If as a president, Ronald Reagan was known as the great communicator, then I claim the same could be said about George Pérez. Where Reagan communicated through encouraging speeches and anecdotes, Pérez spoke through the medium of comic art and interactions with fans. And his pictures, along with his presence, spoke more than a thousand words.
George Pérez: Doctor of Interpersonal Communication
After George Pérez passed in May, I was asked to do an homage for GoCollect. Time flew and I didn’t want to simply restate the wonderful messages already shared by so many. Words praising the legendary artist of Avengers, Superman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Crisis, Infinity Gauntlet, and Teen Titans.
At the time, I also considered conferring upon George an honorary Ph.D. in Interpersonal Communication. Sure, neither I nor GoCollect has any degrees to give, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t worthy. So, before previewing some amazing Pérez art, I’ll build a case for George as the great communicator.
New Teen Titans: An IPC Laboratory
During the ’80s, I had a college project for Speech Theory class. I focused on Interpersonal Communication (IPC). My case study: the young adults of the New Teen Titans as scripted and illustrated by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Through pictures and words directly from the comics, I created a 46-page report. Each page demonstrated how Wolfman and Pérez deftly interwove concepts of IPC directly into the Teen Titans tales. Story and art contained theoretical concepts like self-disclosure, owning one’s statements, empathy, nonverbal messages, defensive behavior, lack of openness, manipulation, and other elements of IPC. Wolfman penned the words. Pérez communicated them through crafted layouts and powerful facial expressions. Together, they made the New Teen Titans into real people with real problems, not just action figures.
Spectacular Justice League art motivated me to return to this six-month draft article. As a JLA fan in the 80’s, George’s brief stint on the title re-energized my fandom for the team. JLA 195 cover art features the Secret Society of Super-Villains and Justice Society of America. So, the reader instantly knows the annual JLA-JSA crossover packs a punch.
I’m not surprised bidders shot this piece up to $30K in early bidding. JLA 200 art (epic wraparound cover) sold for $78K in 2016. Cover art from Batman 438 and New Teen Titans 32 sold in June for $78K and $49K, respectively. That was shortly after George’s passing. Given recent prices for “other” artists on lesser works, I think this one will eclipse $100K.
Another piece up for auction jumped off the LCS shelf forty years ago: cover art for Justice League of America 207. Add the title logo to this art and it would be hard to find a more appealing JLA/JSA cover. The All-Star Squadron appears as bonus heroes. As a fan of the Silver Age, the return of the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3 also makes this cover stand out. Expect JLA 207 cover art to command a huge price as well.
A less expensive option includes an interior page by George from issue 185. Also, I believe Teen Titans art by Pérez has a lot of room to grow. ComicConnect has the page shown above up for auction: ComicConnect – Perez, George – TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS (1984-88) #47 Interior Page – VF: 8.0. That art should not sell high, but it’s a piece of Teen Titans history from their greatest artist.
George Pérez, The Great Communicator, Final Thoughts
© Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons
To circle back to my thesis, George Pérez was the great communicator. Many articles celebrated George’s thoughtful interactions with his fans. I’ve commented on his generosity with autographs. But first and foremost, he was an excellent illustrator who understood how to compose panels and express powerful emotions in each and every one. I reiterate my admiration for the storytelling of Marv Wolfman. Together, they did tremendous work and made strides in progressing the art of sequential visual storytelling. Even the art above that is mostly black with word balloons demonstrates my point.
Previously, I wrote about George’s impact in film and television. That’s a good place to continue our warm thoughts about George.
Photo of George taken by Luigi Novi, who also graciously allowed me to use some of his pictures in the Comic Art Trends Price Guide 2020.