Comic Book Artist: Mike Wieringo

This is one of my semi-regular posts about comic book artists whose work I enjoy, as I look at their work history and post some examples of their work. Today’s post is about a favourite artist who will unfortunately no longer produce any more of his great art.

It was a great shock and loss when Mike Wieringo passed away at the age of 44. He was taken from the world too soon and his delightful art is still missed. Like most people, I first saw his artwork on The Flash in 1993–1994, working with Mark Waid for the first time and very early in his own career. His style was cartoony and perfect for superheroes but like a lot of great art, its simplicity belied great storytelling, excellent facial expressions, dynamic character work and superb craft.

After The Flash, Wieringo drew Robin for a short run and a Rogue mini-series for Marvel (in addition to various other comics, including the Amalgam comic Spider-Boy #1, a combination of Spider-Man and Superboy) before teaming up with Todd Dezago on The Sensational Spider-Man for two years. Even though I haven’t read the issues, I’ve always thought that Wieringo was a particularly appropriate artist for Spider-Man, but then that was the case whenever he drew any title.

The next big project was the delightful Tellos, the fantasy series that he co-created (and co-owned) with Dezago at Image Comics in 1999. His artwork was perfect for the world of magic and pirates and swordplay and talking tigers, and it was a joy to behold. Charming and funny and moving and exciting, it was a great little comic.

After a short run on Adventures of Superman, Wieringo reteamed with Waid for a great run on Fantastic Four. Waid had a great handle on the characters and Wieringo proved again that he was the perfect artist for whatever book he was working on. He got each of the characters perfectly and drew them as if he had always been drawing them. There was an unusual blip during their run: Marvel announced that they were being replaced on the book before fan outcry caused them to reverse the decision, and they announced that Waid and Wieringo would be staying on the book within three days of them being moved off the book. It didn’t stop the quality: this was one of the great runs on Fantastic Four and I thoroughly recommend it.

After the Fantastic Four, Wieringo worked on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Stan Lee Meets The Silver Surfer, as well as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, a fun four-issue mini-series written by Jeff Parker. However, he passed away in August 2007 before the completion of a What If? story about the replacement Fantastic Four; Marvel donated his art and the script to the Hero Initiative, who completed the book as a tribute to Wieringo with artwork from a host of great artists. There is also a scholarship in his name, which is also a fitting tribute to a man who was by all accounts a decent human being. His personal website is still kept online [EDIT: alas, not any longer], which is where he used to write about his life and would post sketches (lots of sketches – he loved to draw everything and anything, such as Harry Potter or Power Pack or whatever took his fancy; you can spend ages just looking through all the entries, and I could keep posting the sketches), and it’s nice to be able to have continuation of his life and his art. Mike Wieringo, RIP.

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