“I don’t know how often I can so no comment. I will try to be as open as I can…”
George Perez appeared at Metropolis, for Superman Day earlier this month… He talked about his work with HERO Initiative, and how even he had to go to HERO for help, on how he believed New Teen Titans would only last six issues and how co-plotting issue 8 turned it around for him, how Crimson Plague was an “utter failure for me financially” and he was blackballed from DC, how his ego prevented him working on Superman the first time around. The second time, it seems it was something different.
But he also answered the following question;
Have you ever had disagreements with writers, where you didn’t really want to draw something, you didn’t like the storyline, didn’t want to see it in the comic, did you ever have problems…?
Lately more than ever, actually (Cheers). Without expounding on that, lately I’ve been having a lot more of that. In every book there’s always going to be creative difference. One of the things I’ve very proud of in most of my career, is the fact that I may disagree, but we usually find compromises in that. When there’s two creators working together, we’re both responsible for trying to get a good story. Sometimes I will have to say okay, I may not agree with what the writer wants to do, but this is what he really wants, let’s do it, and let me make it as dynamic as possible. And sometimes if the writer’s given me a lot of freedom, I will change things. Most of the changing stuff that would require emphasis on certain characters and the choreography of the fights.
Particularly on Titans, where I had a lot more freedom. Because Marv and I were very simpatico and Marv liked being surprised. If I came in with something that he didn’t imagine in the plot, that challenged him as a writer. The same way that when he gave me something… I’ll tell you how Marv and I worked after a while, there was no written plot. Marv and I lived close to each other for a time, we would meet either at his house, or my house, a restaurant, whatever. Discuss the story and I would draw it from there. And I would type the plot for Marv, based on what I’d drawn because Marv’s memory was terrible. About as bad as mine is now. And that’s what he would write, so technically I was writing the plot. I was writing the plot after I’d drew it so Marv would know what I’d done in case he’d forgotten. Or if I’d changed something after our discussion. And given when I worked on Legion Of Three Worlds with Geoff Johns… Geoff Johns was an enormous fan of mine and wanted to do a George Perez comic. At this point DC, much to my regret is now going so that all the scripts are fully scripted as opposed to plot, which you draw and then the script comes in a lot more input into the story. Geoff sent me a full script. And the most humongous panel description I have ever seen with all this stuff going on in just one page, how anyone, even me, fit all that. And then Geoff explained it, what he did was take my Crisis On Infinite Earths and dissected it and tried to describe the panel that I drew in Crisis On Infinite Earths that’s what it would look like, if you describe the panel that I did, that’s what it looked like, I had never seen it written in text before, oh my God, no wonder people thought I was insane. That’s what a George Perez panel was to him, that’s how he broke it down.
The thing I had to remind him, yes because that’s not what Marv asked for. Marv say, these characters fight, then I made it into a George Perez panel. If you are writing what you consider a George Perez panel, you give me nothing to do. So from that point for the only time in his career, Geoff Johns went from full script to plotting, and let me be George Perez again. Unfortunately all the scripts are going back to committee unfortunately, all the scripts are going through okays, changes by the time I get it there’s not enough for me to contribute it. So the fact that I can put my personality… I fact I’m working with Paul Levitz on World’s Finest. Paul, like everyone else is being told we need you to go full script on that, we have to okay it. But Paul knows, if I get full script and this thing takes place in one page and… there’s not enough going on on that page, I would change things, add some extra scenes. Paul says “don’t worry George, whatever you put in, I trust you, I’ll rewrite it.” Paul and I have known each other since we were teenagers, so it’s Kinda nice to work that way. I’m hoping that my future projects will allow me that leeway.
Somebody else basically to tell someone like I am, how to draw or choreograph a comic book. I think I’ve been doing it enough time. There are a lot of artists in my position having the same experience. Let us do we’ve been doing, in my case for going on four decades and have have a modicum amount of success in it. I’m glad that in the case of World’s Finest, the one thing at least they allow me to do was is to work with someone like Paul Levitz, who been there the same amount of time I’ve been and who understands sometimes the best stories are the ones that surprise both the writer and the artist as well.
What was the process that brought you to the first six issues of Superman? Did you seek that or did DC come to you?
DC approached me, actually it was Dan Didio who specifically approached me, at that point I was going through my preliminary eye surgery, and my wife was getting concerned I was having trouble focusing on artwork, and maybe doing something where I didn;t have to draw all that detail would have been a way for me to earn money and give my eyes a chance some recovery, so writing, I was loathe to do, because my last experience with writing,,. Unfortunately when you are writing major characters, you sometimes have to make a lot of compromises and I was made certain promises, and unfortunately not through any fault of Dan DiDio, he was no longer the last word, lot of people making decisions, going against each other, contradicting, again in mid story. The people who love my Superman arc, I thank you. What you read, I don’t know. After I wrote it… I told them here’s 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, I don’t want to change something that you’re going to change again if 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, and I had to kept rewriting things because another person changed their mind, and that was a lot tougher, it wasnt the same as doing Wonder WOman, I was given a full year to get Wonder Woman established before enfolded into the DC Universe properly, I had a wonderful editor Karen Berger who ran shotgun for me. They wanted me to recreate what I did through 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 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 regrettable I did have to tell him I can’t wait to get off Superman. It was not the experience I wanted it to be.
The fact that so many people enjoyed… I hope they enjoyed what I wrote, and I hope that if they enjoyed what I didn’t write, that they don’t tell me. I don’t want to know, “I like what they changed”, oh gof they like their job better than mine, but what I enjoyed, going back to you guys, putting in friends into the story, I just got a text from a friend of mine, Billy Mcloy, for those who read it he was that muck raking reporter in the Daily Planet, constantly after Superman who constantly after Superman, that was my birthday gift to him I made him a character in Superman, a dear friend of mine who passed away I made him a character in Superman enormous Superman fan I made the major of Metropolis, and because I’m on Facebook, I got to see the reaction from everybody…
Talking about creative freedom of working on a character in one book, or in multiple books…
It was what they had promised me in the New 52 version of Superman,
I had no idea Grant Morrison was going to be working on another Superman title, I had no idea I was doing it five years ahead, which means, my story I couldn’t do certain things without knowing what he did, and Grant wasn’t telling everybody, so I was kind of stuck,who exists, DC couldn’t give me answers. Oh my gosh, you’re deciding all these things and you mean even you don’t know what’s going on in your books… so I became very frustrated…
It’s an intriguing insight into those early days of the DC relaunch that backs up the accounts and actions of others, including the “Grant Morrison does what Grant Morrison” does approach. At the time of Perez’ departure, Superman editor Matt Idelson was quoted as saying “Sometimes there’s enough gas in the tank and sometimes there’s not”… but now it looks more like there was engine trouble.