In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
Name: George Pérez
Profession: Comic book artist
Notable Work: Wonder Woman V2 (1987-1992), The New Teen Titans (1980-1984), The Avengers (1975-1980)
“While I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes.” - George Pérez
The term legend is thrown around a lot in comic books, but trust me when I say that this gentleman, George Pérez, is in that club. A career spanning over forty-years, Pérez has had his hand in just about every corner of DC and Marvel. This forefather’s road to fame wasn’t an overnight one, though. George Pérez comes from humble beginnings; he was born in the Bronx as a second generation (mainland) American, born of blue collar Puerto Ricans, George knew he was going to be an artist from an early age, drawing his own characters and stories since he was five years old.
Pérez is a self-taught student of art, helping him get a position with Marvel Comics as an assistant to Fantastic Four artist Rich Buckler after networking at a convention. At the time of Buckler’s call, Pérez was working as a bank teller (I know how that feels…). He wasn’t handed great projects right away; Pérez had to work his way up to the big titles. He began his career writing a few pages for various small books, and ended up gaining experience from pencilling hand-me-down titles and books that were expected to die soon. Back in the mid-70′s, team books weren’t all the rage like they are today. This stemmed from the fact that artists were not being paid royalties yet (that wouldn’t begin until the early 80′s), so the appeal of making the same amount of money for drawing ten characters just wasn’t there.
Enter George Pérez, the man with the unmatched work ethic. In 1975, he started drawing Avengers and Fantastic Four, both of which he would draw in stints until his departure to DC Comics in 1980. Team books became not just a way to keep work, but turned into a trademark of his. He gained a reputation for doing great group panels, with an unprecedented level of detail – much before the digital age made it a less strenuous process. Pérez insists that he does not have a favorite superhero, which really has drawn him to do more team-oriented books. His ability to fit so much into a panel, and not distract readers’ attention from the story, is a quality that can get lost at times today – thanks to the use of over-scripted scenes.
The role of the penciller isn’t just to draw out the writer’s instructions. Both are on the cover and both are credited as creators because the comic book medium calls for a written story that is built upon the illustrated world the penciller creates – and the colorist and inker accentuate. When Pérez drew Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds with Geoff Johns, who was a huge fan of Pérez, he showed Pérez the amount of scripting that has to go into a “George Pérez panel,” which was a thick stack. Pérez refuted that a script gives him nothing to do, and that the relationship between writer and artist should be a symbiotic one, where they build off each others’ ideas.
Pérez has been the penciller for some of the industry’s most iconic book stories. Among his most renowned work is: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinity Gauntlet, War of the Gods and the Wonder Woman reboot. He was also the penciller for the crossover event, JLA/Avengers - which took almost fifteen years to see the light of day. The iconic JLA/Avengers #3 cover is home to a ridiculous amount of DC and Marvel characters in a Who’s Who of superheroes. Pérez’s best working relationship was with Marv Wolfman, with whom he created the Teen Titans, an idea that Pérez was certain would fail. While they struggled to dissociate team from the X-Men, the book was a huge success. The New Teen Titans isn’t the only contribution Pérez has made to comics; he’s also attributed to creating (or co-creating): Cheetah, Deathstroke, Ravager, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, Nightwing (not Dick Grayson), and a LOT more.
In the New52, Pérez gave his hand at writing Superman after he has promised creative freedom. Unbeknownst to him, his book was slaved to Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. As amazing as Morrison is, he is very vague and not forthcoming when it comes to his approach to writing. Frustrated, Perez was glad to get off the series after the first arc. After leaving his last DC Comics book, World’s Finest, Pérez joined BOOM! Studios, a smaller company, as an exclusive writer and penciller, given actual creative control over his own books. Left on bad terms but harbors no ill will, just didn’t like direction DC & Marvel were going. He is currently happy writing his own creation, Sirens, and touring the country for various cons, where he has a great rapport with fans.
Outside of the comic book work, Pérez has been known to work for organized charities such as: The Charlotte Firefighter’s Burned Children Fund, The Muscular Dystrophy Association, Make-A-Wish, as well as the Florida Hospital Diabetes Association and The Juvenile Diabetes Association. He is a founding member of The Hero Initiative, a non-profit designed to help comic book creators in need.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (DC Comics). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Arrow star, Stephen Amell.