Born in South Korea in 1964, Jim Lee moved to St Louis, Missouri when he was four. At school he excelled in art, but when he left he went to Princeton to study medicine. Just as he was about to graduate with a degree in psychology, Jim took an art class and fell back in love with drawing. He put his medical career on hold and gave himself a year to make it as a comic artist. After a chance meeting with Archie Goodwin at the New York Comic-Con, he was signed to Marvel.
From there, Jim’s career took off, first on new comic Alpha Flight, then moving on to illustrate Marvel’s flagship series Uncanny X-Men, a mere three years after chancing his hand in the industry.
Looking for a new challenge, Jim left Marvel in 1992 with six other high-profile Marvel artists and formed WildStorm comics. This was a new imprint that touched on familiar mutant territory but pushed comics into a new, mature direction in premiere series WildC.A.T.s.
Soon, the idea of running his own studio clashed with Jim’s creative urges and, wanting to get back to the daily challenge of drawing comics, he sold WildStorm to DC. There, he worked on three groundbreaking series – Batman: Hush, Superman: For Tomorrow and All Star Batman & Robin – which redrew DC’s most famous characters for a new generation.
While at DC, Jim even managed to entice Stan Lee to be publisher. Working on Just Imagine Stan Lee With Jim Lee Creating Wonder Woman, the pair set about redesigning some of DC’s most cherished characters, seemingly for fun. “He’s the nicest guy in the whole world, and there’s no better artist than Jim Lee,” commented Stan Lee at the time. “What a joy he was to work with.”
Since February 2010 Jim has been DC’s co-publisher, and has overseen the launch of Dark Knight: Boy Wonder, as well as setting in motion a host of new comics for the coming years.All images are featured in the book Icons: The Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee, on sale now for £25 through Titan Books: www.titanbooks.com