The gray skies and rain falling against the windowpane feel appropriate as I write this, as George Pérez has recently announced his retirement due to health issues. More details courtesy of The Beat here.
The good news is that none of these ailments appear life threatening (thank God), at least not in the short term. Still, we won’t be seeing any new comic book stories drawn by one of the greatest comic artists of all time, and that’s quite a loss.
How great is George Pérez? Well, as stated, he’s one of the greatest of all time and absolutely (in my own opinion) the greatest illustrator of superhero comics to come out of the Bronze Age. We’re talking about an era that saw the debuts of such talents as Frank Brunner, Mike Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Ploog, Rich Buckler, Paul Gulacy, Walt Simonson, Marshall Rogers, Mike Grell, Keith Pollard, P. Craig Russell, José Luis García-López, Michael Golden, Trevor Von Eeden, Steve Rude, Paul Smith, and Dave Stevens just to name a handful. (Jim Starlin and Frank Miller would be part of the conversation as well, but for the purposes of this debate I’d categorize them as all-around creators more than strictly illustrators.) And out of this whole generation, Pérez drew superheroes better than anyone else.
Pérez relished assignments that other artists dreaded—in fact team books quickly became his specialty. Other artists would quake in fear at the prospect of drawing so many different characters in one assignment, but not Pérez. Right out of the gate, at the dawn of his career, he was drawing Avengers and Fantastic Four simultaneously for Marvel. Then he went on to do both Teen Titans and Justice League of America at the same time over at DC. Most famously, he then did Crisis on Infinite Earths, featuring virtually every character DC ever published. He followed this up a few years later illustrating Jim Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet, which featured nearly every Marvel character. In between, he did a superb job both writing and illustrating Wonder Woman in her post-Crisis relaunch.
On a more personal note, I had the chance to meet Mr. Pérez at that Stan Lee party from 2012 that I mentioned a little over two months back. He signed my copy of the Teen Titans hardcover Games.
Though our interaction was brief, he was a very humble and accommodating gentleman. I’d like to formally thank him here for adding so much joy to my comics-reading childhood and wish him the very best in his retirement.