If you’re even remotely into comics and comic books you’ll be familiar with the name George Perez. It’s kind of like if you’re remotely into late night TV you’ll know the name Letterman. George Perez is a comic book legend, and has penned and illustrated for Marvel and DC with titles including The Avengers, Teen Titans and maybe most notably and something that’s very current right now, Wonder Woman. In fact, in the fetish world Perez has become synonymous with the championing of strong, powerful women. So in this month’s Cosplay issue we figured who better to feature as the subject of our Unbound Interview?
Hi George, thanks for agreeing to take part in our Unbound Interview series, it’s a real privilege for us to get the chance to ask you some questions. For those who are more into the fetish side of things and less into the comic side of things, we’d like to start with some background with how you got started in the comic book industry? In fact we’d like to go back further than that. We’d like to go back to the time when you realized you could draw. How old were you when you discovered this amazing talent, and I assume it was at a young age, but how did realizing you could draw then develop into becoming a career in the comic book industry? What was it about writing and drawing comic book stories that held an attraction for you and made you decide that it was the way to go?
GPz: “Well, I started drawing around the age of 5 in my first clumsy attempts at emulating the comics that I started to peruse (I don’t think I was reading English all that well then) around then. I was just so fascinated by these multi-colored costumed crime fighters with their outlandish and bigger than life adventures. While my totally untrained and naïve mind thought that I was drawing pretty well, and my parents always bolstered my ego with their proud compliments, it wasn’t really until I was almost in my teens that I started feeling that I had genuine talent. By the time I started high school, I was starting to seriously consider comics as a career and that desire was irrevocably engrained in my soul when I was taken to my first ever comic book convention in my freshman year. My first published work was for a summer camp newspaper in 1969, and from that modest little acorn did a mighty oak grow”.
So your first real gig, and what a gig, was working at Marvel as Rich Buckler’s assistant back in 1973. We should mention that Rich Buckler sadly passed away this past May after a long battle with cancer, but how did it feel to be a part of something as huge as Marvel Comics at such a young age, you were 19 or 20 years old?
GPz: “It was like visiting Disney World for the first time. I couldn’t believe I was part of that world, visiting the Marvel Bullpen, meeting and speaking with so many of the creators who inspired me then and who, whether living or dead, still inspire me now. I was 19 when I started working for Rich on a part-time basis (I was working as bank teller at the time) and 20 when I got to draw my first professional comics pages, a two-page gag strip for ASTONISHING TALES #25, which introduced Rich’s Deathlok the Demolisher”.
Having gotten your foot in the Marvel door, it was just a matter of time before people really started noticing your talent. After working with Buckler you then went to work with Bill Mantlo on “Sons Of The Tiger”, and thereafter with Mantlo you created White Tiger, the first Puerto Rican superhero who would appear in the Spider-Man series. Given your Puerto Rican heritage that must’ve been something you were particularly proud of? Do you know whether it was something the Puerto Rican people were equally proud of?
GPz: “Ironically, it was Bill Mantlo, not I, who came up with the idea of creating a Puerto Rican superhero. He looked to me to provide some authenticity to the White Tiger’s background and surroundings, but at the time, the cultural significance of his being the first Puerto Rican hero wasn’t that significant to me. I never really regarded myself as a Puerto Rican comic artist. I was a comic book artist, period. It wouldn’t be until many years after the fact when I would attend conventions in New York City and, more recently, Puerto Rico, that I would learn just how important and influential both Hector Ayala (the White Tiger) and I, as the first major Puerto Rican artist in mainstream comics, had been in the lives of so many young fans growing up in both areas. That did make me feel proud. I never expected to be a role model. I never sought that, but, it just goes to show how inspirational the comics medium could be”.
Next for you came The Avengers, which was pretty huge and arguably brought you to real prominence within the industry, and it also brought you to the attention of DC Comics who wanted you to work on The New Teen Titans – something else that brought you great recognition, but also something you accepted because of the potential to draw the Justice League Of America. Was there any potential risk to effectively work for both of the giants of the industry simultaneously or was it a pretty regular thing? Had others done it before you? What was the relationship between the companies? Was there a rivalry between DC and Marvel at that time?
GPz: “By the time I started in the industry, the practice of working openly for the two rival comics companies was pretty commonplace. There was a time when artists would use pseudonyms when working for a second company, despite their styles being pretty much evident. I believe it was the legendary Neal Adams, who had made a major name for himself at DC Comics before openly, and with significant fanfare, starting to concurrently work for Marvel. After all, most of the writers and artists in comics were freelancers, not employees. We had the right to work wherever we wished with impunity”.
Ok so now we get to the fetishy stuff, and something that is very current right now and that of course is Wonder Woman. The character is an icon on many levels, she was the embodiment of girl power back in a time when those words had never been used together, and to this day she’s a cosplay legend. When I think of scorching hot cosplay I think Slave Leia, Lara Croft and of course Wonder Woman. When you got involved with the character back in the late 80s what really was the vision back then because in terms of male/female equality she was really ahead of her time? Did you see yourself as empowering women?
