Why I Love' is our regular column which can be written by anybody. Yes, anybody! Even you!
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If you pick up a new comic for the first time, what is the thing that attracts you the most - the writing or the art? Back in my salad days (I don't mean I was the Hulk) I entered a raffle in my local comic shop and won first prize, which was a collection of the first three volumes of Neil Gaiman's Sandman. I wasn't familiar with it at the time and flicked through them, hated the art and opted to take the second place prize which was a VHS copy of Akira.
Obviously Neil Gaiman is a bit handy with a pen, but that art immediately put me off delving any deeper into the world of Dream at the time, a fact I rectified later in life. However I still prefer good art and it's good art that makes or breaks the buying of a new comic for me. A good artist can attract you to a title you might not bother with otherwise and a really good artist might be able to tempt you to a whole new universe.
Meet George Perez*:
I've always been a Marvel fanboy. My favourite superheroes are Iron Man and Captain America so Hollywood is being very kind to me lately. I never liked Spider-Man's emo worrying that much and could never keep up with who was alive and who was dead in the ongoing soap opera of the X-Men. Cap threw a shield and was the Sentinel of Liberty and Iron Man was a rich bloke who invented an awesome suit of armor and that was cool with me. I never knew how the central characters over at the Distinguished Competition survived for so long. The Flash just ran fast, Aquaman defended fish and Green Lantern was a bit too cosmic. Superman had long since ran out of steam and people to fight and every issue seemed to be something random like “Kal-El accidentally slips some white kryptonite into the wash with disastrous result in...The Pink Caped Crusader!”. Okay, Batman was a bit cool but in 1985 he still had the whiff of Adam West.
Then in 1985 along came DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths as illustrated by George Perez. In a very small nutshell, the story concerns DC's attempts to smush 50 years of continuity, characters and multiple Earths into a single streamlined universe. It had a cast of thousands, it destroyed whole planets and established characters going back years and it was as radical as it was exciting. So much so that even my Marvel-attuned eyes were drawn in its direction by Perez's artwork. Every page had so many heroes on it that you could spend minutes on each panel trying to recognise every one. His knowledge of DC characters was vast and he tried to squeeze as many as he could into these complex illustrations. Nobody drew splash pages like Perez and despite being full of characters and action, they never looked too busy. They were a joy to behold.
Crisis was a seminal series that set the model for the world of DC for the next 25 years. It led me to read John Byrne's revamped Superman and Norm Breyfogle's Batman and Detective Comics. It was a flirtation that lasted for a few years until I was lured back to the Marvel Bullpen but Crisis had done what it set out to do and attract new readers to DC. In later years I was lucky enough to have George Perez come over to Marvel to work on the Avengers and in 2003, a Marvel / DC crossover with the Justice League / Avengers mini-series and as good as they were, George Perez is one of those artists like Alex Ross who work best with the DC characters. They understand them, they have a love for them and an encyclopediac knowledge of the lore of DC down the years and I respect that. They are as much DC fanboys as I am one for Marvel. We're on the same page, just in different books.
* Yes, I can name pretty much every character in that picture.