MY JLA/AVENGERS DIARY
By George Pérez
As told to Mike Cotton
transcribed by Vu (email)
ultimate crossover has been 20 years in the making, and with the project
debuting in September, the artist details the challenges, the
exhilaration and how he almost called it quits.
I've waited my entire life for one day - the day JLA/Avengers became reality.
WIZARD ZERØ #0
Sure, for the last two years, I've been drawing the JLA/Avengers
match-up pitting the classic superteams from the rival publishers DC
and Marvel Comics. And after pushing for 20 years, a handful of false
starts, scuttled plans and missteps, I wasn't sure if JLA/Avengers was ever going to see the light of day.
Back in 1983 we came close. I actually drew 21 pages of a JLA/Avengers one-shot, but company policies and editorial wrangling torpedoed the project before I ever put pencil to paper on page 22.
And, of course, there were always rumors.
A comic convention ever went by when someone didn't asking me, "When
are you going to do JLA/Avengers?" over the years, the project
took on mythical proportions with expectations and speculation rising
with each passing year. And if it were up to me, I would've done it in a
second. But when you're dealing with the two biggest publishers in
comics (and some of the biggest egos to boot), nothing's easy.
But today, June 27, 2003, as I finished
off the inks (did I mention, I'm penciling and inking the entire
series?) on issue #3, I can hardly believe JLA/Avengers is almost complete.
This is my diary from the first time I
seriously began talking to Marvel and DC about the updated version of
the crossover. Everything from the first phone calls in 1999 to today
as I review the colors of the Batman/Captain America fight. If you
think you know everything there is to know about the new JLA/Avengers, think again.
Martian Manhunter & JLA
Jan 10, 1999 - I've been approached on and off over the years about a JLA/Avengers
project. But now that both JLA, with Grant Morrison and Howard Porter,
is successful, and Avengers is successful under Kurt Busiek and myself,
it looks like we might get a shot at actually doing the series. Kurt
and Tom Brevoort believe it's a perfect time. Now that these two books
are hot, why don't we start negotiating it? Everyone is a little
concern that I won't have time to draw the regular Avengers series and
the crossover, so we decide it just take place in both regular series
and I'll draw the Avengers half with Howard drawing the JLA half. It's a
terrible monster to coordinate, though.
Apr 15, 2000 - Thankfully, Marvel and DC
have cased negotiations. No one wants to do this series more than I do,
but I don't think Grant really had any enthusiasm to do a crossover book
like this. I'd rather draw the entire thing myself. This is my baby and
I don't want anyone else breast feeding her.
Aug 5, 2000 - Now that Mark Waid's been
tapped to write JLA, there's been talk of working out another crossover
with Mark and Kurt co-writing it. But this time, I'll draw the entire
series. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Aug 28, 2000 - I finish my last issue of Avengers today. I'd hope to be working on JLA/Avengers by now, but who knows when that will happen.
Sep 3, 2000 - Joe Quesada took over as
editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics a few days ago. I am a little
disappointed when I called to congratulate him and he tells me that he
isn't interested in doing any more crossovers with DC. Joe feels that
the novelty of inter-company crossovers has been diluted by the recent
glut of such projects. I can't really disagree. Even I wrote one, the Silver Surfer/Superman crossover in 1997! Joe doesn't dash all of my hopes though. According to him there's one crossover he'd do - JLA/Avengers. He also says that the project's mine if he can get it approved. He says he'll keep me informed. I won't hold my breath.
Oct 5, 2000 - I just started doing
CrossGen Chronicles and Mark Alessi calls me today to ask if I'd be
interested in working for his company full time. I'm seriously
considering his offer, but with JLA/Avengers being talked about
again, I'm not sure if I want to lock myself down in an exclusive
contract with CrossGen even though it's very enticing.
