Home News SDCC ’17: DC’s Spotlight on Jim Lee – live-blog

SDCC ’17: DC’s Spotlight on Jim Lee – live-blog

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We’re here at the Jim Lee spotlight panel! Let’s see what DC’s co-publisher has to say about his career and current work! Should be a fun time!

  • Lee is doing this one solo, as its  a spotlight panel. He’ll be doing some live drawing and taking questions. 
  • Lee is also expecting his long-time collaborator Scott Williams to join.
  • As he begins drawing, he regales the audience with his ” secret origin”, where he grew up in St. Louis, graduating from high school in 1982.
  • This will be his 31st SDCC, and one of his high school classmates is in the audience.
  • Lee’s father came to the US in 1969, and he learned to read from comic books. He was a very voracious comic book reader, learning English through the letter balloons, and especially the letter columns.
  • Lee takes some suggestions from the audience for what he should draw. Someone shouts out “Animal Man!”, to which he responds “Animal Man??” And then insteads takes a suggestion for Wonder Woman. 

    • He felt like comics was the perfect job for him as a young man, as he felt fairly “terrorized and fearful” in social settings, much to his family’s disappointment.
    • Lee continues to sketch out his Wonder Woman drawing as the first question comes in from the audience: “what’s the collaboration like between yourself and the writers you work with?”
    • At the beginning of his career, Lee stated that because of the lack of cell phones, you had to talk to writers far more often and in greater depth in each conversation. Speaking to his early days, when he was first entering the business with Brandon Choi, he had always assumed that editors had long term plans for these characters: “a 15 year plan”. When he spoke with his first editor at Marvel with the question of “what are your long term plans with the X-Men?”, the response was “what are your favorite characters and let’s make up a story.” He literally exclaimed “are you shitting me?”. It was a formative moment regarding the malleability of these iconic heroes.
    • The next question related to the creation of the video game based Batman villain Sin-Tzu, and would he ever return to him?
    • Long-answer made short: it’s very unlikely 
    • Next q: why do you think there’s more diversity in comics now than when you first came to comics in the 80’s?
    • Lee: “it goes without saying it’s a good thing. Comics should represent all of you guys.” He stated that he personally didn’t care about whether the characters looked like him when he was growing up. But he says that these days, the growingly diverse talent pool is reflecting the diverse readership and creating characters that also do that. He specifically cites DC’s work with Milestone, Young Animal and other efforts of DC’s steps towards inclusivity.
    • Next q: any Marvel characters that he wishes he could draw?
    • Lee answers, not really, there’s other DC characters though that he’d like to get to.
    • An audience member asks: which character did you struggle the most to bring the life?
    • He immediately answers Krypto, stating that he has a lot of trouble with animals.  “They have four legs!! Where are their arms!…I’m still mystified by the anatomy of animals” he said he basically googled Ed McGuinness’ and Alex Ross’ take on Superman’s pet.
    • He also said the rat in All Star Batman and Robin required him to google Ratatouille. He said he couldn’t quite swipe it, but he suggests everyone checks out the sequence where Robin is trapped with the rat with that thought in mind.
    • Q: “what did you think of the results of the 90’s X-Men animated show that was based on your work?”
    • Lee admits he really didn’t watch them, but said he happened to be at the studio when they were making a Sentinel based episode. He said he got to voice one of the titular giant robots.
    • Q: “when you were growing up, who were your non-comics heroes?”
    • Lee replied that there were teachers in his life that fit that bill, particularly his German and Calculus teachers. He felt like those teachers laid the groundwork for everything he achieve d. “Oh and my parents too!!” Those parents who he said he failed on every single count (in his chosen profession, his love life, etc). But he said once he got into comics, they immediately began asking “why aren’t you the number one ranked artist?” And they become instantly supportive of his career path.
    • Q: How has your style evolved and what is influencing that evolution?
    • He reponded that he attempted to be very impressive when he was younger. Back then, he attempted to tell an entire story in one panel, which he no longer tries to do. He also feels his art looks very different when he inked himself vs. when Williams inks him now, thanks to Scott’s manual dexterity.
    • Q: “Are there any characters or books you want to work on specifically?”
    • For a long time, Lee thought he would work on the Legion of Super-Heroes, but then he jumped on Suicide Squad and recognized the difficulty of drawing a team book. With only 7 characters there, he doesn’t think the 25-30 Legionnaires will be possible. He says he’d like to do a run on Wonder Woman one day.
    • Q: “Any plans to bring back the WildC.A.T.S?”
    • Lee used the opportunity to promote The Wild Storm and Michael Cray books, but said that a specific title for that team is still under discussion.
    • Q: “Have you ever found yourself troubled by self-doubt as an artist?”
    • The secret to success in life, Lee says, is to have lots of kids, of which he has 9. He says things like college tuition and the like are a great motivator. Relatedly he adds that you have to be a workhorse in this industry, and you build up to the point where you can draw 8-9 hours at the table to get the work done. He says that the longest he ever drew was 25 hours straight on a project.
    • Q: “Do you still have Mark Hamill’s voice mail message?​​”
    • (Lee plays a great voicemail for the audience from the actor that I’ll try to upload if I can)​
    • Now Scott Williams has joined Lee on stage, which gives him the opportunity to recognize Scott’s efforts, as they have been a team for over 25 years. Lee presents him with a small gift: a Rolex watch, one that is nicknamed “The Batman watch” due to its blue and black exterior. Fancy!!
    • And that’s a wrap folks! Next up! The ACTUAL Meet the Publishers panel. I’m pretty sure!

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