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SDCC '22: Spotlight on Jim Lee panel recap

Comic Books

SDCC ’22: Spotlight on Jim Lee panel recap

Jim Lee shared anecdotes at his SDCC spotlight panel on Thursday afternoon.

It was rather easy to tell the room was about to be filled with Jim Lee fans by the countless t-shirts prominently displaying his art. The line wrapped around the conference hall and it was easy to see the fans were ready for Jim Lee.

Lee needs no introduction; some of the best-selling books and most iconic images in the art form have come from his hand. This panel, like others in the “spotlight” series, allows a single creator a chance to share their thoughts, ideas, and in Jim Lee’s case, art.

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SDCC '22: Spotlight on Jim Lee panel recap

While Lee introduced his family in the room, he took to a stack of comic boards, brushed aside the lighting issues, and began sketching some of the characters he put his mark on. Having spent “10,000 hours drawing Batman’s head,” it was fitting to see Lee visually define the character. He noted the way American comics give artists the freedom to give these iconic characters their own flair, and Lee’s Batman is undeniably his. 

Many aspiring artists were in the room, looking to get feedback about how they too can break into the industry and in what ways things have changed since his beginnings in the 80s. Lee explained that you need to learn to work digitally. He noted that whenever he is in front of a screen, it feels like work. When he draws with paper, it reminds him of sitting around the dinner table with his mother. 

SDCC '22: Spotlight on Jim Lee panel recap

Lee was also asked how young artists can find their own style and voice. Lee noted that he spent his childhood copying greats like Art Adams but knew he would be described as a “second rate so and so,” and that he “needed to just draw what felt right,” putting away those source materials. He also noted the need for artists to travel as it “unlocks a creative energy in the brain.” He also discussed some minor health problems he experienced a few years back, having a retinal tear, and telling a comical story of the doctor taking out a laser gun to clear up the problem. Thankfully, Lee quickly recovered and continues challenging himself to create new compositions. 

SDCC '22: Spotlight on Jim Lee panel recap

While Lee drafted the Joker, he was asked about his love for Star Trek. The audience was happy to hear he is a fan of Strange New Worlds series and thought there were cool possibilities for the deep fake technology used to bring famous characters back into the visual storytelling like in the Star Wars universe. 

One attendee noted that her husband had never read a comic before, and she asked what book Lee recommended he read. Lee jokingly responded, “why are you here?” prior to recommending Batman: Year One as a stellar introductory read. He detailed how Superman connected to his own experiences as an immigrant and how he was drawn to the X-Men feeling like an outsider himself growing up in America. 

Lee had a playful sense of humor, taking questions from the audience and spinning them into comedic tales and connections to his career. When asked to demo how he draws hands, he traced his hand over his page on the screen, eventually giving it an X-Men flair. 

SDCC '22: Spotlight on Jim Lee panel recap

Lee’s work is synonymous with the 90s. With a resurgence of nostalgia for the era, some in attendance asked if Lee was interested in returning to any of his 90s work and characters. Lee simply said he has a panel Friday and would provide an answer to that question…

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