Joe Casey started his new ‘Youngblood’ series, I held off re-launching ‘Bloodsport’ because I didn’t want to compete with his vision,” he said. “Now that his first arc is complete, I feel it’s time, there’s been room to grow Youngblood again. Retailers will have received six or so issues of ‘Youngblood,’ the most the series has enjoyed in over 12 years, by the time ‘Bloodsport’ returns.

“Basically, I was irresponsible and now it’s time to finish this off. Thank God that Mark Millar fella is still popular with the public.”

In addition to finishing up “Youngblood: Bloodsport,” Liefeld is currently working on Marvel’s “Killraven” with Robert Kirkman and “a couple of complete surprises that should be announced in the next few weeks.”

As surprises go, it will hard to top this.

A half-hour Youngblood animated series was planned for the 1995–96 season on Fox as part of an hour block with a proposed Cyberforce series. The series was being developed by Roustabout Productions, a newly formed animation company. According to Nick Dubois, creative director and co-founder of Roustabout, the series would take a lighthearted approach with tongue-in-cheek humor. A clip was created but the series was never produced. The clip aired in commercials for Youngblood action figures.

A Youngblood video game, an isometric action game similar to Crusader: No Remorse but incorporating RPG elements such as experience points and character stats, was in development by Realtime Associates for the PlayStation and PC in 1997, with GT Interactive as the publisher. It was never released.

In 2009, Reliance Entertainment acquired the feature film rights to the comic book, reportedly for a mid-six figures, with Brett Ratner attached to direct. As of December 2019, no such film has materialized.

Bleeding Cool has been chronicling the exploits of Terrific Production LLC, the new publisher owned by Andrew Rev which recently acquired the rights to Youngblood and several other Rob Liefeld creations, against Liefeld’s own wishes. Back in August, Liefeld said of the change:

“So, I currently have questionable access to Youngblood characters, characters I created and shepherded for nearly 3 decades. As a result, I shut down the storyline that would take Youngblood to issue #100 and beyond. A decidedly new approach is necessary, which I believe is paramount in this post-Avengers: Endgame world we find ourselves in. Youngblood will no longer be published by Image Comics or with my involvement at this time, a first in the 27 years since it launched. It’s all really weird but I’ve settled into the realization that this is the way it is going to be. I held it together for 23 years since doing the deal, until now. A film company rang me up last week seeking the rights to Youngblood but it required my involvement and I cannot at this juncture go forward.”

And indeed, all Youngblood comics were pulled from ComiXology and Image Comics’ website.

Since then, Terrific has been actively recruiting on Twitter, even offering to take young up-and-comers like Ryan Stegman and turn them into stars. Terrific has even made overtures toward Alan Moore, as well as David Lapham, James Tynion IV, and Evan Dorkin, amongst others. Terrific’s most recent attempt to recruit creators online targeted Brian Wood for a series of Youngblood prose novels. And this week, the company announced plans to relaunch Youngblood with Youngblood Unchained #1, though no details were shared on the story, release date, or creative team.

But while Terrific may be moving forward with a new Youngblood comic, Liefeld took to Twitter to share details on the film company mentioned in his August statement, revealing that after he told them he couldn’t be involved, the studio said they’re not interested either.

In regards to Youngblood, back in July an exec from a big movie studio called & asked me what it would take to bring me on board doing a Youngblood movie, they threw a really big number at me, the biggest I’d ever seen. I said I couldn’t be involved with Youngblood any longer 1/2
4:02 PM · Sep 5, 2019

I told them that I no longer had publishing rights and as a result I would no longer involve myself. He was like, well, if you aren’t involved in Youngblood we aren’t interested in pursuing it. I told him I could only invest my time in the creations of mine that I participate in.
4:04 PM · Sep 5, 2019

However, the studio did contact Liefeld again, he said, to see if he’d changed his mind. But Liefeld wouldn’t budge.

This studio has recently asked again if I could somehow come on board. I said I could not, my mind won’t be changed. My producer contacts have also said they they would spread the word that I would not be involved. It’s just how it is now that Youngblood publishing rights left me
4:06 PM · Sep 5, 2019

Studios want the involvement of the creator, especially when looking to launch a property. It’s crucial to them. You can sell rights to Youngblood without informing me to an untested publisher, but you can’t convince a creator’s involvement in any way. We are in a different age
4:09 PM · Sep 5, 2019

Liefeld also responded to a fan asking if he had any plans to try to get the rights back.

I won’t even investigate it. Sometimes you gotta just leave it behind you.

Tony Karnowski
Replying to robertliefeld
And I guess there’s no way of getting them back? Nothing the fans could do to help with that?
4:10 PM · Sep 5, 2019

Onward to the next thing! Liefeld’s best days may be yet ahead, if the fantastic Major X was any indication.

As for Terrific Production LLC, who have recently learned how to thread their tweets (but not how to do it correctly), as far as they’re concerned, Liefeld is welcome to join them at any time…

subject to termination at will of this privilege. We wish him the best in LIFE
5:43 PM · Sep 5, 2019

The publisher also expressed interest in following in Marvel’s footsteps to partner with a book publisher to make Youngblood and Supreme more popular with children, a move which they ultimately say will make Liefeld more famous.

