Return Of The Critic

And I’m back. The reason for my absence was a lovely holiday in China, which I won’t be blogging about. I wrote copious notes but don’t feel that this blog is a travelogue, nor that I am capable of writing it up in an interesting way. I may change my mind, but don’t expect any changes from the ‘journal of my pop culture’ approach.

I’ve been recovering – the holiday was an exhausting touring trip – so didn’t have the energy to blog for the last couple of days, as well as trying to catch up on my blog reading: Google Reader doesn’t count over 100 items, and there were individual blogs that had that many alone, so lots of reading …

And among that reading was the news that stopped me from writing anything on this blog for a few days – learning of the sudden death of Mike Wieringo. I was completely stunned.

I have read blog posts about the deaths of various comic book artists and the effect it had on the blogger. For most of them, it didn’t really mean much to me – the people in question would be names I had heard of but they didn’t have a personal connection with me.

With Mike Wieringo, however, it was different – his artwork is part of my personal comic book history. My progression outside of Marvel was with The Flash by Mark Waid and Ringo, and his distinctive, joyful style stayed with me (he was one of the artists I talked about in a previous post). I was there for his creator-owned project, Tellos, and his recent wonderful run on the Fantastic Four, again with Waid.

Add to that his blog, where he posted sketches and thoughts regularly, and he became part of my pop culture fabric. To learn that he was a health-conscious vegetarian who died from a heart attack at 44 was a complete shock and a terrible loss to his family and to the world of comic books.

His art style was delightful and fun, and he told the story cleanly and smoothly, with wit and charm. Even his signature, with the exclamation mark (and I’m not a great fan of those), shouted of his boundless enthusiasm and enjoyment for his work. My thoughts go out to his family – you will be missed, Mike, but thanks for your output while you were here.

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