This article is about Pat Lee, the superstar comic book artist. For the uncredited artist who actually draws all his stuff for negligible pay, see Alex Milne.
Patrick C.K. "Pat" Lee is a Canadian artist. He was the president of Dreamwave Productions and drew some of their Transformers comics, until most of his employees noticed he wasn't paying them. Subsequently, he was also the president of Dream Engine until all its employees noticed he wasn't paying them either. He's currently the president (?) of Pat Lee Productions, where it remains to be seen if he notices he isn't paying himself.
Japanese name:Michiyamenotehi Funana
Other known titles, aliases and nicknames: The Transman,Superstar Artist, Mr. Talented
Before the Transformers
Pat Lee was born in Montreal on June 28, 1975, and raised in Toronto. At the age of 16, right after graduating from high school, Lee was eager to find a job in the comic book industry, sending over 150 pages of sample aftworks to Marvel and DC. Unfortunately for Lee, both publishers realized what a shoddy artist he was. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, however, Lee eventually managed to catch the attention of infamous Image Comics co-creator Rob Liefeld at a Toronto convention in 1994, who would hire Lee (now aged 19) to work as a penciller on various titles for Liefeld's Image studio Extreme Studios. After that, Pat Lee would also work for Jim Lee's Image studio Wildstorm Productions, as well as accepting work-for-hire assignments from Marvel (who had now apparently changed their mind regarding his artwork).
In 1996, Pat and his brother Roger decided to start their own studio within Image Comics, Dreamwave Productions, with Pat acting as the company's president. With Dreamwave, Lee would continue accepting contractual work for other publishers (such as the four-issue limited series Wolverine/Punisher: Revelation for Marvel), but also started to publish his own blatantly plagiarized originally created titles such as Darkminds and Warlands. Collaborations with various magazines and advertising campaigns helped to further advance Dreamwave's reputation. Initially, the "hook" for Dreamwave's financial success was Pat's drawing style, which many readers viewed as "manga-like" (although readers of actual Japanese Mangas had a different opinion on this matter).
Transformers by Dreamwave
In 2001, Pat and Dreamwave submitted a contribution for a feature named "Big 80s" that was published in issue #111 of Wizard: The Comics Magazine, depicting Pat's own take on one of his favorite properties from his childhood days, the Transformers. Proving to be a huge hit among fans, Hasbro would consider the general art style a benchmark when they were offering the license for a new Transformers comic later that year. Unsurprisingly, it was Dreamwave themselves who finally acquired said license, commemorating this as a turning point in the history of their company by officially cutting all ties with Image and becoming an independent publisher on their own.
In addition to providing the art for various adverts, posters and covers, Pat would draw the first two Generation 1 limited series, Vol. 1 (aka "Prime Directive") and Vol. 2: War and Peace. Subsequently, he would concentrate on controlling Dreamwave as its president and spend more time on his biggest hobby, fast cars, assigning art jobs to other artists (many of them hired directly out of the fandom) instead. Rumors about a rigid "house style" committing other artists to draw in a style close to Lee would start to circulate soon, most evident in the second War Within miniseries, where the original pencils by artist Andrew Wildman were drastically reworked by the inker, with rather disappointing results. Meanwhile, Lee's only other major contribution in terms of art would ultimately be some of the character profiles published in the eight-issue More Than Meets The Eye limited series.
Eventually, Lee realized that his hobby was using up more money than Dreamwave was making, despite having dominated Diamond's sales charts for several subsequent months with the Transformers. As a consequence, he started to delay payments to freelancers, later extending this practice to full-term employees, eventually ceasing to pay them altogether, while at the same time accepting contractual work for Marvel and DC again, such as issues of House of M or Superman/Batman. When he realized that this couldn't be a permanent solution, Pat and his brother Roger spent four months secretly transferring most of Dreamwave's assets to a new company named Dream Engine, whose website domain was registered to Roger's name before finally declaring Dreamwave's bankruptcy on January 4, 2005, blaming the weak Canadian Dollar and other scapegoats for the company's failure. The overall amount of Dreamwave's debt was far over a million dollars.
With Dream Engine, Lee would work on various projects such as an X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover for Marvel, issues for the Batman/Superman series for DC and a relaunch of Cyberforce for Top Cow, another Image studio. More controversies would arise when Pat spent a significant amount of Dream Engine's company funds on the campaign of his girlfriend Aimee Chan, who would eventually win the title of Miss Hong Kong in 2006. This ultimately resulted in Pat being asked by Dream Engine and his brother Roger to leave the company.
After parting ways with Dream Engine, Pat Lee started his new enterprise, Pat Lee Productions. Reportedly, he is currently spending a lot of time in Hong Kong and wants to start his own clothing line.
assorted covers for nearly all the Dreamwave Transformers series
Note:With the revelation of Alex Milne ghosting for Pat Lee on Top Cow's Cyberforce, and artist Edwin Garcia being credited for "backgrounds" on the Generation 1 titles, it's uncertain how much of the art credited to him has actually been the work of Pat Lee at all.