GPz: “I think that by the time I got my hands on Diana, she was pretty much an abandoned child. Lip service may have been paid to her being a feminist icon, but several attempts to update her or keeping her relevant were not working, and her history had become hopelessly convoluted. There were some pretty juvenile, and sometimes even misogynistic, stories back then. She still had some of the fetish accoutrements that had been part of her story background since her creation, but the character herself had become a weaker distaff Superman and her role among her male peers often saw her relegated to the duties of a secretary and weak sister. And worst of all, she was one of DC Comics’ weakest sellers, especially among the predominantly male young comics readers. Considering DC Comics was being run by a female publisher, this seemed like a particularly ironic shame. Plans were already afoot to restart Wonder Woman after the character was effectively “devolved” at the end of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, but there was a definite air of bitter resignation from the female staffers at DC regarding the new direction being planned for Diana. When I learned what those plans were, I knew that anyone with the remotest feminist leaning would be out to lynch the company. When I came in and offered to try another approach, emphasizing Diana’s mythological roots and creating a stronger supporting cast of women, I was allowed to follow it through. After all, the company had little to lose, and I was now being granted something no other creator had been given since the creation of the Amazon Princess—I was allowed to start with a clean slate, with no past continuity to muddy the waters. Ironically, considering the nature of this interview, one of my goals was to divest Diana of much of the fetish aspects that that were a major facet of her history. DC needed a strong, powerful heroine and that’s what I sought to give them—despite my own little preferences and latent perverse fantasies. Somehow, I think that, by making her such a strong icon, it also made her an even more enticing fantasy figure for fetishists, female as well as male”.
Some 30 years later and we see the popularity of the recent Wonder Woman movie, and part of that is to do with how she resonates with young women. Do you feel in some way responsible for that? Do you think the way in which you portrayed her carried over to the new movie and to her character in general?
GPz: “Before I even saw the Wonder Woman film (which I loved, by the way), several fans and pros had informed me that the screen version definitely owed a lot of its approach to my characterization of the heroine. Even the director acknowledged that and I was honored with a “Special Thanks” credit at the end. It’s not something I expected, but I have to admit to it filling me with a great sense of personal professional satisfaction and pride. When I took over the comic I had tried to create a version that women—and men—would appreciate. Three decades later, it’s nice to see that the movie has achieved the same balance”.
Now as well as comic conventions you are also a regular at Fetish Con every year and you always seem to be surrounded by sexy girls in Superhero costumes! That’s really nice work if you can get it, but how did that come about?
GPz: “Oh, I’ve been a big fan of catfighting and bondage since I reached puberty and always loved screen characters like Emma Peel, Honey West and, of course all the provocatively clad superheroines and villainesses that populated the comics pages. Times being what they were, I kept most of those fantasies to myself, drawing fetish sketches strictly for my own private enjoyment. As I finally began my comics career in the early 70s, created my own group of fetish heroines “The She-Devils” which saw print in a fanzine called HOT SHOT around 1975. I wouldn’t get to explore my dark fantasies again until decades later when I drew SACHS AND VIOLENS with writer Peter David that featured an actual fetish model as a kickass crimefighter. It was almost 19 years ago that, after purchasing several superheroine bondage and catfight videos from several video companies that I finally took the plunge and commissioned one of my own from Double Trouble Productions (dtwrestling.com) a company primarily focused on female wrestling, but did do an occasional superheroine-themed custom specialty match. Little did I realize that over the years, I would end up writing, directing and even sometimes appearing in these videos, which now had the blanket series title of “The Sisterhood of Superheroines”. By becoming involved in these videos I got to meet and become friends with many of the models who gave me so much private pleasure through the years and I even brought a few primarily-bondage models into the catfighting super femme arena”.
Cosplay is an extremely popular fetish, people love dressing up to inject a little spice into a relationship, whether it’s as simple as a nurse’s outfit to titillate in the bedroom or whether it’s something taken further like the full Slave Leia or Wonder Woman get up, people find it very alluring and sexually attractive. Have you always been or are you conscious of the sexual nature of the characters you’ve drawn?
GPz: “I think I’ve made that pretty clear by now. I’m just happy that, with my fame and standing in the comics industry, I have no concerns regarding my being totally open about my predilections. The fact that I have so many friends in the fetish industry and proudly declare my love and respect for those who deal in fantasies through flesh as I do through illustrations is quite liberating. There’s a lot of love among these free-spirited folk and I’m elated to be considered one of the family”.
With superheroes and superheroines comes a lot of tying people up, which obviously lends itself very well to bondage. Cosplay and bondage are therefore very common bedmates in the fetish scene. Just out of curiosity, is bondage something you’ve ever had an interest in?
GPz: “As an observer, most definitely. Unfortunately, I have enough problems tying my shoes, so I leave the actual knots to the professionals. A rigger I will never be, I’m afraid”.
What are your plans for the future George? Are there any new projects up your sleeve that your fans might be interested in? And will you be attending any conventions where people can come and meet you?
GPz: “I’m taking it very easy at the moment, doing very little work due to some well-documented issues regarding my eyesight. A recent heart attack has also curtailed my public appearances for a while. Thankfully, my royalty income is such that I can afford not to work, so life is quite good and it’s great to draw for the simple enjoyment of it. This year’s Fetish Con will be my only convention appearance for the rest of 2017. It will do my heart good”.
George Perez will be appearing as Special Master of Ceremonies at Fetish Con 2017, August 10-13 in St Petersburg, FL.
For more information about George Pérez, his work and art, and where you can find George online, please check out:
Personal Website: http://george-perez.net
George Pérez – Comic Book Database: http://comicbookdb.com/creator.php?ID=118
George Pérez – Chronological Listing: http://comicbookdb.com/creator_chron.php?ID=118
George Pérez – Cover Gallery: http://comicbookdb.com/creator_covergallery.php?ID=118
Wonder Woman (2017) and Creator George Pérez (article): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wonder-woman-and-creator-george-p%C3%A9rez_us_595573d6e4b0c85b96c66059