On April 8, Jim Lee tweeted about his hand. To quote Jim Lee, “Hand is doing well—drawing for the first time in some time. Pretty ecstatic actually :D”. I didn’t realize Lee had an issue with his hand, but to an artist, obviously that’s devastating. The parallel to athletes with injuries makes for an accurate simile. So, assuming Jim Lee’s drawing hand itches to illustrate, what would you like to see him draw? All ideas welcome regardless of corporate alliances. And just to give you some ideas, in this article we’ll review some of the spectacular works to his credit and some actual art sales.
What Jim Lee Art Deserves a Hand?
First, let’s make it about YOU! With news that Jim Lee’s hand is doing well, what do you wish he would grab pencil and paper to illustrate? Perhaps, early works like Punisher, monumental works like X-Men, independent characters like WildC.A.T.S., or hush, let’s say it together: Batman! Recent sales on Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four art suggest that whatever Jim Lee puts his hand to, will probably turn out awesome.
Recent Sales Prices for Lee
We’ll look at some recent Lee sales. Surgeon general warning: If prone to fits of envy, lust, or greed, check out my article on Hoarding. Because Lee art is typically not cheap! But I do care about the hands of people who like to smash their fist into the wall when they see original art prices. So, I’ll review the high end, the ten to twenty grand range, and the “cough cough” low end.
First up, a panel page from X-Men #277 featuring Storm and Starjammers. At over $33K this April, it’s far from the most enormous Lee sale. However, as an interior panel page, that price reflects a lot of respect and love for Jim Lee’s art. This particular art is 30 years old, so it is far from modern. However, art from this era never faced the danger of extinction from dumping or shredding.
Cover art featured on the 3rd issue of Fantastic Four (Volume 2) gave us bonus heroes. Captain America, Namor, and Thor bring extra passion to the Jim Lee/Scott Williams art. The final price of $43,200 last January puts it out of my range. But in November 2020, covers for Ghost Rider #5 and Uncanny X-Men #268 sold for $72K and $300K, respectively. So maybe the FF cover wasn’t too bad a price (here’s where we add a winky face). A similar spectacular price of 132 grand was paid for a two-page X-Men splash in January.
If You’ve Got a Spare Ten to Twenty Grand
Maybe you are willing and able to pay up for Jim Lee hand-drawn art, just not crazy prices. Many pieces recently fetched a mere ten to twenty grand at auction (here’s where we add another winky face). The Punisher War Journal page here fetched just under $10,000 in January. Recent WildC.A.T.S. panel pages have fallen in the same 10 to 20 range. Interestingly, those pages must be more in-demand than the 1990 Punisher. Perhaps the similar style and appearance to X-Men pages plays a factor.
Some collector got a kick out of this two-page Black Canary splash from All-Star Batman and Robin. The art from 2005 sold last year for $13,200. Generally, if wanting to save some bucks but still get art by the masters, look for their more recent pieces.
Raise Your Hand for Dirt Cheap Jim Lee Art
Dirt cheap is a relative term. In fact, I remember when garden soil was free. Now I pay six bucks for a bag at Wal-Mart. So just like good dirt, you also get what you pay for with Jim Lee art. But, we can find some interesting stuff for under $2,000. Maybe some stuff for under $500 if the budget is limited but you’ve just GOT to have some Jim Lee! Starting on the lower end, Image art for Divine Right and Savage Dragon can be found in the $500 range. These pieces won’t POP for the average collector, so I suggest only true Lee fans buy his lowest-end works. For $500, it’s possible to pick up much more dynamic pages featuring mainstream characters by other artists.
Still ‘cheap’, but higher quality, consider some of Lee’s most recent art, such as Batman Europa with Giuseppe Camuncoli. These pages from 2016 feature tremendous art and grade A character, but can be found in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. Just as a recommendation, every artist, even legends, has low-price works, but it’s probably best to pay a little more. Alternatively, there are hundreds of awesome artists and not all cost what art from Jim Lee costs.
Jim Lee Art for Sale
Let’s finish with a few pieces of art that are actually available for purchase. Open for bidding in May through Heritage Auctions, four pages from WildC.A.T.S. should fetch similar prices as what was mentioned above. With a few recent comparables, bidders can determine if the prices are low or high compared to recent sales. The splash from WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Team #31 Jim Lee and Richard Bennet pictured here obviously has good visual appeal for your favorite wall.
Like you, I wouldn’t mind owning some Jim Lee art, but I would probably wait to get something featuring some of his best-known characters. And, like any collectible, find something you love. Jim Lee’s art was also featured in X-Men Artists That Rock. IF you want to think about your buying from a more analytical investment perspective, you may want to check out articles by Jestin Davis and Joe Overaitis.