Memories of Mike

Memories of Mike

“I don’t know how I met Mike, but I always remember idolizing him-as all of us artists did/do- because of his amazing ability to draw anything (people, cars, spacecraft, animals, children, etc.) amazingly well and with appeal.  I just remember somehow getting his phone number and talking for hours the first time we spoke.  Then he offered to draw a pinup for my indy self-published comic book.  For free?  From a industry legend?  And then he asked me to do a pinup for his book- Tellos?  I would have paid HIM for that!  This is why I will never forget Mike.  He did that for many, many people.  Selfishness was not in his DNA. God bless you Mike.  You are missed and needed in this world. ”

-Tom Bancroft (Disney animator, Character Designer, Comic artist, Author)

Like a lot of folks, I met Mike at a convention as just another fan of his work. And like SOOOO many folks like myself do, I gave him copies of some of my own comics. I wanted to share with an inspiration, so of the things his work inspired. But UNLIKE so many folks you meet at conventions, Mike paid attention to what I gave him and offered his gratitude. That let to talking online, on the phone and at future conventions. It led to advice and conversations. It led to the very basics of the friendship that Mike so freely shared with so many folks. 

As both a person and and artist, Mike was exactly who so many of us wish we could be. His heart was so genuine and free and he is missed in a way that’s difficult to put down in words. I only wish he could see the impact both his inimitable work and warm spirit has had on those that knew him.

– Dee Fish (Writer/Artist/Storyteller – “The Wellkeeper”)

“The thing that is magical about our comic book industry, is many of us…all of us…were first readers and fans of these wonderful four color funny book adventures. Of the characters and the creators that work on them. And if we’re lucky, we even get a chance to work with the people we’re a fan of, as was my case. I had followed Mike’s work on a range of titles, from Spidey to Superman, and as an ambitious artist that wanted to break into the industry as an inker, Mike’s pencils were desired. The life and bounce and fun he brought to the linework was always apparent. So it was a shock when samples I had inked of Tellos found favor, to have Mike call me up personally to offer me the opportunity to work on Tellos near the end of its run. I remember Mike to be a sweetheart to talk to over the phone, and it came at a time when I was struggling in my freelance pursuits. I was working a mind numbing grave shift job, coming home tired and depressed on a daily basis, and wondering if I’d ever be able to pursue comics as a career, when his call came. I was already a fan of Mike and Tellos as a reader, but now could be a part of it as a fellow professional. I never got to thank Mike in person. But he left us with a mountain of work to cherish, and a small part of it that I am proud to be a part of.”

– Derek Fridolfs (Comic Book Artist & Writer)

“Now there are two things you should know before I go further; 1. I was a HUGE X-Men fan and Rogue was my favorite character (well her and Cyclops, but I’m digressing.) 2. I’m a huge Beatles fan as well.

Now that’s out of the way; I remember being a young girl standing in one of my local comic shops and scouring the shelves for something new to read. Of course, what should my wandering eyes see but the pretty as hell Rogue miniseries Issue #1 foil cover by none other than Mike Wieringo (and as well know, the trademark “Ringo” signature scrolled along the bottom!)

 Well talk about home-run! I’m sure I had read and enjoyed comics illustrated by Mike before that, but that moment stands out in my mind as the first time I fell in love with his art. In a time of McFarlanes and Lees, Mikes work was so refreshing! It wasn’t cartoony, but it wasn’t what I had come to know as “comic-booky” either. It was this beautiful and magical middle ground that, in a lot of ways, set the path down which I would pursue my own craft. 

While I never had the privilege to meet Mike in person, years after this moment, I happened to be posting my work on some online drawing forum. Let’s say it was or something to that effect. I remember posting a drawing and looking for some critiques, when Mike Wieringo took his time out to not only compliment my work, but he also provided me with some fantastic constructive critiques!

I’ll never forget it to this day; Mike Wieringo – legend – taking the time out to say something to little old me – a nobody – about my work! It’s just one of many similar stories telling what a wonderful person and role model he was for all of us. And he is greatly missed.”

