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Comic Book Community Remembers Michael Turner Part 2

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  • supermutan@aol.com
    By Newsarama Staff posted: 30 June 2008 03:55 pm ET (http://www.newsarama.com/common/email.php?guid=110572935ba493c098988c187aa8a714)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2008
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      By Newsarama Staff
      posted: 30 June 2008 03:55 pm ET


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      The comic book community is still reacting to the passing of true superstar artist Michael Turner this past week, after his long and courageously public fight against cancer. As a tribute to Mike Newsarama thought we'd gather statements from Turner's fellow professionals, fans, and friends, many of whom (as you can see by the sentiments below) were all three at the same time.

      The following is a compilation of reactions posted by pros on their blogs, made publicly at this past weekend's WizardWorld: Chicago, emailed to the comic press, or emailed or given to Newsarama.

      If any pros or fans would like to express their own feelings here, you can reply to this story below and/or email your thoughts to editorial@... with the subject line "Michael Turner", and we'll update this tribute as appropriate...

      July 1st:

      Vince Hernandez:

      You beat it buddy.

      No what anybody says—you won. I know you’re in a better place now. There’s not a doubt in my mind. It’s what you’ve always done—transcend. And why would I expect anything different from you pal? Ever since I met you a decade ago, you’ve beaten everything that’s every stood in your path. Cancer? Please! That piece of shit was just the latest thing you toppled over on your way to a place far better than the crappy world we’re still stuck in. It’s what you were born to do Mike—win.

      My earliest memories of you take place back in the Century City offices of Top Cow Productions, where you would play watchdog to Frank Mastromauro, David Wohl, and myself as we’d all sneak in games of NFL 2K1 in your locked and darkened office. I still remember the time we almost dove under your couch as Marc Silvestri banged on the door looking for his highly in-demand Witchblade creator. But I knew that when I was with you, I would always come out unscathed.

      Mike, you always come out on top.

      One thing you and I will always have is our classic Pop-A-Shot battles. Only a handful of people know that you and I had an endless feud of tiny rubber balls and rotating backboards. And even though I’d manage to sneak in a victory here and there, you never ceased to edge my best score before the night was out, taking the Pop-A-Shot crown home with you. Yet you never let me leave without buying me a sympathy beer for my losing efforts. Because even though you claimed victory in every facet of your all-too-short life, you remained the most genuinely caring individual I’ve ever met.

      You’ve given me so many things Mike. You believed in me as a friend even when I was an eighteen-year old jerk out of high school ten years ago. You believed in me as an editor when I’d never been given so much as menial task at Top Cow five years ago. And recently, you believed in me as a creator at Aspen when I pitched you the most insanely ludicrous story ideas all the time. I owe my career in comics to you brother, and I’ll continue on knowing you’ll always believe in me still--no matter how far-fetched my goals are.

      Speaking of far-fetched goals, when you started Aspen MLT, Inc, you resumed the role of watchdog, but now you oversaw a huge family of creators and artists instead of three slacking friends. But unfortunately, like all things in your life, it didn’t come easy. We work in an industry where people laude the efforts of superstars who created comic book studios in the 90s, when you could’ve sold crap on a toilet roll with a variant cover and still make a profit. But yourself and Frank Mastromauro started Aspen in 2003 when comic books were merely an afterthought to movies and video games, and oh yeah—you were fighting a legal battle for the rights to your own creation. But you beat the odds and now we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary this year. You guys are what I consider comic book idols.

      The people closest to you knew this about you. It’s why we all secretly wanted to be with you all the time. Heck— we wanted to be you. You were what we wished we could be in our lives. You were giving when we were selfish. When things were tough you fought harder. You never backed down from a challenge, and you fought on with that trademark smile of yours. You forced everyone around you to try be better in our own lives.

      A blessing I will cherish in my heart until that day we WILL meet again Mike is that I was able to old your hand one last time and have our last production meeting just the two of us last night. I know you’ll forever know the love and adoration I have for the worlds you created. You know I’ll keep my promise. Those worlds will thrive in the memory of your spirit my dear friend. Count on it.

