Comic Creator Spotlight: Jim Lee

Born in Korea, raised in The US of A, Jim Lee incorporates influence from both the East and The West when pencilling his comic pages. Lee was the penciller on Uncanny X-Men #1 which holds the Guinness World Record for best-selling comic of all time.

Funny thing about Lee, I’ve known his art since I was 11 years old but it was at least another ten years before I really became a fan.

I first saw his work way back in the early 90s as the artist/ plotter for X-Men, I had my head shoved so far up my Spider-Man that I cared little for his work. Later on when he broke away from Marvel to form Image comics I became a big fan of Gen 13, a book he co-created with Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell.

Not realising it at the time, I was a fan of his work. Looking back on issues of Gen 13 years later I realised that he had filled in on some covers and such when Campbell was falling behind. He’d done such a good job imitating Campbell that I had no idea.

It took a double-page splash of Batman uppercutting Superman in his smug archetypal face from the pages of Hush before I was really turned into a Lee fan.

Jim Lee’s style is very dynamic; he excels at doing the big hero poses. I love his scratchy cross hatching style; it looks like he quickly rushed a picture out without much effort, which is the total opposite of the truth.

Something that I love Lee for and he isn’t really recognised for so much (as far as I can tell) is his pictures of the young naïve Robin in the pages of All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. Say what you want about crazy old Frank Miller’s tongue in cheek story, but you can’t tell me that Lee wasn’t in top form that entire series. His wide-eyed Robin stands out to me, most of all!

Jim Lee’s talent as a penciller & plotter isn’t his only claim to fame. His co-founding of Image comics in the early 90s was a roaring success and nothing had been done to that degree in mainstream American super hero comics before. He went on to break away from Image taking his arm of the business, Wildstorm, and selling it to DC Comics, later cementing his place in the business as a corporate  whore… co-publisher alongside Dan DiDio.

If he wasn’t around to mentor J Scott Campbell we may never have seen Danger Girl, and Gen 13 certainly wouldn’t have been as good. He got Alan Moore writing American style comics again by helping him create America’s Best Comics of which Moore wrote 99% of.

Which means we may never have had Promethea. A scary, scary thought.

Jim Lee has worked on a variety of titles, such as: Punisher, Batman, Superman WILDCats and of course X-Men. The entire comics business may be a very different place without him. Although I’m not the biggest fan of The New DC Universe that he helped create, I will always be thankful for the work he’s done.

Batman: Hush
With Jeph Loeb, I’ve heard bad things about this, mainly in regard to the fact that the series doesn’t really tread any new ground and just rehashes old Batman stories like a kind of best of album. I can’t say that any of that isn’t true but who gives a shit with artwork like this?

Uncanny X-Men & X-Men
Most of his work on X-Men was with Chris Claremont and although it may have been their clash of egos that removed Claremont from the franchise it’s still worth a look. WARNING: Lee couldn’t really draw feet in the 90s!!!

WILDCats
I haven’t really read a really good WILDCats story. I’ve even heard that Alan Moore’s run is fairly pedestrian. I think it’s worth at least having a look at, as it’s Lee’s first creator-owned book

Gen 13
Not exactly how much work Lee put into the actual title, I think he was more just a co-creator and then let Campbell and Choi run with it. Worth reading all the same, especially if you like boobies.

All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder
I mentioned this above. Frank Miller may have lost the plot, but Lee’s art is exquisite. Can’t get enough.

Superman: For Tomorrow
Much like a lot of Brian Azzerello’s work that I’ve read, For Tomorrow is a slow burn. It’s a 12 issue series and it’s at least until issue 6 (if memory serves) that  I think that the pieces start falling into place. A  mature take on Supes, it just needs a little patience.

Make suggestions for Jimu in the comments below, or follow him on Twitter for more comicy goodness.

4 comments

  1. Awesome work again Jimu! I’ve heard a lot about Jim Lee but never really seen any of his work, might have to check it out!

  2. 2 WildC.A.T.S. members created by Jim Lee, Grifter and Voodoo, gave their best when they began having a solo series.
    Do you remember the action movies in the 90s? There was a Rambo – like leading character (usually played by Stallone himself, or by Schwarzenegger) forced to fight against innumerous enemies: any other man would have been doomed, but our hero, with his guns, muscles, fight techniques and (last but not least) brain, was always able to find a way out.
    Grifter is exactly like this: no matter how many enemies he has to face and how complicated their plans are, you can be sure he will find a solution to all his problems. Like Batman, a big part of Grifter’s charm is his talent in getting out of troubles despite being a normal person, without superpowers. There’s only one, big difference between them: Batman is a hunter, while Grifter is a prey – but it’s the shiftiest prey you’ve ever met.
    More or less, Voodoo’s plot was always the same in each issue: she meets an enemy of her; she shows him tits & ass; he instantly get very interested in her, so he follows her wherever she wants; they get a room, and she kills him, or takes from him the objects and informations she was looking for.
    As you can see, her solo series was almost entirely built on tits, ass and violence. And you know what? It was so bad it was good.
    Also, I liked the merciless of Voodoo, who killed the obstacles on her way without any resentment. Not because I like violence (on the contrary, I repeatedly complained about the excessive amount of violent scenes in contemporary comics, Voodoo included), but because Voodoo was a punch in the face of those politically correct comics, where the leading character has strong moral values (and gives a lot of sermons about them), never kills anyone, and doesn’t even hold a gun. It was something new, and, even if the violence was exaggerated, I appreciated it.
    Now Voodoo’s solo series closed, and Grifter’s one is about to end too. At least we’ll go on seeing Grifter in Team 7. I could share my thoughts about Team 7, as I could write something more about Jim Lee, but I’ve already written way too much, so I’d better stop myself. : )

    1. Thanks Wwayne, I actually am a bit of a Grifter fan, I really liked him cameo in season 2 of Sleeper by Ed Brubaker. I haven’t read either of Voodoo’s or Grifter’s new DC titles, as I said i’m not a huge fan of what they did with the new DC U. I much prefer the Marvel Now strategy.

      1. A Marvel NOW! series I’m going to try is FF. Art has always been secondary to me (comics can be filled with stick figures for all I care), but not when Allred is the penciller. Thank you for your reply! : )

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