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  1. #1
    Veteran Member Flashpoint's Avatar
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    Thumbs up In praise & defense of George Perez: the man who transformed DC Comics

    There are so many things wrong with this post that it can be its own thread. Let's start with the basics...
    Quote Originally Posted by Movieartman View Post
    strongly disagree
    stuart immonen, oliver coipel, frank cho, mike deadato, Esad Ribic, Byan Hitch,

    Absolutly without question Ivan Reis, jim lee, alan davis, jae lee, marko dejurdivic, Kenneth Rockafort,

    My God JH Williams 3, Gilliam March, juan jose ryp, Jim Cheung, arthur adams, Phillip Tan, Stephan Sejic, Clayton Crain and Gary frank ALL of them i think are a thousand times better than Perez ever was IMO no offense to yours,

    like walter simonson (his modern work) steve dillion and JRJR i can see almost no value in his art.

    the one thing perez does get right offen is he is sometimes brilliant with his panels
    Then you don't know and/or understand art and the use of skill in both storytelling and character creation. Younger fans find it very convenient to slam George Perez as dated because he's been working regularly since the 1970s and much of his work is the very foundation upon which Dan Didio's tenure has been founded on. Therefore, younger fans mock Perez as "old" and thus dated and out of touch, past his prime. It is to laugh.

    George Perez literally broke the rules of standard comic book storytelling when he and Marv Wolfman revitalized DC Comics in the early Eighties. And, no, not just with The New Teen Titans. A serious reality check is needed here. George frankly transformed himself as an artist while at DC in general and on the Titans in particular. And he did it in a way that none of the other artists you listed have done.

    Here's just one:


    This image which Perez drew in early 1981 features a series of headshots of the Titans inserted by DC which Perez actually drew in late 1979 or early 1980. The headshots were drawn by Perez to help him get a handle on what the characters were going to look like and also to be used in DC promos. Perez noted (before anyone else did) the biggest problem with them: there's only really 2 images here--a "boy" face and a "girl" face.

    You could change the skin color or the hair color, but ALL the faces are the same. Okay, the one exception is probably Cyborg and yes, Starfire has much bigger hair. But you could literally remove Starfire's hair, slap on Raven's hood and recolor the image and she could pass for Raven. Same thing with Robin, Kid Flash and Changeling. Their bone structure--noses, eyes, foreheads, chins and cheekbones--are virtually identical. You could put Kid Flash or Changeling recolored in Robin's mask and they would be virtually identical. And you know what? Comic book artists have been doing this for a century...and they're still doing it now.

    But Perez was an artist first and foremost who because of the New Teen Titans' success and his increasing role as a storytelling partner with Marv Wolfman wanted to push himself to do better than that. It started with NTT #8 where he decided to try and actually draw each Titan as distinctly unique human beings. First, with Raven as he sunk her cheeks and raised her cheekbones as well as pushing her hairline farther back, but he tried to make all the characters in NTT look like individuals, like real people.

    By 1983, the Titans went from being stock comic book stereotypes of boy face/girl face to being actual individuals. Here is the most famous example which long-time fans all remember vividly:



    Fans who read both Uncanny X-Men and Teen Titans (as almost every single one of us did--they were regularly fighting it out every single month at #1 so you weren't "in" if you didn't read both) remember this page from NTT #39 and we remember it well. Not just because Dick Grayson gave up being Robin, either. Artistically, it sent a shockwave through comic book fans and pros. Perez proved his point and did it with actions, not words. Artists were indeed guilty of ridiculously using shortcuts like the infamous boy face/girl face trick.

    Look at the difference. It's undeniable. Donna Troy, Raven, Terra and Starfire look nothing alike. Dick Grayson's bone structure is no longer just a quickie, cheap copy of Wally West's. Wally has got high cheekbones and a cleft in his chin. As for Changeling, well, Perez detailed all of this in his numerous interviews with Amazing Heroes magazine: Gar Logan's face was based on a young Mickey Rooney. Each character is a unique individual with different faces, different body shapes and different heights. Bye-bye, boy face/shape and girl face/shape cheating.

