George Pérez was the master of the big comic book moment

Placeholder while loading article actions

Few artists can go through life knowing that they did exactly what they were put on this earth to do. George Pérez made this dance with fate easy.

It’s almost impossible to find anyone working in comics today who hasn’t been inspired in some way by Pérez’s powerful portfolio. Industry giants such as Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Jurgens paid tribute on social media at news of his death Friday at the age of 67.

And on the page, the storytelling power of Pérez’s pencils was fueled by the undeniable joy that radiated from each panel. he never illustrated. Flipping through the pages of his decades of work with Marvel and DC Comics as well as independent projects was to know that this man was born to draw superheroes.

While the comic has changed over the years, its art style has remained classic – subtle and sophisticated. He never bowed to pressure to draw oversexualized heroines in suggestive positions or heroes who appeared to be taking superhero performance enhancers, which was the norm for many editors in the more extreme 1990s.

We now live in a world where comic books are woven into the fabric of Hollywood’s DNA. The heroes that Pérez drew for years in the 70s, 80s and 90s were among some of the biggest box office moments in recent memory.

You can’t watch Thanos walking towards the Avengers wielding the power of the Infinity Gauntlet in the “Avengers” movies and not see Pérez’s cover of 1991’s “Infinity Gauntlet” #1. looks like a big-budget movie with its band of Marvel superheroes surrounding a hulking villain.

Take a look at the cover of Pérez’s ‘Wonder Woman’ #1 during DC Comics’ mid-’80s heroine revival, her arms raised and her indestructible bracelets clashing, ringing with power – part of a screenplay co-written by Pérez who merged Wonder Woman lore with Greek mythology. Now watch Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” and see how many of those comic strips Pérez penciled in inspired one of the most important movies DC has ever made.

Pérez was the master of the big superhero pivotal moment. His comics were movies before superhero movies were a cohesive thing. Who cared if back then, in the 80s and 90s, comics weren’t taken seriously by Hollywood? A tale drawn by Pérez was all you needed. You could argue that the 2003 Justice League/Avengers crossover he illustrated and co-wrote with Kurt Busiek was every bit as monumental as the first “Spider-Man” movie released a year earlier.

One of the things that pushed me into comics forever was finding out that Dick Grayson, Robin the Boy Wonder, had grown up. He was no longer a child. He was transitioning into a new superhero identity and escaping Batman’s shadow.

Pérez helped create that moment in an issue of “The New Teen Titans,” a series he drew alongside writer Marv Wolfman that catapulted them to rock star status. Pérez always drew Robin with muscles the size of your standard adult comic book superhero of the time — he never looked like a child. And that was the goal. Robin growing up was important to Wolfman and Pérez. And they both knew it was time for him to move on to a new identity (a who would eventually become the superhero Nightwing). You can see both the determination on Robin’s face as he explains to the other Teen Titans that he must hang up his yellow cape, green boots, and mask forever, and the shock on the faces of each of his teammates. when they realize they are saying goodbye. to an icon.

The grief and uncertainty of the moment spoke to Pérez’s ability to stir up emotion. Action is a big part of comics, but the artists who can convey the emotional impact of those actions are the ones who leave their mark.

Pérez was also proudly Puerto Rican. As a young artist at Marvel Comics, he and Bill Mantlo co-created the first Puerto Rican superhero, The White Tiger, who first appeared in “The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu” #19 in 1975.

Pérez wanted to make sure everyone felt like they could be a superhero too, including someone like him, a kid from the Bronx whose parents were from Puerto Rico. After all, what’s the point of drawing Superman, Batman, and the Avengers if you thought someone like you could never make the roster. Even back then, in the ’70s, decades before the comics industry really cared about diversity in creators and superheroes, Pérez pushed for inclusion.

Comics turned Hollywoodheroes Miles Morales and America Chavez owe Pérez a debt of gratitude for showing the world that a Boricua can also dream of flying.

As a Puerto Rican comic a journalist who also wrote a superhero story for Marvel, I feel the importance of Pérez’s work while recognizing that his success meant I could belong in places where I didn’t see many people who looked like me .

Pérez taught us that our superhero destinies are within reach and there’s nothing wrong with pursuing them. His work will forever bear witness to this.

Comments are closed.