Saturday, April 9, 2011

Episode #171 Part III: MegaCon 2011 Spotlight On George Pérez Panel!

This was the second panel I attended on Friday, March 25, 2011. When I got to the panel, George had already begun talking about his career. I don't know if he was early or I was late.

The first question for Mr. Pérez was on adapting the classic Teen Titans story Judas Contract. He responded that he doesn't watch much TV. George did say that the cartoon adaptions of comic book characters introduce them to a new generation.

The next question from the audience was how George approached adding people of color in comics. He responded by saying that skin color doesn't define them. Understanding the cultures helps to know what makes people tick.. A character's ethnicity should serve a story purpose. Make ethnicity part of the character's makeup, but not the entire personality. Otherwise it's ghettoizing. He added that there is a lot of homogeneous looks in comic books, full of interchangeable faces.

Someone else asked which DC story he would like to see in a DC animated movie. George's favorite would be Wonder Woman's Challenge Of The Gods. He always pictured that story like a Ray Harryhausen film.

George was asked about the new TV show starring the Teen Titans member Raven. He said that he was only aware that it was being made. It was going to be somewhat similar to Charmed, and was expected to fill the hole left by Smallville in the network schedule. Being so close to the comic book character, he wasn't sure he wanted to know much about the TV production, but the creator royalties were nice.

A Teen Titans fan asked why he had never returned to the title. George said that he left the title because it had become too successful. He knew that he would be able to maintain a monthly schedule for only so long, and afterward would be in danger of doing less than his best work to make money. George decided to leave the title when he did because he didn't want to get to that point.

He was also asked what was the best advice he got from other artists. George said that it was to not draw to make money, love to draw. Everything else would come after. Also, make the mind into a silent film camera. In comic books, tell as much of the story in the art as possible. It's important for a comic book artist to be a part of storytelling. An artist should not be afraid to draw anything. George has been a comic book professional since the age of 19.

Another question was about his opinion in killing Barry Allen in Crisis Of Infinite Earths. George thought that it was a gutsy move, needed to show that the stakes were high in the story. He also said that writer Marv Wolfman left clues in the story for a possible way he could be brought back. Flash saved the universe and no one knew it. Nostalgia is a big part of comic books, so death became a revolving door. Fans wanted Barry back, so they got Barry.

George added that he was grateful for his longevity. He has fans who were not even born yet when he began. When he passes, he wants to be like painter Norman Rockwell, leave an unfinished drawing on his drawing board.

Someone asked about his opinion about the future of comic books. George hopes the industry lasts at least through his lifetime. He'll keep drawing until there isn't a need, and the phone calls for work stop. As far as the  future of digital comic books, George said that he wasn't savvy enough to know what the production costs would be for digital comics.

He was asked if there were any characters he didn't like to draw. George said Reed Richards. He thought that Reed had a dull face, until John Byrne made him an interesting character to draw. He also loved to draw Batman but hated drawing the Batmobile. George doesn't consider himself an engineer, he likes to draw characters.

Another question was about the transition from one Flash to another. George said that he purposed to draw Barry and Wally differently, so that readers could tell the two apart just by looking at them. He used to draw the Titans bald, so that he could give each one a unique look and distinct body types, This helps develop characterization.

A second Wonder Woman question, about her issue #600, was if he drew her to appear more Greek. George has a Greek friend, so he wanted Wonder Woman to reflect her Greek heritage.

George said that he was asked at one point to be an Art Director at DC Comics, but he would have to live in New York City, which he didn't want to do. He considers himself blessed to be doing what he has wanted to do since he was a child. When he was in the hospital because of some health issues, fans sent flowers.

Beyond the drawing board, he spends time with the Moonlight Players in Clermont, Florida. He considers them his second family.

Someone asked about some constructive criticism he has received. George said that the first artist to give him constructive advice was Neal Adams. He said that he still has blisters from Neal's critique. Marv Wolfman said that George didn't know how to draw perspective. George was motivated to prove them wrong, and wound up becoming a better artist. No one congratulates you when you become pro. Comic book artists need to have a thick skin. Know when criticism is helpful or hurtful. Let the ego loose, and then you can become a better artist or writer.

A final Wonder Woman question was about his opinion about the costume change for the upcoming TV show. George said that he understood why the changes were made, but he didn't have a vested interest in the TV show because he did not create the character. The classic costume exists in back issues.

Among George's favorite pieces of his own artwork was the death of Supergirl and Meridian from CrossGen. His least favorite work was on the comic book movie adaption of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was a lousy story and he was inked by the wrong artist for his style, Jim Mooney. Their art styles were wrong for each other. George did enjoy his work on the comic book Beatles biography.

Mr. Pérez ended the panel by emphasizing how important it was to take a break. If an artist is erasing more than he is drawing, and has tired eyes, it's time for a break. If it takes too long to draw something that's easy, then it's time for a break.

Next episode: MegaCon 2011The Art Of Writing For Comics Panel!
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