– Lauren Gramprey (Storyboard Artist & Animator at Nickelodeon)

“I met Mike briefly at a comic convention in the late 1990s. I remember being super impressed with his original artwork and thankful for his kind words of encouragement at a time when I needed it most.”

-Alex Ogle (Illustrator)

I was working at a comic book store in 1993 when the first issue of The Flash by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo hit the shelves.  I was blown away! I soon learned that Mike lived about 40 minutes away from me and was part of Artamus Studios, based out of little downtown Hillsborough, NC.

Through friends I was able to meet Mike at his studio and visit him over the years. He gave me my first portfolio review which was very positive, but way too kind.

During the time of no cellphones, no e-mail and no social media, I heard through the comic grapevine that Mike wanted me to work with him on a 6-page Street Fighter story. He would do the layouts and I would do the finishes. Unfortunately, it was too late. Still, it meant the world to me that he offered.

Through Mike I met Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau and so on down the line. It’s was a friendship that paid dividends with more friendships.

I was blessed to know him. He was an inspiration, he was a friend and he is missed.

– Kelly Yates (Doctor Who, Amber Atoms, MonstHer)

“Mike showed me that you CAN draw cool stuff while having a fun, cartoonier style that some might qualify as « nice ». His characters have always been so full of life and warmth, his drawings so dynamic and elegant and his storytelling so efficient and easy to follow. In these days of « dark ‘n gritty » his work shines on brightly and never ceases to inspire me.”

– Andy Genen

I first met Mike at a comic show in Ohio. Tellos was fairly new—I think maybe only one or two issues were out—maybe a trade (it’s tough to think back that far)—but I do remember, as a college student wanting to do exactly what he was doing, which was, to draw my own self-published comic, Mike did not shy away from providing me with a wealth of information to get started on that. In fact, he seemed genuinely excited to provide it. I talked to quite a few indie-professionals that day, but Mike’s advice was the most warm, the most patient, and the most honest. He probably didn’t know I was the same curious kid when, years later, he provided far-too-flattering feedback on my silly ideas and fan art on the now defunct Drawing Board forums, but from an artist I admired ever since that day we met in Ohio, it meant the world to me.

– Mike Maihack

When I was younger and just learning my way around comic cons and industry folks, I met Mike.  He was a friend of a friend. I was introduced to him at Heroes Con and was immensely nervous. Mike was super friendly and welcoming and asked to look at my work. He looked over my work and gave me some advice and told me to keep at it and I gave him my email. What happened next surprised me. 

Months had passed and I was posting stuff on MySpace, yes MySpace, when I noticed I had a message. It was Mike and all it said was “Hey Drew, how are you doing?”  I freaked a little and answered him “Good, and yourself?”. Thus began our MySpace conversations. He would talk about Flight of the Conchords and Lost and I would tell him I don’t like Lost.  He would try and convince me  to watch it.  He was a great guy and was so nice to me and I kept thinking, why me? Then I realized because that was who he was, a nice guy.

Mike was who I wanted to be as an artist, as a professional and a person. He treated people with kindness and had no ego about who he was. He was one of the great ones and I don’t think he knew that, I know I did. 

– Drew Moss

I was part of Mike’s studio in North Carolina for 3 years — the first 3 years of my start in comics.  Mike was a champion of all young artists who are trying to make things work.  Having Mike’s encouragement and support made those days much easier to manage.  And, of course, his sense of humor made the long hours we spent drawing comics much more fun.
I keep waiting for the “time heals all wounds” thing to kick in, but I never knew it was such a slow, slow process.”

– Casey Jones (Artist in Themed Entertainment and Comics)

I first truly met Mike on the day after Thanksgiving many moons ago over at Matt’s house. Matt had been up early doing the Black Friday sale thing, but wanted to get us all together to hang and watch an old Hammer flick PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES. We started with some Halo 2 action with Mike being pretty savvy and giving me some competition. (Matt? Lost cause.) Then it was movie time…PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES is not what you’d call an action-packed film and about 20 minutes in Matt starts snoring.

