George Pérez (born June 9, 1954) is an American writer and illustrator of comic books, whose titles include The Avengers, Teen Titans, and Wonder Woman. Writer Peter David has named Pérez his favorite artistic collaborator.
George Pérez was born in the South Bronx, New York City, on June 9, 1954, to Jorge Pérez and Luz Maria Izquierdo, who were both from Caguas, Puerto Rico, but who did not meet until approximately 1949 or 1950, after both had settled in New Jersey while searching for job opportunities. They married in 1951 and subsequently moved to New York, where Jorge worked in the meat packing industry while Luz was a homemaker. George’s younger brother David was born May 20, 1955. Both brothers aspired at a young age to be artists, with George Pérez beginning to draw at the age of five.
Pérez’s first involvement with the professional comics industry was as artist Rich Buckler’s assistant in 1973, and made his professional debut in Marvel Comics’ Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug. 1974) as penciler of an untitled two-page satire of Buckler’s character Deathlok, star of that comic’s main feature. Soon Pérez became a Marvel regular, penciling a run of “Sons of the Tiger”, a serialized action-adventure strip published in Marvel’s long-running Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine and authored by Bill Mantlo. He and Mantlo co-created the White Tiger (comics’ first Puerto Rican superhero) a character that soon appeared in Marvel’s color comics, most notably the Spider-Man titles.
Pérez came to prominence with Marvel’s superhero-team comic The Avengers, starting with issue #141. In the 1970s, Pérez illustrated several other Marvel titles, including Creatures on the Loose, featuring the Man-Wolf; The Inhumans; and Fantastic Four. Writer Roy Thomas and Pérez crafted a metafictional story for Fantastic Four #176 (Nov. 1976) in which the Impossible Man visited the offices of Marvel Comics and met numerous comics creators. Whilst most of Pérez’ Fantastic Four issues were written by Roy Thomas or Len Wein, it would be a Fantastic Four Annual where he would have his first major collaboration with writer Marv Wolfman. Pérez drew the first part of writer Jim Shooter’s “The Korvac Saga”, which featured nearly every Avenger who joined the team up to that point. Shooter and Pérez introduced the character of Henry Peter Gyrich, the Avengers’ liaison to the United States National Security Council in the second chapter of that same storyline. Writer David Michelinie and Pérez created the Taskmaster in The Avengers #195 (May 1980).
The New Teen Titans
In 1980, while still drawing The Avengers for Marvel, Pérez began working for their rival DC Comics. Offered the art chores for the launch of The New Teen Titans, written by Wolfman, Pérez’ real incentive was the opportunity to draw Justice League of America (an ambition of Pérez’s which “seemed like a natural progress from the Avengers”). Long-time Justice League artist Dick Dillin died right around that time, providing an opportunity for Pérez to step in as regular artist. While Pérez’s stint on the JLA was popular with fans, his career took off with the New Teen Titans. The New Teen Titans was launched in a special preview in DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980). This incarnation of the Titans was intended to be DC’s answer to Marvel’s increasingly popular X-Men comic, and Wolfman and Pérez indeed struck gold. In August 1984, a second series of The New Teen Titans was launched by Wolfman and Pérez. Moreover, Pérez’s facility with layouts, details, and faces improved enormously during his four years on the book, making him one of the most popular artists in comics as evidenced by the numerous industry awards he would receive during this time.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Pérez took a leave of absence from The New Teen Titans in 1984 to focus on his next project with Marv Wolfman, DC’s 1985 50th-anniversary event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis purportedly featured every single character DC owned, in a story which radically restructured the DC universe’s continuity. Pérez was inked on the series by Dick Giordano, Mike DeCarlo, and Jerry Ordway. After Crisis, Pérez inked the final issue of Superman (issue #423) in September 1986, over Curt Swan’s pencils for Part 1 of the 2-part story Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by writer Alan Moore. The following month, Pérez was one of the artists on Batman #400 (October 1986) Wolfman and Pérez teamed again to produce the History of the DC Universe limited series to summarize the company’s new history. Pérez drew the cover for the DC Heroes roleplaying game (1985) from Mayfair Games. Pérez also illustrated the cover for the fourth edition of the Champions roleplaying game (1989) from Hero Games.
