George Pérez, legendary ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Teen Titans’ comic book artist, dies at 67
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. He 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.
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.”
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.
Why Nigerian comics are taking the world by storm
Over the past few years, Nigerian comic books have been making waves in the global comic book industry. From their unique storytelling style to their stunning artwork, are being celebrated for their authenticity. What’s the reason for this tour de force?
By Mariam Abdullahi
Nigerian comic books are breaking new ground in terms of representation. For years, the comic books available to readers have been dominated by Western superheroes, with little room for diversity. Nigerian comic books, on the other hand, showcase a wide range of characters, from traditional folklore heroes to contemporary superheroes. These characters are not only diverse in terms of race and ethnicity but also in terms of gender.
This diversity is refreshing and exciting, as it provides a space for underrepresented voices to be heard. One very good example is the YouNeek Universe’s array of titles, like ‘Malika’, ‘E.X.O’, and ‘Iyanu: Child of Wonder’ (currently being developed as an animated series for Cartoon Network). Most recently, Comic Republic was announced to have inked a deal with a major Hollywood production company to produce TV shows based on their line of comics.
There will be more international deals announced as they year goes on. After all, Nigerian comic books are celebrated for their unique storytelling style, known for their use of local languages, dialects, and colloquialisms. This approach not only adds authenticity to the stories but also creates a sense of familiarity for local audiences. Moreover, the use of folklore, mythology, and history provide a fresh perspective on African history and mythology.
They are also praised for their stunning artwork, with work by artists like Etubi Onucheyo, Jide Okonkwo, Mustapha Bulama, Kro Onimole, Chigozie Amadi, Bolaji Olaloye, Godwin Akpan, and many more. They are known for vibrant, colourful, and dynamic art styles, with visually stunning and unique styles that stand out.
For years, they have struggled to get their work recognized on a global scale, but thanks to tech and especially the internet, Nigerian creators now have an ever-widening platform to showcase their talents, and providing a space for them to tell their stories. These stunning comic books also play a vital role in promoting literacy and education. In a country where illiteracy rates are high, comic books provide an accessible and engaging way for people to learn.
Nigerian comic books and their creators often address social and political issues, making them an excellent tool for educating people on important issues. A couple of years ago, the works of writer/illustrator/cartoonist/editor Abdulkareem Baba Aminu were included in the award-winning anthology ‘The Most Important Comic Book On Earth’ alongside that of Alan Moore, John Wagner, Cara Delevingne, Charlie Adlard, and 300 other leading environmentalists, artists, authors, actors, filmmakers, and musicians.
Some Nigerian comic books are even available in local languages, making them accessible to a wider audience. There is also a number of publishers making giant strides, like Spoof!, Vortex, Epoch Comics, Comic Republic, and others. It’s safe to conclude that Nigerian comic books are changing the narrative of African storytelling, as attested to by the high quality of writers and creators, bringing out fresh and compelling stories, characters and concepts.
For too long, African stories have been told by outsiders. That is changing fast, with the rise in showcasing the richness and diversity of African cultures, challenging stereotypes, and promoting a more nuanced understanding of Africa. Overall, they are taking the world by storm for good reason, providing a space for underrepresented voices to be heard, promoting diversity, and showcasing Nigerian talent. As the global comic book industry continues to evolve, Nigerian comics are sure to play an increasingly important role in shaping its future.
Chris Ryall creating ‘Megalopolis’ graphic novel with Francis Ford Coppola
It caught many by surprise when it was announced at WonderCon that Image Comics imprint Syzygy will publish a graphic novel for director Francis Ford Coppola’s long-gestating science fiction film ‘Megalopolis’. Chris Ryall, co-founder of Syzygy, will create the book with artist Jacob Phillips.
Ryall describes the project as being “very much its own thing” from the film.
The movie, which finished filming earlier this month, follows a woman who becomes torn between her father, the Mayor of New York, and her lover, an architect with visionary plans for the city.
Ryall, via Popverse, said Coppola pitched the project. “The exciting thing is that I’ve only worked directly with him on this,” he says. “This isn’t the kind of thing where he licensed out the material — the movie and the book are solely his. We spent a few hours in Atlanta last month talking about not only this graphic novel but the childhood comics he loved, and all the way along, he’s been permissive and encouraging in telling us to make the book very much its own thing. So it’s been a kind of stunning arrangement, to get to work directly with someone of his stature on something like this.”
