Thursday 30 September 2010

Atop the Fourth Wall takes Pat Lee to task

Gaze upon the peerless technical skill Pat Lee displays in showing such wide ranges of emotion as despair, terror, disbelief, triumph and rage!

Pat Lee is somewhat infamous in Transformers fandom. When a man doesn't pay his employees because he splashed out on a "company" Porsche, you know the guy's a bit of a scoundrel.

Yet he can't even be appreciated on artistic levels.  The man can barely draw, and what he does draw has no sense of proportion, dynamics or continuity.  He has absolutely no concept of emotion beyond a sort of slack-jawed, empty stare of lifeless consternation.  I make no exaggeration when I say his complete inability to grasp basic artistic conventions like, say, making sure a character doesn't shrink from panel to panel, and that it retains its proportions throughout, has earned him a reputation akin to Rob Liefeld.

Yes, Rob Liefeld.

So imagine my delight that Lewis "Linkara" Lovhaug, owner and proprieter of Atop The Fourth Wall, has taken Lee to task on his atrocious draughtsmanship and shameless financial dealings that led to the ruin of Dreamwave Comics, in his review of Transformers #4 and #5. Marvel as Linkara utterly decimates the two comics which encapsulate what made the Dreamwave comics go so terribly wrong in his usual acerbic style!  I'm especially cheered he gave the Marvel comics props, seeing is they were "my" Transformers back in a time when I didn't have television and had to rely on video cassettes for my He-Man and Thundercats fixes.

However, I can't leave Pat Lee off the hook just yet.  Transformers isn't the only franchise tarnished by the erratic brush pen of the self-styled Superstar Artist: he has produced terrible art for Spider-Man, Wolverine, and many others.

Conan was one of them.

I think it's fair to say my general opinion of the Dark Horse miniseries is pretty low in general.  Jewels of Gwahlur and The Midnight God, in my opinion the best, are still fraught with problems. Daughters of Midora was astoundingly pointless, barely even qualified as a Conan story for me.  The Book of Thoth and Songs of the Dead are... well, I don't really want to talk about them, to tell you the truth.

Demons of Khitai suffers from the same problems as The Midnight God: its story wasn't too bad, but the execution and inconsistencies with established Conan canon are impossible to overcome.  Given that the story seemed to think Khitai was Japan and acted accordingly, I suppose it would be natural that Japanophile Pat Lee would be the heinous cherry on the top of this fail sundae: he provides not only the covers for the weeklies, but for the trade paperback. Not the best advertisement for those sitting on the fence.

Overall, his art is not the worst, - it isn't even the worst Conan cover art - but the mere presence of Pat Lee is... well, not to be histrionic, but it's kind of a blight against the good name of Conan.  Then again, considering Conan himself doesn't have the cleanest sheet, perhaps it's only appropriate.  Still, Conan was many things, but he was never a hypocrite.

To anyone who wants to break into comics - learn to love drawing backgrounds and study technical work, never have an ego, and treat your fans with respect!
- Pat Lee

And he still can't draw Optimus Prime.


  1. I remember when the new transformers book was just being announced.. there was some murmurings that Joe Madureira was gonna be drawing the book.

    And then that Pat Lee splash page showed up in Wizard magazine.. and everyone went absolutely batty. I full suspect that had it not been for his shady business practices.. and the fact that those in turn deprived the fandom of something it felt it was owed.. he could have continued that series for a very very long time..

    People today still talk about how much they love his art.. despite all the breakdowns of why it isn't any good.

    Personally, I hold him responsible for making a really poor comic. I feel that the first inclination of the Dreamwave book, to fill in the 20 year gap between the end of season 2 of the cartoon and the 86' movie.. was a good one.. they should have stuck to it. We won't even talk about the Hardwired Novel Trilogy...

  2. I will still personally kick him in the nutz for what he did. Some of those guys he screwed are friends of mine...

  3. I love comic books and I love Conan, but I've never seen a Conan comic I've liked, including Savage Sword. They just never look like what I've built up in my head.

    And that Optimus Prime looks like a Russ Meyer ingenue.

  4. Lagomorph, I know the feeling. It's hard to believe that a guy like that could be in a position where he's in charge of a company despite being unable to draw things properly. He released a freakin' "How to Draw Transformers" series, fercryinoutloud!

    MilkmanX, I can't blame you. Lee is a blackguard.

    Scott, I like quite a lot of Savage Sword comics, but none of them really approach Howard, either in descriptions or general power. Most of my favourites are non-Conans like "Worms of the Earth." Hmm, I wonder what Russ Meyer's Transformers would be like...

    Budd, simple but sweet. I agree.