There has been a real renaissance at BOOM! Studios with female lead characters. What do you think is the reason for such a change in the industry?
GEORGE PEREZ: Look at all the popular mediums for female characters. Books. Movies. You find a very strong female following. Comics have to start catching up. Particularly now, companies like BOOM! who are not bound to a continuous universe, they can have so many different books and so many different audiences. Not every BOOM! book appeals to everyone, but everyone can find something they like there. They have this enormous candy store with so many different treatments. I’ve done covers for them. I did children’s lines, KaBOOM! books. Day Men. No two books are alike. My book is female centric, but it is not the only one there at the moment. The landscape has changed. Unlike Marvel and DC, and not to denigrate either of those companies in any way, there is no corporate mandate to have an intermingled cohesive universe. Everyone gets to create something of their own, with so many different voices and the more voices we hear the better the chorus will sound.
What other projects are you working on?
GEORGE PEREZ: These days, I turn down more work than I can accept. I’m very lucky. I am dedicating my time to Sirens. I don’t have to draw for a living. I can live on royalties and work on Sirens. I can draw comics for the sheer love of it.
Can you pitch Sirens in 5 words or less?
GEORGE PEREZ: Counting on my fingers . . . Futuristic super babes with guns
You have such intricate backgrounds in all your work. How has your process changed over the years?
GEORGE PEREZ: Two things. First the advancement in the printing process. When I used to draw all the detailed work a lot of it got obliterated by the printing presses of the day. When digital printing came in, I was able to put in much more detail. Now, I do a lot of digital cleaning up of the work. I have had to find ways around my vision problems after my eye surgery. So now, I scan it and blow it up larger on the computer so I can focus on the details. I am very proud that people who see the first issue can’t tell it is done by a visually impaired man. I had to find another way to do George Perez-style work even though George Perez’s body is rebelling against him at every turn. I don’t want people to think I’d ever slack off. I love drawing so much, and I want you all to get what you paid for.
Who did you decide to both write and pencil Sirens?
GEORGE PEREZ: So many friends have been bugging me to write again, since I have only drawn for a while. I wanted to make this my vision and tell my story. I have had writers volunteer to help me with Sirens. Since it has my name, I wanted to make it all me. In the future I may work with others, but, for now, it is my baby and I want to make it all my own. Of course, I’d be willing work with another writer if someone comes to me with a beautiful idea. When i was offered Teen Titans, I didn’t think we’d last 6 issues, but Marv Wolfman told me to stick with it. Look where we are now. I thank Marv every day for that. So, you never know.
What character of yours would you want the Sirens to interact with?
GEORGE PEREZ: Titans/Sirens would sell like gangbusters, but it would never happen. Those who followed my self-publishing career from years ago should look out for some of my characters to appear. Characters I’ve wanted to follow up with.
Can you tell us about the inspiration for the Draggos from Issue #1?
GEORGE PEREZ: They are one of those cool things that popped up in my head. The idea that dragons from myth are actually aliens from another planet that we mistook for Dragons. In fact, they were inspired by a drawing I did for Dragon Con, a con badge drawing. I drew my wife as a mystic belly dancer with a dragon. The idea of a mystic with a dragon was inspired by that drawing. That inspired me to create the character of Vanisha. Which led to the creation of the Draggo race. It is one of those creative inspirations where one thing led to another. I love that with Sirens, I am creating new ideas again. Not manufacturing comics, creating. I get to ask “What if?” and explore that.
How did you choose the time traveling characters?
GEORGE PEREZ: Certain historical times I just wanted in the book . The old west was a simpler time, and I wanted to do a Prairie teacher. I wanted a roman gladiator. I wanted to try something in Japan, because I have never drawn feudal Japan before. I wanted to explore the art of the Geisha. The woman I modeled her after even explained to me that I was mispronouncing her character’s name. I wanted to challenge myself.
If the series is a success, would you think about bringing other people on board or would you want to keep it as your project?
GEORGE PEREZ:Ideally, I'd want to control it myself. That's not to say I wouldn't work with somebody else if the situation warranted it. If demand is high, then I can't supply everything if demand is so high. This first story arc, I actually do have somebody helping me at one point, because one of the characters is a comic book artist. So, I am having somebody helping me there in order to create the comic within the comic.
What brought you back to comics?
GEORGE PEREZ: I was getting so creatively unfulfilled for too long. I want to do everything at once -- for better or for ill. If it succeeds, fantastic. If it doesn't, at least I've given it another try. But, I want to at least give everything. Even when I did Wonder Woman, at first I did everything and then I went down to writing. In that case, it was a monthly series and I had to face the reality of how much I can actually do. I'm 60 years old now -- I'm still a youngster -- but still feeling the fact I've been in this industry awhile. At some time, I will have to face the fact that some of the stuff I may have to share, but right now I'm going to be greedy! Hopefully, if I do work with somebody else, I've given a foundation that'll make it easier for them to understand the characters and how they can expand on it. Time will tell. Right now I just got to work on this series and hope it succeeds. And, if it succeeds, then all of these other questions can be answered.
How important are your family and friends to the artistic process?
GEORGE PEREZ: Obviously, I would not be here without my wife. We have no children, but we have lots of family and friends. That is why I did a team book. The social dynamic has been so important to me. I have learned so much from everyone I know. Many fans have inspired me. I want this book to be a love letter to them.
What qualities do you like from Wonder Woman that you put into Sirens?
GEORGE PEREZ: I like that Wonder Woman sees patience and understanding as a stronger virtue than action. Tolerance and thinking something through before you attack. WW’s first attack was always reserved, because she didn’t want to really hurt someone until she knew how much of a threat they were. I had to learn religious tolerance with Wonder Woman. I had to learn about different religions. How does a person with built-in prejudice deal with that? I wanted to explore that in Sirens.
What is the most difficult thing you as a writer have made you as the artist draw for Sirens?
GEORGE PEREZ: Every page. I have vision issues and made myself do so much research and get the details right. I will be a better artist at the end of this, because I forced myself to draw it. At least I know I tried. Oh my gosh. The horses. i hate drawing horses, but I wrote a western scene so I made myself draw horses. I love that challenge.
When all is said and done with the limited series, what do you hope readers will take away from the experience?
GEORGE PEREZ: I hope they enjoy the story and it made them think. I hope they feel they've actually read something as opposed to just scanned through something. It's a very dense story. And, with any luck, I hope they want more. Even if the reviews aren't positive, I think no one can accuse me of phoning it in. That I actually worked as hard as I could to produce what I thought was a product that some people would enjoy. That's all I can ever expect. One of the things I've learned from working in the industry is that you can't predict what's going to sell. Just do the best you can and if the fans like it, they'll take it to the next step. That's all I can ever expect and I never ever feel like the fans owe me anything. If they like it, it's my job to please them. If they don't like it, then it's my job to try harder next time.