Wonder Woman was rebooted in 1987. Writer Greg Potter spent several months working with editor Janice Race on new concepts for the character, before being joined by Pérez. Inspired by John Byrne and Frank Miller’s work on refashioning Superman and Batman, Pérez came in as the plotter and penciler of Wonder Woman. The relaunch tied the character more closely to the Greek gods and jettisoned many of the extraneous elements of her history. Pérez at first worked with Potter and Len Wein on the stories, but eventually took over the full scripting chores. Later, Mindy Newell joined Pérez as co-writer for nearly a year. While not as popular as either Titans or Crisis, the series was a very successful relaunch of one of DC’s flagship characters. Pérez would work on the title for five years, leaving as artist after issue #24, but remaining as writer up to issue #62, leaving in 1992. In 2001, Pérez returned to the character, co-writing a two-part story in issues #168-169 with writer/artist Phil Jimenez. Pérez drew the cover for Wonder Woman #600 (Aug. 2010) as well as some interior art.
The New Titans
Pérez returned as co-plotter/penciller of The New Teen Titans with issue #50 (Dec. 1988), the series being renamed to The New Titans. Issue #50 tells a new origin story for Wonder Girl, her link to Wonder Woman having been severed due to retcons in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Pérez remained as penciller with the book through to issue #55, 57 and 60, while only providing layouts for issues 58–59, and 61, with artist Tom Grummett finishing pencils and Bob McLeod as inker. The “A Lonely Place of Dying” storyline crossed over with the Batman title and introduced Tim Drake as the new Robin. Pérez remained as inker for the cover art to issues #62–67 and co-plotted the stories for #66–67 before departing from the Titans series once again.
Pérez would be involved with Superman in various times over his career. In Action Comics #544 (June 1983), he designed Lex Luthor’s trademark battlesuit. These new designs for the villain were featured as part of the licensed action figure toyline the Super Powers Collection and remain in use in today’s DC Comics continuity. Pérez pencilled DC Comics Presents #61 (Sept. 1983) which featured a Superman/OMAC team-up. A few years later, Pérez inked John Byrne’s pencils for the Superman/Wonder Woman story in Action Comics #600 (March 1988). He drew portions of Action Comics Annual #2 (1989) before taking over the title with issue #643 (July 1989). His work duties on Action Comics would change from writer/penciller, to co-writer/breakdowns, to providing breakdowns, with writer Roger Stern scripting stories and artists Brett Breeding and Kerry Gammill provided finishing art, while Pérez drew all covers during his run on the title. Pérez briefly wrote Adventures of Superman, providing plots for issues #457–59 (Aug. 1989 – Oct. 1989), and inks for issue #461 (Dec. 1989). Due to an already heavy workload while doing both Wonder Woman and Superman at the same time, he left Action Comics with issue #652 (April 1990).
War of the Gods / Infinity Gauntlet
It was during this run in 1991 that Pérez encountered problems working with DC. Pérez has stated that since the storyline’s inception, which ran through the Wonder Woman comic and crossed over into others, he had trouble writing the War of the Gods storyline, mostly due to editorial problems. Pérez felt that DC was not doing enough to celebrate Wonder Woman’s 50-year anniversary. To make matters worse in his eyes, DC did not place War of the Gods in newsstand distribution, which meant that the comic book could only be found in comics specialty shops. Pérez had built up a plot to marry the characters Steve Trevor and Etta Candy in his final issue. When he discovered that DC editors had decided to not only pass the Wonder Woman title’s writing to William Messner-Loebs and have Messner-Loebs write the final wedding scene, Pérez quit the title and separated himself from DC for several years.
Also in 1991, Pérez signed on to pencil the six-issue limited series Infinity Gauntlet for Marvel Comics, which was written by Jim Starlin. However, due to the turbulence happening concurrently with War of the Gods, this was a very stressful personal period for Pérez, and he was not able to finish penciling the entire run of Infinity Gauntlet, leaving the project part way through issue #4. The Infinity Gauntlet editorial team decided to find a replacement artist to finish the miniseries, and Ron Lim was the artist chosen (although Pérez offered to remain on as the inker over Lim’s cover art for the remainder of the miniseries).
Because of the debacles over War of the Gods and The Infinity Gauntlet, Pérez began to gain a reputation as a creator who could not finish projects as planned. Furthering that impression, he worked with independent comic book publishers Malibu Comics, drawing Break-Thru and Ultraforce (both titles were part of Malibu’s Ultraverse imprint), and then working at Tekno Comix drawing I-Bots. However, despite being paid well by both publishers, he had no enthusiasm drawing the characters, and lost interest in drawing the titles.
