Thursday, July 30, 2009

My hero, Ron Lim

Ron Lim has been one of my favorite artists for a very long time. I've followed his work on books including Psi-Force, Silver Surfer, Captain America, Spider-Man Unlimited, Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, Infinity Crusade, J2, Wild Thing, Avengers Next, Fantastic Five, Cable/Deadpool and Skaar: Son of Hulk. It was a definite pleasure to have Lim's art grace the cover of the Marvel Legacy: the 1990s Handbook our crew put together a while back and when we wound up with extra money in the budget for last year's All-New Iron Manual, I was thrilled when my editor suggested Ron Lim for additional character art.

San Diego International Comic Con 2009 means many things to me; one of them is that I finally met Lim in person. I introduced myself as the head writer of the Iron Manual book and he said he was glad to meet a collaborator. Do you know what that means to me?

Well, my good friend and co-writer on the handbooks Mike Fichera certainly doesn't. Somehow, the allure of Lim's work has evaded him. In fact, he often lashes out against Lim's art. Mike is a brilliant engineer, fine writer and a decent artist in his own right, but his one failing as a human being is his hard-hearted assessment of Lim's ability.

I chatted up Lim about his past work. He mentioned how pleased he was to draw the Silver Surfer again recently in the pages of Skaar and I opined he drew him as brilliantly as in the 90s. I brought up the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War and Lim beat me to the punch by recalling how little he cared for the third installment Infinity Crusade; he said it wasn't his best art and didn't pretend to understand what the story was about; that spared me from having to bring it up. I brought a copy of X-Men 2099#1 for him to sign and he was visibly delighted to see it. When I brought up Nightwatch he laughed at the memories it drudged up, telling me how painful it was; I asked him about the alteration to the character's costume on Nightwatch#1's cover and wondered if it had to do with Todd McFarlane's lawyers, but Lim didn't recall the circumstances.

Speaking of McFarlane, I told Lim how back in the day when McFarlane, Liefeld and Lee were considered the greatest talents of the industry, he was the greatest in my eyes. He laughed at that, but it was true - as a teenager, I considered him a superstar easily the equal (or better) of the Image founders.

Lim offered me a free sketch; who could I choose but Captain America, the hero whose book was my first regular exposure to Lim's art. When I came to pick up the art I reminded Lim that he had made his debut on the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition back in the 80s; I mentioned it as a bridge to my own work and he thought that was neat. Although I only meant to visit SDCC once in my lifetime, Lim did his best to persuade me to return; I think he could tell I was having a great time.

Lim's next project will be a Hercules mini-series alongside Bob Layton. I will be there. Mike Fichera will be out drowning kittens.

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