Archive for August, 2003

Football and Face lifts…

I usually use the TV summer re-run season as an excuse just not to watch television for a few months (other than the news and some favorite old syndicated shows like Seinfeld)– but this summer, I’ve been watching shows that I passed up during the first-run, or didn’t even know about. Most of them have been entertaining– in that “I’ve got nothing else to watch that I haven’t already seen, so this’ll do” kind of way. But I don’t think I’ll be heading back to them for the upcoming new TV season.

But there have also been a couple of NEW shows that have debuted this summer that I caught the beginnings of just recently that I think will become new favorites that I’ll have to add to my “must watch” list.

PLAYMAKERS just debuted on ESPN this past Tuesday night. The network has begun in recent years, to air original dramatic programming based on (of course) sports. Now, I’m not a huge overall sports nut– but I love to watch football, and especially professional football. The game, with it’s high speed, powerful hits/impacts and strategies has always fascinated me. And I’ve long played with the idea of doing a comic based on professional football teams– but whenever I would talk to one of my friends about that idea, I’d usually get a blank stare, followed by a “…Ehhhh. Don’t think it would work” response. Usually, because it would be tedious and difficult to deal with showing the action of a football in comic book form. Well, PLAYMAKERS– at least this first episode– does what I would have in my oft-discussed, never realized comic. It focuses on the individuals who play the game of professional football– their hopes, desires, fears, lusts, addictions, and every other character foible that seems to get magnified when you’re under the microscope of being a professional football star. The games are merely a colorful backdrop for the human drama. The writing on the show is crisp and well done. The first episode focuses on a couple of players from the fictional “COUGERS” team–an aging running back recovering from a blown out knee who sees his starting spot lost to a younger, faster back acquired from another franchise; and a linebacker struggling with his anger at his father/high school coach who pushed his brother/team mate to the point of death, and the fact that that anger has made him a juggernaut on the field who specializes in demolishing the opposition. The episode deals with his anguish over crippling a player from another team. There are a few awkward, unbelievable moments in the show at times (such as the scene where the new, hot-shot running back for the COUGARS is pulled over for speeding on the way to the Big Game– is discovered possessing cocaine, and immediately released because he’s the COUGARS’ “playmaker”. I’ve seen far too many actual star athletes arrested for drug possession, NO MATTER HOW valuable they are to a team. Many have their charges swept under the rug– but they still get arrested)– but overall, it’s a show I’ll keep watching. Maybe I’ll even do that comic now.

NIP/TUCK follows the story of two Miami plastic surgeons. This is one of those shows that you go “Aha– why didn’t anyone think of this before…?”. In a society like ours, where youth and beauty are valued over almost any other “quality”, the bizarre quest of people to go under the knife to either attain or MAINTAIN that pinnacle is a fascinating and compelling spectacle. One of the surgeons is an uptight idealist, who wants to help people who really NEED corrective surgery with his gifts; while the other surgeon is more of the playboy type, whose main goals are to get rich and famous while creating as many beautiful women with HIS skills as he can (often sleeping with many of his patients). Mixed with the oddities of the personalities of their patients– this is a wild, fascinating show that often leaves me feeling very uncomfortable and voyeuristic. It’s as though the things that are happening weren’t MEANT for outside eyes to see, they’re so strange. And the show has some of the most realistic surgical scenes I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they do it, but it looks as though they are operating on ACTUAL LIVE PEOPLE during the scenes. It’s amazing. And it’s on FX– which has a much more lax view of the use of our common “blue language”, shall we say– so it has a more natural feel to the dialogue without seeming forced.

In a sea of TV sitcoms and cop dramas, it’s good to see two new shows that revolve around something different. You can find good stories anywhere you look– and these two shows prove that.


Right and Wrong

There’s a lot of discussion going on (well, DISCUSSION might be too mild a term) about the subject of the CrossGen Comics company making late payments to freelancers. Some of the payments are supposedly VERY late. Quite frankly, it’s stirred up a real hornet’s nest of angry voices on both sides of the issue. Of course, anything that has the least taint of negativity becomes incredible fodder for the internet comics horde.

