To say George Perez is a comic book legend is severely underselling the prolific artist. Since getting his start with Marvel in the ’70s, Perez has produced jaw-droppingly lovely work for unforgettable runs on some of the industry’s biggest titles, including Avengers, Justice League, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman, and of course his own co-creation, The New Teen Titans. Perez’s latest book, Sirens (published by Boom! Studios), which he writes as well as draws, is also his own creation, inspired, as he reveals in the following interview, by many of the women in his life. We caught up with the icon last week during a Sirens signing at LA’s Collector’s Paradise (organized by the store’s affable owner Ed Greenberg), and he kindly took some time to explain the book’s origins and aims.
Nerdist: How did Sirens begin?
George Perez: I wanted to do something that would play to my strengths, since Boom! approached me and asked me if I had any ideas. At the time I didn’t, but I wanted to do a book with all female characters. I wanted to do something that challenged me by doing genres I’d never done before, so time travel allowed me that luxury. And a team book – everything that people expect from me! So I took everything and just put it all together. I had developed such fond relationships with cosplayers and models and just my friends that I wanted to do a book where I put real people in there because that’s what makes it fun; and do my love letter to the fans.
N: As far as the time travel component of the book goes, did you have any stories percolating in your head that used this particular trope over the years?
GP: Well, I guess I just might have been overdosing on Doctor Who episodes.
N: Who’s your favorite Doctor?
GP: I like them all, but the first Doctor I knew was Tom Baker. I loved the reboot and my wife loved the reboot so I got into that. And I’ve always liked stories that dealt with time travel, from the TV show The Time Tunnel to the Star Trek episodes where they travel through time. It’s always fascinating. And of course The Time Machine and all those other books inspired me.
N: Can you talk about the scope of this series and how long you see it running?
GP: It’s gonna be six issues, because the way Boom! works is they’d like to have limited story arcs that then can be collected. And also that allows me as well as any other creators to be able to rest a bit. Because since the book is totally written and drawn by me, if I get sick or tired there’s no one to replace me. So this way it’s built in that after the six-issue story arc they can collect them and put them in whatever format they want while I’m working on developing the next story arc without the pressure of that monthly schedule.
N: How any story arcs have you envisioned so far?
GP: When I came up with the idea for Sirens I actually came up with it as an ongoing series. So there are a lot of story arcs, particularly since every character has their own backstory and I can only hint at them in the first story arc. Plus, besides those nine Sirens that are in the story — the remaining Sirens — there were other Sirens before them that are now part of the flashback sequences of this one. So that gives me more fodder to deal with.
N: Can you say who inspired the initial story arc?
GP: Well, they’re all cosplayers. So Margie Cox is a wonderful cosplayer, she does a lot of Wonder Woman cosplay, a lot of characters, primarily from DC, and she’s the leader of the group, called Highness. Plus I have several models. One model is Akira Lane, who does a lot of adult-themed videos. My wife is one, my niece is one. There are a lot of different people from all walks of life. There’s one who’s a wrestler, a young lady named April Hunter. So I’ve been trying to get as diverse a group as I can. The villain’s actually appearing at the store tonight, Diana Knight [pictured below], who plays Niada. There are guys in it too. But, again, it’s a love letter to my fans because I get to use them and have them be characters in my comics.
N: Have you heard anything you can share about the rumored Titans live-action TV show?
GP: I only heard about it through Facebook. Marv [Wolfman] and I didn’t even know about it until we heard about it there. If it happens, fantastic. I earn royalties, so I’m happy.
N: Since you’re the artist who created Deathstroke, have you had a chance to watch his appearances in TV’s Arrow?
GP: I’ve never watched an episode of Arrow, but I never imagined three decades ago that the one-eyed mask would become iconic. I never would have imagined that. But I’m very, very grateful for it. And I did meet the actor who plays him [Manu Bennett]. He’s a very nice gentleman, and he’s very intent on doing right by the character.
N: One last question… Every time we’ve run into you over the years you’re always in a good mood. What’s your secret? Are you ever cranky? You’re unfailingly nice to fans and you’re always smiling.
GP: I’m doing exactly with my life what I’ve been doing since I was five years old. I’m getting paid for it, and I’ve gotten to travel around the world because of just drawing comics, as well as a fan following that I love and I respect. I wouldn’t be doing this series if I didn’t love and respect my fans. And the fact that at sixty years old I’m still the pretty girl at the ball, I’m still getting invited to all the dances. I turn down more work than I can accept. I’m doing financially well, and on October 26th my wife and I celebrate four hundred months of marriage. So if I ever lost a smile it would show that I’m the biggest ingrate on this planet, because I know what a lucky man I am with the fans, friends, and family that I have and a job that I love doing. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a lot of money from royalties, so I don’t have to draw comics for a living. I want to draw comics. Because it’s what do. It’s what I enjoy. And to be able to draw just for the sheer joy of it? That keeps the smile on my face.
N: That joy is certainly shared by the many who love your work. Thank you for your time, sir.
GP: Thank you!