    Oh, and there's another difference: their bodies are different. George's wife was/still is a dancer so he started drawing Raven's body to be more like dancers he saw in his wife's profession: long arms and legs, very thin, flatter chests. Starfire was drawn as, yes, a straight man's fantasy with a very voluptuous body while Donna Troy physically became what she also was in terms of plot & character: somewhere in the middle between the 2 extremes.

    The point and it's a big one: Perez is the first artist to do this on such a large stage in a commercially successful juggernaut of a comic book. Comic book artists used the standard cheats ALL the time and still do. Using one of your examples, I love Ivan Reis. He does beautiful work. But there is no way you can tell me that Mera and Ya'Wara aren't pretty much his standard girl faces. You recolor Ya'Wara and put her in Mera's green swimsuit & gold crown and she could easily pass for Mera. Alright, you'd have to redraw her hair--but that only reinforces Perez's point: the faces stay the same while only the coloration, hair and clothing changes.

    A true artist would push themselves to make each character unique in terms of body type (mesomorph, endomorph, ectomorph), height, bone structure and how their bodies move. Stuart Immonen, Mike Deodato, and especially Jim Lee and most of the others you mentioned never go into this type of detail. Which brings us to the unfortunate catch: what Perez did and still tries to do is extremely difficult, takes a huge amount of work and thus is very time-consuming. Those of us who pi$$ed and moaned about 1984's New Teen Titans #2 being 2 months late had very mixed emotions when Perez explained that what took so long was trying to do the opening and ending sequences ALL in pencil with *no* inks--meaning tons of extra work to make the pencils dark enough and detailed enough to be photographically reproduced in the comic. Yes, the result was beautiful, but it required serious delays.

    I love Olivier Coipel and Jim Cheung as much as you do, but let's be blunt: no way can you say they ever have spent as much time crafting individualized faces and bodies to the degree that George Perez aspired to do. George is older now; he's had surgery on his eyes due to his vision problems. We are incredibly fortunate that he's still able to draw as well as he does. He's slower now and with his failing vision, we will very rarely, if ever, see the level of detail he used to be able to give us in his prime during the Eighties and Nineties.

    But those constantly minimizing and/or mocking the quality of his work fail miserably to appreciate the extremely high level of his craftsmanship and his unquestionably fanatical attention to detail. Out of all those you listed, I would say only Gary Frank or Bryan Hitch even come close to matching Perez's insane devotion to true individualization of characters as well as pushing the forms and structure of storytelling.

    And you know what? That's just scratching the very tip of the iceberg. Perez revolutionized comics in ways most fans sadly fail to understand and appreciate. And he's still trying to do that even today on Worlds' Finest.
    Last edited by Flashpoint; 05-01-2012 at 01:58 PM.

  2. #2

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    Hear hear!
    Be careful when speaking. You create the world around you with your words.

  3. #3
    It's Lexrules... GET HIM. Lexrules's Avatar
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    Perez is the best in our time IMO. No one could do what he did in COIE or Infinite Crisis. The fact he could draw all those hero's on one page and not make it look like a cluster&%$# just shows the talent this man has.

    Anyone who says he is not one of the greatest artist ever is not to even be bothered with.

  4. #4

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    Simonson is better than any mentioned in this thread. Not a single one is as good as him, IMHO.
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  5. #5
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    I'm a latecomer to Perez, but I found the art in Legion of three worlds pretty flawless. I flip through it all the time just to stare at the pretty pictures, and only Alex Ross and Todd Mcfarlane* have ever gotten me to do that.

    *I was in fifth grade, don't judge me.
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  6. #6

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    I suppose there's one good thing that comes out of ignorant comments--which is that they provoke informed responses such as the OP's, where hopefully others are educated. But I think there are just some people who will be ignorant and others who will try to educate themselves. It would be nice if everyone tried to learn about comics history and all the philosophies that inform the work, but many readers despite declaring themselves "comics fans" never really do this. You either care about comics in a sincere way or you don't--and many readers are insincere.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Flashpoint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Thompson
    Hear hear!
    Quote Originally Posted by Lexrules View Post
    Perez is the best in our time IMO. No one could do what he did in COIE or Infinite Crisis. The fact he could draw all those hero's on one page and not make it look like a cluster&%$# just shows the talent this man has.

