Here’s another special for Dynamite’s 10th Anniversary , a gallery of Jae Lee’s covers for the company. Reading about the decline of the comics artist seems all the more ridiculous when you look at the amazing work being done by veterans like Lee, who is just hitting his stride with an even more impressive graphic style in recent years, relying on iconic, startling compisitions. (His work on Ozymandias was a bright spot in that whole Before Watchmen business.)
Dynamite supplied a short interview with Lee:
Q: It’s Dynamite’s 10th Anniversary, and you’ve pretty much been there since the beginning, drawing covers from Army of Darkness to Kirby, Dead Irons, Super Powers to Turok, Codename Action, Black Bat, The Green Hornet, The Shadow, Masks and the upcoming Terminal Hero with Peter Milligan. The question is, why them over any other publisher? You’re home was Marvel for well over a decade, and DC the last 3 years. But the most covers you’ve done is with Dynamite. What draws you to their properties?
LEE: Wow. I can’t believe I actually did that many. Early in my career, I was primarily influenced by modern comic book artists. Then I went through a heavy photo referencing phase. These days, I’m influenced by a generation of artists long gone, but never forgotten. Legends like Rockwell, Frazetta, Wally Wood and Alex Toth. It’s fun to work on characters that were around when these artists were in their prime. It gives me chance to channel them. But Dynamite isn’t just about the pulp heroes. Working on new concepts like Peter Milligan’s Terminal Hero is huge for me. Peter has been one of my favorite writers of all time. And I still consider the covers I did for Dead Irons some of my personal best.
Q: The one character you have not drawn a cover for that comes to mind is one of Dynamite’s signature characters, Red Sonja. Is there a reason why you haven’t yet? You draw beautiful women, so why not?
LEE: Beautiful women are so hard to draw. The line control and precision involved is difficult for me. Guys like Adam Hughes and Ryan Sook are so great at drawing expressive and beautiful women. They make it look so effortless. I prefer drawing ugly things.
Q: Would you ever draw interior pages?
LEE: I’m sure something will come together in the near future.
Q: What are your thoughts on digital comics as a creator and as a fan?
LEE: I’m old school. I’m not very tech savvy and I like reading comics I can smell. The older and mustier, the better. I want to see silverfish crawling around on the pages. It reminds me of the old time, small time comic cons I used to go to where I’d pick up a stack of beat up comics just to read. On the other hand, you just can’t beat the accessibility of digital comics. When I was young, I didn’t mind riding my bike 10 miles to the local comics shop or walking over to the local 7-11. But now, I don’t want to ever leave my apartment. So both forms have their purpose and place.
Q: What role do you see digital comics playing in the macro of the comics industry?
LEE: I think it’ll be key to bringing in new readers. It’s so easy for a new reader or a casual reader to download a comic. The accessibility of digital comics will get them in the door. It’s up to the content to keep them loitering.
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.