Mike Wieringo 1963-2007
It's always such a shock when someone leaves us suddenly, or at an early age. As many of you know by now, illustrator Mike Wieringo passed away of a sudden heart attack on Sunday. He was 44.
I wanted to say a few because Mike was a huge inspiration... his lively run on Spider-Man in the 90's was literally the first reason I seriously considered working in comics. I remember reading a story arc about a villain called 'Swarm', and being blown away at how Mike captured the action in such a clean-lined, friendly style. As a long-time animation buff, my eyes were opened to a whole different path for telling stories.
It turned out Mike was an alumni of my college, and some classmates and I had the good fortune to be there when he visited to talk about his experiences in the industry. Mike was his typical self-- warm, modest and encouraging-- and I remember being really charged by the advice and encouragement he gave. Even with all the people he must have met over the years, he always remembered those friends and me when we ran into him at conventions. Later, when I was working on my first indy book with Howard Shum in 2002, Mike gifted us with a 'Ringo-style guest cover, definitely one of the highlights of my career so far. The original art for that cover traditionally holds a special place over my desk.
The comics industry as a whole has suffered a great loss with Mike's passing. It moves on now without his enthusiasm for comics as a positive medium, his ever-willing mentorship, and some intriguing story ideas of his that were just beginning to evolve. His take on famous characters was both classic and fresh, and even 'extras' in the background seemed to have their own life and story behind the scenes. That subtle, appealing style of his was still growing and being refined-- though in my opinion, the trends of the industry never really gave him a chance to cut loose.
So tough to see Mike go... as humble and approachable as he was, I couldn't help feeling intimidated when we had the chance to talk; I wish I had gotten to know him better.
Here's hoping heaven has a little slice of Tellos waiting for you, Mike. Godspeed.