There are some creators that are so integrated into the fabric of comics that it can be hard to imagine their era without them. I can think of almost no one that applies more to than George Pérez. From 1974 to 2016, Pérez was a mainstay on the spinner rack, working for DC, Marvel, BOOM!, and more.
Let those years sink in for just a second. When Pérez was drawing his first piece for Marvel, Richard Nixon was president. When he retired in 2019, Donald Trump was in office. Pérez predates cable television, cell phones, home computing, and email. And yet, Pérez’s work never felt as old-fashioned or out of date as some of his peers’ did. Pérez was one of the architects of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” was part of “Infinite Crisis,” and stuck around to still be working during the New 52. His pencils on “Infinity Gauntlet” represent, perhaps, the peak of 90s Marvel, after his “Crisis” images represented peak 80s DC.
Outside of the comic shop, Pérez’s work is known by kids world-wide due to Teen Titans GO!, a show that draws inspiration from the Marv Wolfman/Pérez run of “New Teen Titans” and on which Pérez himself has cameoed. Kids who bought the Lex Luthor Super Powers toy in the 80s were buying a Pérez design in the battle armor.
We haven’t even talked about his writing yet. He’s the architect of one of the greatest “Wonder Woman” runs of all time. We also haven’t mentioned his inking Curt Swan on, maybe, the best Superman story of all time, ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?’ We haven’t even talked about his charity work, constantly putting his money where his mouth is and stumping for the Hero Initiative, a truly great organization that looks out for creators’ in their times of need.
This is just scratching the surface of Pérez’s greatness. For anyone who met him, or even saw him tabling at a convention, he was a jovial, welcoming presence, always proud and happy to be among comic fans. His Hawaiian shirts and beaming smile stood out in a sea of visual stimulation. You hear a lot of shit talked about creators if you’ve been in comics long enough, but I never heard another creator ever say an unkind word about Pérez.
The loss that the comics community felt when he passed has only been comparable to a few of his peers: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, maybe a few others. Pérez is indisputably one of the most important creators of all time and, while we may argue about the Mount Rushmore of comics talent, for me, he belongs up there.