George Pérez, beloved superhero comic book artist, dies at 67
A comic book legend is gone. Five months after publicly announcing his terminal cancer diagnosis, artist and writer George Pérez — who redefined the Teen Titans, created the first great superhero crossover event, and influenced countless other artists — has died, his friends and family confirmed on social media Saturday. He was 67 years old.
Born June 9, 1954, in the South Bronx, New York City, Pérez started drawing at an early age. His comic book career kicked off in the '70s, his breakthrough arriving when he began drawing Marvel's Avengers series. Decades before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pérez made characters like Captain America and Scarlet Witch cool for readers.
In the 1980s, Pérez moved to rival publisher DC Comics, where he enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with writer Marv Wolfman. The duo turned the Teen Titans — formerly a repository of sidekicks — into one of the most popular superhero comics around, adding original creations like Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven to the lineup. In the years since, those beloved characters have gone on to star in multiple cartoons and in one live-action TV series, HBO Max's Titans. In Wolfman and Pérez's hands, New Teen Titans came to rival even Marvel's X-Men comics in popularity and acclaim.
The success of New Teen Titans put Wolfman and Pérez in a position to take on an even bigger comic. The 1985 work Crisis on Infinite Earths was meant to do away with DC's multiverse and streamline their superhero continuity. Crisis was extremely influential even before the CW's superhero shows adapted its storyline in 2019. The 12-issue series kick-started the now-annual tradition of superhero crossover-event comics at both Marvel and DC. Few of Crisis' successors can match Pérez's talent for drawing so many characters at once (Crisis is said to have featured every single character owned by DC at the time) while still making each of them look distinguished and unique.
Further proof of Crisis' significance is that DC comics history is regularly divided into "pre-Crisis" and "post-Crisis" eras. In the aftermath of Crisis, Pérez inked fellow artist Curt Swan's drawings on the first issue of the "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" story in Superman. Written by comics legend Alan Moore, that story was a farewell to the pre-Crisis Superman in advance of a post-Crisis reboot.
All of DC's heroes underwent similar reworkings following that event, and Pérez handled Wonder Woman as both its artist and writer. His work on its titular heroine is now regarded as a classic, and was a major influence on Patty Jenkins' recent live-action Wonder Woman films starring Gal Gadot.
In the '90s, Pérez illustrated the first four issues of one of Crisis' successor event comics: Marvel's The Infinity Gauntlet, written by Jim Starlin. Its plot is now known worldwide thanks to the MCU. In the early 2000s, he completed a dream project by teaming with writer Kurt Busiek for JLA/Avengers, which brought the two rival superhero teams together to solve a major problem (a crisis, you might say) that threatened them both.
In addition to his many artistic accomplishments, Pérez was renowned for his kindness and generosity.
In December 2021, Pérez announced on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and would not seek chemotherapy or radiation treatment. "I've opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends, and my fans," he wrote. "I also hope that I will be able to make one last public appearance wherein I can be photographed with as many of my fans as possible, with the proviso that I get to hug each and every one of them. I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears."
Pérez got to spend his final months getting laurels from fans, industry peers, and publishers. DC and Marvel honored him with a limited-run reprint of JLA/Avengers, the proceeds of which went to the Hero Initiative, an organization designed to help struggling comic book writers and artists in need that Pérez had supported throughout his career.
"He loved all of you," Pérez's friend Constance Ezra wrote on his Facebook page after his passing. "He loved hearing your posts and seeing the drawings you sent and the tributes you made. He was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many."
Read a selection of tributes to Pérez below.