Comics icon George Pérez, one of the most popular and acclaimed American comics artists of the past half-century, has died aged 67 from pancreatic cancer.
Pérez is probably best known for launching the New Teen Titans in 1980 with writer Marv Wolfman, where the two created Cyborg, Raven and Starfire and made Dick Grayson Nightwing. Wolfman and Pérez went on to reshape the DC Universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths, which, in turn, led Pérez to reboot Wonder Woman in 1987 with a beloved five-year run that redefined Diana for a new generation. At Marvel, where Pérez got his comic book debut, he’s probably best remembered for two separate runs on the avengers; with Steve Englehart in the 1970s and then with Kurt Busiek in the 1990s, where the two revived the series in 1998 to great acclaim.
Born in New York’s South Bronx on June 9, 1954, Pérez knew he wanted to be an artist from an early age, beginning to draw seriously when he was just 5 years old. He wasn’t even yet 20 when he went to work as a studio assistant for Marvel artist Rich Buckler (Buckler’s other assistants from that time included star artists like Denys Cowan, Arvell Jones, and Keith Pollard). Pérez’s first published comic book work for Marvel (and aside from a short story in the indie anthology, hot stuff a few months earlier his first period of published comic book work) was a short satire of Buckler’s work on Deathlok in amazing tales #25 in 1974.
Shortly after, Pérez received his first regular feature, drawing the feature Sons of the Tiger (about a multi-ethnic team of martial artist heroes) in Marvel’s black-and-white magazine, the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. Pérez did a few other minor assignments before landing his biggest gig yet, drawing the avengers in the summer of 1975. He quickly added the The Fantastic Four and the young artist was steadily working on two of Marvel’s biggest series for the next few years. During this period, while Pérez worked primarily with Jim Shooter and David Michelinie on The Avengers and Roy Thomas and Len Wein on The Fantastic Fourhe also made a Fantastic Four Annual with Wolfman which marked their first comic book collaboration.
In 1980, after Wolfman left Marvel for DC (joining Wein there, who had left a few years earlier. Roy Thomas then quickly joined them at DC as well), Pérez began getting his first job for DC, taking over initially the Firestorm. -up feature in Glow with writer Gerry Conway. Then, while still drawing the avengers for Marvel, Pérez started drawing Justice League of America following the long-term death Justice League artist Dick Dillin. This meant that Pérez drew both Marvel’s and DC’s most famous heroes simultaneously. It was this remarkable achievement that prompted Pérez to want to design the Justice League of America/Avengers crossover which was to be released in 1983. However, the project fell apart after Pérez had already drawn a number of pages for the book.
Before getting to that failed crossover, however, Pérez and Wolfman would relaunch the Teen Titans as the New Teen Titans, adding three new characters created by Wolfman and Pérez (Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven) to the original Teen Titans (Robin, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash) with a renamed Beast Boy from Doom Patrol (now called Changeling) joining the team, as well . The comic caused a stir and quickly became DC’s best-selling title. Pérez was heavily involved in the show’s story and would soon be listed as the show’s plotter alongside Wolfman. The two also created Deathstroke the Terminator and Vigilante for the series, both of which would have their own spinoffs.
Perez on the left The New Teen Titans in 1985 (after launching a second volume of the series in 1984) to work on the extensive crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths with Wolfman. The series, which would alter the continuity of the DC Universe, showed Pérez’s uncanny ability to draw many characters in great detail. However, the scope of the event was so dramatic that Pérez practically drew hundreds of separate characters in each issue.
Once Crisis on Infinite Earths was over, rather than returning to the New Teen TitansPérez instead rebooted Wonder Woman with writer Greg Potter (then screenwriters Len Wein and Mindy Newell), relaunching the hero in a new series with new background in 1987. wonder woman #1. Pérez plotted the series and served as the book’s main penciler for the first two years. He remained on the series as a screenwriter for the next three. During this time, Pérez also took on writing and art duties on action comics after briefly reuniting with Wolfman as a co-writer/artist on New Teen Titans (the book being renamed simply New Titans).
As Pérez finished his wonder woman run with the War of the Gods crossover event, he was also drawing the first half of Marvel Infinity Gauntlet, with writer Jim Starlin. Pérez was replaced by Ron Lim for the back half of the six-issue series. The early 1990s were a bit of a weird time for Pérez, when the comics industry was going through a speculative boom and the top artists were apparently all doing creator-owned work, but the only work belonging to a Pérez’s creator at that time was an epic. Comic book mini-series with Peter David titled Sachs and violins in 1993.
After the successful mini-series in prestige format Hulk: Future Imperfect with David (who introduced the evil future version of the Hulk known as Maestro), Pérez was given a big contract (Pérez would later recall that it was three times his page rate he was getting at Marvel back in the day). era) to go work for Malibu Comics on its Ultraverse line of superhero titles. Pérez drew the Breakthrough crossover event and later helped launch the Ultraverse’s response to the Avengers, Ultrastrength. He received an even larger contract to draw the ephemeral I-BOTS by Isaac Asimov series for Tekno Comics.
During this period, Pérez was also doing comic book writing work, including a Giant-Man miniseries and a run on Silver Surfer (which included writing a team-up between Silver Surfer and Superman) and Spider-Man: Team Up. He also inked Dan Jurgens in Jurgens’ 1996 reboot of Teen Titans. Pérez planned to use the money from Teen Titans to help fund his first solo, creator-owned series, crimson plague, originally published by Event Comics. The cost of self-publishing was high, however, and Pérez was also frustrated with his writing gigs, so he wanted his next big assignment to be purely artistic and luckily he had a great opportunity, as he went back to avengers to relaunch the series after Heroes Reborn. Working with writer Kurt Busiek, the new series was a major commercial success and became a critical darling as well. Pérez stayed on the book for three years before helping launch a new imprint, Gorilla Comics (published via Image Comics), with a revival crimson plague series.
However, shortly after the launch of Gorilla Comics, Pérez was caught in a bidding war, as Marvel and DC were finally ready to do a crossover of JLA and avengers, but CrossGen was also courting Pérez with a solid contract and benefits. In the end, Pérez made a deal where he would be allowed to do both (CrossGen usually required exclusivity, but made an exception for this project). However, he had to give up crimson plague for these more publicized (and better paid) missions. He had started doing the series Solutions with writer Barbara Kesel when CrossGen went bankrupt after just seven issues. Back when CrossGen went bankrupt, JLA/Avengers was enthusiastically received.
In 2007, Pérez designed the first 10 issues of a new Brave and the Bold series for DC. The following year he drew Final Crisis tie-in miniseries Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds with writer Geoff Johns, one of Pérez’s last comic book projects showing off his legendary ability to draw massive superhero crowds. In 2011, he participated in the launch Superman for DC’s New 52 line of comics (Pérez would write the comic and do the layouts for cartoonist Jesus Merino), then split the art duties over the first nine issues of The best in the world in 2012 (with Huntress and Power Girl teaming up).
In 2014, he drew his last regular series, the property of the creator Sirens mini-series for BOOM! In 2017, Pérez was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. In 2019, he officially retired from comic book art due to his declining health.
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