    Anyone who says he is not one of the greatest artist ever is not to even be bothered with.
    Thank you both. With the imminent release of Worlds' Finest, Perez's youthful detractors who didn't grow up with him needed to be schooled in the facts of art and storytelling and how George radically attempted to literally change the way artists created comics and how creators told stories. There are so many examples that listing all of them could conceivably fill an entire book.

    Another famous example:



    Comic books are overwhelmingly action stories written for an overwhelmingly male audience. That's why you get so many female characters running around in nothing but their underwear (Hello, Ya'Wara, yes, I mean you!) or the old rule that every comic book had to open with a huge splash page of action (almost every DC and Marvel Silver Age comic staunchly followed this unspoken rule) meant to hook the reader so they bought the book or that every story had to be action, action, action.

    NTT #38 was a direct result of Perez's evolution, growth and his attempts to dramatically push himself as an artist. Emphasis on "dramatic." When Wolfman and Perez sat down to craft a story that would explain Donna Troy's true origin (oh, and thank you, John Byrne, for forever screwing that up) once and for all, Perez had one edict intended to break those unspoken rules:

    Not one punch could be thrown during the entire book. No fistfights. No action sequences. Zero, zilch, nada. He forbade Marv from trying to appease standard comix industry rules by inserting some unnecessary and unneeded action sequence. The story would have to be strong enough and compelling enough in terms of plot and characterization to capture and hold the readers' interests without resorting to mindless fighting or action.

    And he was right. And in doing so, he broke the mold for comics storytelling in a way none of the artists Movieartman listed ever have.

    Once again, though, that's not the only artistic goal Perez aspired to as a storyteller. There are so many more.

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Flashpoint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by An Ear In The Fireplace View Post
    I suppose there's one good thing that comes out of ignorant comments--which is that they provoke informed responses such as the OP's, where hopefully others are educated. But I think there are just some people who will be ignorant and others who will try to educate themselves. It would be nice if everyone tried to learn about comics history and all the philosophies that inform the work, but many readers despite declaring themselves "comics fans" never really do this. You either care about comics in a sincere way or you don't--and many readers are insincere.
    THANK YOU!

    I wrote this thread not just as a rebuttal to Movieartman, but also as a fan of Ivan Reis. His Aquaman is easily my favorite comic book almost every month. I love his work. Along with the superb writing of Geoff Johns, Ivan has redefined Aquaman as a character and as an icon for a whole new generation of comics fans.

    Having said that, though, he's one of the vast majority of the big names working in comics today who don't push themselves in these areas like George Perez has. Which brings me to yet again another example of Perez's brilliance as a storyteller:

    The Avengers. It was Perez himself during one of his many interviews from the Eighties (was probably Amazing Heroes--best comix magazine ever--but could have been Comics Interview) who stated the blatantly obvious problem with Avengers that was always unacknowledged by everyone both fan and pro: how the hell do you draw Steve Rogers, Clint Barton and Thor without ALL of them looking exactly the same? They're all tall, cleanshaven white men with blond hair, blue eyes and big muscles and they're all approximately the same age.

    Most comic book artists would use the usual cheats--make one taller, make one shorter. Oh, and Thor has long hair (wow, that's clever...not). Perez aimed to draw them differently and make each one look unique.



    It's hard to see here, but the subtle differences *are* there. Clint's nose and mouth are thicker and wider than Cap's or Thor's. The slight cleft in Cap's chin is not present in Thor's face or in Clint's. (Hell, the cleft appears to be even smaller than the one George put in Wally's chin, LOL!)

    Modern fans fail to appreciate the small yet distinct subtleties in Perez's artwork. The man pushes himself as an artist in a way few comic book artists ever do. His drive to capture what is unique and individual about each character is unsurpassed by any other artist currently working in comics. Guys like Frank, Hitch and Alex Ross come close. But even they don't match Perez's mastery of small details that make huge differences.

