“The Best of All Worlds: George Pérez” A four-part interview
“The Best of All Worlds: George Pérez” A four-part interview published in COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #86, #89, #90 and #94  by Bill Baker. You can read part one and two the interview on Bill Baker’s website, www.hypethis.com.
COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #86 [10 pages] focuses on his start and his stints on The Avengers and the upcoming Avengers/JLA crossover.COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #89 [5 pages] details TEEN TITANS and CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #90 focuses on WONDER WOMAN. COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #94 features the wrap-up to the multi-part interview; three of George Pérez’s collaborators talk about working with the team artist supreme.
The following excerpt is from COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #86 .
George Talks About his return to TEEN TITANS and mainstream comics
At that point, I realized that my career was in a bit of a doldrums. I had made a comeback to respectability or reliability – to the industry with the inking on The Titans book over Dan Jurgens, because with the failures of the schedule of The War of the Gods, my not finishing Infinity Gauntlet, the Titans graphic novel that never saw print, or completion, all these things had made me unreliable to publishers, so I wasn’t going to be getting offers of the big time projects anymore. From my own doing. I don’t blame them at all.
And, when Ralph and I spoke, I was getting good buzz on The Titans. I had helped salvage some of my reputation because, thanks to Dan Jurgens and Eddie Berganza championing my doing the book – which DC was reluctant to have me do – I had at least showed I could stay on a book for a year and produce good work on schedule. But there were a lot of people who saw my inking on Dan Jurgens, and I think part of it was marred by the fact that the book was not successful, who had no idea that I had ever penciled. I realized that there was a whole generation out there who don’t know who the hell I am. So when Ralph thought that maybe I should consider the idea of – and he thought I would not say yes to it – of maybe writing and drawing the new Avengers after the Heroes Reborn [run], and I realized, “You know, the time is right.” I was Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter. “There’s going to be all these young bucks out there thinking they’re faster than me, and I have to prove I can still outdraw them,” in both terms of the word, I guess. And, much to Ralph’s glee, I said yes to the drawing.
I had not read the book in well over a decade and a half. There was no way I could write The Avengers. I had no 1knowledge that would make me a good writer without tons end tons of research, and, truth to tell, one of the things I rind now in my later years in the industry – I’m only 47 – that the writers, they take the hell of editorial decisions, of politics, much more than the artists do. You know, art is art. If they hire you, they know that you can draw, you usually like what you do. That’s it. [But] ideas are such a fragile thing, and people have to fight to keep them intact. So, he idea of writing The Avengers is something I never even remotely considered.
I suggested that he talk to either Mark Waid or Kurt Busiek, both of whom I’ve been interested in working with because I trusted their knowledge of history, and to be able to make history seem new, because of the new spins they would put on it. And I would gladly work with them without even co-plotting. I didn’t even want to do that. I said, “I have now been away too long.” So, when I came in, it was strictly to provide the best visuals I could knowing, and suspecting – and some dealers expressed this – that there was going to be a feeling of concern and ambivalence about my doing the book because I was not of the Image school, or the style that was currently hot at the time. The reason Heroes Reborn was very successful was because [they were done in] the style of the era, even though it probably cost Marvel [so much] more money to produce those books, that it wasn’t as profitable for them as they would have liked. Although it was profitable for the dealers, but of course, the book’s gonna cost the same, no matter what, for them. So there were some who actually were not all that enthused, or optimistic, about my return to The Avengers.
But that’s exactly what I needed. I needed something that would make me be the best artist I can be, and I would try my hardest. I left The Titans years back because of schedules. I couldn’t maintain a monthly book without doing looser penciling, and I had to compromise, make things a little easier for myself, in order to get the book finished. And still the book was selling, which was very gratifying, but then I realized I would never become a better artist if I don’t have to.
With The Avengers, I had to. Just like with Wonder Woman, I had to. And, originally, Titans; the book was not going to succeed unless everyone there gave it their best effort.
When I went in I had to prove both that I could sell the book – not only to the nostagists, but to the new fans – and that I could stay on the book. The odds were against me remaining on the book six issues straight. The fact that I stayed on 15 issues, and two double-sized issues in the course of those 15 [proved I could do it]. Mark Waid – who said he also lost money on that wager – but Mark Waid called mine one of comic’s few John Travolta careers. Wherein I am now, thankfully, a hot commodity again after going through a very, very high profile period of heat during the times that I was doing The Titans, and Crisis on Infinite Earths, and even at the dawn of Wonder Woman. That, though at one time my name had incredible marquee value, I allowed that to slip by. And I don’t blame [it only on] tastes changing and everything else; I also blame that on the fact that I was not making wise decisions, and I was not acting professionally, and not putting out books in a timely fashion, not making myself valuable to the industry as a whole.
So now, I appreciate in my forties something that I did not appreciate as much in my twenties and early thirties; how much I love to draw comics, and how much the success of the industry is going to be dependent on the creators’ own excitement about the industry.
Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since.