      And so will all the loved ones you’ve touched in your all-too-short time here Mike. From the brief encounters with your fans to your late-night parties where you brought all of together, we will never stop working to make sure your legacy lives on. You are bigger than this world Mike--you transcend us all.

      You will always be in my heart Mike. Thank your for the time we had together and the future we will now share together forever.

      I love you brother.

      Vince Hernandez

      Paul Jenkins:

      It is with tremendous sadness that I learned of Mike Turner's passing a couple of days ago. He was 37 years old. He was both too young and too great of a person to be gone so soon.

      Mike was one of my favorite "convention mates:" fellow pros that I see three or four times per year, and with whom I share a few beers and swap con stories. Mike and I shared a love of pool -- he was a brilliant player, and we would literally take over a table and play game after game until we were either booted out of the pub or lost interest and went onto the closest video game. We were always talking about playing a round of golf whenever I was in L.A. He said he was going to make me cry like a big girl. I told him I was going to beat him with my eyes closed.

      Then, Mike was diagnosed with cancer. He lost a portion of his pelvis to the disease. We still talked about our round of golf... the big throw-down would occur when he recovered. He said he wouldn't accept any strokes -- he was going to kick my ass anyway. I watched him endure all kinds of chemo, physical therapy, radiation treatments... and you just had to know Mike to understand how cool he was about the whole thing. He did not complain, not once. He continued to make fun of me and asked me if I would want strokes whenever we got around to the links. There was a time when we were both on crutches -- me after knee surgery and Mike after something a lot worse -- that we considered going out just for the hell of it.

      In the last year or so, Mike's cancer took a lot out of him. He always smiled and joked with me but I could tell he was feeling a little rough around the edges. He told me he that when we got out, he was going to beat me with one of his crutches and a Pink Flying Lady ball. My enduring memory of Mike is from last year's Chicago convention: I was playing pool for charity, and Mike and I had lined up an exhibition match, best of seven. He showed up looking very tired, and the game took a lot out of him. I felt bad... I wondered if he wanted to cut the game short. "No f*#%ing way, dude," he replied. "Gotta finish the string out."

      I will never feel that Mike lost his battle with cancer. How can you lose when you have that kind of attitude? Mike constantly kicked its ass, and the disease just cheated as far as I'm concerned. And in the end he won our bet: he made me cry like a girl.

      Brian Haberlin:

      I met Mike when we both worked at Top Cow many moons ago. He had the most infectious grin in the entire world...and loved to bate you with a vacant stare, like he wasn’t paying attention, when you where trying to tell him something really important...you’d get frustrated...then that “I got you” grin would come out. I think Mike used to play in the old days (really haven’t seen him much in the last few years...only a glimpse at shows here and there) like he wasn’t the smartest fish in the pond...but it was all a ruse...for those who knew him knew he was always thinking. I remember when he started as an artist...first just doing backgrounds for Marc Silvestri...he was veracious to learn all about the art form...who did what well, who did what not so well...who did no one really know about that he could discover...and then like a human sponge absorb all the good bits from each and make himself better...not in a copying way but in a “make it my own” way...that was the spirit I admired in Mike...he approached art more like a sport...to train...get better at it...then compete...try and kick the other guy’s artistic ass! But not in an egotistical way...but in a sportsman way...hell, he wanted to see you kick his artistic ass cuz that would only make him better the next time! And win, lose or draw there was always that grin

      I found this the other day...a page from the Ballistic miniseries I wrote and Mike drew...just a xerox I did balloon placements on. This was his first real...I’m about ready to take on everyone effort...if you can find the issues take a look (but don’t read it...I wasn’t very good back then) You’ll see double page spreads that are simply grand...Mike could somehow make a double page spread twice the size of anyone elses! I know they are the same actual size but somehow he could magically make them look like double sized double page spreads! Check them out!

      Mike you’ll be missed!


