Filmmaker and comic book writer Kevin Smith praised legendary comic book artist George Pérez as "an absolute sweetheart" in a heartfelt segment on Smith's Fatman Beyond podcast. Pérez, best known for his work on titles like The New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and JLA/Avengers, passed away last week at his home in Florida after a months-long battle with cancer. Tributes to Pérez, who is widely regarded as one of the best American comic book artists in the history of the medium, have poured in from around the globe since his death on May 6.
Smith's comments came on the heels of a moving remembrance of Pérez from co-host Marc Bernardin, who also read a statement from Pérez's family.
"He was one of the good ones," Smith said. "An absolute legend of course in the art form, whose work on WW, whose work on Crisis, whose work on the aforementioned Infinity Gauntlet...stellar, titanic, Mount Rushmore work. But the thing you hear time and time again and that I knew personally from all the folks on Comic Book Men, and also from having met George in real life...he was such a nice guy. Such an absolute sweetheart; we actually still have his shirt hanging up at the Stash. In the episode, he gave us one of his shirts...and it's still hanging up at the shirt. What a gentle giant he was -- and I don't mean giant in size, I mean giant in f---ing career. And this was a guy who, from all reports, if he was going through a con and people were like 'George!' he would come over and tag something, then keep going. Just a damn sweetheart. They had a thing for him not too long ago, where Jim McLauchlin, a friend of ours, invited me to go see him and unfortunately I had a family thing and I couldn't make it out....You're tempted to just focus on, it sucks to lose a legend, but it's amazing we had that guy at all. Look at the work he produced, that will live forever. His renditions of some of our favorite characters set the standard, and he set the standard, at least personally it seemed, with the fan base. He always had time for people who appreciated his work, always had time to represent the art form. Lovely dude."
You can see the podcast below.
Pérez announced his cancer diagnosis in December, revealing that he had stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Pérez told fans at the time that he had elected to forego chemotherapy, which he was told had a low chance of success, and instead spend as much quality time as he could with his family, friends, and fans. In the time since he announced his illness, Pérez spent time with his family, friends, and fans. He also visited the DC offices, taking numerous pictures that have run in tributes to the artist.
"On November 29th, I received confirmation that, after undergoing surgery for a blockage in my liver, I have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer," Pérez told fans via Facebook. "It is surgically inoperable, and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year. I have been given the option of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, but after weighing all the variables and assessing just how much of my remaining days would be eaten up by doctor visits, treatments, hospital stays, and dealing with the often stressful and frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system, I've opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possibly with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends, and my fans."
In 2019, Pérez announced his retirement from comic books, citing failing eyesight and other health issues. He continued to make convention appearances (where possible, given the Covid-19 pandemic), and to take on commissions and do signings.