We have Youngblood which competed in 1992-97 head to head against the top Marvel characters. Marvel is partnering with Scholastic and Youngblood +Supreme+ plus hundreds of other IP
10:36 AM · Sep 6, 2019

Scholastic is partnering with Disney for school kids. Terrific Production Is seeking a joint-partner. We do not want to later withdraw our IP & compete.
10:48 AM · Sep 6, 2019

We need the Terrifically Legion to reach out to your contacts and find us the people who can make “younger” versions of our Characters: Youngblood, Supreme for school age readers
10:53 AM · Sep 6, 2019

At Terrific Production, we move fast and new readers will drive new customers to stores that carry our titles. If are not a threat to any school publisher but an opportunity.
10:59 AM · Sep 6, 2019

This new business will have its own corporate entity and profit center and Publisher to indicate its significance. Send inquiries and CV’s to licensing
11:04 AM · Sep 6, 2019

11:11 AM · Sep 6, 2019

WOULD ROB LIEFELD POSSE AGREE THAT IF SCHOOL KIDS KNOW HIS NAME AT AGE 10 AT A SCHOOL BOOK FAIR THEN TERRIFIC DID MAKE HIM BETTER KNOWN THAN HE IS KNOWN TODAY ? The Truth is Liefeld is a Great Artist and Creator and Terrific Production can hold its own as a Leader to save comics
11:21 AM · Sep 6, 2019

What do you say, posse?

The saga continues…

Rob Liefeld
about 2 years ago

This is the question I get asked repeatedly, at every store signing or comic convention I attend. Inquiries about Youngblood as a film, a comic book, all of it. The truth is they are in the midst of an ugly custody battle and I currently don’t have any interaction with them for the first time in over 22 years.

In 1997, at 29 years of age, I took on an investor named Scott Rosenberg, he of Malibu Comics. I had a previous relation with him but this was different, Jeph Loeb brought him to the table as a potential partner and after a few discussions, the time felt right to make this move. We made a fancy press announcement and we birthed Awesome Comics. It was meant as a temporary adjustment, If I did not find another partner, Scott would foreclose and own everything, I eventually found another partner, a gentleman named John Hyde and he stepped in to finance Awesome Comics until he and Scott had an issue and Awesome went into freefall and I shuttered the label permanently in 2000.

Scott, John and I agreed to a split of my Extreme catalogue in 1999, we each received 8 titles and could exploit them in media. The environment at the time was not kind to comic book material and I wasn’t selling any of my catalogue picks and neither were John and Scott. Through it all, I maintained publishing rights, bringing you the comic adventures of my creations with different and various creatives under my oversight and until now there were no hiccups whatsoever.

Long story short, after failing to come to terms on 2 movie deals in recent years, including a movie deal in 2017 that I was so certain was moving forward, I contacted Hank Kanalz and informed him that he should expect some participation, Scott informed me last summer, during 2018 comic con, that in order to raise capital he had sold or partnered with someone for Youngblood comics and toys. I was stunned but not surprised, these are the most important assets that Scott possesses and he needed to raise funds. The man he partnered with is named Andrew Rev, someone unknown to me and he informed me a number of times over the past year that he could make me a big success in comics, the next Todd McFarlane even, and told me I could audition for producing Youngblood comics. You can imagine how well that went over.

So, I currently have questionable access to Youngblood characters, characters I created and shepherded for nearly 3 decades As a result I shut down the storyline that would take Youngblood to issue #100 and beyond. A decidedly new approach is necessary, which I believe is paramount in this post Avengers:Endgame world we find ourselves in. Youngblood will no longer be published by Image Comics or with my involvement at this time, a first in the 27 years since it launched. It’s all really weird but I’ve settled into the realization that this is the way it is going to be. I held it together for 23 years since doing the deal, until now. A film company rang me up last week seeking the rights to Youngblood but it required my involvement and I cannot at this juncture go forward.

Thankfully, my other partner, John Hyde has chosen to go a different path as he realizes the value that I bring to my creations and we have partnered on his selections with Prophet going forward having just set up the feature film and we are currently pursuing Glory in all media. 2/3 of my catalogue receive my involvement and participation.

I have BLOODSTRIKE, BRIGADE, BERZERKERS, BLOODWULF, Re:GEX, KABOOM, AVENGELYNE, CYBRID and others in my portfolio, completely under my domain. As I informed everyone last year, I walked away from Netflix because I felt it was not the best opportunity at this time in our ever changing world. I’m a finicky cat.

I share this with you now following an unexpected conversation with the Andrew Rev guy about publishing. In short it was very disrespectful and I had to put distance between me, these people and my creations which were now in a foreign domain. I had to convincingly wash my hands of this corner of my imagination. I have a pretty fertile mind and many new projects yet to advance, many making the media rounds that will be known soon enough. This was a much needed update and hopefully explains the current situation.

Youngblood represented some of my finest work, I’m proud of all the work that was produced. Sadly, film companies will be reluctant to invest the time and money in a venture without the support and blessing of its creator.

Upwards, onwards! To the Extreme!

Rob Liefeld

Near mint, 1st print. Bagged & Boarded.