George Perez was a legendary artist and comic book illustrator and one of my top 2 favorite comic book artists. His work both inspired me to pick up a pencil and start drawing, and discouraged me from pursuing a career because I couldn’t settle for producing work less stellar than his. (Mostly kidding about that second part, but there’s a kernel of truth in it.)
I first saw George’s work on a comic book cover on a spinner rack through a window of a closed drug store. I was 9 and on an interstate trek from Arizona to New York with my family. It was this cover that grabbed my attention:
This was my favorite character, drawn in a way I had never seen him. I had to have it, but the store wouldn’t open before we left, and I sobbed as we drove away, my Mom trying to console me. It would be almost two decades before I would own and read this issue. I was disappointed to discover George was solely the cover artist, and that different artists did the inside work, but I was still thrilled to own the issue.
Nothing thrilled me more than to pick up and read a new volume of George’s work, especially when he worked on favorite characters and books. I’d even read comic books I didn’t care for, if he was the artist. His line work and figures were breathtaking, and he was a master of group shots.
Here is a small sampling of some of my favorite work of his:
The first time George Perez made me cry was when I read the heart wrenching death of (the original) Supergirl, Kara Zor-el, in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths. While it was clearly Marv Wolfman’s words that moved me, it was George’s artwork that really brought the experience to life – his depiction of her courage, death, and Superman’s pain at the loss of his beloved cousin, made me sob like that 9 year old who couldn’t buy that GL comic back in the 70s. I had never been a Supergirl fan prior to this issue, but this moment made me fall in love with her character and made me a Supergirl fan for life.
Today, for the second time in my life, George Perez made me cry.
George Pérez, the beloved and influential comic book artist and writer known for his vital work on titles like Wonder Woman and The New Teen Titans, has died at the age of 67.
The prolific penciler’s death Friday was confirmed in a statement on his Facebook page, noting that complications stemming from his lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer was the cause of death.
George’s family graciously shared the news of his struggle with his fans, giving them the opportunity to share with him what an impact he had had on so many people, fans and professionals alike. I hope, in some small way, the outpouring of love and support from his adoring fans and peers helped ease the struggle for George and the Perez family in his final days.
I did not know George, personally. I never had the luxury of meeting him. But his death has hit me hard none-the-less. One of my childhood heroes has died. And my world is a bit smaller for it.