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Surviving New York Comic Con: A Guide By Jim Lee

With New York Comic Con starting tomorrow, we spoke to comics industry legend Jim Lee about the best ways to get what you want out of the event.

What are you most looking forward to about NYCC?
The number one thing for most of us [at DC] is that it will be the first time to gauge the public reaction to the new 52 relaunch. All the books are out now, so it’s really an opportunity to talk to the fans. I think the feedback will be invaluable. By the way, that picture of me jumping on the trampoline from last time I was at your office, I think that’s what put this whole project over the edge. (laughs)

Glad we could help inspire you! How is NYCC different from the more famous San Diego Comic Con?
It’s sort of a miniature version of San Diego Comic Con – it’s probably the second most prominent comic show in the country. New York is the capital of American publishing, so you have less of a Hollywood presence, and you don’t have these huge mega-events where you have 5,000 fans camping overnight to get a glimpse of a star.

So no Twilight fans, then?
(laughs) This show also will have more Cosplay. The whole show is just a little more intimate.

What are your three basic rules for surviving NYCC?
I’d say bathe every day (laughs), that would be top on my priority list. I would think, as a fan, plan your day. If you wing it, you’ll have a decent experience, but you will not be utilizing the experience to the full capacity.

Are you saying - the victory is in the preparation?
I think so. It’s so crowded and it’s so easy to get distracted at these shows that it might be frustrating after the fact to realize that your favorite creator or actor was there and you missed it, because you didn’t bother to look at the fine print. Finally, if you’re a heath conscious eater, I’d bring your own food!

What’s the best way of getting an artist to draw something you really want?
If you’re a guy, I would get your girlfriend to make a request. That’s terrible, but it actually works! Not from my experience, but I’ve seen other creators/colleagues go for it. Don’t be too pushy. Sometimes it pays to be clever: I’ve seen fans say, “Hey, I’m doing a sketchbook and it’s all based on this theme”. Sometimes people like the lunacy of these ideas, if they’re adding to some kind of bigger work of lunacy.
The other thing is to have a nice sketchbook: Don’t have a scrappy piece of paper that you tore out of your lined notebook. And know the person’s full name and their body of work. Oh, and don’t try to art direct the sketch. If I’m doing you a free sketch, that’s the worst. “Hey, can you draw another character behind him looking, can you do a sideways shot, and half shadow?” Sometimes I get that. That’s when I snap, like, “Do you want to draw it?”

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to draw?
My characters, but partially clothed… I turn those down. It feels funny to me. Sometimes people will wait three hours in line and then ask for a very obscure character. Snapper Carr, or Perry White.

If you do want a cheesecake drawing, how should you ask an artist for it?
People tend to kind of hem and haw a bit. There’s really no classy way of asking for it. I know you’re saying “cheesecake”, but “cheesecake” is about an illustration being cute, or bringing forth a smile, which to me is no problem. There’s some artists that are more known for doing more than that, so I’d assume you’d start your search online…

Have you ever drawn yourself as a superhero?
No (laughs). I rarely draw myself in general and if I do, I tend to do little cute manga-esque, almost bite-sized drawings of myself.

Is there a professional jealousy when you see another artist draw, say, a kick-ass picture of Batman? Or do you just respect the work?
There’s always respect but, look, anytime you meet a creator that does amazing work, there’s always that jealousy factor. Not that you hate him, or want to break his hands or whatever, but I think the very best work inspires and depresses you at the same time.

Have you got one really obscure hero or villain you’d like to bring back?
I don’t know if it’s obscure, but Bulletman and Bulletgirl. They wear giant shields, like coneheads, on top of their heads and they fly fast and burrow themselves through things. Those are fun characters to mess around with. There’s another one called Airwave who I’m a huge fan  of. That costume is just so evocative of the era.

What’s the crappiest superhero team you could possibly assemble?
I don’t think we want to go there! I don’t want to say, but it would definitely be the guys who all feel like they have indomitable will. Like, “I have no powers, and I’m not the strongest guy, but I have indomitable will, so I will always beat you!” So they’re these masochistic characters that keep throwing themselves in. Imagine a team of those guys with their relentless, overbearing, “I am better than you”.

It sounds like Batman with four Robins…
You know what, I don’t want to point fingers, I’m just saying. *cough* Captain America! *cough*