George Pérez, legendary comic book creator, dies at 67

Legendary comic artist George Pérez has died, his family announced Saturday, May 7. 

According to a message on his Facebook page, he passed away Friday, May 6, “peacefully at home with his wife [Carol] of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved.”

Born June 9, 1954 in Puerto Rico, Pérez got his start in the industry in the early ’70s at Marvel Comics, penciling back up stories in titles such as Astonishing Tales and Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu (opens in new tab), in which he co-created Puerto Rican superhero White Tiger alongside writer Bill Mantlo, to celebrate his own heritage.

He quickly moved on to become the regular artist of Avengers (opens in new tab) for over 20 issues, co-creating the Taskmaster and drawing part of the ‘Korvac Saga’ story, one of Pérez’s first major storylines.

JLA/Avengers excerpt

JLA/Avengers excerpt (Image credit: DC / Marvel Comics)

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Following stints at Marvel on Fantastic Four (opens in new tab) and Inhumans, Pérez moved to DC where he took on penciling duties for Justice League of America (opens in new tab) after the death of longtime JLA artist Dick Dillin. 

From there, Pérez became the artist on New Teen Titans (opens in new tab), revamping the teen team alongside writer Marv Wolfman to make it one of the most popular comics of its era. In his run on Teen Titans, Pérez designed the first Nightwing costume, perhaps the most famous of the eccentric, hyper-detailed costume designs he became known for in his career. 

Following New Teen Titans, Pérez cemented his reputation as a go-to artist for high-profile superhero event stores as the lead artist on DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (opens in new tab), where he developed his penchant for massive group shots featuring dozens and dozens of highly-detailed, intricately rendered characters and dynamic layouts.

Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pérez revamped Wonder Woman (opens in new tab) with a new origin and a new style, elevating back to a fan-favorite character after several years of downturn, and bringing her back to her roots in Greek mythology.

In the early ’90s, Pérez returned to Marvel Comics for another major crossover event as the lead artist on the story Infinity Gauntlet (opens in new tab). For a few years, Pérez took on selective projects, including Peter David’s Hulk: Future Imperfect (opens in new tab) in which he co-created Maestro, the evil future version of the Hulk. But in the late ’90s, Pérez returned to the spotlight in a big way as the artist of the ‘Heroes Return’ era Avengers (opens in new tab) relaunch alongside writer Kurt Busiek.

Busiek and Pérez returned the Avengers to a more classic status quo following the controversial ‘Heroes Reborn‘ relaunch, elevating the title to one of Marvel’s flagship books for a years-long partnership.

Pérez’s time on Avengers was capped off with the fulfillment of a dream that had been brewing for the artist since the early ’80s, with the publication of Avengers vs. JLA alongside his Avengers creative partner Busiek. Perhaps the best, most definitive story of all the official Marvel/DC crossovers over the years, Avengers vs. JLA is a crowning achievement in Pérez’s superhero career.

Though he continued taking on new projects after Avengers vs. JLA, including his creator-owned Crimson Plague and Sirens titles, Pérez announced his retirement from comic books in 2019, citing his health as the main factor in his decision.

In December 2021 Pérez announced a terminal cancer diagnosis along with his intention to spend his remaining time with friends and family and his hopes to connect with his many fans.

“I just want to be able to say goodbye with smiles as well as tears,” Pérez stated.

“We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives,” reads May 7’s Facebook statement. “To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it.

“He loved all of you. 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.

“Everyone knows George’s legacy as a creator. 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.

“Today is Free Comic Book Day. A day George absolutely loved and a fitting day to remember his contributions to comics and to our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy your day today with him in mind. He would have loved that.”

Pérez is survived by his wife Carol and his family asks his legion of fans keep her in your thoughts.

A memorial service will be held for Pérez at MEGACON Orlando at 6pm on Sunday, May 22 and will be open to all. His family is promising more details to follow.

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