Saturday, August 15, 2009


Lee Weeks, that is. The penciller who got away, possibly the single most underrated comics artist of his generation (depending on whether or not Stuart Immonen is part of that same generation, because he should truly be a Superstar).
None of these shots can adequately convey what makes Weeks so wonderful, because they are covers, splashes and posters. But his storytelling is without peer - muscular, subtle, beautifully stark.

Hes one of those artists who seems to have suffered for his Classicism. Because he looks like he's influenced by Toth and Wood, by Joe Kubert and Gil Kane, by Ditko and Frazzeta, by Buscema and Colan and Mazzuchelli rather than Manga or George Perez, he has never ever really fit in at Marvel. When he emerged, after working on Justice and The Destroyer to earn his spurs, he was given Daredevil, the street level superheroics and noir vibe of which would seem to best suit his style, but even there he seemed ill at ease, still finding his style and not quite confident enough to embrace it fully. So his fitfully stunning work looked old-fashioned by comparison to the hip artists at that company at the time (a problem Ron Garney also suffered from) , the Image generation in particular.
Still he worked on the semi-classic "Last Rites" storyline, and followed Daredevil with a run on Gambit, at that point very much a hot character.

But his style was not a good fit for the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe, no matter how many dynamic, brilliantly designed covers he came up with, and after Gambit he left Marvel to briefly work at DC. For me Weeks should be working at DC, it seems his rightful home. He was surely born to draw Batman, as Batman Chronicles: the Gauntlet suggested.

Most of his work at DC, however, amounted to Cover Art (he also did storyboard work on Superman: The Animated Adventures), which wastes Week' storytelling ability, and he didn't last long at the company, drawing Tarzan Vs Predator: At the Earth's Core for Dark Horse in 1996. But soon it was back to Marvel, and there he has bounced about, drawing covers, working on a story arc here, a mini-series there. It can be tough to keep track of him, and since he rarely works on the more prestigious projects or with the better writers, not always entirely rewarding. It seems certain that he will never be the star his talent suggests he should be. He works too little, too slowly, and his style is not flashy or individual enough. From interviews I've read, I gather he also takes a dim view of much of the industry's current product, disliking the "darkness" of a lot of material, which is a shame. But what an artist!

He does have his fans. Volume 17 of the Modern Masters series is dedicated to a Weeks interview, with tons of unpublished art etc, demonstrating just how highly some rate him. Here are some covers etc, beginning with the Hulk the way he should always be seen. On horseback, carrying an axe.

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Blogger Will Shyne said...

I second that emotion! Lee Weeks is definitely a DC man as while there's plenty of Buscema in his work, for me it just oozes Kubert and something like Hawkman, Flash, Batman.
He did a couple of Batman Chronicles in the 90s, #1 inked by Sienkewicz which was a Jim Gordon story so fit Weeks' David Mazz leanings.
I'm always interested to see where he pops up but am generally underwhelmed by inks/colours/writing.
The last bits I bought by him were Wolverine/Punisher from several years back and the great Cap America Story with Dave Gibbons.
Always hoping the next one's a keeper...

9:37 am  
Blogger David N said...

He needs to find a writer and make a partnership. If Frank Quitely didn't have Grant Morrison then he'd be bumbling from one beautiful looking Vertigo title to the next.
Weeks is maybe too much at the mercy of ignorant editors...

9:55 pm  

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