I Would Not Be Here Without George Perez
Giving thanks to a legend on the occasion of his passing
I was 10 years old when I first started reading and seeking out comics on a regular basis. Tagging along for every trip my mom would make to the grocery store or drug store. Anyplace with a stocked spinner rack. And asking her to drive me to the local used bookstore every chance I got, which was the closest thing we had to a comic shop in my hometown (and she would always make that drive, because she’s awesome).
I’ve written before about some of the titles that first drew me in, like the issue of WORLD’S FINEST that was the first comic book I ever read, and the forgotten-gem of a mid-80s sci-fi series, ATARI FORCE.
But the comic that would prove to be my true Road to Damascus moment was THE NEW TEEN TITANS by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez.
Before TITANS, I pretty much just grabbed whatever comic looked interesting on the spinning rack of wonders, whatever cover caught my eye. But TITANS grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It was the first comic where I had to have every new issue. Where I searched obsessively for every back issue I’d missed. And where I realized I should pay attention to the names in the credits.
George Perez was the first artist whose work I could recognize on sight. I mean, how could you not? Every cover, every interior page, was literally the most dynamic and engrossing thing my young brain had ever seen. Comics had excited me before, but until I encountered the work of George Perez, they didn’t truly live inside my head. His characters lived. And ached like people do. And fought like fucking gods. In mind-blowing detail. Those characters somehow all felt real and vividly distinct, even when there were a hundred of them crowded onto the page at once.
I went from TITANS right into CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. God, what an amazing time to discover comics. I got to watch Wolfman and Perez tear apart entire universes before my eyes, realities that still seemed so fresh and new to me, and then put the greatest heroes from throughout DC’s history through the absolute ringer in one giant cosmic bonfire extravaganza of a “maxi-series.” And as the smoke cleared, I followed George once again as he became a pivotal part of rebuilding one of the cornerstones of that DC universe, in the pages of WONDER WOMAN.
I think like a lot of comic readers my age, that period gave me a high I’ve been chasing for the rest of my life. It ignited a spark in my brain that has only grown over the years. Into a lifelong reading and collecting habit. Into a deep-seeded drive toward writing and creating. Into the means by which I pay my light bill.
George’s art defines comics for me, even now. I have 26,000 comic books in my basement, many of them drawn by the most legendary creators of the last 60 years. I’ve written several hundred comics myself and gotten to work with a murderer’s row of the most talented artists alive from across the planet.
But when I close my eyes and imagine a comic book page, it’s always drawn by George Perez.
Since the moment I first discovered George’s work, I’ve bought every single comic he’s done. And gone back to find all the gems he did before I came along. Those back issues of NEW TEEN TITANS that I so fervently tracked down way back when… I’m still buying them. I have multiple copies of so many comics with George’s art on the cover, because it still gives me such joy to find them while flipping through some longboxes. Doesn’t matter if I already have five copies of the same issue back home. One can always use more George Perez in their lives.
Unfortunately, we’ve now officially gotten all we’re going to get, as Mr. Perez passed away last week. What a legacy this man leaves behind. A legacy drawn across thousands of comic book pages, ones that have lost absolutely none of their power and dynamism over the years. And a legacy seared into the minds of readers and fans just like me, without which, my light bill probably wouldn’t be paid right now. And all those characters running around inside my head would most assuredly be a whole let less alive. Undoubtedly, so would I.
Thank you, George Perez.
Marvel editor Tom Brevoort wrote a few weeks ago about the Perez tribute page he ran in a recent issue of AVENGERS, before George’s passing. Of his reasoning, Tom said:
only George Perez could properly memorialize George Perez and wordlessly convey what he brought to all of the stories that he worked on.
Cheers to that.
And that WORLD’S FINEST issue that was the first comic I ever picked up and read? It sported a cover drawn by Neal Adams, another comics legend who recently passed. Again, I recommend you read Tom’s tribute. Or this great bit by Chip Zdarsky.
My New Releases
KING CONAN #4 is in stores today. Probably my favorite issue of the series. Definitely the emotional crux of the story. After writing so many different periods of Conan’s life in the one big CONAN THE BARBARIAN story I did, “The Life and Death of Conan,” I wasn’t sure what else I had to say about the character. But writing the last scene of that arc, where old King Conan rides off into the sunset alongside his son, Prince Conn, I realized I wanted to see more of what “Conan the Father” would look like. Well, this issue we do. In all its gory details.
Mahmud Asrar and colorist Matt Wilson once again deliver the goods. It’s an issue-long fight scene that is packed with power and emotion. And it could not possibly be prettier.
Another new book that’s not out this week, because it came out last week, is AVENGERS FOREVER #5. We’ve seen this new mystical version of Dr. Doom running around the AVENGERS titles for the last few months now. But who is this Doom? And what makes him the Doom Above All? The Doom of Dooms? Well, this issue, we answer those questions, with wicked delight.
I love writing bad guy stories. From THANOS RISING to VADER DOWN, I always enjoy getting to sink my teeth into the most evil of evil-doers. This one was just as much full-throttle fun as those were. Hope it was for you too.
