Friday, July 13, 2012


Anyone who comes here with any frequency knows how I felt, and feel, about my brother Mike Wieringo. But I can't remember whether or not I've mentioned how much affection I have for the late Mark Gruenwald.

Mr. Gruenwald was an editor and writer at Marvel Comics back when I was a little bitty fan avidly reading his CAPTAIN AMERICA, QUASAR and SQUADRON SUPREME books. He was one of my favorite writers and when I was old enough to start submitting plot samples to Marvel, he was the first editor I sent them to. Even for books he wasn't editing. I sent my writing samples to a lot of editors, in fact, and got a lot of form rejection letters. Mark Gruenwald was the only one to send me a personal reply. I almost jumped out of my skin. I didn't care that my plot was resoundingly rejected. Mark had taken the time to write a reply and compliment me on my grasp of the characters. Then he pointed out what I did wrong and I paid attention. He also suggested I stop sending editors (him specifically) submissions for books they didn't edit. That part I ignored. And you know what? He replied to the next one anyway. I still have those letters stored away somewhere and I treasure them. After I got enough rejections, I thought maybe writing comics wasn't for me and when summer was over, I went back to college and forgot about it.

In 1996, I was very saddened to hear (and I believe it was Mike that told me) that Mark Gruenwald had passed away unexpectedly at the age of 44. On August 12th. We tend to lose a lot of really talented people at a young age but little did I realize how that age and date would come back to haunt me...and Mike. As you know, Mike also died on August 12th at the age of 44. Every year, especially this fifth anniversary of Mike's passing, I get a little uptight as August 12th approaches. I remember that date in vivid detail and it's not a time I like to think about. But now Marvel editor Tom Breevort and Jim McLauchlin of The Hero Initiative have done something to shed a little sunshine on August 12th.

They've created something called M-DAY, a memorial to Mike and Mark as a way of raising money for The Hero Initiative. The goal is to raise $5,000 to go toward aiding comic industry professionals who are in need of a helping hand. As you probably know, most comic book pros are freelancers and a lot of them can't and couldn't afford health insurance and retirement plans. Especially the folks who are getting a little older that created a lot of the great characters and stories that you're seeing on the big screen these days but don't see any of the money being generated by the movies.

I don't generally like to get into Mike's personal business but one of the things that tears me up about his death was the fact that, as a freelancer, he could not afford health insurance. When Mike went to the doctor, it cost him a lot. And so he only went when he felt it was serious enough to warrant it. I'm convinced that Mike would likely still be with us if he'd had health insurance.

This is a great cause. They are there for the people who were there for me when I was younger, reading comics as an escape from being a poor, fat kid with glasses and braces. They created, and are creating, the worlds and characters that are making other people rich and some of them need a little help. I know times are rough and money is tight. But I'm hoping you can spare a little money for The Hero Initiative. If you can, please go to the link below and donate a little money, even if it's just a couple of bucks, and give me something to smile about when I think of August 12th.

Thanks in advance.


Saturday, July 7, 2012


Woo-hoo! As promised, The Mike Wieringo Scholarship's website is now live. It's a humble affair but it will be where Suzanne and I go to post our updates regarding the fund. I tend to get a little personal here (surgery...yuck!) and this way, I can keep the fund posts strictly business. I'm so excited and, apparently, not as dumb as I look. I figured out the technical stuff all on my little lonesome.

So go check out and let me know what you think. It's a little threadbare right now but I'll be updating soon.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pluggin' Away

I forgot a few things when I posted my Heroes entry. Obviously, Heroes is usually crawling with people who are so talented that I almost die from envy but there were some special things that stood out this year. I'd like to share them with you.

First up is ARTIST ALLEY COMICS, the new digital initiative being undertaken by some talented folk who also happen to be some of my favorite people in the world. Craig Rousseau, Richard Case, Chris Kemple, Rich Woodall, Kelly Yates, Jason Copland, Michael May and Shawn McManus have gotten together and published some really neat books online in easy-to-download PDF format. And like most addictive substances, the first one's free! Go check it out. There is some really great stuff there.

Second is a book called A ONCE CROWDED SKY by our new friend Tom King. Tom stopped by the table and was nice enough to give us a signed copy of his book. Though there are a few pages of comic art along with spot illustrations by artist extraordinaire Tom (MYSTERIUS) Fowler, SKY is actually a novel. Suzanne and I have been fighting over who gets to read it first. She won but I did get to read a few pages and I have to say I can't wait to dig in. Tom's is a really interesting person in real life (just read his bio) and he's a pretty darned good writer. He told us the publisher was so impressed they greenlighted a sequel before the first one was even published. Order your copy today and get in on the ground floor of what promises to be an exciting series.

