George Pérez: Losing a Comic Book Legend

I first became familiar with George Pérez’s artwork in the pages of The Avengers comic book. This was the mid to late 1970s, and Pérez would become my favorite Avengers artist until John Byrne took over the penciling duties on the title.

When Pérez became a recurring artist on Marvel’s flagship series, Fantastic Four, I was along for the ride. I particularly enjoyed his artwork as inked by Joe Sinnott.

While I’d been a dyed in the wool Marvelite since the beginning of junior high school, I still occasionally dabbled in DC comics. When Pérez and Marv Wolfman began their run on The New Teen Titans, I was there as well.

Then, I fell out of the continuity for a few decades. I never forgot about George Pérez, who is definitely one of my all-time favorite comic book artists, but I missed many of the projects he worked on after that time. I’ve read the collected issues of Pérez’s landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths maxiseries (again with Marv Wolfman), but only within the last few years. I wasn’t reading comics when this series was first published.

In the 1990s, Pérez returned to the third series of The Avengers, written by Kurt Busiek. I recall purchasing two or three of the issues, just for old time’s sake, I guess. While I still enjoyed Perez’s pencils, the storyline didn’t keep my attention.

I read a trade paperback collection of the early issues of Superman vol. 3, which were written by George Pérez. He also provided layout breakdowns and cover art. This was around 2011 or 2012, I think. During the much-ballyhooed New 52 reboot.

I realize that my personal inventory, as it relates to the things I associate with George Pérez, makes me seem like a superficial fan of the artist. At least at first glance. I’m certainly not a fanatic collector, and I’ve missed a sizeable portion of his total output, especially from the last three decades or so. However, I’m still a fan.

Pérez’s pencil work was extraordinarily detailed and dynamic. During my fanboy days, I was enthralled by his experiments in perspective, and found myself looking forward to examples in every Pérez book I read. He excelled at drawing stories that involved large superhero teams or other collections of dozens of characters.

Pérez, of Puerto Rican descent, created the first Puerto Rican superhero for Marvel, White Tiger.

He also created, or co-created, the villain Taskmaster. And, for DC, he created, along with Marv Wolfman, the characters Starfire, Cyborg and Raven, among many others, I’m sure.

Pérez’s health was on the decline for several years before his death. He was a diabetic, and had a heart scare a few years ago. Then, sadly, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Marvel and DC both published tributes to Pérez in early 2022, and he passed away on Friday, May 6, 2022. This was yesterday as I type these words.

I am saddened to be losing another comic book luminary. But, that’s just selfish sadness, really, a reminder of my own mortality as the celebrities of my youth begin to die at what seems to be an increasing rate. I celebrate the man’s body of work, and his impact upon superhero stories, wherever they’re told. And my heartfelt condolences go out to his loved ones and friends.

Goodbye, George Pérez. And, thank you.

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