George Pérez, a legend of DC Comics frequently considered one of the best comic book artists of all time, died Friday from pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Last December, Pérez announced that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The news of his death was shared by his close friend, Constance Eza, who posted a statement on Pérez’s Facebook page and her personal Twitter.
“Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator,” Eza’s statement reads. “His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was. George’s true legacy is his kindness. It’s the love he had for bringing others joy — and I hope you all carry that with you always.”
Thank you. All of you, for the love and support you have shown George through all of this.
It meant the world to him. pic.twitter.com/zputTLO2sF
— Constance 🐿 (@SunshineCVE) May 7, 2022
Famous for his detailed, realistic renderings that captured both the power and the humanity of superheroes, Pérez rose to prominence for his work on “The New Teen Titans,” which saw him co-create popular characters such as Starfire, Cyborg, Raven and the menacing Deathstroke. He penned some of the most critically-acclaimed superhero comics of all time, including two extended runs on “The Avengers” and the groundbreaking event series “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Although primarily an artist, he also wrote several comics, including a much-celebrated run on “Wonder Woman,” often considered the definitive storyline of the iconic heroine. Accolades he received during his time as an artist include four Eagle Awards, two Jack Kirby Awards, an Inkpot Award and a lifetime achievement Inkwell Award for his work as an artist.
Born in 1954 to a Puerto Rican family in the South Bronx, Pérez aspired to be an artist from an early age. When he was 19, he began working for Marvel Comics as an assistant to “Fantastic Four” artist Rich Buckler. In 1974, he made his debut as an artist in a story for the anthology series “Astonishing Tales.” He would go on to do the art for multiple other Marvel titles, co-creating the White Tiger, the company’s first Hispanic superhero, with Bill Manto in “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.”
Other titles he had stints on included “Fantastic Four” and “The Inhumans,” but his most notable Marvel title was “The Avengers.” A regular artist on the title from 1975 to 1980, Pérez drew many notable storylines for the comic, including “The Korvac Saga” from writer Jim Shooter. He also co-created the characters Henry Peter Gyrich and the Taskmaster during his run.
In 1980, Pérez was approached by DC Comics to do the art for “The New Teen Titans,” a relaunch of the teenage superhero team helmed by Marv Wolfman, who he previously worked with on a story for “Fantastic Four Annual.” Pérez penciled the title for five years, and it proved a breakout hit, becoming the highest-selling comic for DC. Over the course of his time working on the series, Pérez attracted attention for his dynamic page layouts, honing his detailed, expressive style. After leaving the title in 1985, he would return for an extended stint in 1988, penciling and co-plotting a new origin for Wonder Girl Donna Troy.
After his initial “The New Teen Titans” run, Pérez collaborated with Wolfman on “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” a 50th anniversary DC Comics event series designed by the company to act as a soft reboot for its characters. The epic 12-issue limited series, which sees the heroes of DC band together to defeat the intergalactic Anti-Monitor as it attempts to destroy the multiverse, is often credited as an influence for many other large-scale event crossovers in comic books. Pérez’s artwork for the series, which saw him draw numerous, extremely detailed crowd scenes featuring the heroes of DC, attracted praise. His cover for the seventh issue of “Crisis,” which shows Superman mourning a dead Supergirl, has become one of the most famous and frequently homaged covers in the history of comic books.
Following the end of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Pérez joined the “Wonder Woman” comic book to help steer a full-scale relaunch of the character. Although he initially worked as a co-plotter for writers Greg Potter and Len Wein, Pérez eventually took over full scripting duties, writing either solo or with co-writer Mindy Newell. Pérez’s depiction of Princess Diana was more athletic and brawny compared to other artists’ takes on the character, and the reboot significantly altered her backstory, giving her a more in-depth connection with the Greek pantheon of gods. Pérez’s run would be cited by Patty Jenkins as a key influence on her 2017 blockbuster “Wonder Woman” film.
Pérez left “Wonder Woman” in 1992, following a dispute with DC over their treatment of his mini-series “War of the Gods,” which he created as a celebration of the character’s 50-year anniversary. Pérez felt that DC wasn’t doing enough to commemorate the anniversary, particularly when they neglected to put the story on newsstands, making it only available in specialty comic book shops. After DC stopped him from having the characters Steve Trevor and Etta Candy marry in the final issue of the miniseries, in favor of having the next “Wonder Woman” writer William Messner-Loebs include the wedding in a future issue, Pérez stopped working with DC for several years.
During this period, Pérez returned to Marvel to pencil the event series “Infinity Gauntlet,” from Jim Starlin, which became a top-seller and would act as an inspiration for the Marvel films “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Due to a heavy workload with “War of the Gods” and the stress of his dispute with DC, Pérez was unable to finish “Infinity Gauntlet,” with artist Ron Lim handling the last two issues.
However, following “Infinity Gauntlet,” Pérez began working more extensively with Marvel again, including on the 1992 “Hulk: Future Imperfect” miniseries with writer Peter David, often considered the all-time best story for the character. In 1994, David and Pérez also collaborated on the 1994 miniseries “Sachs and Violens,” and he would later have a stint as a writer on “Silver Surfer.”
In 1998, Pérez returned to “The Avengers” for a relaunch of the series with writer Kurt Busiek. The back-to-basics series saw Pérez receive acclaim for dynamic, clean artwork. After leaving the series Pérez and Busiek reunited for the 2003 crossover miniseries “JLA/Avengers,” which saw both teams encountering each other and teaming up to combat a threat. Pérez was one of the original artists of a planned “JLA/Avengers” crossover in the ’80s, which was cancelled due to company disagreements, and his pages would be published in the collector’s edition of the miniseries. Pérez depicted many crowd-pleasing moments over the course of the series, including Superman dual-wielding Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield.
After “JLA/Avengers,” Pérez’s output slowed down, though he remained active as an artist for many years. In 2005, he was one of the artists for “Infinite Crisis,” a follow up to “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” and in 2008 he served as the main artist on “Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds.” In 2007, he drew the first ten issues of “The Brave and the Bold,” working with writer Mark Waid.
In 2012, he again stopped working for DC after departing from his role as writer and cover artist of “Superman,” which he helmed during the DC Comics New 52 reboot. Pérez explained his decision as a result of disagreements regarding rewrites of his material and poor editorial planning regarding the reboot. After leaving DC, he wrote and drew a sci-fi miniseries “Sirens” for Boom! Studios from 2014 to 2016. He announced his retirement due to health issues in 2019.
Aside from his legendary work as an artist and writer, Pérez served as a member of The Hero Initiative, a comic book charity dedicated to providing health and medical assistance for comic book professionals. Pérez was a co-chair of the non-profit’s board and served on its Disbursement Committee.
Pérez is survived by his wife, Carol Flynn. In her statement, Eza announced the official memorial for Pérez will take place this month during the comics convention MegaCon Orlando. The service will be open to all.