Remembering George Perez

Comic book artist and co-creator of “Teen Titans” sparked my love for superhero comics

I’d written the task in my planner: check on George Perez. I’d been worried because I knew it was coming up to the six months life expectancy he was given by his doctors last December. I searched on Facebook for his official page I follow. What came up instead was the obituary. He died on Friday, May 6, 2022, the day before free comic book day. The day before I went to my indie bookstore to check out Nightwing because Black Nerd Problems raved about it. The character Nightwing was co-created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

Nightwing comic credits

When I saw the news, I just sat in my chair and burst into tears. I’d been dreading this day. I had a hard time falling asleep that night. Strong, visceral memories played in my head: walking to my drugstore in the summertime to get the latest New Teen Titans comics. Coming home and tucking myself into a chair in the tiny second-floor apartment, that little oasis my mom created, and reading the latest adventures of Wonder Girl and Raven and Starfire and the rest.

Opening panel of “New Teen Titans” showing George Perez as co-creator and artist

Starfire was my favorite. She was a huge part of my teenage girlhood development. She helped me access my femininity and burgeoning—well, more like raging—sexuality. And let’s be real. To my representation-starved self Starfire was an African princess. And I have since been vindicated. Check out these photos of Starfire (played by actor Anna Diop) from the DC “Titans” TV show that’s now on HBO Max.

From thecomicawakens Instagram: Side by side of Starfire as played by Anna Diop on “Titans” and Starfire from “New Teen Titans” comics
From DCTitans Instagram: Anna Diop as Starfire on “Titans”

I mean, gorgeous, right?

Tragically, my New Teen Titans collection went away in a traumatic event that I refer to as “one of the things that got lost in the fire.” Years later I found a bunch of them at the ACE comic expo. I was so relieved to find them then, and I’m that much more glad to have them now. Because even though yet another connection to my youth has passed on, the legacy he left behind is here with me.

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