Oct 18, 2000 - Both DC and Marvel have now expressed interest in having me pencil JLA/Avengers,
but no one's even started talking about contracts yet. Also Mark [Waid]
just signed an exclusive with CrossGen , so Kurt would have to write it
solo. I wonder if this is just going to turn into another debacle.
Nov 22, 2000 - I've informed Marvel and
DC that if I don't receive a written agreement by Dec 15, I'll sign and
exclusive contract with CrossGen and won't be able to work on JLA/Avengers for at least two years.
FIRST THINGS FIRST…
written by Mike Cotton
What happened with the 1983 JLA/Avengers crossover?
In the early 1980s, it looked like nothing could stop a JLA/Avengers crossover- nothing but Marvel and DC Comics.
Following up on a very successful string of crossovers like 1976's
Superman vs Spider-Man and 1982's X-Men/New Teen Titans, Marvel and DC
agreed to a JLA/Avengers one-shot crossover.
Gerry Conway plotted the story and George Pérez was assigned to pencil
it, but before long, problems began to surface that would eventually
torpedo the project. Conway's initial plot, which reportedly revolved
around time travel and set the JLA/Avengers up in a Contest of Champions-style competition, took almost two years to complete.
By February of 1983, though, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was
finally able to review a plot - he refused it flatly, claiming the story
made no sense.
Everyone agreed that a revised plot was needed. Unfortunately, no one told that to Pérez who began drawing the rejected plot.
"It was excruciatingly annoy," says Pérez today, the only person to work
on both the original one-shot and the current four-issue crossover
shipping in September. "I drew 21 pages before I got the call to stop
Eventually writer Roy Thomas re-scripted the initial plot but the
infighting between Marvel & DC's editorial teams put the project in
Everyone from Pérez to Thomas to Shooter did interviews about the
project's continued delays and by May of 1984 both published officially
scuttled the one-shot.
Dec 15, 2000 - I finally received the contract for JLA/Avengers and I inform Mark Alessi I will go exclusive with CrossGen as of October 2002.
Jan 17, 2001 - While Kurt, Tom and Dan
[Raspler] work on a plot, I work on the first promo art for a joint
announcement at March's Orlando Megacon and Wizard #116 in March. I can
hardly believe I'm being paid for an actual piece of artwork for JLA/Avengers. This isn't a fan commission - this is the real deal!
Mar 2, 2001 - By the time we all get
together in Orlando to announce the project, everyone was already
talking about it. I guess a project this big can't be kept under wraps
for too long. And since Marvel and DC already announced they'd be
co-hosting a panel, most fans and pros have already put two and two
It eases my mind a little bit now that everyone knows JLA/Avengers
is a go again. Now that DC and Marvel have put their collective
reputations on the line, I don't see anything holding this project back
Mar 24, 2001 - as expected the plot is
taking a long time to be approved. I'm already receiving pieces, but I
can't get a real feel for the story without everything. I like what I
see so far, though.
Apr 6, 2001 - Wizard wants to run the first art from JLA/Avengers,
so I'm jumping ahead of my work to push through the pencils and inks on
the first two double-page spreads. I can't wait for fans to get a look
at this stuff. So far, I haven't drawn any pages of the JLA and
Avengers interacting, so we picked out pages of the JLA fighting a major
Marvel Villain (Terminus) and the Avengers taking on a major DC villain
Apr 8, 2001 - There's so many characters
in this series, I'm doing research like crazy. I literally couldn't
remember what Terminus looked like today!
Apr 15, 2001 - Marvel and DC have a very different vision of what the coloring on JLA/Avengers should look from mine and Tom Smith's. I feel bad that Tom's caught in the middle.
Apr 20, 2001 - I am growing increasingly
annoyed with the coloring on the two spreads we're sending Wizard for
their "First Look". When I voice my displeasure to Tom and Dan both
decide that Tom Smith and myself are more than welcome to make any
grievances public. I guess no one wants to be the person who has to go
to their bosses and say, "I'm the one responsible for George Pérez
quitting this book."
