George Pérez, the comic book artist and writer known for his work on The Avengers and the game-changing Crisis on Infinite Earths, among many others, died on Friday, May 6, 2022. He was 67 years old.
In 2019, Pérez announced that he was retiring from comics due to health issues. About two years later in December 2021, after a long, successful career, he announced that he had pancreatic cancer and doctors estimated that he only had between six months and a year to live. Pérez shared the news with the comic community on social media, expressing his hope to create sketches and meet with fans as much as possible.
Pérez was born on June 9, 1954, in the South Bronx area of New York City. He started drawing when he was 5 years old, and in 1973, he became assistant to artist Rich Buckler. Pérez’s first published work was penciling a two-page Deathlok story in Astonishing Tales #25 (August 1974). Soon after that he penciled the serialized “Sons of the Tiger” strip in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. For this title, he and writer Bill Mantlo co-created the Puerto Rican superhero White Tiger, who would soon be featured in Spider-Man books.
His career took off in the mid-‘70s when he started penciling The Avengers and Fantastic Four. Pérez penciled a significant number of Avengers issues between #141 and #171, then a few more from #194 to #202, and he handled a large chunk of Fantastic Four #164-192. He drew the meta issue of Fantastic Four #176 (November 1976) that saw Impossible Man traveling to the Marvel offices where he met some of the comic creators. It was during this period that he started collaborating with writer Marv Wolfman.
As his skills improved on faces, details, and layouts, Pérez became more and more in demand. In 1980 while he was still on The Avengers, he became the artist on DC’s The New Teen Titans with Wolfman writing. Soon after, he took art duties for several issues of Justice League of America, then he and Wolfman launched the second volume of New Teen Titans.
In ’85 the dynamic creative duo of Pérez and Wolfman collaborated on Crisis on Infinite Earths for DC’s 50th anniversary. The revolutionary limited series crossover restructured DC continuity, and for his part, Pérez packed every panel with detail and many, if not all, of the characters in DC’s catalog.
Two years later he made his mark on Wonder Woman, both as an artist and writer. Pérez started by plotting and penciling the series, then joined writers Greg Potter and Len Wein on stories before taking over full writing duties. He provided art for the title through #24 and continued writing the title until #62.
As he was working on Wonder Woman, Pérez added Superman books to his schedule. He inked John Byrne’s pencils for a Superman/Wonder Woman story in Action Comics #600. From there, he took on a variety of roles, including writing/breakdowns, penciling, and finishing art.
In the early ‘90s, he drew Ultraforce for Malibu Comics, I-Bots at Tekno Comix, he inked the Jurassic Park comic adaptation for Topps Comics, and back at DC, he inked 15 issues of Teen Titans Vol. 2. With Marvel, he wrote a dozen issues of Silver Surfer Vol. 2 and the crossover special Silver Surfer/Superman in ’96.
For nearly three years, he was the artist on The Avengers Vol. 3 with Kurt Busiek as the writer. This led into the pair teaming up on limited series that comic fans had been dreaming of: JLA/Avengers. The DC/Marvel crossover saw the biggest names from each company crafted to perfection by Pérez, who once again filled the pages of a major event book with detail.
In 2006, Pérez created a Wonder Woman cover for The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #36. He returned to DC to draw ten issues of The Brave and the Bold Vol. 2, he was a fill-in artist for Infinite Crisis, wrote the first five issues of Superman in 2011, and inked Green Arrow. Moving to BOOM! Studios, he wrote and drew his own creation, Sirens, about a team of superpowered women.
At one time or another during his illustrious career, Pérez drew every major character from both the Marvel and DC Universe. A luminary in the comics industry, Pérez was arguably one of the greatest comic book artists to ever hold a pencil.
“Even though we knew for months this was coming, the loss of George Pérez comes nonetheless with a profound level of impact. Retailers, fans, and fellow professionals all have stories of his upbeat attitude and his kindness, and in the days ahead no doubt many of them will be re-told, as well they should be," said Steve Geppi, Chairman of Geppi Family Enterprises and CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors.
“If there is a silver lining to this ending, it is, because we knew it was coming, George was able to experience the sustained outpouring of love from our industry and fandom combined. Through the efforts of the Hero Initiative, he was able to see the return of his magnum opus, JLA/Avengers, to print, among the many well-deserved accolades he received,” he said.
“George Pérez was an almost unrelentingly positive force for and about comic books. My condolences to his wife, Carol, his family, friends, and to his devoted legion of fans. May the sadness we feel at his loss be balanced by the joy at knowing that his work will continue to be discovered by and bring joy to future generations of enthusiasts,” Geppi said.