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Look at these jam pieces by Joe Kubert and many, many others

As the comics community continues to process the news of Joe Kubert’s death, everything else feels very secondary. One way of honoring the legendary artist and teacher is by appreciating his art, and the art of his peers. Steve Niles discovered this series of art jams featuring a Kubert Hawkman alongside Wendy Pini’s Elfquest characters, Neal Adams’ Conan, Dave Cockrum’s Human Torch, and others. The rest of the jams include characters drawn by C.C. Beck, John Romita, John Byrne, George Perez, Gray Morrow, Dave Sim, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, Al Williamson, Chester Gould, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t know the history behind these pieces, but it occurs to me that many of these comics legends are still with us. In addition to saying our good-byes to Mr. Kubert and offering appreciations of his work, another great way to honor his legacy might be to reach out and express similar appreciation to living creators whose work we love.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Used universes

Scott Lobdell, are you listening?

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the New 52, and I anticipate doing the usual examinations of what worked and what didn’t. Until then, however, this preliminary post will try to organize my general impressions.

I have tried to keep an open mind about the various changes, but apparently I keep coming back to the New 52-niverse’s lack of meaningful fictional history. Much of this comes from the five-year timeline, but a good bit of it is due to storytelling styles. While origin stories can generate a nominal setting, including a regular supporting cast, many of the New-52 books held off for various reasons — like readers pretty much knowing the origins at the outset — and with today’s practical concerns, many books spent their first 12 issues on extended arcs.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been talking about this as a function of “idea generation,” but I think it is a more elemental concept. Specifically, it seems like I have been conditioned to expect a certain amount of continuity in a modern shared universe. Furthermore (and more troubling), I suspect the simple acknowledgment of preexisting continuity helps mitigate whatever weaknesses may exist in the stories themselves.

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Quote of the day #2 | George Perez on writing Superman

Panel From Superman #2, script/breakdowns by George Perez, pencils/inks by Jesus Merino

“Things are being second guessed left and right, a case of too many chiefs, not enough Indians now. Whether it will work? Who am I to say. They want it to be like Hollywood, and it’s becoming like Hollywood, in producing comics, and what you have is a corporate room deciding where things are going to go. And part of the reason for me leaving Superman is that I had certain ideas I wanted to do unfortunately, stuff that they okay one day, they would change their mind the next day, and it was becoming way too difficult, slowing us down. That was unfortunate. I hope they succeed for the industry’s sake. In the case of Superman they didn’t want a writer, they wanted a typewriter. They have to deal with people producing the movie, who also had a say in what’s going on in the comic as well. My one fear, I’m not producing a comic, I’m producing a storyboard for a movie, that’s not what I wanted to do.”

George Perez on his decision to quit writing Superman and the current editorial structure at DC Entertainment, from a Q&A Panel at the 2012 Toronto Comic-Con. Perez also spoke more recently about his experience at the annual Superman Celebration.

(Thanks to Jamie Coville for the recording!)

George Perez couldn’t ‘wait to get off Superman’

Renowned creator George Perez, who stepped down as writer and breakdown artist of DC Comics’ relaunched Superman after just six issues, revealed he couldn’t wait to leave the high-profile title because of frustrations over repeated rewrites and a lack of creative freedom. “It was not the experience I wanted it to be,” he said.

“Unfortunately when you are writing major characters, you sometimes have to make a lot of compromises, and I was made certain promises,” Perez said in a recently released Q&A video from this year’s Superman Celebration, “and unfortunately not through any fault of Dan DiDio — he was no longer the last word, I mean a lot of people were now making decisions [..] they were constantly going against each other, contradicting, again in mid-story. The people who love my Superman arc, the first six issues, I thank you. What you read, I don’t know. Because the fact that, after I wrote it I was having such frustration that I told them, ‘Here, this is my script. If you change it, that’s your prerogative, don’t tell me. Don’t ask me to edit it, don’t ask me to correct it, because  I don’t want to change something that you’re going to change again in case you disagree.” No no, Superman is a big character. I was flattered by the responsibility, but I thought this was getting a little tough.”

