The George Perez interview at the Superman Day in Metropolis has made the rounds of the big comic sites (here is the link at Bleeding Cool: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/06/24/george-perez-talking-about-being-rewritten-at-dc-comics/). The entire interview is available at a number of sites but Bleeding Cool does a good job of parsing out the pieces that intrigued me the most, parts that dealt with Perez run on the New 52 Superman title.
Now I didn't particularly like that run on the book. It seemed inscrutable, there were parts that made no sense, and there were parts that were focused on that seemed inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. At the time I wondered just why an arc like that would have been the foundation for the re-introduction of Superman to the DCU. Perez opened up about the problems with this arc in that interview.
First he comments about rewrites:
Unfortunately when you are writing major characters, you sometimes have to make a lot of compromises and I was made certain promises, and unfortunately not through any fault of Dan DiDio, he was no longer the last word, lot of people making decisions, going against each other, contradicting, again in mid story. The people who love my Superman arc, I thank you. What you read, I don’t know. After I wrote it… I told them here’s my script, if you change it, that’s your prerogative, don’t tell me. Don’t ask me to edit it, don’t ask me to correct it, I don’t want to change something that you’re going to change again if you disagree. No no, Superman is a big character, I was flattered by the responsibility, but I thought this was getting a little tough.
I find it interesting that Perez's scripts were under such high scrutiny, that he had to get through not only his own editor but also Dan Didio and other people who also had 'the last word'. Who are these people? And if one decision was made for the first issue and that decision was reversed for issue two ...well, no wonder the book felt completely disjointed. Perez even didn't want to be told about changes! I suppose the question is ... just what were these changes? Would the purely Perez story be better? Were the rewrites needed? Or at least part of them?
I am sure the truth is in the middle somewhere.
Here he talks about his short leash on the book:
I didn’t mind the changes in Superman, I just wish it was the same decision issue 1 or issue 2, and I had to kept rewriting things because another person changed their mind, and that was a lot tougher, it wasnt the same as doing Wonder Woman, I was given a full year to get Wonder Woman established before enfolded into the DC Universe properly, I had a wonderful editor Karen Berger who ran shotgun for me. They wanted me to recreate what I did through Wonder Woman, but it’s not the same age, not the same atmosphere, I couldn’t do it any more, and the writer who replaced me, Keith Giffen, was very nice. I’ve known Keith since we both started in the industry, he called me up when they asked him to do Superman to make sure I wasn’t being fired off Superman. And regrettable I did have to tell him I can’t wait to get off Superman. It was not the experience I wanted it to be.
One of the things that has bothered me about the New 52 has been the extreme short leash that some creators had on their books. Before many of these titles had a chance to gel and find an audience, the directions were changed or the creative teams were removed. I have wondered why DC didn't let these books have a longer time to find their way ... or, more importantly, why 'the powers that be' didn't recognize that a premise wasn't going to work. So to read that Perez was given carte blanche for a year when he redid Wonder Woman, that he got his chance then, was interesting. Is the market so volatile now that a book can't breathe for a bit? That creators can't get to a point where some of their vision is achieved? Or are the people deciding on which books get a green light making the right decisions if things need to be blown up so quickly?
Here Perez talks about the creative freedom he was promised on the title:
It was what they had promised me in the New 52 version of Superman. I had no idea Grant Morrison was going to be working on another Superman title, I had no idea I was doing it five years ahead, which means, my story I couldn’t do certain things without knowing what he did, and Grant wasn’t telling everybody, so I was kind of stuck,who exists, DC couldn’t give me answers. Oh my gosh, you’re deciding all these things and you mean even you don’t know what’s going on in your books… so I became very frustrated…
I have to admit that the different timelines in the DC books have been confusing at times. At one point we had the present Superman in the Perez book, a younger Superman in Justice League, and a younger Superman in Action. Perez was sort of handcuffed because he didn't know what Morrison was going to do or not do. Could Perez use Kryptonite? The Parasite? Luthor? Or did DC allow Morrison to have the 'first' appearance of everything? I guess I can understand Perez's frustration.
And as much as I am loving Action, it isn't really reading like Man of Steel or Superman Secret Origin. He doesn't seem to be in a rush to establish this Superman and some of the more familiar parts of his mythos. So when will things be caught up such that everyone who wants to write Superman is playing on the same field?
Lastly, I liked this part where Perez talks about receiving scripts:
Somebody else basically to tell someone like I am, how to draw or choreograph a comic book. I think I’ve been doing it enough time. There are a lot of artists in my position having the same experience. Let us do we’ve been doing, in my case for going on four decades and have have a modicum amount of success in it. I’m glad that in the case of World’s Finest, the one thing at least they allow me to do was is to work with someone like Paul Levitz, who been there the same amount of time I’ve been and who understands sometimes the best stories are the ones that surprise both the writer and the artist as well.
It sounds like Perez feels artistically stifled by full scripts where writers delineate everything including panel breakdown. Unfortunately the current standard is for full scripts.
That's why Perez is currently happy on Worlds' Finest. Levitz provides complete scripts but let's Perez make some decisions on how the book should be layed out and look. Perez says that Levitz trusts him and will rewrite something to fit Perez art. I wonder if that ability to change scripts on the fly, to allow some artistic freedom, is reserved only for veterans like Levitz or for everyone.
Anyways, I don't mind these looks into the creative process even if it as ugly a process as this sounds like. It certainly doesn't sound like there was much harmony between the editors and creators in those early Superman issues.