Various artworks originally created by Lee for the covers of the first Generation 1 limited series were also used by both Hasbro and Takara for their Commemorative Series and Transformers Collection series of reissues. Following the demise of Dreamwave, Hasbro would also continue to use cover artwork drawn by Lee for promotional images and various pieces of merchandise, such as a Transformers Monopoly board game. Presumably, the reason for this is because Hasbro no longer have to pay Lee for his art.</div>
Note:None of these artworks were created specifically for these reissues, but were instead recycled from old promotional posters or covers of Dreamwave's first Generation 1 limited series.
Criticism and controversy
In addition to Lee's shoddy business practices, his art has also often been the target of criticism among fans. While, as noted above, he was initially praised by many fans for his "manga-like" drawing style (which is heavilly inspired by the character designs and visual cues used by Studio Ox), others criticized his tendency for exaggerated proportions, emphasis on rounded robot body parts, making the characters look "inflated" and marshmallow-like, a general lack of sequential storytelling skills and the overall look of his human characters (see "dull surprise" for more on that). Even his critics often admitted that his work for covers and posters was better than his actual comic book interior artwork; however, that would change soon when even his cover artwork saw a severe decline in quality starting with the second Generation 1 limited series. The introduction of other artists who would draw Transformers characters in a similar style, while avoiding many of the problems Lee was criticized for, would further shift the public opinion against Lee's artwork. Rumors that Lee's drawing style was used as a standard for the internal "house style" that other Dreamwave artists had to follow didn't exactly help his reputation either.
Following the demise of Dreamwave, Lee would present himself as a victim of circumstances in various interviews, completely dodging the issue of unpaid creators and the existence of Dream Engine. In addition, it would turn out that Lee had made sure to transfer ownership of his formerly company-owned Porsche to himself before giving up Dreamwave, and had spent half a million Canadian dollars on a new luxury apartment even before the Dreamwave bankruptcy.
In 2007, it would turn out that Lee's personal involvement in his girlfriend's beauty pageant campaign had resulted in him being unable to meet deadlines for issues of Top Cow's Cyberforce series. As a consequence, Pat had asked Alex Milne to draw those issues in his stead. After a few issues, what little credit was initially given to Milne was dropped entirely, with Pat submitting the artwork under his own name instead, paying Milne merely a fragment of the money Top Cow was paying him. When Top Cow found out, Pat stopped paying Milne entirely. Previously, other artists had also confirmed that Lee had only drawn the robot characters during his days at Dreamwave, leaving the backgrounds entirely to his (still credited) assistants.
Recently, a newly registered Wikipedia user repeatedly tried to remove any reference to the controversies surrounding Pat Lee in his own article, instead replacing them with more PR-friendly resume details. One can only wonder whether Pat himself took a cue from Floro Dery.
Before the launch of Dreamwave's Transformers comic books, Pat expressed a certain level of ignorance with regard to the brand's history. For example, he claimed that, in retrospect, the Transformers cartoon was so amazing that it was only a matter of time before the toys were made. In the same interview, he also admitted liking Generation 1Sideswipe, whom he considers a "wicked character", regretting that he "died" in the movie.
During Dreamwave's heyday, Dreamwave press releases would constantly titulate the company's president as a "superstar artist", even after the company had started hiring various other artists, including Don Figueroa, most of whom would prove to be vastly more popular among fans than Lee.
Fans discovered an old personal website Pat had set up prior to the big breakthrough with Dreamwave. In retrospect, many of the quotes and graphics featured on the site would prove to be either hilariously ironic or frighteningly prophetic, such as a promotional image depicting Pat, his brother Roger and then-Dreamwave exec Alvin Lee walking away from a nuclear explosion (see Image:Dreamwave.jpg); or a header graphic that features his name, "Patrick Lee", replaced by random Katakana characters (ミチヤメノテヒ フナナ), which read "Michiyamenotehi Funana". Soon, this would become his new nickname among fans, used exclusively in a mocking manner.
After the launch of Dream Engine, Lee's resume at the company's website claimed that he was responsible for relaunching "X-Men, Batman and more", thereby implying that those franchises had long lingered in a near-dead state until Superstar Funana blessed them with his divine reanimating powers.
All of the above is absolutely true. We're not kidding.
Memorable quotes by and about Pat Lee
"It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failures."
"First of all... Can I just say how nasty it is when the cab driver farts and doesn't roll down the window?? Geez... What's wrong with these guys - I mean, what do they eat? I was so grossed out I had to roll down the left AND right window just so he knew for sure I was pissed!."