George Perez, the legendary comic book artist known for helping to reshape the DC universe, has died. He was 67. Photo courtesy George Perez/Facebook
May 7 (UPI) -- George Perez, the legendary comic book artist known for helping to reshape the DC universe, has died. He was 67.
His death, which came after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, was announced by Constance Eza, a friend of the comic artist who managed his social media accounts.
"Constance here, with the update no one wants to read. George passed away yesterday, peacefully at home with his wife of 490 months and family by his side. He was not in pain and knew he was very, very loved," Eza said.
"We are all very much grieving but, at the same time, we are so incredibly grateful for the joy he brought to our lives. To know George was to love him; and he loved back. Fiercely and with his whole heart. The world is a lot less vibrant today without him in it."
Eza said that Perez loved seeing drawings that his fans had sent him and "was deeply proud to have brought so much joy to so many."
"Everyone knows George's legacy as a creator. His art, characters and stories will be revered for years to come. But, as towering as that legacy is, it pales in comparison to the legacy of the man George was," Eza said.
"George's true legacy is his kindness. It's the love he had for bringing others joy -- and I hope you all carry that with you always."
It was "fitting" that Perez died just before Free Comic Book Day, Eza said, calling the day when comic book stores give a free comic book to fans "a day George absolutely loved."
A memorial service will be held for the public at MEGACON Orlando on May 22.
DC Comics paid tribute to the beloved artist in a message posted to Twitter and said that he "made everything look effortless."
"His contributions were pivotal in both driving and reinventing DC's long and rich history. George's stories were a joy to read, and his work resonated with everyone he met," the company said. "He will be missed by those here at DC and fans worldwide."
Perez had written a lengthy letter to fans in December revealing that he had Stage 3 pancreatic cancer.
"It is surgically inoperable and my estimated life expectancy is between 6 months to a year," Perez said at the time.
The artist said he had been given the option of undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy but had decided not to undergo the treatments.
"I've opted to just let nature take its course and I will enjoy whatever time I have left as fully as possible with my beautiful wife of over 40 years, my family, friends and my fans," he wrote.
Before his death, the artist arranged with an agent to refund money paid for sketches he was unable to finish because of his diagnosis.
Perez was born in the South Bronx in New York City in June 1954 and got his start as a studio assistant at Marvel in his teens.
He published his first comic book work in 1974 and began drawing for Marvel's Avengers in 1975 before working on the Fantastic Four series.
His first collaboration with writer Marv Wolfman came while working on a Fantastic Four Annual published in 1979.
In 1980, Perez began working for Marvel rival DC Comics and is credited with launching the New Teen Titans series with Wolfman. Together, the pair created characters including Cyborg, Raven and Starfire.
Perez and Wolfman then together worked on DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths -- a series which massively restructured the publisher's multiverse and killed off a host of major characters.
He then played a key role in the 1987 reboot of Wonder Woman, which tied the character more closely to Greek mythology.
His work on the Wonder Woman character was credited as an influence for the success of the 2017 film starring Gal Gadot by the director of the blockbuster.
In the 1990s, Perez briefly worked on the six-issue Infinity Gauntlet series for Marvel Comics, which was one of the series adapted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before returning to the Avengers.
In his career, Perez also worked on several other high-profile properties for Marvel and DC Comics including the characters of Superman and the Green Arrow.
Greek composer Vangelis Papathanassiou greets fans at the end of his historic concert, taking place at ancient Athens' Temple of Zeus, in Athens, Greece on June 28, 2001. The Greek Oscar-winning composer died
on May 19 at the age of 79. Photo by Simela Pantzartzi/EPA