My Beard Recommends
—THE NORTHMAN was amazing. My favorite new film of the year so far. Though in fairness, this and BATMAN are the only trips I’ve made to the theater so far this year. And in this instance at least, Vikings > Batman. NORTHMAN had the kid and me both yelling “Fuck!” out loud in the theater on more than one occasion. In other words, it’s a great father/son movie. I mean, no joke, it actually kinda is. At least if your family is as weird as mine. It’s been weeks since I saw it, and there are scenes of this movie that I still can’t get out of my head. They’re seared into my brain, like how the heated metal seared a slave brand into the neck of Amleth, son of the War-Raven. VERDICT: GO SEE THE SCREAMING VIKING MOVIE.
—This one may seem weird, but it’s something that’s been on my mind. Or, you know, my beard. The beard and I have always been big fans of meat. Historically, if it didn’t include meat, it wasn’t a meal. But for a while now, I’ve found myself buying more and more plant-based meats pretty much every grocery store trip. Impossible Meat or Beyond Meat, with Impossible probably being my favorite. At this point, I actually prefer them to real burgers or ground beef. The cooking, the taste, the texture, the clean-up. And, of course, there’s also the feeling that I’ve done at least a little tiny something to decrease the damage done to the environment by the meat industry. That doesn’t mean I’ve gone full vegetarian. Not by a long shot. Until the Impossible scientists perfect a plant-based filet, I’m still gonna need me a real steak now and then. Not to mention my regular allotment of Kansas City BBQ. I only mention it because, basically, I’ve always been one of the world’s biggest meat eaters, and if I can hop off the wagon, even just on occasion, then surely anybody else can too. So maybe give it a try. VERDICT: MY BEARD SAYS EAT MORE PLANTS.
—There are many wonderful comic book newsletters you can follow these days (and also one by Hickman), but this week one of my favorites kicked off a new comic series as part of Free Comic Book Day. PHENOMENOCITY comes from the mind of writer Tini Howard, of CATWOMAN and X OF SWORDS, and artist Phillip Sevy, and you can read the first chapter right now for free over at Tini’s The Scorpio Room newsletter. VERDICT: MY BEARD SAYS GO, READ, SUBSCRIBE.
Notes & Links & Things & Stuff
—THANK YOU so much to everybody who came out and said hi at Planet Comicon a couple weeks back, especially those who mentioned they were readers of this very newsletter. It’d been far too long since I’d gotten out of the house to talk wrestling and BBQ and tattoos with you all. I’m afraid I still don’t have plans for more appearances in 2022, so I really appreciated getting this concentrated blast of soul-nourishment from you all. Cheers. I’ll see you again down the road.
—New interview alert. I talk THOR GOD OF THUNDER with noted sad-mustache- devotee, Ryan Penagos:
—The first Omnibus hardcover collection of my THOR is now officially in the wild, and it is big and gorgeous. Get yours while you can.
—There’s also a brand-new trade paperback collection of the Jane Foster Thor saga that’s just been released, collecting around 500 pages of some of my favorite stories I’ve ever written. You can find it at your local comic shop or order signed copies directly from my online store.
This has been Beard Missives, direct from the plant-based beard of Jason Aaron.
This week’s newsletter has been brought to you by Kellogg’s Eggo waffle flavored Pop-Tarts (I’m always a sucker for a good crossover) and Oreo O’s cereal.
Hope you’re feeling healthy and adored.
KC, May 11, 2022
Things To Come
All ship-dates are very much subject to change right now, for reasons to do with, you know, the state of the world.
MARVEL-VERSE: JANE FOSTER, THE MIGHTY THOR trade paperback — May 10, 2022
STAR WARS BY JASON AARON Omnibus hardcover (New Printing) — May 10, 2022
KING CONAN #4 — May 11, 2022
AVENGERS #56 — May 25, 2022
PUNISHER #3 — May 25, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER #6 — June 1, 2022
KING CONAN #5 — June 1, 2022
KRRSANTAN: STAR WARS TALES #1 — June 8, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER Vol. 1 trade paperback — June 14, 2022
PUNISHER #2 2nd printing — June 15, 2022
THOR: THE SAGA OF GORR THE GOD BUTCHER trade paperback — June 28, 2022
JANE FOSTER: THE SAGA OF VALKYRIE trade paperback — June 28, 2022
AVENGERS #57 — June 29, 2022
AVENGERS FOREVER #7 — July 6, 2022
KING CONAN #6 — July 6, 2022
AVENGERS BY JASON AARON Hardcover Vol. 3 — July 12, 2022
PUNISHER #4 — July 13, 2022
AVENGERS #58 — July 20, 2022
Such a delightful read, Jason. And imagine my joy when after I read your wonderful tribute to George...I then got to read your review of Northman (which I also loved), your recent love of Impossible meat (the way they make it at Disneyland is honestly the best, I feel like you might agree), a good old fashioned shot at Hickman (what you do best,) and you topped it all off with your super kind recommendation of PHENOMENOCITY!
14/10. Seven out of five stars. I can't imagine a more perfect edition of your newsletter. Thank you Jason!
A heartfelt Perez tribute, a stellar review of The Northman, and then plant based burger reviews! Could this guy be any more on point?
But then... Eggo Pop tarts!? Those are the second worst Pop-Tarts I've ever tried. The worst being, everything bagel (imagine an onion flavored white goo filling with a terrible aftertaste).
In all seriousness though, that was a wonderful tribute to George Perez. Also, the thought of Jason Aaron digging through long boxes makes me smile.