Five years ago today the comic book industry lost a legend, and I lost a friend. Below is my ’07 remembrance to the late GREAT Mike Wieringo. We Miss You Mike…
Why We Do What We Do…
CHERISH YESTERDAY, DREAM TOMORROW, LIVE TODAY
Sensational Spider-Man no. 21. That was it. That was the issue that marked my first professional collaboration with Mike 10 years ago. As the “guest inker” on that particular book, it was a huge deal for me for 3 reasons…
1) It was a popular title that already had an established creative team in Todd Dezago, Mike Wieringo and Richard Case and I did not want to disappoint.
2) Mike requested me personally.
3) Mike was, is, and always will be one of my favorite artists. Not just from a professional aspect, in that he was an absolute joy to work with, but mainly because I was such a big fan.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the main reason any of us do what we do in this business is because we love it so much. Mike loved comics. It showed in everything he worked on from Impulse and The Flash to Spider-Man, Superman and Tellos. He was (like most of us) a fan himself. At times that can be a bitter pill to swallow, because in tandem with this ongoing love-fest are several outside factors that might cause one to question why we “love” this medium as much as we do. If I may borrow a quote from my friend Jeff Smith (I don’t think he’ll mind); “Deadlines can be brutal, but the day has not yet dawned that I put ink to paper without the same childlike enthusiasm and curiosity that led me to pick up a pencil in the first place. This drive may be part and parcel of being a cartoonist; certainly no one I’ve ever met in our profession pursued this bastard child of art and literature because they were encouraged to by the higher education system, or because they thought it would raise their social status. Comic books are a child only a mother could love. Fortunately, most of us in this corner of the cartooning world are huge mothers and regard every line with surpassing joy.”
I first met Mike back in 1994 at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. I became a fan of his work from the first time I saw it. We’ve worked together off and on over the years and recently re-connected this past year to do a few projects at Marvel. We’ve attended conventions together, traded artwork, and at times (especially while on the job) shared pleasant conversation. Comic books, for the most part, are a collaborative art form. If I were to look back on the books I enjoyed as a child, I would recall a sense of care and attention to detail in the visuals that got me hooked from the beginning. That’s no accident. In fact, it is the very same feeling I felt each and every time I worked with Mike. He had me hooked from the beginning. As collabs go, each artist is a complement to the other. The penciler complements the writer, the inker complements the penciler, and the colorist complements everybody. When artists work together, who have a mutual love, respect, admiration and appreciation for each other’s abilities, you get beautiful work. Period.
All that being said, thank you Mike (and Todd) for asking me to be part of TELLOS. If I were to hang up the brushes tomorrow and call it a career, then collaborating with you on YOUR very own project will have been the high point. I’m very proud of that work and I believe it showed in every single page we produced together. I have so much respect for you as an Artist, a Friend and a Human Being. Whether or not you truly understood or accepted it, your work touched many, all over the world and continues to do so. Godspeed to you my brother. I will miss you dearly.