Rich Johnston:This Silver Snail exclusive variant cover for Dreamwave's Generation One (ongoing) issue 1 commissioned from you and credited to you. Who actually drew it?
Pat Lee: I can confirm that it is not my artwork and I'm not quite sure who contracted or agreed that I would illustrate it. I do not even recall that this art was done for the retailer. So, I'm a little confused myself. So much artwork was being produced at Dreamwave that I was unable to view every single piece going out the door, and couldn't monitor every discussion between employees and other partners, retailers and vendors.
Some people see Bleeding Cool as biased. In favour or Marvel, in favour of DC, in favour of Image, pro-Alan Moore, pro-Mark Millar, anti-Paul Levitz, anti-Joe Quesada… but in truth I don't think I've held a grudge against any company or any creator. Except one. Pat Lee.
Lee ran Dreamwave Productions, spinning out of a successful Image deal into his own company publishing Transformers books. And as a variety of scandals reached me and what seemed to be a meticulously planned bankruptcy scheme that would land millions in debt to freelancers while seeing Roger and Pat escape debt-free into a new fully funded company, I think I lost it a bit. And ran story after story exposing Pat Lee's actions regarding freelancers while living the high life. Jonah Weiland at CBR stopped me posting an image of his Porsche and his million dollar apartment.. thanks Jonah. I think I had the rag between my teeth.
One of the hardest things was to get Dremwave employees to speak, at last initially. They lived and worked in a state of fear, of contract, of duty, even.
Of course it's been a while since. And now Matt Moylan is writing a new blog about those days, Dreamslaves. And in his second post, addresses the issue of Pat Lee's ghost artists. Specifically Rob Ruffullo. And that Silver Snail variant cover…
WAR WITHIN Vol.2 #1
An incentive cover is a rare variant comic that retailers can get only if they order a lot of copies of something. Like "order 25 copies of Awesome Man #1 and you many order 1 copy of the rare sketch cover!". Dreamwave used this trick all the time to get retailers to top up their orders. Since Pat's covers were the most in-demand, he often did the incentive artwork.
So here were have a cover that was solicited and advertised as being a rare Pat Lee incentive cover. But actually, Rob Ruffolo (TF: Micromasters artist) drew and colored this one, while Pat had only done the rough layout. Retailers and fans alike were none the wiser.
TRANSFORMERS G1 ONGOING #1 – Retailer Incentive
Another retailer incentive, this time of Dreamwave's "Mary Sue" character Sunstorm. Now in this case, I would give Pat the a bit of a break. Pat was hit with sudden appendicitis around the time of this cover's creation. He had actually intended to draw it, but was rushed to the hospital after having finshed only the rough layout and pencilling the characters head & torso. Rob Ruffolo stepped up to finish the rest of the character and color the cover.
Still, despite Pat's illness, this should have been handled better. The right thing to do would be to inform the distributor (Diamond Comics) send retailers an update through Diamond Dateline newsletter. Of course that would means sales on both the incentive, and the main book it was meant to help would drop, since Ruffolo was a less popular artist.
This one REALLY bugged me. It was a retailer exclusive cover for a well-known Toronto comic shop, Silver Snail. How this type of exclusive worked was, the comic shop pays for the creative costs of the original artwork, and then pays wholesale cost to order as many copies of the book as they want (minimum 1000 copies if I recall). So Silver Snail paid for all the books, and also paid a high Pat Lee page rate for him to create an exclusive cover for the store.
I don't remember if this was again appendicitis related, but the cover is 100% by Rob Ruffolo. I remember being really upset that Silver Snail was getting scammed, as was DW production manager Derek Choo-Wing. We had both at the time been getting along well with Silver Snail's then-manager Justin Van Leeuwen, and were basically ordered to lie to a friend. Oof.
But it's not all about Rob Ruffallo either. There was also Rob Armstrong…
This litho is my earliest recollection of something being not quite right at Dreamwave. It was done in the very early Dreamwave days, as a Botcon 2002 exclusive (and if I recall it was later offered to comic retailers). Now-defunct Palisades Toys even made it into a statue.
It was drawn & inked by Rob Armstrong (Pat Lee's main inker in the DW days), with backgrounds by Edwin Garcia, and colors by Pat. I had been recently hired as a graphic designer, so part of my job was doing minor edits on artwork and such. Rob had asked me to add his digital signature (the little robot head) to the final piece. Later when the printed version came in, I found it rather odd that Pat had at some point added his own signature (colorists didn't always sign things), and BIGGER than Rob's!
While I believe the litho was solicited as being created by Rob, to this day if you search for it you'll find many sites that credit Pat Lee as the artist.
More stories yet to be told…