This DVD is a companion to the similarly named book. It’s a great idea — there’s nothing like seeing an artist work for learning more about him and his craft.
Here’s an excerpt from the back cover copy:
… gives you a personal tour of George’s studio, and lets you watch step-by-step as the fan-favorite artist illustrates a special issue of Top Cow’s Witchblade. Also, see George as he sketches for fans at conventions, and hear his peers and colleagues — including Marv Wolfman and Ron Marz — share their anecdotes and personal insights along the way.
I was most interested in the peer commentary, myself, since I’m not very interested in Witchblade. I picked this up at Heroes Con, where I spoke to DVD Narrator and TwoMorrows Editor Eric Nolen-Weathington about it. He informed me that there would have been rights issues involved if they’d shown too much DC or Marvel work, so they selected a title where they could more easily come to an agreement.
The DVD opens with Eric taking us into George Pérez’s studio. I noticed right off some fuzziness in the picture as the camera moved, but once they’re inside, that goes away. (And really, who cares about walking into the house? It’s just setting the stage.)
The two spend some time looking at the artwork on the walls. What’s shown is mainly pinups of scantily clad female characters; again, the DC/Marvel issue may be in play here. There is an amazing copy of the poster from History of the DC Universe, signed by many classic creators, and a Legion of Super-Heroes character sheet. Oddly, when they’re explaining the history of Crimson Plague, focusing on how everyone was based on real people, they don’t show the item that George is pointing at and talking at length about except in a brief cutaway, probably because it’s surrounded by DC items.
After that, it’s off to MegaCon, where a wordless sequence establishes that he sits at a table and has fans lining up for him. I can’t imagine someone buying this DVD who isn’t already familiar with Pérez, so I’m not sure what purpose this serves. After a slow start, though, the disc gets into its promised meat, with scenes in the studio alternating with footage from other venues, a good choice to keep viewers interested. Much of the time features George pencilling a page (on CrossGen-branded boards, heh) and talking about his artistic choices.
He draws much more slowly than I expected, by the way, but it was interesting to hear him briefly mention the conflict between Witchblade as a “warrior woman” and her sexy costuming.
Technically, I had some problems with the disc. The Scene Selection screen didn’t work at all on my DVD player (a two-year-old Panasonic), and the text on the Biography screen was near unreadable. It looked as though it had been vertically squished (or horizontally stretched). The Pictures section was navigable, but only if I used the Enter key. On movie discs, I’m usually able to use the left and right arrow keys to navigate through similar sections, a feature I missed. As with the Bio section, text was painful to try to read online.
The Pictures consist of cover roughs for the four JLA/Avengers comics, a Crimson Plague pinup, 12 pages of the unpublished Crimson Plague #3 (that appears to be all that was done), a mislabeled sequence showing three stages of a JLA/Avengers page from pencils to inks, and a handful of pages of very early work. I didn’t check to see if these pieces are duplicated in the book (because I can’t find it right now).
Jim McLaughlin shows up in one of the MegaCon segments delivering a public service announcement for ACTOR. Turns out George is one of the organization’s Board of Directors and has done an incredible amount of fundraising for them, but I spent several minutes wondering what the connection was before it was explained. There’s also a full interview with Ron Marz, the writer of the Witchblade issue George is illustrating.
Mark Waid appears in the convention scenes. Bless him for starting by introducing himself and providing context for everything he says for those who don’t recall all the details of George’s career themselves. (Marv Wolfman, on the other hand, seems to assume a great level of knowledge on the listener’s part.) Waid is also animated and fun to listen to.
Phil Jimenez appears last, talking about how to balance his fan love of George’s work with the need to be professional while now working with him. He nicely explains some of the key points in George’s career. Jimenez is in a unique position, being the artist who most obviously has been influenced by George’s style, and his ability to coherently explain his thoughts about that result in a segment that’s my favorite on the disc and an excellent choice for a conclusion.
Some might dismiss this as “two hours of George muttering to himself”, but it’s a valuable attempt to provide information about an artist and his process in a different format. It requires a lot of patience and a high level of interest in his work to not fast-forward some of it, though. I also wish that they’d shown the final piece we’ve seen George working on all this time.