“I didn’t mind the changes in Superman, I just wish it was the same decision Issue 1 or Issue 2,” he continued. “And I had to kept rewriting things because another person changed their mind, and that was a lot tougher. It wasn’t the same as doing Wonder Woman. I was basically given a full year to get Wonder Woman established before she actually had to be enfolded into the DC Universe properly. And I had a wonderful editor Karen Berger who ran shotgun for me. They wanted me to recreate what I did from Wonder Woman, but it’s not the same age, not the same atmosphere, I couldn’t do it any more. And the writer who replaced me, Keith Giffen, was very, very nice. I’ve known Keith since we both started in the industry, he called me up when they asked him to do Superman to make sure I wasn’t being fired off Superman. And regrettably I did have to tell him no, I can’t wait to get off Superman. It was not the experience I wanted it to be.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | Who won the ‘80s?

Where the over-people gather to watch big-screen botanical throwdowns

A couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether we could trace the entire sidekick-derived wing of DC’s superhero-comics history back to Bill Finger. Today I’m less interested in revisiting that question — although I will say Robin the Boy Wonder also owes a good bit to Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane — than using it as an example.

Specifically, this week’s question has nagged me for several years (going back to my TrekBBS days, even), and it is this: as between Alan Moore and the duo of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, who has been a bigger influence on DC’s superhero books?

As the post title suggests, we might reframe this as “who won the ‘80s,” since all three men came to prominence at DC in that decade. Wolfman and Pérez’s New Teen Titans kicked off with a 16-page story in DC Comics Presents #26 (cover-dated October 1980), with the series’ first issue following the next month. Moore’s run on (Saga of the) Swamp Thing started with January 1984′s issue #20, although the real meat of his work started with the seminal issue #21. Wolfman and Pérez’s Titans collaboration lasted a little over four years, through February 1985′s Tales of the Teen Titans #50 and New Teen Titans vol. 2 #5. Moore wrote Swamp Thing through September 1987′s #64, and along the way found time in 1986-87 for a little-remembered twelve-issue series called Watchmen. After their final Titans issues, Wolfman and Pérez also produced a 12-issue niche-appeal series of their own, 1984-85′s Crisis On Infinite Earths.* The trio even had some common denominators: Len Wein edited both Titans and Watchmen (and Barbara Randall eventually succeeded him on both), and Gar Logan’s adopted dad Steve Dayton was friends with John Constantine.

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Comics A.M. | Batman #1 fetches record $850,000 in private sale

Batman #1

Comics | A near-mint copy of 1940′s Batman #1, which marks the first appearances of the Joker and Catwoman, sold this week for $850,000 — a record for that issue — in a private transaction arranged by Heritage Auctions. The seller purchased the comic just two years ago for $315,000. [CNN]

Publishing | Cory Casoni is leaving his position as director of marketing for Oni Press for a position with NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. as the head of marketing for ShiftyLook comics. Thomas Shimmin and Amber LaPraim, who joined Oni earlier this year, are taking joint positions as marketing coordinators. [press release]

Creators | Alison Bechdel discusses her family, her psyche, and the challenges of drawing a memoir that’s set in therapy sessions: “I watched all the episodes of “In Treatment” at one point, to see how they managed to make two people sitting in a room so very dramatic. And it was basically just good writing and good acting. So that gave me the hope that I could pull this story off without adding a car chase or an explosion. Though there is a kind of a car chase, now that I think of it, when a Sunbeam bread truck almost runs me off the road. My story also goes in and out of other texts — movies, psychoanalytic papers, children’s books — which creates some more overt visual excitement. And I use a dream to begin each chapter. I know you’re not supposed to write about your dreams, but the dreams have a dramatic sweep that everyday life doesn’t.” [The New York Times]

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What Are You Reading? with David Harper

Saga #3

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we detail what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Our special guest today is David Harper, associate editor over at the recently redesigned Multiversity Comics.

