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. 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. 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.

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