You might have heard the rumors and they are true - George Perez, the living legend, the man behind the definitive versions of Wonder Woman and the Teen Titans, has hung up his convention-going hat until 2009.
At this past weekend's Pittsburgh Comicon, the convention promoters set aside some time, as they do every year, for George Perez to talk with fans and get some questions answered. This year was special, though, as Pittsburgh marked George's last official convention appearance in the United States, and one of the last two total, until 2009. Perez explained this at the beginning of his panel, noting that he's got one more commitment abroad before unpacking his convention bags for a while.
The reason for his departure from the convention scene is twofold. While he loves meeting fans and getting feedback during his show visits, he's taking the time off to focus not only on his work, but his wife. Perez explained that for a number of years, his wife has been patient and put up with his focus on touring to show after show. Now she, with a new position in a touring dance troupe, will be the focus of his life, and he said he just wants to devote his time to her now, following her around the country and watching her perform while he continues his work for DC Comics.
"I don't want her to have to ask me if I'll able to come to a show," explained Perez. "I want her to know I'll be at the show."
While he isn't ruling out an occasional guest appearance if it meets his wife's schedule, the break from conventions will also allow Perez to pour his heart and soul into whatever work he does. Currently, that's fan-favorite series "The Brave and the Bold." Signed for a one-year run on the book, Perez spoke very highly of the series, even going so far as to say that, when his year is up, should DC not have anything else major they want him to be involved in, he'd prefer to stick around with Mark Waid and continue their work on the team-up book.
To catch everyone up, Perez outlined the plans for "Brave and the Bold" through the remainder of his run, or at least so much so as they've been laid out. Currently, Perez has been at work drawing an issue featuring a team up of Batman and the Legion of Super Heroes, as well as completing the trade paperback cover for its forthcoming release. Following the wrap-up of the current multi-part storyline in issue six (which will feature a very special guest star hinted at in issue #4), Perez and Waid will start working on a series of "done-in-one" stories or two-parters.
Doing stories this way allows them to get around to more of the DC Universe, as was the original intent of the book, and to avoid "stretching coincidence," as Perez put it: the longer a storyline goes, the farther you have to stretch coincidence to get more people involved and still have it be a two-person headline each month. Perez spoke with Dan DiDio about handling the book in this way, and the big kahuna agreed, so it's off to more stories and more characters for Waid and Perez.
To paraphrase from everyone's favorite new show, "Heroes," "So who's on the list?" Well, even though there's no story in the drafting stages yet, Perez has requested Waid draw up a Power Girl and Wonder Woman storyline, giving fans a chance at seeing Perez draw Wonder Woman one more time and giving Power Girl some props to acknowledge her new status in the DCU. The only other request, nay, demand that Perez has put to his partner in crime is that issue #12 be a team-up between Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. As old-school fans will remember, it was these two characters that were the first ever team-up in the pages of the original "Brave and the Bold," so Perez would like to provide an homage to that, as he and Waid did with the Batman and Green Lantern team-up in issues one and six, since the Lantern was the first person Batman teamed up with when the title began to solely focus on Batman and another character.
Speaking of Wonder Woman, even die-hard fans at the panel were surprised to hear that Perez had initially been offered a chance to take over his signature character once again. Perez explained during the talk that DiDio had approached him about getting Wonder Woman back on track, but Perez turned him down. The reason for this was multi-faceted, as Perez first noted that, to pick up the character now, he would have had to take up all the baggage that'd been tied to the character in recent years, something that was unappealing to him. Secondly, and more importantly, Perez knew how much Gail Simone wanted the job and felt she would be ideal for the role. As such, Perez explained to DiDio that Simone would likely be the better choice, and DiDio, who seemed to be contemplating that decision already, agreed.
As the talk moved on, Perez covered everything from his position on the "Teen Titans" cartoon (which he didn't like until he saw how it drew children to comics) to the detail he puts into his work to his contract with DC (it expires in 2010. It was supposed to be 2011, but the executives at DC thought 2010 looked cooler), to the mountains that Joe Quesada tried to move to get Perez over to Marvel. All in all, the panel was a fun time for everyone, and Perez summed it up nicely before heading out of his last U.S. panel:
"There were times where you called yourself a cartoonist or an illustrator, but that's not what I am. I'm a comic book artist, and I'm damn proud of it."