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Comic Book Artist Jim Lee

Updated on July 23, 2013

Jim Lee, who is now the Co-Publisher at DC Comics, came to fame as one of the most influential comic book artists of the modern era. He helped revitalize the X-Men line of books for Marvel before going on to form Image Comics with six other superstar artist. Image has garnered much criticism, but the impact they have had for independent artists is undeniable.

In high school Jim lee was passionate about comic books but he put it behind to go to college to study psychology. We may never have known him as an artist if it was not for an art class he took late in his college career. It was after this class that his passion was ignited and he decided to pursue a career as a comic book artist.

It is hard to believe this once rising star of the comic book world, now in the fourth decade of his career, is now part of the industry elite guiding the editorial policies of Americas most beloved and classic characters.

X-Men #1
X-Men #1

Work at Marvel Comics

At a New York comic book convention,  then editor Archie Goodwin gave Jim Lee his first break doing the pencils for a fledgling tile Alpha Flight starting with issue  #51. Next he did the art for Punisher War Journal which was the first glimpse of how great he would become. It was not until his run on the Uncanny X-Men that his celebrity was truly established. This is also where he began collaborating with inker Scott Wiliams who he would often work with throughout his career.

The immense popularity of his run on the Uncanny X-Men led to him being selected as the artist for the self-titled X-Men series in 1991. This remains as the best selling single issue comic book of all time, having sold over eight million copies with the help of five different covers.

WildC.A.T.S #1
WildC.A.T.S #1

Jim Lee Helps Launch Image Comics

In an effort to retain creative control of his work Jim Lee helped launch Image Comics in 1992. His line of books would at first be known as Wildstorm Productions. Some of the books included in this line-up were WildC.A.T.S, Deathblow, Stormwatch, and Gen13. Wildstorm titles  were some of the most popular books during the mid-90's.

Wildstorm went on to take advantage of it's popularity by launching two more lines, Cliffhanger and Homage, as a way to allow more creators a place to create and own their work. During this same time, Jim Lee made his return to with mini-series featuring the Fantastic Four.

Jim Lee Begins Working For DC

Overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being both a publisher and an artist, Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics in 1998. The other lines fell to the wayside but his original Wildstorm tiltles continue to be published, although they have never found the same success again that they had in the 1990's.

At DC, Jim Lee had his first major project doing a 12 issue run on Batman with Jeph Loeb. Next he took on DC's most iconic character, Superman, with another 12 issue run.

At this point his career began falling into delays, much like the ones that plagued Image in it's early years. Sporadically he would finish issues of his collaboration with legend Frank Miller, All-Star Batman and Robin. He would also sporadically contribute to his original flagship title WildC.A.T.s.

Unfortunately the entire Wildstorm imprint was discontinued in 2010. The same year he was also announced C0-Publisher of DC Comics. He continues to work on various titles and doing gorgeous cover art for even more.

Jim Lee Career Highlights

  • Alpha Flight #51-first comic art
  • Uncanny X-Men 248-first work on X-Men
  • WildC.A.T.s #1-helps launch image
  • Batman #609-First monthly work for DC
  • Harvey Award-Best New Artist, 1990
  • Wizard Fan Award-Favorite Penciler, 1996, 2002, 2003
  • Co-Publisher DC Comics-February, 2010


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