Archive interview of George Perez from
Magazines > Westfield > WORLDS OF WESTFIELD vol 20, #4 (Apr 2000) >
JUN 2000 Product
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Westfield: What can you tell us about Crimson Plague?
Plague, which was originally launched in 1997 under the Event
banner, is being relaunched under the Gorilla banner. It’s still going to
be a limited series although how many issues I’m still not quite sure. The
story’s gotten a little out of hand. It’s a finite series. How finite,
you’ll find out probably about the same time I do [laughs]. It deals with
a genetically altered young woman whose blood is toxic and corrosive to the
touch. The thing that makes this a little different from the usual fare is
that when she reaches her menstrual cycle, that toxicity becomes an airborne
virus capable of destroying an entire planet in the course of a day.
That’s the plague. One of the problems is, she’s getting closer and
closer to earth. Why is she getting closer to earth? I don’t want to tip
my hand, but when the people of earth find out, and they find out about the
plague, that’s the last place they want her to be. In the story, the
character’s only 5 actual years old. She had grown to full adult size in 5
years and so her cycle has yet to be measured; they don’t know what
frequency it is. There’s no way of finding out until it’s too late. From
there on, things get a little hairy.
Westfield: As you mentioned, Crimson Plague was started before and then stopped. What happened?
The actual launching of the first issue would have been held back, if it had come out at all, if it weren’t for the fact that the premiere issue was tied into a charity event and I couldn’t screw the charity. So I decided to take my lumps and let the first issue come out knowing full well I was going to be in trouble with the second issue. I couldn’t let the Firefighters Burned Children’s Fund suffer because of my bad planning. On the good side, I managed to raise over $3500 for the Burned Children’s Fund because of that first issue. It served a purpose. Even though a second issue had been completed, by that point it had gotten so late, and in order to survive I had to start taking on regular assignments, including eventually the Avengers, that Crimson Plague did not become a priority book anymore because I had to get myself out of a financial quagmire. Thankfully, because both of the success of the Avengers and the fact that under Gorilla I am being paid money in advance of royalties, so I am getting paid a page rate on Crimson Plague, I can actually afford to do it again. And hopefully because of my higher profile in the industry again because of the Avengers, it will do better than it did the first time. It didn’t do badly for a premiere issue of a book at that time.
Westfield: How did you get connected with Gorilla?
Westfield: One of the interesting things about Crimson Plague is that you’re using real people as the models for the characters. How did that come about?
Because I was using her, I found a small role for her husband, who had a totally different role than he would get later on. I think it finally came together when I went to a dance party at a studio my wife was taking classes in and saw another lovely young lady named Shannon Lower and talked to her. I found out she was fascinated with the idea of being a comic book character, so thus she became the main adversary for Dina’s character. I found that so many people were enthralled by the idea that I thought, “this is a great gimmick.” And everyone said, “I can buy multiple copies for my family.” It would be a stupid thing not to act upon [laughs]. At final count, I’ve closed the casting for Crimson Plague despite still getting people sending me photos, the cast of Crimson Plague is 240 people. Hopefully they have at least 5 family members each, and also knowing that half a dozen to ten of the people own comic book shops, this could really, really help the sales of Crimson Plague [laughter]. And I’ve gotten people from all walks of life, not only comic book fans. There’s an airline stewardess who just happened to be a stewardess on a flight when I was coming back from a convention in Texas; a man who moved in our furniture; our gardener; my dentist; all these people are becoming characters in Crimson Plague. A few are professional models, but for the most part, I’ve got people from all walks of life and even some internationally. I do have at least 1 or 2 cast members from Britain, 2 from Spain, and 2 or 3 from France who all wanted to be members of this group.
Westfield: Is this your first creator owned project?
Pérez: It’s my first sole creator owned project. The first was Sachs & Violens with Peter David.
Westfield: After being in the business for all this time, why did you finally decide to take the plunge with your own characters?
Westfield: Do you have any other comments on Crimson Plague?
Pérez: The one thing I want to do with Crimson Plague is keep people guessing. It can’t be pigeonholed that easily. It has the makings of a bit of a horror story, science fiction, there are super heroes involved in the story, and a mystery. There’s a lot going on in there. The one thing that I appreciate is that it’s making me a better artist because, as people well know, I’m known for drawing not only a lot of detail, but a lot of crowds. When I work on the Avengers, for example, if I’m asked to draw a crowd, I’ll draw 15 individual faces. Now if I were to draw a crowd with 15 people in Crimson Plague, that means it’s 15 times I have to go for photo reference. The same scene will now take me at least 3 times longer. I’ve learned a lot more about faces by doing it this way. And despite the gory subject matter, which could be controversial because of the biological factors of the story, I still want to try to make it as accessible to everyone as possible, knowing that it is not recommended for children under a certain age. For example, for the cover that I did on the original Event #1, Dina was standing over a bloody skeleton. If that bloody skeleton does not turn a person away, that’s about as bad as it ever gets [laughs]. The violence and the bloodshed is over the top and I don’t try to hide it. On the cover for the new first issue, attackers are walking over a mountain of decayed, rotting corpses, still done in enough shadow effect so it isn’t totally disgusting, but that’s still about as far as it need go. Because I’m using real people, and I know that many of these people will want to show this to their families, there are certain things I will not do. I will not have nudity in the story with any real character, because while they may not mind it, a grandfather might. Some of the models who are being portrayed here have done nudity in their own profession, but they’re looking forward to having something they can show their children or their nephews and nieces.
Westfield: Do you have any other projects coming up?
Westfield: Are you still enjoying working on Avengers?
Pérez: As long as I work with Kurt Busiek, I enjoy the Avengers. I’m having a grand time with the stories we’re working on currently. I get to exercise other artistic muscles since we’re dealing with a Hyborian Age-type background. All my days of reading Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan are coming back to me now. Kurt actually looked at it and said, “some day you’ve got to do a Conan story. You’re having way too much fun with this.”
Westfield: So you have no plans to leave Avengers any time soon?
Pérez: That’s not something I have to worry about until August 1st when my contract expires with Marvel. At that point, it depends on where everything is. Also on what Kurt’s plans are too. As long as Kurt’s on the book, chances are I will be. Now, I’ve left it very gracefully on poor Kurt’s shoulders [laughter].
Westfield: Any closing comments?