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Icons: The DC And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee

01/11/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Icons: The DC Comics And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee in the USA - or Buy Icons: The DC Comics And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee in the UK

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pub: Icons: The DC Comics And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee by Bill Baker. Titan Books. 260 page illustrated large hardback. Price: GBP 24.99 (UK), $39.95 (US)' $47.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84576-519-4.

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The one thing you can’t say about this book, ‘Icons: The DC Comics And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee’, is that it’s a small book. You need a table to support it as you wander over the pages of Jim Lee art which can range from breakdowns, pencils to the final product. As the title notes, it covers his tenure at both DC Comics and with his own Wildstorm company.

‘Wildstorm’ started just as I was getting out of comics so although these are an interesting selection, it’s with the DC characters that I’m most familiar with. Jim Lee explains how he worked on the essence of what made the characters work before doing his work on Batman and Superman showing by his sketch work as he plays with expressions and poses to make them work for him. Littered in here also are the pre-production designs that went into making the statues for the ‘Batman: Hush’ and Superman statues following his twelve issue tenure on each book. From the text put together by Bill Baker, it’s obvious that Jim Lee wants to catch the essence of the characters with the poses he gives.

Objectively, if I was using this book to work out Jim Lee’s technique, his line-work is structured so that he shapes everything so it does literally leap out of the page at you. It’s also interesting how his main inker, Scott Williams, and colourist, Alex Sinclair, know how to capitalise on this and there are several pictures where the pencils and inks are combined to show them in transition from each other. It’s also interesting that when Lee does both these tasks himself there’s an obvious difference in texture but a reassurance that most comicbook art is actually a composite of several skilled people.

Looking at the art collectively, Jim Lee’s characters all have attitude. You don’t want to mess with them. If I have to be critical at all, I wish Lee had shown more scenery with his Wildstorm material than what is essentially a walkthrough of the characters he created. ‘Wildstorm’ came out at a time as my interest in comicbooks waned so my focus tends to be on the more recognisable DC characters. There’s also a bonus feature story focusing on the Legion Of Super-Heroes with a cameo by its creators. Let’s hope there’s more, if only because Saturn Girl has her long hair back.

Don’t forget to look under the dust cover for a couple surprises.
A worthwhile addition to anyone’s comicbook art collection.

GF Willmetts

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