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 (ミチヤメノテヒ フナナ Michiyamenotehi Funana) 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.
Known titles, aliases and nicknames: The Transman,Superstar Artist, Mr. Talented
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. 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.
Despite having dominated Diamond's sales charts for several subsequent months with the Transformers, Dreamwave eventually ended up in dire financial circumstances. Coinciding with rumors of unpaid freelancers, Pat Lee started to accept contractual work for Marvel and DC again, such as issues of House of M or Superman/Batman. Dreamwave eventually declared bankruptcy on January 4, 2005, blaming the weak Canadian Dollar and other scapegoats for the company's failure.
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.
Eventually, Pat Lee parted ways with Dream Engine again and started his new enterprise, Pat Lee Productions. Pat Lee is currently residing in Hong Kong.
Return to official Transformers work
In mid-2008, three and a half years since the collapse of Dreamwave, Lee was commissioned to do a series of illustrations for Hasbro Hong Kong to use for promotional purposes as part of their appearance at Ani-Con 2008.
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. The reason for this is simply because the art has already been paid for, and is therefore cheaper to use for Hasbro than newly solicited artwork.</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.
Hasbro Hong Kong Ani-Con 2008 Movie Commemorative boxset certificate
Criticism and controversy
Pat Lee's artwork has often been the target of criticism among fans. While he was initially praised by many fans for his "manga-like" drawing style (which is heavily 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 otherartists 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.
Lee's response to that was enforcing an internal "house style" that would force other artists to follow Pat Lee's own style more closely. Don Figueroa confirmed in an interview having received such requests from Dreamwave art director Rob Ruffolo, a guideline which Figueroa declined. Fellow artist Guido Guidi confirmed having received similar requests. Ruffolo himself also later confirmed the existence of an internal "house style", without specifically referring to Lee. The most evident example of the Dreamwave "house style" can be found in the second War Within limited series, where the original pencils by artist Andrew Wildman were drastically reworked by the inker, with rather disappointing results.
Even though many fans preferred other artists over Pat Lee, official Dreamwave press releases and solicitations would often titulate the company's president as a "superstar artist".
The demise of Dreamwave didn't come overnight. The first rumors of freelancers not getting paid date back as far as October of 2003. Following the closure of Dreamwave, former freelance writers Adam Patyk and James McDonough reiterated their claims that Dreamwave (not explicitly referring to Lee himself) had stopped paying them even before declaring bankruptcy. They had then filed a lawsuit against their former employer, and when that became public, they had allegedly also heard from other Dreamwave employees and freelancers who were supposedly also complaining about not being paid anymore.
Aside from Patyk and McDonough, no other former Dreamwave employees or freelancers were nearly as explicit on the issue. Artist Don Figueroa only stated that Dreamwave was "getting really behind with the check" and pointed out that he "was also assured everything was cool" when he met Pat Lee in person only a month prior to the closing of Dreamwave. The latter complaint was also repeated by writer Simon Furman. Likewise, artist Guido Guidi merely accused Dreamwave of a lack of "[g]ood communication", and even revealed an ambivalent attitude towards Pat Lee and his brother Roger. Artist James Raiz, meanwhile, claimed that he was "one of the very few who came out of Dreamwave with all [his] money."
Prior to declaring bankruptcy, Pat and his brother Roger had 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. 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. The overall amount of Dreamwave's debt was far over a million dollars.
In addition, Guido Guidi and Don Figueroa later confirmed that they were additionally charged by FedEx for having shipped artwork to Dreamwave prior to the company's closure.
Pat Lee himself gave several interviews following the closing of Dreamwave, presenting himself as a victim of circumstance while completely dodging the issue of unpaid creators and the existence of Dream Engine.
While working with Dream Engine, Pat Lee spent a significant amount of the company's 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. In the fall of 2007, Aimee Chan changed her status on her alive not dead social networking page to "single". Oops!
Failure to give proper credit
During the Dreamwave days, several artists confirmed that Pat Lee had only been drawing the robot characters, leaving the backgrounds entirely to (credited) assistants such as Edwin Garcia.
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. In addition, Lee later asked Milne to draw artwork for DC's Superman/Batman #34 as well, again giving his underpaid ghost artist no credit. Eventually, Top Cow found out, resulting in Pat Lee not paying Milne at all for over 20 pages of artwork.
Attempts at cover-up
In March and April of 2008, 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. (The critical content in the Wikipedia article was later purged for other reasons, but not reverted to the blatant self-advertising Pat's own version was.)
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!."