With this edition of Beneath The Pages, I’m focusing on prolific artist and industry heavyweight, Jim Lee. Known for his work at Marvel and DC, Lee has a hyper realistic style that makes his art pop off the page. I first came across his art while reading Batman: Hush. His splash pages enhanced an incredible story and brought new meaning to the story of The Dark Knight.
Lee entered the comic industry in 1987 as an artist for Marvel. He illustrated titles like Alpha Flight and The Punisher War Journal. He soon gained popularity for his work on the X-Men titles. The 1991 spin-off series X-Men No.1 that Lee pencilled and co-wrote with Chris Claremont is the best-selling comic of all time, shifting 8 million copies in one month.
Lee founded Image Comics in 1992 and published titles such as WildC.A.T.S and Gen 13. He sold his production company, Wildstorm, to DC in 1998 so he could focus on his art. He’s also known for his work on All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder and Superman: For Tomorrow.
His technique involves using F lead for pencil work and a crowquill pen nub. What I find so realistic about Lee’s art is that he can capture facial expressions beautifully. This can be seen in this dichotomy drawing of Batman and Superman. Both are standing tall, watching over Metropolis and Gotham. Each is presented as representing day and night, with bright colours for Superman and darker shading for Batman.
Lee has earned his reputation as one of the comic book greats. His style is distinctive and the dedication to his work is amazing. By his own words he wonders “if we ever really improve as artists or if the nirvana derived from completing a piece blinds us enough to love what we have created and move on to the next piece. If we could see the work as it is, with years of reflection in the here and now, how many images would end up in the trash rather than on the racks?”