Born in South Korea in 1964, Jim Lee moved to America and successfully transformed the comic book industry. His art style is immediately recognizable and he has gone on to work on some of the best selling titles of all time. In fact, in 1991, he and Chris Claremont created the best selling comic book of all time in X-Men Volume 2, #1.
Jim got his break into comics in 1987 with Marvel Comics. He immediately began to gain notoriety for his work on Alpha Flight and The Punisher. Sensing that they had someone very special, Lee was put on the forthcoming X-Men title and history was made.
Lee, along with six other creators grew tired of not being recognized, at least impart to the publishers, for their work. In 1992, the seven left their respective roles and companies and formed Image Comics.
Image Comics gave the artists and creators the freedom to do the work they wanted and allowed them to be properly compensated financially. Lee published his books under Wildstorm umbrella of Image Comics and created the WILDC.A.T.S title. While working under his Wildstorm brand, Lee began to experiment. He not only created two additional imprints under Wildstorm, but he wound up merging the two to give a number of industry artists the opportunity to create creator-owned books.
Around this time (1996) things began to turn for Jim Lee. Marvel had approached him to relaunch of few of their titles under the Heroes Reborn tag and he, along with fellow Image Comics alum, Rob Liefeld, agreed. When finished his work, Marvel asked that he continue on the line, to which he refused. While he was interested in working the line, he only wished to remain as editor. Marvel did not want this.
Back to DC
In 1998, Lee would sell his Wildstorm Comics to DC. He did this due to the constant pressure he felt as a publisher and as a family man. In truth, Lee seemed to have been at peace with the decision as he could now focus on what he enjoyed most, drawing. During this time Lee worked on the commercially successful Batman Hush, Superman For Tomorrow, and a few others.
Although it appears he came to DC to ease his workload and purely focus on illustrating, he was still charged with being the editor at Wildstorm. While working on some DC titles, Jim Lee also found himself working on Wildstorm titles. This, of course, caused delays in the release of some of the books.
The early 20-teens were a busy time for Jim Lee. By 2010, Lee’s work had taken him, along with Dan DiDio to the Publisher role at DC. Around this time, DC also announced that they were canceling the Wildstorm imprint. In 2011, DC wiped out all previous continuities with the arrival of the New 52. Naturally, Jim Lee, along with Geoff Johns found themselves at the helm of the project.
From this point forward, Lee would work with General Mills, help with a program dedicated to fighting hunger in Africa called “We Can Be Heroes”, design a new version of Scorpion from the highly successful Mortal Kombat series, and much more. In 2018, and after the announcement of Geoff Johns stepping down as Chief Operating Officer, Lee accepted and assumed the vacant role.
Without fail, Jim Lee has become one of the most influential artists in the last 30 years. Better yet, he shows no signs of stopping.