Ryall added: “As a huge fan of not only Jacob’s color work on the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips graphic novels but certainly also the amazing art and colors on his ‘That Texas Blood’ series, getting to work with Jacob while he’s on such a creative roll is also a thrill. Gonna be fun to build this particular corner of Francis’s new city.”
The book, like the movie, does not have a release date yet.
GeekAfrique’s Best Comic Book of 2022: ‘New Masters’
‘New Masters’, by the Coker brothers, takes the reader into a future Nigeria which while dark, is filled with hope, powered by writing that’s masterful and art that’s gorgeously atmospheric, weaving one of the most compelling stories in graphic fiction this year.
By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
As soon as the story opens with the following lines: ‘1124 Post Adventu, a few miles East of the Kainji Mines, deep into the Eko Exclusion Zone’, we meet Ola. The spunky tech-enhanced teen, accompanied by a droid called Àṣẹ, has slid down a cable to scavenge, but instead finds what could be a large deposit of raw Obsidium, a crucial mineral that has all kinds of individuals in hot pursuit. I immediately fell in love with the characters, a love which becomes absolute when the droid asks our heroine if she would like it to “Initiate the pick-race protocol”. How much more Nigerian could a comic book get? (Note for non-Nigerians: To ‘pick-race’ means to run away, or to flee a situation or an individual out of one’s league)
Ola soon tries to offload her precious find, and in the process, we meet some of the most colourful characters I’ve come across since the original Star Wars trilogy or Nnedi Okorafor’s spectacular ‘LaGuardia’ graphic novel. A shifty suya seller-cum-black market dealer, a high-powered committee consisting of humans and aliens, or a couple made up of a Yemi Alade-esque fashionista and a lover from literally another world. It has such a varied cast of characters that a traditional comic book reader might feel overwhelmed. To me though, it was a perfectly-built world, populated by the most realistic characters I’ve come across in science fiction in a long time.
It has such a varied cast of characters that a traditional comic book reader might feel overwhelmed. To me though, it was a perfectly-built world, populated by the most realistic characters I’ve come across in science fiction in a long time.
Also, what’s a futuristic yarn set in Nigeria without Lagos, the city we all love and hate in equal measure, or Tejuosho for that matter? That’s not to mention cameos by Hausa words like ‘Tozo’ when Ola barters for a bit of Suya at Yaba Market, or an earlier-mentioned exclamation of ‘Shaege’ (a corruption of the Hausa word for ‘bastard’, weirdly also used to denote chronic badassery). Then the cherry – or cherries – on this layered cake: Views of Eko City itself, as well as the slums of Makoko, still sinking even in this far-flung future.
This, the first story arc, is called ‘The Eye of Orunmila’ in reference to a massive status quo-changing trove of knowledge that will change the universe. It also appears to be the chief McGuffin of the story, driving the story forward so well that the following chapters almost have no choice but to follow suit. The writing by Shobo Coker, one half of the duo of Nigerian brothers who created this masterpiece, is deft in its delivery of character beats, and in its layering of fantastical sci-fi backdrops. The dialogue flows in such an organic way that one could easily forget he is reading a comic book. One word: Bravo.
The art is the work of an accomplished illustrator. One minute it looks stark and glisteningly computer-generated, the next it’s as organic and unsettling as some of the most masterful watercolour work currently being done in the medium.
The art, by Shof Coker, is the work of an accomplished illustrator. One minute it looks stark and glisteningly computer-generated a la ‘Blade Runner’, the next it’s as organic and unsettling as some of the most masterful watercolour work currently being done in the medium, a la the production design of Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ film. Even the lettering is kinetically charged, and is part of the artistry which graces the pages of this beautiful comic book. There also are locales that are as many as they are far-flung from each other and a distinct and deliberately-done combination of the familiar and the futuristic. One word: Bravo, also.
PR material says it is ‘A vision of West Africa under the thumb of alien colonizers’, wherein ‘A motley crew of outcasts find themselves caught up in a power struggle for control of an ancient artefact with immense power’. The comic book is also described as ‘A ground-breaking blend of science fiction, adventure, drama, and vibrant Afrofuturism’. I totally agree, even if the correct term is ‘Africanfuturism’, but that’s a fight for another day. With a handsome trade paperback edition out now, it is safe to declare this the most energetic debut of this year so far, and by far.
‘New Masters’ Vol. 1 trade paperback, published by Image Comics, is on sale now.