George Pérez confirmed this week that he’s signed an exclusive contract with BOOM! Studios to create, write and draw a new original comic book project to be formally announced in September, as well as contribute covers, pinups and other artwork to the publisher’s existing slate of licensed and original titles.
The news is remarkable on a few levels:
- Pérez has not worked on a creator-owned title since the last issue of his Crimson Plague shipped in the early 2000s.
- The artist’s most recent work includes a short stint as writer and co-artist of DC’s Superman relaunch in 2011-2012 and contributions to the company’s recent World’s Finest revival starring Huntress and Power Girl. In an interview with CBR’s Kiel Phegley, the writer-artist indicated dissatisfaction with Marvel and DC Comics, his principal employers for the majority of his career, citing what he described as a power shift from Marvel and DC editorial to corporate parents Disney and Warner Bros., respectively.
- BOOM! provided an alternative: “...a chance to work on something I wanted to do, something they hoped would rekindle the creative spark that I felt was being squelched these past few years.”
- Beyond creative freedom, BOOM! offered Pérez an unorthodox deal by which he would be a full employee of the company with healthcare and tax benefits, which he described as both less restrictive in terms of exclusivity and less expensive in terms of taxes and withholdings than deals he previously worked under at Marvel and DC. And while it wasn't mentioned in the announcement, presumably the original work will be owned or at least co-owned by Pérez.
- Pérez’s new series will be a long time coming, as he wishes to complete several issues before launch.
- The as-yet-unannounced Pérez book will mark the second major artist-driven original title from BOOM! following Brian Stelfreeze’s Day Men. In an interview with ComisAlliance earlier this year, Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon hinted Stelfreeze was just the first of new relationships the company hopes to build with some of the industry’s higher-profile artists now that it’s in a better position to offer favorable terms, particularly creative freedom. The company has traditionally relied on mainstream writers like Mark Waid, Steven Grant, Chris Roberson, Sam Humphries and Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning to draw readers to its original slate, with newcomers or relative unknowns drawing interiors while popular artists like Phil Noto, Frazer Irving, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mitch Breitweiser and Kris Anka only provide covers.