Jim Lee's rejection letters from Marvel and DC

"Your work looks as if it were done by four different people."

Artist, writer and editor Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Comics, is hands-down one of the most important figures in the comic book industry. He's had a hand in creating some of the medium's most iconic characters and stories, and his unique style and technique have influenced a generation of artists.

To this fanboy, he's a personal hero -- not only as a comic book professional, but also as one of the first Korean Americans I ever saw working in a nontraditional, creative career. He's the best.

But he wasn't always at the top of the game. While cleaning out some file cabinets, Jim recently came across a bunch of old rejection letters he received as a young hungry artist trying to break into the biz. Naturally, he snapped photos of the notes -- correspondence from both DC and Marvel Comics -- and posted them on Instagram. They're definitely humble evidence that even the greats must start at the bottom.

Take a look:

One of Jim's first rejection letters from the late, great Dick Giordano, executive editor at DC Comics.

Jim says he was maniacally sending in pages every month. Another rejection from DC, though Jim says Giordano's message in the post script meant the world to him, and still does.

Jim's first rejection letter from Marvel's then-submissions editor Eliot R. Brown, who said his work looked "as if it were done by four different people," and that Jim needed to learn how to draw hands.

Another Marvel rejection letter, this time from new submissions editor Howard Mackie, circa summer 1986.

Yet another Marvel rejection, but with some constructive criticism about Jim's technique (again, those hands). You couldn't blame a guy for getting frustrated, but three months later, Jim Lee got his first gig at Marvel.

Hard work pays off. Notes for Jim Lee's very first assignment for Marvel, the pencils for Alpha Flight #51. Here's the first page of the issue. Jim's pencils have certainly come a long way:

Never give up! I think we're all glad Jim Lee didn't end up going to med school.

angry archive