Each year the Russ Manning Award is presented to a new artist of merit. Past winners include Jeff Smith, Dave Stevens, Scott McCloud, and many other future Hall of Famers. We thought we’d take a look at this year’s nominees and show off some nice art along the way. Up first: Janet K. Lee.
It’s fairly safe bet that no other Manning award nominee has ever specialized in decoupage comics art — as seen in the below video, Lee produces her art in layers of paint, paper and varnish, all built on heavy pieces of plywood. Tee resulting original art is both stunning and HEAVY.
Self taught, Lee started out as a painter, and turned to decoupage after her son was born — a more indestructible media that a toddler couldn’t mess with. She gained notice with gallery showings of her paintings, and then a long-time friendship with writer Jim McCann led to their collaboration on THE RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN, a dreamy fable that is ideally suited to her iconic, fantastic style. While the dimensionality of her work is best viewed in person, even on the printed page, the depth of construction is evident.
After DAPPER MEN debuted to acclaim last year, Lee also illustrated Jane Austen’s EMMA for Marvel. She’s currently working on the sequel TIME OF THE DAPPER MEN.
Interviewed at Robot 6, Lee talked a bit about her steampunk influences:
The late Victorian era was a time of explosive growth and learning– not always in a beneficial way, but always with such fervor and hope. As a result, there’s an underlying tension between the simpler, organic forms (Art Nouveau) and the industrialization to come (Art Deco￼) that completely inspires me artistically; as that period inspired so many others from Lewis Carroll to Jules Verne.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.