By | Monday, August 13, 2007 Leave a Comment
I'm sure that, by the time you read this, it won't really be news, but I feel obligated/compelled to voice some thoughts about Mike Wieringo's unexpected death.

Personally, I had little direct interaction with him. I met him briefly in Columbus in 2000 when he, and several other creators, announced their new company, Gorilla Comics. My discussion with him then was nearly non-existent and consisted of little more than getting his autograph. I interviewed him briefly via email in late 2001 shortly after it was announced that he was going to be working on Fantastic Four. In both cases, he was polite and courteous and seemed genuinely honored to speak with anyone who liked his work.

It's hard to say how someone's death will affect people. Ringo seemed well-liked by everyone he met, and the only complaints I can ever recall hearing against him were that some people didn't like his particular style of illustration. Even if you didn't like that style, it seemed, though, people could still understand and appreciate that he was talented and that many people did like his work. At worst, his work was "too cartoony" but never (that I heard) bad. He was indeed quite talented as an illustrator and a storyteller and, if you spent any time at all reading his blog, he was continually striving to improve his craft.

I think that's why many people are upset. He was supremely talented and did some great work, but never reached his full potential. To put that statement in perspective, let me throw this out at you...

Ringo was born in 1963, two years after Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started work on the Fantastic Four. At the time, Jack was 44 -- the same age Mike was when he died. Nearly everything that you remember Jack Kirby for was done after this time in his life.

I'm not saying that Ringo could've been the next Kirby and he had the potential to completely overhaul how comic books are told. If anything, I'm pretty sure Mike would've laughed at the very thought. But for as young as the comic book industry often seems to be, the players who really do well and stand out as powerful forces in the industry are the ones who are a bit older and have fought (and won) the hard battles.

Look at Frank Miller. He first achieved fame back when he was innovating Daredevil but he's quite the popular name these days. He's fifty. Six years ago, how many people -- especially those outside comicdom -- had heard of Sin City or 300?

The tragedy here is only, in part, that the comic industry lost a talented individual. The other part of the tragedy is that the comic industry lost the future potential of an even more talented individual.
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