COMIC TALK with Fish Lee
Geo Aria: When did you first discover comics?
Fish Lee: My mom used to buy me those packs of five or six comics for $2 if I was good at the Dr’s office when I was little…. it was before school age, and before I could read. It actually took me until last year to find my FIRST comic… I knew it was a Hulk comic, and I remembered the cover… but I couldn’t read, so I never knew the villain’s name! it finally hit me ten years ago that they only put out twelve issues a year, so it wasn’t THAT hard to search through all the covers online until I found the right issue. then it took a LONG time searching shops and cons until I finally found a copy.
Geo: What attracted you to them?
Fish: The cool characters I recognized from TV shows and cartoons, the action, the amazing art. I loved the way characters like Spider-man and the Fantastic Four inspired my imagination and spurred me to create my own ideas and stories… even at four or five years old.
Geo: When did you start drawing superheroes?
Fish: Superheroes were the second thing I learned to draw, right after a dragster made out of a triangle and two different sized circles for wheels.
Geo: Where did you study art?
Fish: I’ve been seriously studying art since before I could read. I would look at pictures from coloring books of the Smurfs and KNOW these pictures were better than mine… but why?? these shapes were rounder, those lines were the same length, these lines were thicker than those… I dissected it all with a purpose. I wanted to learn to do what they did. but it wasn’t good enough to know “what” they did, I needed to know “why” so I could know when to do the same thing. but to answer the basic question, I studied art and 3D animation and design in college, but by that time I was terribly more advanced than my teachers.
Geo: What was your first published work?
Fish: That’s hard to nail down, I’ve been working in some form of art since I was in high school. I designed a logo for Georgia Pacific that I saw all over trucks and paperwork, etc… at 16. I’ve done so many album covers, posters, t-shirts, magazine covers… no idea which came first.
Geo: How did you get your first break, into comics?
Fish: I had self-published many little ashcan comics through our church that we gave out through the backpack feeding program at the local schools for a long time. worked on a few small projects someone wanted to finance… then they would disappear, or run out of money. I was content working on various other graphics work until I got disabled at 30. I spent the majority of the next 15 years violently thrashing around in my wheelchair unable to walk, talk, or see. after some lucky breaks with some experimental treatments, I got a fair bit of my mobility back. I had to relearn how to draw with the aid of computers that could smooth out the lines from my trembling hand. I tried in vain to find work again… but my physical limitations stop me from being able to do a lot of jobs. I can’t stand more than a few minutes, I often still can’t speak, etc. eventually I stumbled into doing freelance little jobs in comic art. It is work I can do on my computer from my recliner, which lets me work for much longer periods than I could if I had to sit up at a desk. I do most of my communication over messenger… so I don’t have to be able to speak. As long as I have two thumbs that will still move, I can talk with clients. It’s actually turned out to be the perfect job for me.
Geo: How did you get involved with G-Man Comics?
Fish: I credit my entire comics career up to meeting Eric N. Bennett on my first paying gig in comics. I was the inker, and he was lettering. we became friends, he started commissioning more and more work from me, he started showing it off to all his buddies, who then started hiring me to illustrate their books, like Fivestar #3, Sentinels #269-272, Power Company #2-3, and This book… it all ties back to my buddy Eric. The best guy to know in Indie comics, hands down!
Geo: What do you like most about the G-Men?
Fish: I like the variety of characters, and they all look cool. striking designs.
Geo: How much freedom do you have creatively with the comics?
Fish: It’s different from job to job. On this story, everything was pretty well laid out in the script. The fun challenge for me was how to best show EVERYTHING going on, what would be the coolest angle, the most dramatic shot? I believe in the last page or two (I’ve drawn two other books since then, my memory might be rusty) I may have even combined a few panels together to make one epic shot with action in the foreground, mid-ground, and background… to make one really awesome shot, rather than three pretty good shots.
Geo: What is it like working with Rik, Lou, and David?
Fish: Went smooth, got the script, did the work, only had a couple of small revisions. it was a fun project.
Geo: What else are you working on?
Fish: I’m about to start work on the rest of Power Company issue 3 now that the Kickstarter is successfully funded. Issue 271 of “The Sentinels” is headed to the printers and about to go out to all the backers, and the next issue 272 is already finished and ready to go. I’m also finally working on another one of my own stories, “Greenzone: Life In The Blocks” about a class of new recruits to the police force in a world full of super-powered people, which you can follow on my Instagram or my Facebook page Tourette’s Life.