I visited North Carolina on Friday to attend Day One of the 30th Charlotte Heroes Convention. Billed as “comics-first…atmosphere, where fans can mingle directly with professionals and exhibitors,” a massive collection of creators and vendors were on hand for the anniversary edition. What drew me was the presence of George Pérez (Crisis on Infinite Earths, The New Teen Titans, decades of greatness).
I picked up the above commission at the convention, where Pérez was joined by Crisis and Titans partner Marv Wolfman. The two, along with Pérez’s main Titans inker Romeo Tanghal, took part in a New Teen Titans panel at the outset of the convention. For a report from the panel, as well as an encounter with Nick Cardy, follow the jump!
Moderated by Back Issue! Editor Michael Eury, who did a fantastic job with pacing and setup, the Titans Tower panel took the audience from the conception of The New Teen Titans through last year’s release of the long-delayed Games story.
Wolfman recollected how DC Comics Publisher Jennette Kahn was not interested in a new Teen Titans series prior to his pitch. The previous series, which ran from 1976 – 1978, was not successful and was, as Wolfman described it, a “weird” comic despite the talent that presented it. In the process of creating the all-new characters for the series, Raven, Starfire and Cyborg, Wolfman drafted characters from disparate genres in an effort to allow for a greater range of storytelling opportunities.
Pérez’s increasing contributions to the characters and plotting were highlighted, including his influence on the journey of Cyborg. By allowing the character to overcome his anger towards his father and find a passion in helping children with prosthesis, he said, Cyborg gained a complexity beyond his origin story and its inherent consequences. Highlighting the first 60 issues of Fantastic Four in particular, Wolfman said he strove to make Titans a family book driven by the characters and not necessarily by super-heroics. Both he and Pérez had just arrived at DC from Marvel, he noted, and their work on the title reflected the time spent at the competition.
Tanghal was effusive in his praise of Pérez’s pencils. “I never changed anything!” he exclaimed when given credit for the quality of the finished artwork. Tanghal said he learned a great deal from Pérez and would anticipate the arrival of new pages, stopping whatever he was doing when they appeared at his home. The enjoyment of inking Pérez’s work would cause him to work longer hours on those pages, he said, adding that he would finish a Pérez issue in half the time he would those of other artists. Both Pérez and Tanghal lauded the work of José Luis García-López, Pérez’s successor on The New Teen Titans. Wolfman noted that, by that time, even the characters’ body language was so tied to Pérez’s style that he intentionally focused on the Titan Gods when García-López joined the title, so he would not be unfairly judged against Pérez.
To close the panel, the conversation turned to Games, the long-awaited Wolfman/Pérez Titans story that finally saw publication last year after decades of delays. Touching on some of the false-starts, the two discussed the challenges faced in completing the final version of the story in the framework of the original. Pérez completed the majority of the artwork in the 1980s but the final plot was quite removed from the original intent, which both Wolfman and Pérez said they could not remember. Wolfman recalled a key moment in the completing, when he realized he could finish the story outside of Titans canon as a tangent to continuity with elements of the original series.
Some other notes of interest: Pérez said he no longer reads comics due to his busy work schedule. Wolfman, who is also an veteran writer for animation, wrote for the Teen Titans cartoon series. He said he was impressed with their portrayal of the characters and with the execution of darker stories like “The Judas Contract” and “The Terror of Trigon”.
Also in attendance at the convention was Nick Cardy, the legendary artist best known for his work on Aquaman and the original Teen Titans. The illustrator of 17 Flash covers, Cardy was selling signed prints featuring his best known subjects. When I found his table he was enjoying a late lunch and joked that he was considering putting fake eyeballs on his hat and going to sleep. I’ve included the Flash and Kid Flash detail below, in closing. Thanks, Heroes Con!