When you talk about the true comic book titans it doesn't matter who you ask, they'll inevitably mention George Perez and with good reason; George worked on pretty much every title at Marvel and DC Comics with great success at both. To say he's the most successful and respected comic book artist of Puerto Rican decent is an understatement, since he's one of the best comic book artists the World has ever seen; period!
George Pérez was born in the South Bronx, New York City, on June 9, 1954, to Jorge Guzman Pérez and Luz Maria Izquierdo, who were both from Caguas, Puerto Rico, but who did not meet until approximately 1949 or 1950, after both had settled in New Jersey while searching for job opportunities. Pérez' first involvement with the comics industry was as artist Rich Buckler's assistant in 1973, and he made his professional debut in Marvel Comics Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug. 1974) as penciler of an untitled two-page satire of Buckler's character Deathlok, star of that comic's main feature. Soon after Pérez became a Marvel Comics regular artist, penciling a run of "Sons of the Tiger", a serialized action-adventure strip published in Marvel's long-running Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine and authored by Bill Mantlo. He and Mantlo co-created the White Tiger (the first Puerto Rican superhero in comics), a character that soon appeared in Marvel's color comics, most notably the Spider-Man titles.
Pérez came to prominence with Marvel's superhero-team comic The Avengers, starting with issue #141. In the 1970s, Pérez illustrated several other Marvel titles, including The Inhumans and The Fantastic Four. Whilst most of Pérez' Fantastic Four issues were written by Roy Thomas or Len Wein, it would be a Fantastic Four Annual where he would have his first major collaboration with writer Marv Wolfman. Pérez drew the first part of writer Jim Shooter's "The Korvac Saga", which featured nearly every Avenger who joined the team up to that point. Writer David Michelinie and Pérez created the Taskmaster in The Avengers #195 (May 1980).
In 1980, while drawing The Avengers for Marvel, Pérez began working for their rival DC Comics. Offered the art chores for the launch of The New Teen Titans, written by Wolfman, Pérez' real incentive was the opportunity to draw Justice League of America. Long-time Justice League artist Dick Dillin died right around that time, providing an opportunity for Pérez to step in as regular artist. While Pérez' stint on the JLA was popular with fans, he received greater attention for his work on The New Teen Titans, which was launched in a special preview in DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980). This incarnation of the Titans was intended to be DC's answer to Marvel's increasingly popular X-Men comic, and it became highly successful.
Pérez took a leave of absence from The New Teen Titans in 1984 to focus on his next project with Marv Wolfman, DC's 1985 50th-anniversary event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis purportedly featured every single character DC owned, in a story which radically restructured the DC universe's continuity. After Crisis, Pérez inked the final issue of Superman (issue #423) in September 1986, over Curt Swan's pencils, for part one of the two-part story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" by writer Alan Moore. The following month, Pérez was one of the artists on Batman #400 (October 1986). Wolfman and Pérez teamed again to produce the History of the DC Universe limited series to summarize the revised history of their fictional universe.
Pérez also played a key role in the 1987 reboot of the Wonder Woman franchise. Inspired by John Byrne and Frank Miller's work on Superman and Batman, Pérez came in as the plotter and penciler of the series, which tied the character more closely to the Greek gods and jettisoned many other elements of her history. The series was a very successful relaunch of one of DC's flagship characters. Pérez worked on the title for five years, leaving as artist after issue #24, but remaining as writer up to issue #62, leaving in 1992. Pérez returned to the character in 2001, co-writing a two-part story in issues #168–169 with writer/artist Phil Jimenez. Pérez also drew the cover for Wonder Woman #600 (Aug. 2010) as well as some interior art. For the successful 2017 Wonder Woman feature film, director Patty Jenkins would credit Pérez's work on the title character as a major influence, on par with the work of the original creator, William Moulton Marston.
There's so much more we could talk about, so many titles he worked on, so many anecdotes from fans and peers alike that it would take a thousand blog posts to even make a dent; but I just want to shine a spotlight on how gigantic of an impact he made in the industry. Me personally, I didn't appreciate his work early on because I was looking more for expression and flash rather than detail and craftsmanship. I was more into Kirby and/or McFarlane, talk about contrast! But as I grew up and dabbled in illustration myself, I finally understood the importance of what George Perez did; and even more so for me since we're both of Puerto Rican decent.
It's crazy to think that the World celebrates George Perez' legacy, yet in Puerto Rico no news channel or outlet even knows who he is; much less talk about him. To me it's a perfect example of why art means so little in Puerto Rico unless you paint a traditional scene or do graffiti; the knowledge and understanding of art is EXTREMELY LIMITED in The Island of Enchantment. You would think that the media over there would celebrate someone who's had such an illustrious career but like I said, they have a very limited concept of art. I truly hope the people of Puerto Rico give George the respect he deserves before he passes away but if they haven't done it thus far, I don't see it happening; which is truly sad. Nevertheless, he has legions of fans who adore him, who've shown him love throughout the years and will treasure his work for generations to come; George Perez will live on forever through his work and through his fans.
Long Live Perez!