For over three decades, George Perez's name has been synonymous with the biggest and brightest superheroes at DC and Marvel Comics. From building up the worlds of solo stars like Wonder Woman to packing tight teams like the Avengers and the New Teen Titans, the detail-driven artist has made his mark in those universes time and again.
But now, it's time for Perez to try something different, both creatively and in his career.
BOOM! Studios today revealed to CBR News that Perez has signed on as an exclusive artist with the company -- a different kind of exclusive deal than is normally seen in the industry Perez will start his contract as a staff artist with the company, beginning with work on current BOOM! titles and properties before branching out into brand-new original work. For the artist, the move is a chance not only for a stable home but also to stretch his writing muscles in new ways after feeling restricted on recent corporate gigs like DC's New 52 relaunch of "Superman."
Perez explained to CBR News why he's ready to step away from from big corporate comics for the time being, what he foresees as his future on the BOOM! team, which books and collaborators you won't see him doing out the gate and when you'll hear more about his next creation.
CBR News: Generally speaking, I feel like moving towards more original work has been a theme for a lot of creators of late. What, for you, was the deciding factor in making this shift, and what kinds of comics are you most interested in making now that you're not going to be working on the corporate superhero side of things for the foreseeable future?
George Perez: Well, while I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, but not something that I felt was particularly satisfying for me as a storyteller.
That said, I don't doubt that a creator of your caliber would be able to pitch a series anywhere from DC and Marvel on down through every publisher listed in the Previews catalog. Why was BOOM! the place you decided to make your new home?
I don't know about that first statement, especially regarding DC and Marvel. From what I can see, it's not the new that either company wants now, it's the familiar. Why gamble with an unknown property when another Batman or Avengers title might be more of a sure thing? Fewer and fewer final decisions are made at the editorial level. Warner and Disney think they can do it all better -- and they're the ones with control and money.
When I was approached by BOOM!, they offered me a chance to work on something I wanted to do, something they hoped would rekindle the creative spark that I felt was being squelched these past few years. I was also offered something that was a bit unique -- an employment contract, meaning I would actually receive all benefits of being an employee with tax withholding and medical benefits. To be fair, I was receiving medical benefits at the Big Two as well, but it was frightfully expensive and required full exclusivity. BOOM!'s package is a little more flexible regarding exclusivity -- and a good deal cheaper.
Also, I liked talking with Ross, Filip, Matt and the whole BOOM! editorial staff. These guys love comics with a passion and it really felt like I had stepped back in time, back to the days when editors and creators were the main architects of the stories presented on the multi-colored pages we call comics. They made me feel like a creator again.
Some of your past original concepts like "Crimson Plague" have been a bit more personal and a bit more strange (in a good way!) than the work you're most identified with. What's been on your mind lately in terms of the kinds of comics you'd like to make? Is there something that's not out there in the market you want to see more of?
I'm really not that well-versed on what's out there anymore, so I don't know if what I will bring to the party will be considered unusual, unique, or just the same old thing that others have been doing. All I can hope for is that my words and pictures capture the attention of the reader and that, with any luck, they stay to see what other fun stuff I come up with.
Regarding "Crimson Plague," it's interesting that, even to this day, I'm still asked whether I will ever finish that series. Some have even speculated that I might be resurrecting the series through BOOM! That is not the case. Even though the book did reasonably well both times (its demise being more of a matter of poor business choices and taking on too much of the marketing and financing myself), the last thing I would want to do is saddle BOOM! with an old property that has the stigma of failure to it -- twice!
BOOM! has worked with a lot of creators who you've worked with before, like Mark Waid, and currently have signed on a number of talents I'm not sure you've ever collaborated with, like Paul Jenkins and Mike Carey. Is there anyone new or old who you'd really like to team up with coming up?
Right now, I'm concentrating on writing my own stuff again, just to prove to myself that I can still do it. Unfortunately, I'm not as prolific as I used to be and there are a lot of writers I've never worked with. I can only hope that I can find some time to do so.
Is there a specific series you're going to announce right now? What's the first thing you'll be working on as part of this exclusive?
Okay, that becomes a bit tricky. While I do have some definite ideas and a specific story concept I am currently putting together now that my contract with BOOM! has been finalized, I don't want to steal BOOM!'s thunder since the current plan is for them to make the official announcement of my specific project at the upcoming Baltimore Comicon in September. Marc Nathan, the Baltimore show organizer, was the fellow who turned me on to BOOM!; I think he deserves this exclusive.
Aside from original comics which I'm sure are going to make up the brunt of this series, BOOM! also has a number of licenses, from "Planet of the Apes" to "Adventure Time" I'm sure people would get a kick out of you drawing a cover or two for. Any plans to play in that part of the sandbox as you go along?
That's something I suggested to the BOOM! gang. Since my own series may take some time before it sees print (I really want to get several issues in the can before we set a publishing date), it would be to everyone's benefit for me to stay in the public eye, and visually express my commitment to BOOM!, with covers, pin-ups and other stuff that would bear the banner of my new home.