      Mel Caylo:

      I had known Mike for years since my days at Wizard, but the last time I saw him was at a mutual friend’s wedding last summer. It was a black-tie affair so he was looking dapper in his tux, despite the fact he was on crutches. You know he was suffering being out of his comfort zone but throughout the ceremony and reception you couldn’t tell he was in any pain. He was always sporting that trademark smile, always made you feel like you were his best friend in the the world, always made it seem like where he was was the place to be. I had a great time with Mike that night, and just watching him made me believe he was really going to beat his illness. He was so full of optimism, life and happiness. I deeply regret I never saw Mike again before he passed away. But I take comfort in knowing he doesn’t have to suffer anymore. I’ll always remember you, Mike. Rest in peace. --Mel Caylo

      C.B. Cebulski:

      As comic creators, we work in worlds inhabited by super-powered beings. We're surrounded in our daily lives by high-flying heroes and golden gods, mythic men and women who accomplish the impossible. In these escapist fantasies we know and love, good usually triumphs over evil. But sometimes, despite our best efforts to avoid it, cold hard reality creeps into our lives.

      Michael Turner had been battling cancer for years. And much like the heroes he so beautifully illustrated, Mike fought an overcame the illness inside him on numerous occasions. He had the strength and the will to beat it back time and again. For those of us who knew him, it became almost an after thought. If Mike had a relapse, we took for granted he'd be back on his feet before long. We knew in the back of our minds that there was always the possibility things could take a turn for the worse, but that was never part of our reality. Until now.

      Mike passed away on Friday. And with him, the worlds of his family, friends and fans immediately fell into darkness. His light, one that burned so brightly to everyone whose lives he touched, be it through his friendship, his smile, his attitude or his comics, was extinguished. We really did lose a hero that day.

      Mike's death reminded so many of us of our own mortality. But through his spirit, his talent, his art and the memories of the good soul that he was, Michael Turner leaves behind a legacy that guarantees him immortality.

      Marc Guggenheim:

      I never had the privilege to work with or meet Michael, despite how close in proximity we lived to each other. I did, however, have the pleasure of enjoying his art as a fan, which is the purest way, I think, one can appreciate another's work. His art was so beautiful, so evocative and unique, it had almost a musical quality to it. Yes, he drew attractive, even erotic, women, but there was more to his work than just that. There was a dynamism that made his stories a joy to read and his covers a wonder to behold.

      Ron Marz:

      Right now, I don't give a damn what Mike drew. I really don't.

      I didn't know Mike as well as some did; I guess maybe I knew him better than some others. Enough to say hi and share a handshake or a hug when we ran into each other at conventions. Enough to know he was one of those guys who was graced, in some way, with something extra. The room was a little brighter when Mike walked into it, the party was a little better. He was the same whether he was on crutches and in the middle of treatment, or in remission, or frankly even before he was even diagnosed. He was upbeat and positive and smiling, regardless. He was a good guy, which sounds simple, but to my mind it's about the highest compliment you can pay somebody. Just a good guy.

      I know a lot of people are looking back on his work, heaping deserved praise on his art and creativity. People are saying, "Wow, he was a great artist." Sure, but that's besides the point. That's why I say I don't give a damn what Mike drew, because that's nowhere near the full measure of the man. He was a much better man than he was an artist ... and he was a pretty damn good artist.

      We'll miss you, Mike. But we're all better for having had you pass through our lives.

      -- Ron Marz

      Judd Winick:

      Mike and weren't friends.
      We knew each other through other people, and through reputation. But ask anyone who knew him, and they'll tell you the same thing, "He was a supremely sensational person."

      The thought I always hold for Mike is this:
      For whatever reason, if he and I were ever attended the same convention, he always took a minute to swing by and say "Hey." I don't do that for people. And he did. Always. That might not seem like much, but Mike at a convention is something to behold. Lines around the block, tons of sketches to be done, lots of handshakes and photos and comics to sign. He always made time for every one. Me included. He'd always find me. And every time he did, after he left, I would always say out loud that he, "...is such a great guy." And then, every time, a fellow creator and/or a fan would chime in and agree, and tell me some story why. A STORY. A specific anecdote. A nicety. A favor. A courtesy. Honest. This happened at every convention we both went to.