1990s and return to The Avengers
In the 1990s, Pérez left the spotlight, although he worked on several projects, including working on the Jurassic Park comic book adaptation of the movie for Topps Comics in 1993, adapted by Walt Simonson and pencilled by Gil Kane, with Pérez as inker, but most notably at Marvel Comics with Sachs and Violens and Hulk: Future Imperfect, both written by Peter David. David has named Pérez his favorite artistic collaborator, and one of the three artists whose art has mostly closely matched the visuals he conceived when writing a comic book script (the others being Leonard Kirk and Dale Keown).
Pérez returned to DC Comics in October 1996 for another incarnation of the Teen Titans. Teen Titans vol. 2 was written and penciled by Dan Jurgens, with Pérez as inker for the first 15 issues of its twenty four-issue run. The series ended in September 1998.
Pérez had a stint as writer of Silver Surfer vol. 2 from issues #111 – 123 (December 1995 – December 1996). He would also write the crossover special Silver Surfer/Superman in 1996. Pérez finally returned to a major ongoing title for the third series of The Avengers, written by Kurt Busiek, where he remained for nearly three years, again receiving critical and fan acclaim for his polished and dynamic art. After leaving the series, he and Busiek produced the long-awaited JLA/Avengers inter-company crossover, which saw print in late 2003. A JLA/Avengers crossover was to have been published in the 1980s, but differences between DC and Marvel forced the comic to be canceled. As the artist on the story, Pérez had drawn approximately 21 pages of the original crossover, which were not published until the 2004 hardcover edition of JLA/Avengers: The Collector’s Edition.
Gorilla Comics and CrossGen
Pérez has one creator-owned comic, the unfinished Crimson Plague. A science fiction story about an alien with ultra-toxic blood, the first issue was published in 1997 by the now defunct Event Comics. In June 2000, the original first issue was re-published by Gorilla Comics with additional material and pages, with a follow-up issue published in September 2000. Due to the extreme high costs of being a self publisher, which ended up being a financial burden and putting himself in major debt, Pérez ended Crimson Plague a second time and it is unknown if he intends to do anything else with the comic. George Pérez Storyteller includes artwork from the unpublished third issue of Crimson Plague.
Pérez worked for CrossGen early in the new century. He penciled four issues of CrossGen Chronicles. His main project for the company was penciling Solus. Although intended to be an ongoing series, it only lasted for eight issues before it was canceled due to CrossGen’s bankruptcy.
Return to DC
In May 2006, Pérez illustrated the cover art to one of the alternative covers to the direct market release of the annual Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (36th edition) featuring Wonder Woman. He was guest artist for an issue of JSA #82 (April 2006) and was cover artist from issues #82–87. He drew the first ten issues of DC’s The Brave and the Bold (vol. 2, 2007–2010) with writer Mark Waid. Pérez worked on Infinite Crisis, the follow-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths, as a fill in artist. He worked on Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds in 2008-2009, thus contributing to every chapter of DC’s Crisis trilogy. He is also working with Marv Wolfman on a direct-to-DVD movie adaptation of the “Judas Contract” story arc from Teen Titans. However work on this project has stalled.
He is a co-chairman of the board of the comic industry charity The Hero Initiative and serves on its Disbursement Committee. In 2005, an animated version of Pérez made a cameo appearance in the Teen Titans animated series episode titled “Go”, which was an adaptation of The New Teen Titans #1. In the episode “For Real” André LeBlanc attacks a bank called “Bank of Pérez”. In City of Heroes, a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG about superheroes, an entire zone within the game (Pérez Park) is named after him.
The New 52
In September 2011, DC launched a new Superman series written by Pérez, who also provided breakdowns and cover art, with interior art by Jesús Merino and Nicola Scott. Pérez remained until issue #6. The New Teen Titans: Games hardcover graphic novel was published the same month reuniting the creative team of Wolfman and Pérez. He was the inker of the new Green Arrow series, also launched in the same timeframe, over artist Dan Jurgens’ pencils, reuniting the mid-1990s Teen Titans art team. Pérez and Kevin Maguire were alternating artists on a Worlds’ Finest revival written by Paul Levitz.
In July 2012, Pérez explained his departure from Superman as a reaction to the level of editorial oversight he experienced. This included inconsistent reasons given for rewrites of his material, the inability of editors to explain to him basic aspects of the New 52 Superman’s status quo (such as whether his adoptive parents were still alive), and restrictions imposed by having to be consistent with Action Comics, which is set five years earlier than Superman, a situation complicated by the fact that Action writer Grant Morrison was not forthcoming about his plans.
Pérez is a diabetic and has undergone surgery for diabetic retinopathy.
He says that he does not have a favorite comic book character, which is why he likes to illustrate team books.