Mike and I both look at Matt and then we look at each other. The unspoken “Do we draw on him?” on our faces. Mike then begrudgingly shook his head, “Squeeze will kill us.” We suffered through the rest of the movie with Matt’s additional soundtrack and didn’t even get a Joe Bob Briggs Ironman Certificate…

– Christian D. Leaf

The stories of Mike’s generosity, kindness and humor are all true-I say this while admitting I spent little actual time with Mike,sad to say-but he was one of those rare people you meet that you immediately got good vibes from. My favorite memory is while sitting at a con years ago (I think it was a Philly or Baltimore show-can’t recall) out of the blue Mike just wandered over to my table where I was sketching something-I mention this because we really didn’t know each other that well,but he was the type of artist who would seek out others whose work he liked (I was honored) and chat with them. I have a small sketchbook I bring along to get fellow artists’ to add to when possible and asked him to contribute something. I had him draw The Philistine,a Jokeresque character from Mike Oeming’s and my book PARLIAMENT OF JUSTICE – a short time later he returned with this lovely sketch and I was overjoyed.

It’s not at all possible to explain how you can be devastated by the loss of someone you barely knew,but through the years I’ve met a rare few who leave that impression on you (and as a huge film fan,there are several actors whom I’ve admired- Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to name a couple-that when they died I felt like I lost a beloved relative) such as Nick Cardy and Mike Wieringo- I was very lucky to have become friends with Nick after meeting him at a Heroes Con years back and even received several surprise phone calls from him from time to time where we spoke about all sorts of things…I miss him. With Mike,it was a little different because we spoke only a few times at cons,yet I still feel like I lost a close friend-weird,isn’t it?

To know Mike-even a short time- was to love him and we haven’t enough people like that in our lives …we miss ya, pal.

– Neil Vokes

When I think of Mike Wieringo I think of comics that embody a spirit of fun as well as high quality. Growing up on Mike’s work I always knew that if the name “‘Ringo” was on a book then it was a book I was going to enjoy. ‘Ringo had a unique ability to invoke adventure, joy, charm, inpiration, as well as a wide range of human emotion. When he drew books like The Flash, Robin, Spider-Man, Superman, Tellos, and the Fantastic Four he wasn’t just drawing superheroes. He was making you care about the lives of Wally West, Tim Drake, Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Jarek and Koj, Serra, Hawke and Rikk, and the entire First Family. I studied ‘Ringo’s work quite often: the guy could just plain DRAW!

When Mike passed it hit me surprisingly hard for someone I hardly knew personally. It felt to me as though the comics industry had lost a piece of its soul. Things had gotten a tad bit darker, the adventure a tad less fun.  I immediately ran out to purchase the hard cover collections of his Fantastic Four work to stand next to my copy of Tellos: Collosal. I knew that I wanted to revisit these works often, and I have.  Shortly after Mike passed a fund-raiser event for his family was held in NYC. That night I purchased one of my most prized-pieces of original art: A shot of Spider-Man swinging in all his glory drawn by the great Joe Quesada in ‘Ringo’s honor.  The drawing hangs in my studio to inspire me everyday.

I only had the chance to meet ‘Ringo once, briefly, at a convention. I forget know which one. I shook his hand and complimented his work.  He was gracious, kind, humble, and soft-spoken.  Above all I told him of my love for Tellos and my desire for more of it.  It is an absolute honor for me to be a part of this Tellos sequel. I thank Todd Dezago for this opportunity to play in their world and co tribute to its mythos, as well as his enthusiasm through out making this one of the highlights of my career thus far.

