A Real Life Superhero: Comic Book Icon George Pérez Diagnosed With Inoperable Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer
Puerto Rican comic book legend George Pérez shared sad news in his latest Facebook post, where he details his recent inoperable stage 3 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Pérez stated that he received the tragic news after undergoing surgery to clear a blockage in his liver, and has since been given a prognosis of just around six months to a year.
An announcement that has shaken the entire artistic community to its core, the comic book icon explained in his post that he prefers to “just let nature take its course” over spending his last days dealing with “doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays,” and the “frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system.”
Choosing to forgo chemotherapy or radiation, Pérez plans to “enjoy whatever time” he has left with loved ones, including his wife of 40 years, and his devoted fanbase. Although the news is both shocking and heartbreaking in equal measure, the writer and artist has found “peace” through conversations with his family and friends, and “will be endeavoring to get as much outside pleasure as [he] can in the time allotted.”
Fans of the comic book powerhouse are reeling over the news, with comments such as “hope that you’re able to receive even a fraction of the love we all feel for you,” “my heart hurts George,” “no other artist has had as much of an impact on my life,” and “this is devastating, George, but I’m glad we get to chance to say thank you while you are here with us to hear it.”
While many are grateful that Pérez hopes to take part in one final meet-up with fans to say his last goodbyes, those that look up to the comic creator the most can’t help but look back at his complex, downright-magical career. Some commenters left photos of scraps of George’s artwork they’ve collected for 40-plus years, while others looked back at his storied life in a way that can only be described as extremely bittersweet.
Pérez, 67, was born in New York City to parents who emigrated from Caguas, Puerto Rico, soon moving from the Bronx to Queens where he grew his passion for all things comics. Frequenting Flushings comic book shop Mike’s Comic Hut as often as he could after school, Pérez’s 1960s upbringing was peppered with “Legion of Superheroes,” Batman, Superman, and the Fantastic Four.
In fact, Pérez told Van Allen Plexico that he decided he wanted to work in comics from the age of 5 and has never looked back, “mesmerized” by the books that also helped him learn English, sketching on old grocery bags. Pérez spoke about how he channeled his energy into comics instead of the gang violence just outside his doorstep, practicing his craft until he made it to comic artist Rich Buckler’s office.
Becoming Buckler’s assistant in 1973, the budding icon started out by working on “Sons of the Tiger,” soon moving on to co-creating “White Tiger,” otherwise known as the first-ever Puerto Rican comic superhero. Throughout the decade, Pérez worked on the illustrations for Marvel’s “The Avengers,” as well as “Creatures on the Loose,” and “Fantastic Four.” The creator moved on to DC Comics, working on “The New Teen Titans” and “Justice League of America,” but soon continuously worked on titles like “Superman” and “Wonder Woman.” In fact, 2017 “Wonder Woman” movie director Patty Jenkins has said Pérez was “a major reference point for the film,” especially that of Wonder Woman’s connection to Greek myths.
From a Bronx and Queens upbringing by factory worker parents, going to a school with no art department, and no formal training in writing or art, Pérez grabbed life by the horns and succeeded in his one true passion.
As one fan wrote to him: “your presence in this world has changed lives, and through your creativity and spirit you’ve provided joy to your fans for decades.”
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