Less than a week before 20th Century Fox's Deadpool feature film is released, comments made by iconic comic book creator Rob Liefeld about how much comic book writer Fabian Niceiza contributed to the character's creation has caused a stir online. In a New York Times profile of Liefeld, journalist Thomas Golianopoulos quotes Liefeld as seemingly marginalizing Nicieza's input into the Merc with a Mouth.
“If a janitor scripted New Mutants #98, he’d be the co-creator — that’s how it works, buddy,” Liefeld said, referring to Deadpool's first appearance. “Deadpool does not exist in any way, shape or form without me.”
1991's New Mutants #98 lists Liefeld as plotter, penciller and inker, with Nicieza as scripter. Scripters were common in that period, with artists or other writers creating a plot and utilizing a scripter to break it down into panel descriptions and add dialogue before the issue was illustrated.
In all recent comic book publications, Marvel Comics credits both "Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza" as Deadpool's creators. The closing credits of Fox's Deadpool also acknowledges both creators together for their work on the character, and both receive Easter egg call-outs in the film - although Liefeld's occurs in the opening seconds.
“I wrote the stories. Like Jim Lee and others, I worked with a scripter who helped facilitate," Liefeld told NYT. "I chose Fabian, and he got the benefit of the Rob Liefeld lottery ticket. Those are good coattails to ride.”
Golianopoulos claims in the Times piece he was unable to reach Nicieza to comment, but Nicieza himself has spoken out about the article and says he wasn't contacted by the journalist.
To all who have expressed support to me during this "fracas," thanks, BUT ALL IS COOL. (more)— Fabian Nicieza (@FabianNicieza) February 8, 2016
Have talked to @robertliefeld and a LOT was taken out of context by a NYTimes writer with an agenda. A writer who DID NOT make real (more)— Fabian Nicieza (@FabianNicieza) February 8, 2016
effort to contact me for comment, much less be fair in his approach to Rob or the subject matter. Please lay off Rob. ALL IS FINE!— Fabian Nicieza (@FabianNicieza) February 8, 2016
Liefeld followed up, saying he felt the article was a "hit piece."
Helpful Hint. Maybe before you go swinging, you ask a question next time? For 15 years I only did press with submitted Q's w/written answers— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) February 8, 2016
I've become kinder, gentler in recent years. Much more cautionary. Phoners are a risk. I repeatedly asked this guy "Is this a hit piece?"— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) February 8, 2016
When I saw the article my heart sank. I got whacked. Did a follow up with him clarifying everything. Gave assurances. #wacked— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) February 8, 2016
I have not and will not link to the hit piece that needed my son to take a photo for their deluxe operation. Smeared me. Not reflective.— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) February 8, 2016
Liefeld and Nicieza have worked on numerous occasions since New Mutants #98, and are currently scheduled to appear as judges for the Deadpool Beauty Pageant.