To see what David and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Chain Reactions | DC Comics New 52 Second Wave

Earth 2

DC Comics released four of the six “New 52 Second Wave” titles this past week, making it hard to choose what to focus on this week … so I figured I wouldn’t. Instead, here are round-ups of reviews for all four titles: Earth 2 #1 by James Robinson, Nicola Scott, Trevor Scott and Alex Sinclair; Dial H #1 by China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, Tany Horie and Richard Horie; World’s Finest #1 by Paul Levitz, George Pérez, Scott Koblish, Kevin Maguire, Hi-Fi and Rosemary Cheetham; and G.I. Combat #1 by J.T. Krul, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Ariel Olivetti and Dan Panosian.

Earth 2

Keith Callbeck, Comicosity: “The multiverse returns! To fanfare or dread, depending on how you feel about pre-Crisis DC. But this is not your parents’ Earth 2. Completely reimagined by James Robinson, the creator most responsible for bringing the JSA back to the DCU with his series Golden Age, this Earth 2 is a world recovering from war. The story feels like a really good Elseworlds book (which Golden Age was as well) and not a What If…? type tale, though that element exists.The heroes of Earth 2 have existed for much longer than the five years of Earth Prime. When the parademons attack, paralleling the first arc of Johns’ Justice League, it is a much more mature Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman there to battle them.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | Three new comics, two new Earths

President Calvin Ellis, by Gene Ha

For fans of DC’s various Multiverses, this has turned into a big week. Action Comics vol. 2 #9 offers Earth-23, while the new Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest series center around the latest take on Earth-2.

First, though, a nitpicky note. As usual with DC’s cosmologies, things can get confusing quickly, so here are some helpful definitions. The Infinite Multiverse refers to DC’s classic Multiverse, which saw its last big hurrah in Crisis On Infinite Earths. Worlds of the Infinite Multiverse have their number-tags spelled out, as with Earth-One and Earth-Two. (The Infinite Multiverse also had some letter-tagged worlds.) The 52 Earths refers to the Multiverse revealed in 2006′s 52 #52. Its worlds are tagged only with numerals, as with Earth-2 and Earth-51. There is the Earth One series of graphic novels, with which we are not concerned. Finally, there is the Current Multiverse, which may in fact still be the 52 Earths, and which apparently follows the same naming conventions.  I will try hard to avoid getting into a discussion which dwells on these distinctions.

Now then …

These three issues each take different perspectives on the parallel-world concept. Earth 2 #1 lays out the rough recent history of the parallel world and introduces us to its major players. Similarly, all of Action #9 takes place on Earth-23, although it’s part of the background of Grant Morrison’s larger Superman work. Earth-2 in Worlds’ Finest #1 is background as well, since it’s part of the main characters’ shared backstory, but not a place with which they currently interact. Accordingly, I liked each of these introductory issues on their own merits, because I thought each did what it needed to within those particular contexts.

SPOILERS FOLLOW for Earth 2 #1, Worlds’ Finest #1, and Action Comics vol. 2 #9.

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What Are You Reading? with Tim Seeley

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Tim Seeley, whose work you may know from Hack/Slash, Bloodstrike, Witchblade, Colt Noble, the upcoming Ex Sanguine and Revival, and much more.

To see what Tim has been reading lately, click below.

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C2E2 | From Detroit to Chicago, and back again

[Editor's note: Doug Zawisza, who regularly writes reviews for Comic Book Resources, joins us for a look at his one-day con experience at C2E2 this past Friday.]

The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo opened its doors for the 2012 edition at 1:00 in the afternoon on Friday the 13th. I decided to tempt fate, spit in the eye of superstition and join a trio of friends from my local comic shop to make the four-hour trek between Detroit and Chicago, take in the sights to see at C2E2 and return home, all in one day. That’s right: I was silly enough to think a whirlwind visit to Chicago would be a good idea.

