Who is Raymund Lee? Living a simple life in Sta. Mesa, Manila, this professional graphic artist is living his dream of working for top comic book publishers as a digital comic book colorist. His stint on Wolverine, The Uncanny X-men, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and other top rated books from Marvel Comics and a few other comic book companies caught the attention of Glasshouse Graphics head honcho, David Campiti.
Raymund enjoys working in his studio, surrounded by his family and three dogs. Although spending most of his time working, he still finds time to follow a calling that only a few know of. Raymund trains his dogs to become visiting therapy dogs. In fact, he is the founder of Friends For Life – a volunteer organization that brings smiles and hope to the children who are ill and need cheering up. Together with friends they visit hospitals, orphanages and schools with their therapy dogs and make the children happy… even for just a day.
Raymund also takes time out only to spend it with his family. After a day of watching a good movie, strolling inside malls and a healthy dinner, it’s always back to his desk working on the pages of the next book.
Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born in Mandaluyong City, Manila.but I grew up in a nearby town called San Juan. I have fond memories as a little boy growing up in that town. Most of my friends lived there once. It’s now a city, but almost very little has changed. I remember using a block of chalk to draw comic strips on the pavement in front of our house. People would stop and see what I was drawing.
Schooling? Art training? I graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with the degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Advertising. I enrolled in Whilce Portacio’s comic book course in Megamall. That’s also where I got my first gig as a colorist.
How long have you been working professionally in comics? A little over eleven years.
What things -- both in art and otherwise -- have you worked on, besides comics? I am also a senior art director for a local advertising agency. I work on freelance projects from time to time. I also sculpt for fun. I’d like to make a sculpture that people would remember me for someday.
Are comics a full-time gig for you or part-time? This time around, I’d like to go full on with comic books. This is what I love doing. It’s about time I did.
How did you break into comic book coloring? I was surprised that I got my first break in just a little over a month after Whilce Portacio’s course was over. I wanted to do pencils, but at that time, Whilce encouraged me to study photoshop because there were very few or almost none who wanted to try coloring. I was the first Filipino colorist that Whilce hired. He gave me my first coloring job on his book, nonetheless. He consistently trained me and gave me tips. I owe my skills to his guidance and tutelage.
When you held your first published work in your hands, how did you feel? I was excited of course! I bought 3 copies of that first book I did, then I had it signed by all the artists involved. I had it framed and mounted on my wall.
Who are your comic book influences? I have always considered Jim Lee as the best. I always tried to imitate his anatomy and angles in penciling. The great ones like Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, inking legend, Scott Williams, Adam Kubert, Mark Texeira and Mike Deodato should always be a template of inspiration for those who want to break into the industry. I also am fascinated with the dark art of Roy Allan Martinez and the late great Nick Manabat. Leinil Francis Yu is also one of the people I look up to. Alex Ross has been tremendous in revolutionizing painted artwork in comic books. What is your workspace like? I work at home. It’s a simple setup. I like working close to my family. I love the fact that I can stop when I get tired and take a few winks, or play with my kids. If they’re not around I play with my dogs. I’m tied to my desk in front of my computer most of the time.
What job are you the proudest of? I colored for Wolverine for two years. I know that my contribution made an impact for that book because Wolverine topped all the other books and stayed on the number one spot for quite a while. I got to work on the Uncanny X-men . I did Spider-Man, Iron Man and Wolverine annuals. I’m proud of everything that I did. I am also proud that I was able to help other colorists finish two-week delayed books and be able to put it out before their deadlines expired. I’m pretty proud and confident of my coloring output. I remember doing a 22-page book in a week. I was working at 5-7 pages in a day!
How does your family view you as a comic book colorist? I am married to the most incredible woman on earth. She’s my life and what makes my world brighter. She believes in what I can do and she pushes me to exceed even my own expectations. My two angels, Redjine and Redmond are now both in high school and are also into art. They love reading comic books. At an early age, they were already appreciating good comic book art. I try to spend quality time with them. We live simply and make the best of whatever situation. Our family enjoys reaching out to others just to make their lives a little bit better. We share our home with 2 pugs and a golden retriever.
What projects do you hope to work on in the future? I would love to work on Batman. I have a picture in my head of how the colors should come up to make the feel of the book dramatically darker that usual.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Still doing what I am doing now. Putting the finishing touches to a sculpture that I have been dreaming to make. I’d like to be part of a big comic book convention and meet the legends of the industry.
Do friends and neighbors know you draw comics for a living? How do they react? If you are a comic book colorist working at home, most people think you are a bum. My friends think it’s pretty cool to be a comic book colorist.
What's 1 thing you'll always find in your refrigerator? Ice! My wife always needs ice on her drinks. There’s chocolate mallows… I always crave for those. We have 101 ways to cook and prepare ground pork. There’s always frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer.
What's your favorite food? Pizza! No pineapples on my pizza, please.
What are your other interests? I like watching movies. I appreciate any genre of music as long as it suits my fancy. I play video games and get on the internet. I work and train my dogs. I watch NBA games and boxing, specially if Pacquiao is on. Eating… it’s a hobby, right?
Have you ever thought of writing your own stories? I did. I still do. I may have to organize my plots so that it becomes a story.
What’s the first thing visitors will see when they enter your house? Two pugs who will try to bully you by jumping on you. A massive golden retriever running towards you with a slight limp and a big booming bark that reverberates down the hallway.
What's an average day in your life like? I get up at around 4am. I cook breakfast for my family. I take the kids to school. I walk the dogs for an hour. I take a nap. I work. I snack while I work. I eat lunch. I go back to work. I do rest when I get tired. When my kids get home, we eat snacks or have early dinner together. I walk the dogs after dinner. I try to get in a bit more work done. Once I get a good run for the day, then I rest and sleep so I can start fresh the next day.
Do you have any great, unsold projects in your files that nobody's gotten to see published? Yes. I’m still working on that.
If you weren't a comic-book artist today, what would you be? A professional dog trainer. Have you taught comic-book art or had any assistants? If so, talk about that. As a senior art director, I help out artists regularly. I hired somebody to do flats for me before and ended up doing them myself because I found out it would be easier for me to just do all the flats in one pass, then work on the colors next.
The single thing you'd most like to be remembered for in your life is...? I would like to be remembered as one who made a difference in the lives of others while I was doing what I knew how to do best, be it doing outreach or training dogs or coloring comic books. Any advice for those who want to break into the comic book industry? Doing comic books is serious work. Treat it seriously. Learn to communicate with the people you work with. Manage your time wisely so you can submit before your deadline. That way, you can rest so that you are ready for the next project.
Stone #3 and #4 (Avalon Studios) The Wicked # 2 - 7 (Avalon Studios) Jinn #1 - 3 (Avalon Studios) M-Rex #4 (Avalon Studios) Aria/ Angela #2 (Avalon Studios) Aria: The Soul Market # 1 - 3 (Avalon Studios) Aria: Summer Spell # 1 (Avalon Studios) Vampirella (Harris) Legend Of Isis (Blue Water) Wolverine #161 - 181 (Marvel) Uncanny X-Men # 395(Marvel) Iron Man Annual 2001 (Marvel) Peter Parker: Spider-Man Annual 2001 (Marvel) Cable #95 -96 (Marvel) Fury (Marvel) New X-Men (Marvel) Nightside (Marvel)