Jae Lee: Designing Dynamite's Dead Irons

Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches

Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches
Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches
Silas

We’ve brought you looks at Dynamite Entertainment’s upcoming miniseries Dead Irons from the views of writer/creator James Kuhoric and artist Jason Alexander. We’ve also shown you preview pages, some of the design work done on the property by Jae Lee, and presented an early review of the first issue of the supernatural/horror Western miniseries.

Today, we wrap up our tour of the creators with a quick chat with Lee about his work on crafting the look of Dead Irons, its world and its characters, as well as what “art directing” the series means.

Newsarama: Jae, what attracted you to this project? You're pretty busy as is, so what was the straw that broke the camel's back here?

Jae Lee: Jim's concept was so brilliant; I didn't need to be sold on it. The moment I heard the pitch, I wanted in. I wish I came up with the concept. Everything just clicked. Right down to their names: Silas, Jessie, Colt and Annie Belle Irons. They just ooze cool all over the place.

Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches
Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches
Colt

NRAMA: As some have pointed out, the feel is similar work that you're doing on the Dark Tower material at Marvel. In your view, how is this different in tone and look to the point that it affects your artistic approach?

JL: Dark Tower is like a mega mall of genres. It's a western, romance, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, all under once roof. Dead Irons is like a specialty boutique store. But be careful, once you walk in, we're not going to let you walk out. You'll have to shoot your way out. Dead Irons is a lean, mean, brutal, bloody book. And the art should reflect that.

NRAMA: You're "art directing" the series- what does that mean, in a practical sense? Obviously, we've seen what you're doing for the characters, but how much of the larger world are you developing and designing?

JL: My job was to come up with a visual style fro the book. Basically that comes down to finding the right artist. If you pick the wrong guy, art direction becomes a lot of work. Trying to get someone to visualize what you so clearly see in your head can be a frustrating experience. But if you're lucky, you get someone like Jason Shawn Alexander. We share similar aesthetics. He's such a talented artist; to say I art direct him would be an insult to Jason. He doesn't need anyone telling him how to draw.

Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches
Dead Irons covers and Jae Lee Sketches
Annie Bell

NRAMA: That said, how hands-on are you after the design process? Was this just a handoff to Jason after you did the character designs, or do you have approvals on the pages?

JL: I asked Jason to run with it. He's a force of nature who chooses his own path. When I see his work, there's nothing for me to approve or disapprove. His art just is.

NRAMA: Your covers that we’ve seen for this so far are, as always, very iconic. Did James give you ideas for them, or are you working them out from the story?

JL: Jim and I spent quite a bit of time going over who these characters are. They're lived in his head for so long, it was my job to give them flesh. He infused them with so much personality that they practically write themselves. For the covers, I felt the best way to introduce these characters was to have them pose in iconic shots that show off their individual personalities.

NRAMA: Obviously, this is something that James, Jason and Nick are hoping to continue - are you on board for sequels as well?

JL: Absolutely.

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