If you have read the previous posts in this column, you will know that I am a child of the 80’s. I began my love for comics when the two biggest selling series were Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans. The New Teen Titans was the most influential comic series on me as a child. Hell, my best friend, and current tattoo artist, painted the Titans Tower portraits for my Bar Mitzvah party.
With that bit of background, it is easy to understand why George Perez is the first comic book artist that I fell in love with. My sister, who I am betting has read maybe two comic books in her life (only because I forced her), even knows who George Perez is. There are so many fantastic artists in the medium. Too many to name. But George tops them all for me. He is my paragon. In adulthood, I have gained appreciation for those who came before him. As a youngster, I didn’t understand Kirby or Ditko the way that I did Perez. Adams was too melodramatic for me. George Perez’s tight lines and dynamic action scenes where what I expected comics to be.
Recently, Mr. Perez announced that 2019 will be his last year on the comic convention circuit, and he will essentially retire from making new comics. These decisions are due to the toll that health issues have taken on him. We are terribly sad to hear that he has come to this place at such a young age. Mike Gold has become the de facto eulogizer around Pop Culture Squad headquarters. Thankfully, George is still with us, and therefore, I will take a shot a living tribute in this post.
As a grown man with a Nightwing tattoo on my arm, it gives me great pleasure to see the words “Nightwing, Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez” in print and on the screen. The character that is and always be my favorite was molded and defined by Marv and George. While Dick Grayson may have been created by Jerry Robinson with Bob Kane, he was elevated to another level in the pages of New Teen Titans. He is arguably the greatest leader in the entire DC Universe, and without George, that may have never been. I feel that I owe him a great debt for that.
Shari, my lovely wife, fully came into comic appreciation when we got together. Besides her natural love for Fables, she felt that she would be interested in Wonder Woman. I recommended that she read Greg Rucka and J.G. Jones’s Hiketia and then Gail Simone and Terry Dodson’s The Circle. She loved them both. I then recommended she go back to the beginning, and, for me, Wonder Woman starts at George’s Post-Crisis rebirth of the Amazing Amazon. Shari was smitten beyond belief. The purity and strength of the character, to me, has never been duplicated from George’s run.
Marv Wolfman tells the story that George Perez was not originally intended to be the artist on Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, once George found out what was going down in that groundbreaking maxi-series, he made it clear that he wanted to be part of it. Comic books are better because of that. The sheer number of characters that Perez has been able to render to a page and to give them unique and appropriate characterization has rarely been matched.
Perez has made his way through a vast array of titles in his career. He left lasting impressions all along the way. Many people grew up with Busiek and Perez on Avengers. His work on Infinity Gauntlet and Infinite Crisis was remarkable. Vastly underrated was the Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds mini series. Any fan of any incarnation of the Legion must have been thrilled with that work.
I was lucky enough to meet him with my wife at Baltimore Comic Con a couple of years ago. Shari and I waited for an hour and were able to commission a Wonder Woman head sketch from him. It is one of the most prized pieces of our comic art collection. George was gracious as I probably melted from shock and fright in front of him. He took a couple of pictures with us. Unfortunately, the random bystander who took the pictures was probably as terrified as I was because they are horribly out of focus. Oh well. Maybe next time.
As you will be able to see from the Facebook post below, George has announced his expected schedule this year. Luckily we will probably attend at least two of those shows. We will make an effort to get some better quality pictures as we thank this icon of the medium for his contributions and amazing storytelling.
Below you will find a collection of some of my favorite Perez covers. The cover to New Teen Titans #39 will remain my favorite. The use of white space and the marquee as a prop have always spoken to me in ways that I find hard to articulate.
*The featured image for this post was taken by Luigi Nova at NYCC in 2012. You can find the original image here.
**The scans for this cover gallery were found at www.mycomicshop.com, which is a valuable source for finding interesting back issues.