THE GEORGE PEREZ INTERVIEWS wrap up with a discussion of the last DC-Marvel crossover…
UPDATED 5/13/22: The great George Perez has died at the age of 67. This first ran in June 2019 as part of THE GEORGE PEREZ INTERVIEWS. We re-present it here. Click here for our complete index of Perez features. — Dan
Welcome to THE GEORGE PEREZ INTERVIEWS, a weekly series where the comics master discusses his greatest series.
Over 13 weeks, Perez, who’s retiring from the world of comics, gives you his take on each installment of our recent TOP 13 GEORGE PEREZ COUNTDOWN, which was written by 13th Dimension contributor Anthony Durso. (Click here for much more on that.) The segments are culled from a panel Perez and I did at East Coast Comicon.
Last time was #2 — Crisis on Infinite Earths. (Click here.)
This week, we’re finally at #1 — JLA/Avengers, which Perez produced with writer Kurt Busiek in 2003-04:
Dan Greenfield: And the Number One pick, which at this point is probably obvious to everybody sitting in the room, is JLA/Avengers.
George Perez: I, again like Crisis, this was even more of a fanboy wet dream because I’m playing in the playground of two companies.
Everyone knows it was started back in the 1980s and because of a lot of intercompany politics, it was killed. And I was really upset about that, having drawn 21 pages, having the time of my life, and then having it yanked out from under me. (Then) it had a lot of false starts to restart it, and nothing ever happened.
I received a call from the editor over at Marvel, my Avengers editor Tom Brevoort, saying that they are seriously talking about doing JLA/Avengers if I’m willing to draw it. They would not have done it if I said no. … Because (Marvel exec) Joe Quesada had commented and said, why wasn’t this book printed? And how can we make it better? How can we get it done? Joe was a friend, plus the fact that he saw that, as a fan, why can’t this book be done? But I’d heard this all before.
A gentleman, who passed away recently, Mark Alessi, was the publisher and founder of CrossGen Comics, who wanted me to work at CrossGen. He was offering me a great, great deal, I was very, very flattered. The companies are always like, in bidding wars to get my services and I’m very flattered by that. But Mark really wanted me there, but I was hesitant.
I said, “What if the JLA/Avengers comes in? I don’t want to be losing it working a staff job.” I couldn’t work freelance. And Mark said, “Tell them to get their butt in gear, but if they don’t get this offer to you on paper by this date, tell ’em, ‘Thank you, but no thank you, I’m going to go to CrossGen.’”
The day it was due I got a fax with a contract saying, “It’s a go.” So, if it wasn’t for Mark pushing them a little further, they would have dragged their feet. So he’s another person to be credited for JLA/Avengers. I was very saddened to hear of his recent death.
Also, to tell you how lucky I am, he said, “We still want you at CrossGen. Do JLA/Avengers. We’ll just list you as having a leave of absence, and then when you’re finished you come back to us.” I don’t lose anything! I’m always in these win-win situations.
My job was thankfully with Kurt Busiek. Originally it was supposed to be with Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid but Mark was also on contract doing other work and he couldn’t do it. … Of course, I worked with Kurt on The Avengers, so it was an easy work relationship.
He knew the one question to ask: “Which members do you want to draw in the book?” My answer? (Crowd says together: “All of them!”) That’s it! Kurt came up with a storyline not only with the current generation, but every incarnation, every character, every era! I said “Kurt, thank you!”
The one image that we had already conceived before a single issue was plotted out, the one image we knew was going to be in that book, was the image of Superman holding Thor’s hammer and Cap’s shield! It ended up the cover of Issue #4. That one we knew, that’s gonna be drawn no matter what.
At the time, we thought it was gonna be that he just picked up that stuff because he was gonna beat them over the head with it. Of course, the cover suggested that. But of course inside, it’s the fact that, no, he’s worthy enough to hold Thor’s hammer and Cap let him use the shield as allies working together.
I had such an incredible time doing that. The only thing that slowed it down… I developed a case of tendonitis from drawing the cover of Issue #3, which had every character that appeared in the book. I had to draw it on a larger sheet of paper which was bigger than my drawing board, so I was drawing it like this (twists his body) and on the floor. It was too big for my drawing board.
I pulled something in my hand, so I was in a carpal glove for a while and I was feeling so bad that, “Oh my God, the book’s going to be late,” and Tom Brevoort was the one who said, “I think you’ve got an excuse. Don’t think that the last issue’s gonna be late – think of the fact that you got the first three issues in on time! This is not an easy book!” And that unlike other people, I had a good excuse.
And I was still drawing. I was drawing in the hospital bed at one point. I didn’t want to fall behind on this book, and I was loving it. It certainly became a labor of love, and as it turns out because now with Disney owning Marvel and Warner’s now taking a much more active part in DC Comics, the idea of them ever cooperating on a project together is almost nil.
So that’s the last of the Marvel-DC crossovers, but I’m glad I let them go out on a high note, because it sold incredibly well and it was a personal triumph for me.
And, if it made Number One – I mean, yes, I love the Titans, I love Wonder Woman, Crisis. But the fact that I can make it so hard for people to pick the Top 13 Perez books is very gratifying to me. Because I’m leaving the industry, at least working on it regularly, with the knowledge that I’ve got a real major amount of legacy here. Books that I don’t know if they wouldn’t have succeeded without me, but they would have been different without me.
I can look back and say not only did I have fun, but I made a difference. In this industry I’m not just another grunt. I made a name for myself, and all I did was do what I wanted to do since I was a child.
How lucky can one man be?
— The GEORGE PEREZ INTERVIEWS Index. Click here.
— GEORGE PEREZ’s TOP 13 Comics Series — RANKED. Click here.
NOTE: The text has been edited and condensed for clarity.