  9. #9

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    Standing. O.

  10. #10
    T.S.O.T.I. Hulk_Is's Avatar
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    It's a sad day when people have no respect for George Perez.
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  11. #11
    ManBearPig TimberBear's Avatar
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    hear hear! i honestly do not get the perez hate i see on here...

  12. #12
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    I find rants like that quotation in the OP to be both strangely offensive and ignorant of probably the best, most influential, artist currently working in the comic book industry today.

    Thx to the OP, there is clarity as well around here.

  13. #13
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    I would love to read his new teen titan stuff, but the only form I've found it in is massive omnibus editions online that I can't buy cheaply off Amazon uk, (the cheapest would be around $80, which I just can't afford right now) and I've looked in every comic book store in my city (all three of them) and they don't have them at all.
    Pull list: Aquaman, Batman, Batman Inc, Green Lantern, Justice League, Superman Unchained, JLA

  14. #14
    Veteran Member Flashpoint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwangung
    Standing. O.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hulk_Is
    It's a sad day when people have no respect for George Perez.
    Quote Originally Posted by TimberBear View Post
    hear hear! i honestly do not get the perez hate i see on here...
    Thank you all very much. Again, this isn't about emotion or personal preference. This is about the facts. The facts of artwork and storytelling. And the facts support Perez's revolutionary approach to comic book storytelling.

    People love to complain about Perez for many reasons. Certainly, several costumes he's drawn over the decades have gotten the thumbs-down from fans. I won't belabor that point as it ultimately boils down to personal taste, preference and opinion (though I never see anyone complain about the designs for Raven, Cyborg or Starfire, which both fans and pros point to as personal favorites that have stood the test of time).

    But the creation of Jericho was a high point for George's efforts to create a character that sadly no other artist could do justice to. Basically, the whole point of Jericho as a character was that he was meant to be an artist's character. George told Marv not to ever use thought balloons. Everything about Jericho as a character--his feelings, his personality, his characterization--was crafted to be conveyed strictly through his facial expressions and his body language. Saying that is a tall order is putting it mildly.

    Ultimately, this is what doomed Jericho as a character. The level of complexity, emotional depth and character that Perez aspired to have Jericho reflect was way too demanding and totally unrealistic for a Big Two publisher superhero that Perez would not always be drawing. How many artists know sign language? How many artists could draw each and every character's face and body type in a story as thoroughly unique? And honestly, how many artists aspired to the artistic greatness Perez did?

    Perez continually set the bar higher for himself as a creator. The problem with Jericho was, he set the bar way too high and most other artists in comics simply do not have the luxury or the time or even the desire to push themselves to the level that the term "true artist" demands. Most people working in comics are doing just that, working, and this is about getting the work done (often with scripts that get sent to them at the very last minute--or worse). Unless you're so talented and such an A list creator that you have the luxury of setting your own schedule and demanding DC and Marvel meet your terms, the reality is you can't be bothered to try and make every damn character unique and individual.

    So, you do your boy faces and girl faces. You try to make sure the racial differences are clear and the costumes are accurate and the story is easy to follow. That is really all that you have time to do.

    Perez was and is a genius. The problem is, not everyone is a genius nor do they necessarily aspire to be one. Worse still, they simply don't have time to try to revolutionize comic book storytelling. Comic book illustration is their job; it pays the rent and puts food on the table. And as their 9 to 5 job, that is all it most likely will ever be. Nothing more.

    EDIT: oh, and I forgot to mention--this is why Jericho got reduced to being drawn as nothing more than a caricature with emphasis on sideburns and glowing green eyes. That's really the fastest, easiest way to draw him without getting into too much detail that would make books late. Hence, George got rid of the sideburns when he returned to NTT in 1988 (he started to see that the look of the character was getting overly defined by that one feature.)
    Last edited by Flashpoint; 05-01-2012 at 05:15 PM.

  15. #15
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    I never really liked George Perez's art.

    I mean, I know enough about art to see that he's very good, that the craftsmanship is impeccable, and all that, but it's just not to my taste. I do like George Perez, the writer a lot though.
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