– Jon Roscetti

I was first introduced to Mike’s art with Flash #80, but it wasn’t until his work on Sensational Spider-Man that I became a fan. For me, Mike’s version of Spider-Man would become the definitive version of how Spider-Man should look. As fate would have it, when I was working freelance for Marvel’s Creative Services Department, I got the chance to meet Todd and Mike at a dinner during the NYC Comic-Con and it wasn’t until I met them again at Heroes Con in North Carolina the following year, did we become friends. As luck would have it my fellow college Illustration alum and good friend, Craig Rousseau, was working with Todd on “Tellos The Last Heist” they needed someone to pencil the backup story and they asked me if I was interested. Hell Yeah I was interested!!! Todd told me he just needed to see if Mike would be okay with having me on board. A phone call and a fax of Mike’s sketch of the character Toli later, I was on the team. I was thrilled to be able to get to play in “Mike and Todd’s sandbox that was Tellos.” I have hanging in my studio a page of Mike’s original art from Spider-Boy #1. On it, Mike wrote “To Dave- One Kool Dude!!  M.Wieringo.” No Mike, YOU are the”Kool Dude,” I’m just a dude who was lucky enough to have met you. Miss you ‘Ringo’

– Dave Tata

“I never really knew Mike except through his art. 

However, his art spoke volumes. He had such a wonderful way of visualizing worlds and characters. From his work on Spiderman to Tellos it was always fun to see his take on things. I wish I had gotten the chance to know Mike outside of his art.  He sounded like a genuinely good person and the world certainly needs those, which makes his loss even more profound. 

Even though he may not be here in person, his spirit continues to touch and inspire lives…human and animal alike!

It was an honor to be apart of this.

Thank you Mike Wieringo.”

– Keith Conroy

I first encountered Mike’s work at a comic con in New York City in Jan 1993. I had just graduated from the Art Institute of Dallas and was trying to meet editors for portfolio reviews.

While waiting amidst the crush of other would-be comic artists at the DC Comics booth, I was thumbing through the black and white preview booklets of upcoming DC comic books. I picked up the preview booklet of The Flash #80 and was immediately wowed.
It was a preview of Mike’s first issue of his run on The Flash. I had never heard of this new guy, Mike Wieringo, before, but now I was an instant fan!

I was enthralled by the craftsmanship of the very solid figures and the emotion and personality that came through each character. I could’ve stood there all day looking though the preview book again and again. Heck! I would’ve just taken it home with me. Now, I kinda wish I had. (Not really. But…really).

As I realized it was soon to my turn for a critique with an editor, I put the preview booklet down (at the very least to let someone else see it) and took special note of the issue number. I had to add The Flash to my pull list at the comic shop. I got a decent critique at the DC Comics booth at that con, but learning about Mike’s work at DC Comics may have been the bigger take-away for me that day!

From then on, I have been a huge Mike Wieringo fan. I followed him from series to series, picking up whatever title he was working on next. I’ve had the incredible honor to fill-in for Mike on Sensational Spider-Man early in my comics career and then, years later, take over the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man series after he left the book. I was very fortunate to have Mike draw my creator owned characters on a cover for my Image Comics mini-series, WildGuard: Casting Call (issue #2). The original art for that cover hangs proudly in my studio.

Mike was incredibly kind to me and affirming of the art I was doing.
His work has been an inspiration to me for over 20 years. I miss seeing something new from him. But I’m thankful for all the comics he drew for us and it is a great honor to be a part of this Tellos Jam. 

Thank you, Todd, for putting this all together and letting us pay tribute to an amazing and legendary artist. 

We miss you, Mike. God bless you.

– Todd Nauck

I never got to meet Mike. I’d always wanted too, but i never had the chance. I’d been a fan of his art for a while, followed his blog, his Deviantart, and anything else of his i could back then, but i was always to timid to actually think of dropping him a note or an email, probably because I was afraid I wouldn’t get a reply. Come to find out I would have been wrong.

I was coming home from a rather “successful” Wizard Chicago with my good friends Jeremy and Kelly Dale, when Jer got a call from his dad, saying that Mike had past. You see Jer had been trying to convince me to come down to Heroes Con in Charlotte for a while. He’d been talking it up a lot, telling me of everyone who would be there, and that I’d get to meet Mike. Now I wouldn’t, but I was going to go that next year anyways. And I did. There I got to meet Mike’s friends, Todd and Craig, his brother Matt and Matt’s wife Suzanne. I can only imagine their first impression of me, as I blabbered on about Mike’s work, and being a huge fan. I know I cried. But by the end of the weekend, i had made friends.