Finally, I finally got to actually hang out with Dean Trippe. Dean is one of the nicest guys I know and we usually only get to shake hands and talk across the table for a few minutes at each show. This year, Dean missed half the show because of car trouble (We had ours after the show when Suze ("The Wolf") kept us off the jersey wall when we had a blow out at 70 mph.) but made it in time to have dinner with us and the 'Haps crew on Saturday night. He swung by on Sunday and gave us a copy of his awesome classic Avengers art. I showed the piece to some of my coworkers the following week and they loved it as much as I did. Thanks Dean! I absolutely adore this. I would kill to read an Avengers book drawn by you with the characters in their classic outfits.

As for me...I haven't been drawing much lately for reasons I've already blabbered on about, well, ad nauseam. And I've missed it. So, when two young men came up to me as we were setting up on Friday morning and asked if I would do some commissions to benefit the scholarship, I was not only extremely flattered, I was actually thrilled. If you follow me on Twitter, you've already seen these. If not...

First up was an inked drawing of Spidey in his Iron Spider costume on a sketch cover. I struggled with this one, trying to get the pose right and finally gave up on having him clinging to a wall and just had fun with it. I was pretty nervous because those sketch covers mean you can't just ball it up and start over. And it didn't help that Craig kept leaning over with a twinkle in his eye and saying things like, "You really going to go with that pose?" and "Are you still not done with that?" But, all in all, I was pretty happy with it. (Although I apparently forgot what year it is. They say the mind is the first thing to go. Sadly,'s the hair.)

The other piece was even more daunting. The request was for an 11x17 piece in full color of the entire Superman Family. I changed the layout from what was requested to seem less rigid. Sadly, I only finished the inks by the end of the show...

...and had to finish the coloring at home and mail the piece out. But the "client" received it and emailed me that he was happy with it. So, I'm all smiles.

It makes me really happy that at least a few people think my art is worth paying for and that I can actually do something creative that helps raise money for the scholarship. That's pretty gratifying.

Anyway, that's it. Have a great weekend and try to stay cool. Ugh.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

After Heroes

Suze and I had a great time at Heroes a couple weeks ago. I'd intended to do a huge write-up because so much fun had ensued. But, due to some health issues*, I've had to put it on hold and will keep it fairly brief now.

It was great seeing Todd, Sharon and Craig and finally meeting the talented Eric Henson (who came all the way from Germany where he's stationed and is now part of the 'Haps crew.) It was also a thrill to finally get to meet (and get books signed by) Walt Simonson and Mike Zeck, two artists whom I have admired for as long as I can remember.

But the best part of the show for Suze and me had to be getting to meet the previous and current recipients of the 'Ringo Scholarship, Nicky Soh and Eric Donovan. It may seem strange but Suze and I sort of look at the recipients as our kids in a way (which will tell you how old we feel) and we could not be more proud of these two young men. We found ourselves unexpectedly selecting a new recipient this year after Nicky was chosen last year, not because of anything negative but because Nicky is so darned awesome he ended up getting a full scholarship this year. Last month, out of an amazingly talented group of finalists, SCAD and our panel of judges chose Eric to receive it in the coming school year. Meeting these two guys was such a pleasure. They're both incredibly polite, down-to-earth and talented. And Suzanne just about melted when we found out Eric was getting married two weeks after the show. I guess that's already happened, so congratulations Eric! Thank you to Shelton Drum for once again having us at Heroes, to Trey Alexander for allowing us time before the art auction to introduce the recipients and to SCAD for sending them to the show. I like to think Mike would be really happy with all the "kids" who have received his scholarship so far. They've certainly made an impression on us.

During the show we became painfully aware of how little work I've done to promote the scholarship and produce any sort of materials for it. When we got back, I immediately started work on business cards, a brochure and a website. I'm hoping to have all these available before Baltimore in September. The website is almost ready. I just have a couple of technical things to deal with that are over my head. As soon as those are worked out, we should have an official website up and running. I also have an idea for something cool that would give us something to sell at shows that's Mike-related and would not get us into any sort of copyright problems with publishers. I'm excited about it but it could get expensive and will take some time. Wish me luck.

* "Health issues." That sounded ominous didn't it? Sorry about that. The surgery I described a couple posts back has resulted in some complications. The dissolving stitches came loose after the Dermabond came off and the larger of the incisions has reopened. Rather than perform more surgery, the doctor has decided to confine me to the house and have nurses stop by every day for wound care. It's a nasty business and I won't go into it. But the process is pretty painful and I'm pretty miserable not being able to leave the house or have any sort of activity. I'm turning into a slug and that's not good. Anyway, I'm looking forward to having this over and done with, though it sounds like it could be weeks. Crossing my fingers.