      That might not seem like much, but it felt that way. They last time I saw him, when he made sure to come find me, he was on crutches.

      And I'll miss that. I'll miss him. Gracious and wonderful people are in short supply.

      Mike and I weren't friends. But I would have liked to have been.

      Tony Daniel (from his blog: http://tonydaniel.blogspot.com/):

      Michael and I never really got the chance to get to know each other and I regret that. We had a conversation or two, said 'hello' to one another at a con or walking to or from hotels. Much like my relationship with most other artists in the industry. I never belonged to a studio, and I've always enjoyed the solitude in my work.

      What I do know about Michael is that he was a unique voice in this industry. He had a flair, a style and a passion immediately identifiable as his own. Not many get to achieve that. I've admired his work as the years went on. Especially knowing that he was battling cancer, the fact that he turned out beautiful work month after month. The fight to keep on, to be his best no matter what has left me in awe of him.

      I thought of him a few months ago and I thought about writing him and wishing him well. I don't know why, I just had an urge to. I regret that I did not. I am sorry.

      I know he has touched many, many people, including me, even if it was only through his example.

      Rest in peace, Mr. Turner. The industry has lost some of its shine.

      Jerry Ordway:

      I am so sad to hear of Michaels Turner's passing. By all accounts he was a nice guy who had a special connection with his fans. I personally admired his ability to launch his own imprint and do it successfully. That's harder than folks think, and requires a tremendous amount of dedication, being both an artist and a businessman. In and around this workload, he was waging his battle against a terminal illness. Michael was an inspiration, and he will be missed. Jerry Ordway

      Greg Pak:

      I was only lucky enough to spend a few hours in person with Mike. But he dazzled me with his great intelligence, curiosity, and enthusiasm; by the absolute joy he took in the creative process; and by the easy, beautiful warmth and openness he radiated.

      My deepest condolences to his family and his many, many, many friends.

      -- Greg Pak

      Andy Lanning:

      Though I never knew Michael personally, I've enjoyed his work for years, he was a truly gifted artist. I can only offer my heartfelt condolences for his family and friends and add my thoughts and feelings to those of the comic community at this very sad time.

      Jay Leisten:

      There's so much that can be said about Mike. He was a good guy, a great boss and an amazing friend to have! If there was a hole that needed filling, Mike always seemed to know how to fill it and what size shovel to hand you. When times were tight, for all us kids in Top Cow's offices, Mike would buy us some lunch. If work was light, he always knew someone in comics or out that needed work done. There never seemed to be a shortage of excitement, fun, or adventure around Mike. Even when times were dark for Mike personally, he always seemed to have a smile and a funny line to throw out there to make sure you were smiling just as big as he was.

      Phil Jimenez:

      I found out about Michael Turner via text message at a small dinner party out on Shelter Island. My dinner companions were teasing me, assuming it was some new gig or contract negotiation or my agent with news or something else presumably important enough to interrupt our evening. But it wasn't. It was a friend telling me Michael had died.

      The rest of the weekend I was in a bit of a daze.

      I can't say I knew Michael very well; we'd been on a panel or two together; hung out at the bar at various conventions; and worked together, along with Jim Lee and Tim Sale, on the "Heroes" covers for TV Guide (I remember admiring his assertiveness in the conference calls during the planning of those covers, and how I wished I had the strength of will he did to just cut to the chase and get the job done). What I can say is that from the moment we met, he was nothing but kind to me. He was nothing but gracious during conversations in person or over the phone, and when I didn't recognize him after his chemo left him bald, he was absolutely game to joke with me about my shock upon realizing just who it was sitting next to me. I didn't know him all that well, but it feels so strange for him to be gone.

      Mike was a really good, decent, talented guy. I'm really, really happy I knew him and got to work with him. And I'm really, really sad for all those people who loved him and admired him and got to know him and laugh with him and got to work with him, and don't get to do that anymore.

      Gone at 37. That sucks.

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