Thursday, January 24, 2008

George Rears - 1980

sg George Rears The month on the cover says November, which implies a later summer, 1980 release. However, I remember this as a Fall issue…

I had turned thirteen that summer, and was finally getting used to living in my new town. I was still addicted to comic books, but I was still a DC guy in the world of Marvel Zombies.

The only thing I liked about the Marvel books was George Perez (I hadn’t discovered John Byrne on X-Men yet), and he had just came over to do The New Teen Titans. Having loved his run on Avengers, I could only dream about what George Perez would do with the Justice League. My favorite artist on my favorite book. That would be a combo.

The ironic thing about the whole thing is that I believe Justice League was my favorite book partly because it had the same artist on it from when I had started reading comics until then: Dick Dillin. Grell had left Legion, Novick was off of the Flash, Swan was doing Superman--but who else could do Superman other than Curt Swan? Historically, I now realize Aparo had still been on Brave and the Bold during the six years previous, though I wasn't buying it at the time--so let's not ruin the story.

So I'm riding in the car up to West Point New York, and I flip open the JLA 184, and wow. George Perez. Drawing the Justice League. And Darkseid. I couldn't believe it. I was all smiles as I read the book the first time. I was just as happy the second. Then about 15 minutes prior to arriving I started to read the letter page. Dick Dillin had died.
I felt guilty. Here I was enjoying this issue, totally oblivious to the circumstances that had caused it. This wasn't just a fill-in issue, or even just a creative change. Dick Dillin, the guy who told me stories every month for the past six years, would tell no more tales.

I remember being depressed that whole day. I also remember not being able to tell my parents why--they would never understand the closeness I felt to a person I had never met, talked to, or written to. The guilt went away, after a while. But I think part of my childhood died on that trip. Not only because the last connection to being a six-year-old discovering comics was gone, but rather because of a lesson learned: Be careful, sometimes you do get what you wish for.


Anonymous said...

Great story, George. I too remember being excited by the Perez art until I learned the reason why.

I was just putting together my own "comics and the end of childhood" story for Rob but I think I'll put it on the back burner for now. It won't be nearly as good as this one.

Nightwing said...

You think YOU feel guilty? I remember picking up this issue and thinking, "Yay! Finally an issue without Dick Dillin art!" Boy, did I feel like a schmuck when I learned why.

Still, in all honesty I have to confess I was more than ready for a change in art on JLA, and I loved George's entire run (which turned out to be a mere "blip" compared to Dick's tenure). I just wish the reason for Dillin's departure involved something more pleasant -- like maybe moving back to World's Finest, or re-launching The Losers or something.

Anyway, thanks for a great post and one I related to on a personal level. As soon as I saw that cover, I knew what memories *I* associated with it, and it turns out I wasn't alone.

The weird part is Dick would have to have already been gone a few months before we heard about it in that lettercol. It's easy to forget there was a time we didn't get this kind of news instantly.

Grears said...

I think when I picked this issue up I was just discovering comic shops, and I had yet to discover The Comic Reader or any other comic news source. It was weird reacting to new that was 3-4 months old. It didn't lessen the blow...

Vincent... I'd love to see your story. It's funny how comics resonate with major life milestones.

I still associate the Crisis on Infinite Earths with Graduation :)


rob! said...

yeah, vince, come on...make with the tears!

Anonymous said...

Well, it doesn't have the emotional kick of George's. It just sorta rambles along like most of my recollections. But I'll send it on over.