We hit the road around eight o’clock and with a pair of stops on the way to coincide with the wonderfully easy traffic all the way into the great state of Illinois, we made it to McCormick place by 11:15 Chicago time. Coming in from the south side of the convention center, we mingled with Chicago White Sox traffic (oddly enough, the Detroit Tigers were in town to play the Sox) and managed to find parking at McCormick after driving through the shipping area of the parking facility.

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Watch the trailer for the documentary Wonder Women!

A full-length trailer has been released for Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, a Kickstarter-funded documentary that will receive its world premiere next month at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, the documentary traces the evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman and examines “how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.” Among those interviewed for the film are Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, Trina Robbins, George Perez, Gail Simone, Danny Fingeroth and Andy Mangels.

(via FirstShowing)

Florida’s Bear & Bird Gallery to host ‘Proof of Heroes’ exhibit

If you work in the industry for as number of years, you’re bound to gather a number of unique artifacts from your time spent. People have been delighted in recent weeks with Tom Brevoort’s “The Marvel Age of Comics” Tumblr showcasing the editor’s collection of original art and assorted oddities, and now The Hero Initiative is partnering with a Florida gallery to show off one-of-a-kind printer’s proofs for covers collected by renowned editor Julius Schwartz during his 42-year tenure at DC Comics.

Titled “Proof of Heroes,” the exhibit at Bear & Bird Boutique + Gallery will feature nearly 300 comic book cover printer’s proofs from 1964 to 1974. These printer’s proofs were sent to Schwartz for final approval before going to press, and features artwork from such comics legends as Nick Cardy, Neal Adams, Mike Kaluta and Carmine Infantino. The exhibit is set to run from Jan. 20 to March 3 at Bear & Bird’s Lauderhill, Florida, location, just above the comic store Tate’s. On Jan. 21, DC icons Paul Levitz, George Perez and Alex Saviuk will be on hand from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a signing, followed by a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The printer’s proofs will be available for just $100 each (certificate of authenticity included). All proceeds benefit The Hero Initiative.

Nicola Scott joins Superman for three issues

Art from Superman #3

Former Birds of Prey artist Nicola Scott will step in for Jesus Merino on three issues of Superman, beginning with this month’s Issue 3.

DC Comics announced this morning that Scott will illustrate issues 3, 5 and 6, with regular artist Merino penciling Issue 4 before returning for Issue 7, which features the debut of new writers Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen. The duo replaces George Perez, who leaves as writer and breakdown artist following the sixth issue.

Scott, a DC-exclusive artist who also worked on Secret Six and Wonder Woman, will next collaborate with James Robinson on the relaunched Justice Society of America.

Superman #3, which pits the Man of Steel against a new foe targeting those dearest to Clark Kent, goes on sale Nov. 23. Check out a preview of the issue below.

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Comics A.M. | Tom Ziuko health update; women and comics

Tom Ziuko

Creators | The Hero Initiative offers an update from colorist Tom Ziuko, who was hospitalized earlier this year for acute kidney failure and other health conditions, and then returned to the hospital for emergency surgery about a month ago. “I can’t impress upon you enough how frightening it is to actually come up against a life-threatening medical situation (not to mention two times in less than a year), and not have the financial means to survive if you’re suddenly not able to earn a living. Like so many other freelancers out there, I live paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford health insurance. Without an organization like the Hero Initiative to lend me support in this time of dire need, I truly don’t know where I would be today,” Ziuko said. [The Hero Initiative]

Publishing | CNN asks the question “Are women and comics risky business?” as Christian Sager talks to former DC editor Janelle Asselin, blogger Jill Pantozzi, Womanthology organizer Renae De Liz and others about the number of women who work in comics, the portrayal of female characters and why comic companies don’t actively market books to women. “Think about it from the publisher’s point of view,” Asselin said. “Say you sell 90 percent of your comics to men between 18 and 35, and 10 percent of your comics to women in the same age group. Are you going to a) try to grow that 90 percent of your audience because you feel you already have the hook they want and you just need to get word out about it, or b) are you going to try to figure out what women want in their comics and do that to grow your line?” [CNN]

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