Keep your chin up, Jim Lee got lots of rejection, too

Marvel historian Sean Howe has collected a bunch of Jim Lee’s instagrams of rejection letters from the ’80s, including this one from Eliot R. Brown. Although the curt advice “come back when you are consistent and can draw hands” seems harsh it’s just the truth. (One can only speculate on what Rob Liefeld’s rejection was…but perhaps there is no need to speculate.)

There are two messages here. #1 is, of course, don’t give up. DON”T GIVE UP. There, I said it.

But a corollary is KEEP AT IT UNTIL YOU’RE GOOD. Only a precious few geniuses are good right off the bat, and they do exist but most people need to do 1000 bad drawings before they do a good one. I’m sure Jim would be the first to admit that he didn’t draw like either Adams or Picasso when he sent in his art. But he got better. A lot better.




  1. Erik Scott says:

    Jim Lee talks about this comprehensively in the podcast he did with Kevin Smith and specifically notes how important the honest and blunt feedback as can be seen above was incredibly helpful to him. It was fascinating and encouraging to hear.

  2. As painful as it can be to encounter harsh reactions to your work, you have to get used to it. There will always be a peer, an editor, a writer, a reader or a retailer telling you what they think.
    I draw, paint and write, so I have received many rejection letters . The better rejections include suggestions or comments that can help steer your efforts, and those letters are worth their weight in gold. That person took the time to make comments about your work: best to listen.

  3. Pardon the plug, but here’s a link to a recent interview I did with Jim as we commemorated his 25 years in comics and the 25th anniversary of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff.

  4. Bob Flegerman says:

    Per Erik Scott’s note: I wonder if Lee is taking note of the criticism most of his work gets these days? It certainly doesn’t seem like he’s listening anymore, since his work has fundamentally degraded every year since he hit his “peak” long ago.

  5. And the really funny part is, judging by the picture at the bottom of the post, he *still* can’t draw hands.


  1. […] Comics – Jim Lee recently shared several of his old rejection letters from Marvel. While it’s great to see he kept working at it and created some amazing books… It’s too bad someone from Warner Bros doesn’t have the balls to send him one of these at DC. [The Beat] […]

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