Monday, September 2, 2013

The Wholly Original & Brilliantly Unique Jae Lee

His work is decorative, minimal intricate, detailed and refined. The work in many ways is a genre unto itself. Artist/Illustrator Jae lee is the elegance among the utilitarian, the poetry among the mundane. lee is best known for his still bourgeoning career as a graphic story-teller for Marvel and DC comics. His assignments consist of the “special” and the “heavy-weight” projects. Marvel’s adaptation of the Stephen King series “The Dark Tower” went to lee and it is to date is his most powerful achievement. The panels are rich with substance, alluring and visceral to an extreme. The ‘Tower” books; scripted by Peter David with King himself serving as creative and executive director are treasures.
Lee is easily placing himself among the greats both in and outside of the comic medium with past and contemporary artists. Visionaries from Maxfield Parrish to Chris Van Allsburg are rivaled and complimented by lee. The master sculpture Michelangelo can even be referenced by the work of lee. The “Pieta” seems to be an inspiration for Lee who is quickly becoming a master of his craft and as an artist surpassing all norms.
“The Illustrated Dracula” by Bram Stoker illustrated by Jae lee is one of the handsomest volumes of any modern publication. The book fits perfectly into the hand. It is precisely weighted and just plain feels good to hold. In another time this wouldn’t be so much a consideration but in this increasingly print less society it is a committed endorsement of the ancient process of book making. The paperback edition in design gives the illusion of worn leather and it is  tompe-l’oeil used to spectacular effect. I am reminded of a church hymnal in that it is very equal in look and size. The illustrations are not intrusive or distractions but give the edition an intended welcoming illumination. The enhanced drawings are again minimal, gothic and beautiful.

Jae lee’s new work remains anticipated by his followers and he seldom fails to deliver certain greatness into a pretentious, while ordinary world of massive mediocrity. His involvement with DC Comic’s reboot “Batman/Superman” series gives a marked importance to what might otherwise be a failed project. Lee’s efforts are always interesting, always pushing a little farther than the pack. The folks at DC have fallen behind their chief competition Marvel. They have been vastly outdistanced and hope to revamp and capitalize in publishing and especially in the film industry. Marvel has captured a large portion of the film world with “The Avengers” and their other film franchises like “Thor, Iron-Man and Captain America.” The popularity, quality and fascination Lee brings to his projects are intrinsically valuable especially at this critical time for the industry. DC Comics sees a successful “Batman/Superman” book as essential to their efforts and a prelude to a “Justice League” film franchise.


Jae Lee is an artist of the highest standards; someone to count on to deliver and to thrill. Look for him in a book store near you. The Graphic Novel section would be the place to begin; then on to the classics of literature and beyond.