May 3, 2001 - I just finished page #21 of the first issue. As I wrote "JLA/Avengers issue #1, page #22"
on the next art board, I realized this is further than this project has
ever gone before. I called Tom Brevoort immediately to celebrate. This
is a landmark day!
May 17, 2001 - The plots are slowing down
and I don't think it's Kurt's fault. Dan Raspler doesn't want to
approve anything until he gets a complete plot. I'm getting annoyed. He
seemed to be very indecisive and that's something we can't allow with a
project this big.
May 21, 2001 - Since a holdup in plot
approval doesn't allow me to continue penciling, I start to ink what
I've already penciled for issue #1. I want this project to be "all
George Pérez", a complete representation of my art.
Jun 7, 2001 - Now that issue #1 is
penciled and I'm halfway through penciling issue #2, DC's business
department want to have a firm date when JLA/Avengers will ship,
but that's impossible at this point. There's no way this book should
have a ship date until we know it can ship. I tell Marvel and DC that
I'll walk away from the project if they don't hold to their word when
they said, "JLA/Avengers will ship when JLA/Avengers is ready to ship."
Jun 18, 2001 - I work on the first
meeting between the JLA and Avengers today, and Thor cracks Superman
with his hammer in a scene that's going to be huge! I would expect no
less from Kurt!
Jul 10, 2001 - As I'm inking the last
pages of issue #1, I learn I'm going to have to go back and redraw Green
Lantern's costume. DC recently updated his look and it'll need to be
reflected. After speaking with everyone involved, we agree that this
will be the last costume change we make. If costumes or characters
change from now on, they won't be reflected in the crossover.
Aug 1, 2001 - With the pencils on issue
#2 almost complete, I make preparations to take a brief vacation to
France with my wife this September. I look forward to taking some time
Sep 11, 2001 - As my wife and I prepare
to go to the airport we hear the news about the World Trade Center
disaster. I can't believe any of this. We cancel our trip.
THE NIGHT SHIFT
Jan 5, 2002 - Looking over my bank
records, I realized that I'm losing about 30 percent of my income now
that I'm only working on JLA/Avengers. I'm very worried about bankruptcy, I've called my art dealer and he's set me up doing some commissions pieces to help out.
Jun 3, 2002 - The plans for my new
CrossGen book, Solus, haven't been finalized yet, so I've got a
one-month reprieve to work on JLA/Avengers. Plot approval remains slow. I'm at a stand still on issue #3 pencils, and I continue inking #2.
Aug 20, 2002 - I draw the Batman versus Captain America fight today. This one will make the fanboys go crazy!
Batman Vs Captain America
Oct 1, 2002 - My CrossGen contract has gone back into effect. From now on, I'll only work on JLA/Avengers
at night and on weekends. I'm still penciling and inking issue #3. I'm
jazzed to be working on Solus with Barbara Kesel, but I wish I had a
little more time to devote to JLA/Avengers.
Mar 7, 2003 - I can't ever recall working longer days. I work on JLA/Avengers
off the clock constantly. Even when I sti down to watch TV with my wife
these, I find myself bring a board and pen with me to finish the inks
on issue #3.
Apr 23, 2003 - We're in the home stretch.
Although the final plot is still being worked on, I begin penciling the
first third of the JLA/Avengers #4. We decide to solicit the
project for September - the first issue debuting Sep 3 - and I'm
confident we can meet that deadline, but it's still going to be tight.
We may have to go to a six-week shipping schedule, but I'm sure each
issue will be worth the wait.
Jun 27, 2003 - Now that we're less than
three months away from shipping issue #1, I've finally got some
breathing room. Although most of my week is taken up working on Solus,
the pencils on JLA/Avengers #4 are coming along nicely and the inks on issue #3 are almost done.
Looking back, this has been one of the
most enjoyable and creative experiences of my 30-year career. People
ask me how I feel and I tell them to get back to me Sep 3, I'll feel a
lot better then.