Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mike Wieringo: 1963-2007

Well, that was some unpleasant news to come home to. Mike Wieringo passed away on Sunday, due apparently to a heart attack.

I really don't know what to say. There's no way I could eulogize Mr. Wieringo as beautifully as his friends have. I've never had the pleasure of meeting the man, never got to get his autograph or commission a sketch. I've just enjoyed his work for years.

And that's it: I've never not enjoyed Mike Wieringo's art. His run on Adventures of Superman was clean and polished, even if the scripts weren't. His work on Fantastic Four was nothing short of amazing. And his work with Spider-Man?

In the history of Spider-Man comics, there are three artists who, in my opinion, have been truly perfect for the character. There's John Romita Sr., the first artist to succeed Steve Ditko on Amazing, whose pencils defined Spider-Man for more than a generation. He gave us the iconic "Face it, Tiger" panel, designed MJ and Gwen Stacy, and it was his work which graced the majority of merchandise well into my childhood. There's Mark Bagley, who has all but supplanted Romita on the licensed goods, and who has managed to give two lengthy and beautiful runs on the character, defining Spider-Man for the '90s and for the '00s.

And then there's Mike Wieringo, whose clean, whimsical style was tailor-made for the wall-crawler. He made drawing Spider-Man look easy. He gave Spidey a sense of grace and fun that I have yet to see duplicated.

I consider myself so very, very lucky that the last of his work published before his death combines two of his greatest strengths--Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four--into a thoroughly enjoyable and beautifully-rendered story. I just wish we'd been luckier, and that this miniseries would have been just one link in a long chain of amazing artwork. The fact that I'll never see another cover signed "'Ringo" makes me very, very sad.

Goodbye, Mr. Wieringo, and thanks for everything.

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