DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee is back at Comic-Con International in San Diego — his 30th Comic-Con in a row — and talked to fans midday Thursday at his spotlight panel; a typically free-wheeling affair including live drawing and spirited commentary from the industry veteran.
Lee started by discussing the “glamorous life of a comic book artist.” “I draw pretty much at night,” Lee said. “My family goes asleep at 10 o’clock or so — my wife at 9:30. I go into my studio, and I’ll draw from 10 o’clock to like 3 or 4 in the morning. I feel like I have two jobs, which I do.”
“It’s kind of like what Batman does,” Lee said, to laughs. “He changes clothes at night. I change into big cargo shorts and a t-shirt, because when you draw, you have to be in really comfortable clothes.”
Lee said he often eats Pop Tarts and ramen at night while drawing. “I’m a pretty well-known comics artist. Do you think athletes — do you think LeBron James is eating Pop Tarts and ramen in the middle of the night?”
That led to an inspirational message (of sorts) from Lee: “If you guys work hard enough and do all these things, you can eventually get to the point where you’re eating ramen and Pop Tarts at 3 in the morning, like me.”
While sketching Harley Quinn, Lee said he liked the depiction of Alfred as a more active participant in Batman’s mission in this year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — but he’s also OK with Alfred just being a butler, because running Wayne Manor is a difficult job as it is.
First question from the audience asked about the trend towards superhero costumes resembling real clothes rather than just spandex. “I think the introduction of other material is acknowledgement that we’re changing with the time,” Lee said. “I think it almost became a stereotype that if you were a superhero you wore spandex; it almost became a derogatory word.”
Lee said Superman’s New 52 costume “was never meant to be armor,” and that it was more meant to resemble an insect’s shell. “Obviously he doesn’t need armor, but if you fly through the sun, you want something to be durable.”
Next question: Any plans for WildC.A.T.S. or Spartan? “The answer is yes,” Lee said. “We will be announcing the details at New York Comic Con.”
Lee said he’d “love” to return to “All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder” (announced in 2011 to come back as “Dark Knight: Boy Wonder”) with Frank Miller, but both creators are busy — and he admitted he says the same thing every year.
Talking to any aspiring artists in the crowd, Lee made a distinction between art that may be “perspectively correct” but “cold and sterile.” He used a sketch of a sidewalk — with Batman on it — to illustrate his point.
Lee said he became a good “observer” by moving to America from Korea in his youth, which made him more visually aware. “As I kept drawing, I would notice things — not just objects, but how people stand.”
In a timely move, Lee shared a Pokemon Go hack: “If you log in four times without capturing one of the creatures right next to you, Pikachu shows up.”
Upon request, Lee amended his desert sketch to depict Batman catching Pikachu.
Another audience question: What would Lee want his “lasting influence” to be? “Nine well-adjusted children,” he answered. “I think that’s the hardest part. Never mind this drawing stuff.”
Lee ended with a reflection on his 30-year anniversary at Comic-Con: “There are a lot more women here, there is a lot more diversity in general. That’s good. That’s good for our business. We want comics to reflect the society around us. The fact that you guys embrace characters that represent quality and justice and love, fairness, all those kinds of things, is tremendous. Honestly, we need more of that in the world out there.”
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