At SDCC today, Wildstorm Comics veterans gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company, now an imprint of DC Comics. Wildstorm founder and DC co-publisher Jim Lee was joined by a team of collaborators including Ben Abernathe, Carlos D’Anda, Scott Williams, Ryan Benjamin, Sandra Hope, Lee Bermejo, Dustin Nguyen, Adam Archer, and J. Scott Campbell. 

  • Jim Lee dates himself by saying that when he started Wildstorm, he remembered being petrified to make his first big company purchase– a fax machine.
  • Grifter masks were passed out to the audience. The panelists want people to put them on for photos. 
  • The panelists are working on live drawings as the panel chugs along. Apparently these drawings will be given away towards the end of the panel, so one lucky person might be walking away with a Lee original! 
  • Back at the start of Wildstorm, the team would bring out potential artists six or seven at a time to small houses in San Diego. Lee said that these places essentially “turned into crack houses” while these artists, “depending on their ability,” would start working on trading cards or marketing materials, among other things. “it was very different…at the start…but a lot of fun for people coming of age,” said Lee as he admits to breaking every HR rule in the book. 
  • Artists are discussing their influences now. J. Scott Campbell credits Jim with getting his start in comics art. Campbell had just been told that comics companies don’t go looking for talent. Talent goes to them. And then a week later Campbell saw an ad looking for talent at Wildstorm. Fate! 
  • Jim Lee admits that he hired a camel, fortune teller, belly dancers, a hookah, and more for an Arabian Nights themed party during the heyday of Wildstorm. Oh how things change! 

      Dustin draws the Grifter! 

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      • D’Anda admits to being inspired by artists like Lee before he joined Wildstorm and then realizing he and others had become family to D’Anda once he started working at Wildstorm. 

        Jim Lee’s turn at bat! 

        • In the eyes of the early Wildstorm creators, art “was a competitive sport,”  said Lee. According to Bermejo, everyone was terrified of making something someone else on the time thought were bad. 
        • New Wildstorm anniversary special originally pitched as an 80 pager, but Dan DiDio advocated to expand to 250+!
          • Wildstorm short story coming soon! 

            Cover to Michael Cray #1, coming out in October. 

            • Jim Lee touts the strengths of Rebirth. The ability to “ignore” things that weren’t working and “focus” on the parts that were. 
            • Art distribution begins! Looks like the panelists want attendees to do push-ups!? 
            • Wow. Lee gives the first piece to a guy who has nail clippers after no one in the room has seen Dunkirk or is celebrating a birthday today
            • Another goes to someone who had a pizza crust
            • AND ANOTHER WENT TO SOMEONE WHO AGREED TO EAT THE PIZZA CRUST