We’ve lost Jeremy now too. Another awesome artist and guy taken away, way too soon. I only hope that I can follow along the path that Mike started, Jer continued, and do them both proud.

– Nate Lovett

I first met Mike back in 1993 or 94, on a visit to Artamus Studios in Hillsborough, NC. My good college friend Jeff Parker had just moved there to join the then fledgling comic studio, and Mike was there along with several others (Richard Case, John Lowe, Chuck Wojtkiewicz, Craig Gilmore). Mike was INCREDIBLY nice (something you’ll read repeatedly in these reflections), welcoming, but a little quiet at that point, and it was the first time I had seen his work, which I LOVED. It was stylized, animated and expressive in a very clean and gestural way, refreshingly unlike the “Image House Style” that was still popular at the time. Soon after I graduated I wound up working there as an assistant, where I got to know Mike and the other guys a lot better.  It was then that the quiet man I met previously opened up and let his true self show.

Not that his quiet side wasn’t real, it certainly was. But he was so much funnier, intelligent, warm, and talented than he let on. I fondly remember all the days and late nights working at the studio, churning out comic pages while making each other laugh as hard as we could over endless movie quotes, silly voices, and listening to prank phone call cassettes en masse. When you made Mike laugh, (not just a chuckle mind you, but one of his infectious deep belly laughs), you really felt like you accomplished something, because it was always a joy to experience how fully he embraced and loved life/people.

Sharing time with Mike made you feel lucky that you were around to take part, because he made you feel that special and valued. The simple act of sharing a meal or seeing a movie with him made you feel like you were part of an exclusive event because he gave you his full attention and interest, and he wasn’t just being nice, he MEANT it. He would talk about himself when asked, but he truly just wanted to hear about YOU.

He was always a fan of the art form of comics no matter how popular he got, and anytime he would meet a comic celebrity (here defined as someone notable whose work he enjoyed as a kid) he could barely contain his wide eyed enthusiasm.  They say you can always tell someone’s true nature by how they treat children and animals, and Mike had a true connection with both. He was always great with his fans (especially the kids), and his love of animals is widely known among those who knew him. He made time for everyone, whether it was a huge comic pro, an inquisitive child, or a fledgling obscure artist trying to break in the business. He made everyone feel special, worthwhile, and worthy of attention and advice.

His incessant modesty and dissatisfaction with his own work is also legendary to his friends, and it was always a constant source of frustration and confusion to all of us because he was just so damn GOOD. And he kept getting better. His work was reaching astronomical levels of awesome up until he left us. And no matter how good he got, or how many dream characters he got to work on, he was never satisfied, always striving to be better, to be worthy of this profession and art form he loved so much. The enthusiasm he showed to others over their work was also boundless, and I always got a huge boost whenever he complimented my art, which always paled to his but you would never know it from talking to him. He was so good at making YOU feel good about yourself.

Our birthdays were one day apart (June 24th and 25th), and we would often celebrate together with dinner and beers. Of all those times, I don’t think I have even one picture of the two of us together. I really, really regret that.

I could go on even more, but the truth is no amount of words would suffice in explaining how great Mike was an an artist, friend, and human being. I miss him every day, and I hope he is looking down and smiling at all these people who still remember and love him, and who continue to discover and love the body of work he left behind as a gift to all of us. I hope this book makes him proud; great thanks to Todd for letting me be a part of it. Miss ya, pal.

– Chris Kemple (Red Vengeance)

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.

– Rob Stull – (*Remembrance from August 15, 2007)

Tellos had a big influence on my creative career, and in a bizarre sense gave me permission to make the things I wanted to make: namely, Fantasy Adventure Comics! It had been a dream of mine to meet Mike, but when the news of his passing came it was like a huge punch to the gut. This whole experience has been a nice way to find closure in that regard. I’m sorry I never got to meet Mike in person, but from the memories you and all his friends have shared, it feels like I have. I’m glad I got to play a part in the next chapter of Tellos!

– Meg Syverud