I’m not going to claim to have anything LIKE any kind of inside knowledge of the workings of CrossGen. The only dealings I’ve had with them is one fill in issue of MERIDIAN (I think it was issue #8). The CrossGen folks were friendly, prompt and professional. They called a bit too much to see how I was doing on pages (every other day)– but that’s no beef. They want to get their books out on time. I DO know one of the parties involved who has claimed to have not been paid for what is WAY TOO LONG a period of time. He’s a good person, and I know he wouldn’t mislead anyone about the facts of this matter. In fact, he’s rather embarrassed that his name has been added to the mix of this whole mess.

What it boils down to in my eyes–looking at it from the outside as I am– is something pretty fundemental and basic. This comes from a freelancer’s point of view, so you may consider me biased if you’d like. But here’s the thing: It is COMPLETELY WRONG to not pay a freelancer for work they have delivered. I don’t care WHAT the circumstances behind the late payment. I don’t care if you’re in the middle of securing a round of investment for your company; I don’t care if you’re on the verge of BANKRUPTCY– YOU DO NOT FAIL TO PAY A FREELANCER IN THE AGREED UPON TIME FRAME. It’s always completely amazing to me when a publisher who is delinquent in paying a freelancer becomes incensed when that freelancer makes that fact public. I’m sure if it were the “shoe on the other foot”, that very same publisher would be more than happy to make things public.

I’ve got a bold (but common sense) suggestion to the folks at CrossGen– and ANY OTHER publisher who can’t pay a freelancer for whatever reason: How about just not publishing the damned comic…..?????!!!???? If you cannot afford to pay for work delivered in a timely fashion, put the project on hold. It just makes sense to me that if you can’t afford to pay for the work, DON’T PUBLISH, SOLICIT, or HIRE FREELANCERS TO WORK ON YOUR PROJECT. And for CrossGen in specific– if you can’t afford to pay a freelancer to work on your ongoing titles, then put the book on hiatus until your in house team can produce enough work to get back on the schedule. As a company that “prides” itself on it’s public image, this situation has made CrossGen look very, very bad indeed.

Do the right thing, guys.


What could have been…sigh….

Back when Todd Dezago and I were doing our TELLOS comic book, the folks at Palisades Marketing were slated to create a series of action figures based on the characters from our story. There were to be figures of the characters JAREK, KOJ, SERRA, TOM and a Frog Soldier. Unfortunately, Palisades decided –just as they were getting ready to go to production with the figures– that they were no longer going to be creating action figure lines based on comic book properties.

Todd and I got a chance to see the prototype figures at the COMICON in San Diego in– I think– 1999 or 2000. Memory fails me now– but suffice it to say that we were both incredibly excited and thrilled over the prospect of the line of toys. The prototypes were just gorgeous. Absolutely perfect to our eyes. That’s what made it so crushing that Palisades decided to pull out.

I recently saw a link to the sculptor’s site that had done the prototypes– and to my utter joy, there was the SERRA figure in all her glory. Go check her out.

Maybe some day.


Final Words


Todd and I have a few things to say before we stop posting here. As Todd mentions, we’re going to leave the last few posts since Mike’s death here so you can read the condolences and rememberances. Then, after a week or so, Mike’s web master, Steven, will archive those posts for posterity but the site will appear as Mike left it when he died. This was his home on the web and, like bad company, I’ve overstayed my welcome.

First, here’s Todd:

so matt had this great idea for us to post one final post here on mike’s blog to sorta settle up and then, after a week or so, remove these last non-mike posts and leave mike’s entire blog–archived and all–up indefinitely, as part of his legacy, so that mike will live on.i love, here is our final post. i’d like to thank all of you–ALL OF YOU–who posted their comments and ‘e’d us and left myspace messages, who sent their thoughts and prayers, sympathies and condolensces–i cannot tell you how much that love and that support helped us all.thank you.

funny–or spooky–, mike and i were talking just a few months ago about all the projects we had in the cooker, all the stories we wanted to tell. he said that he had been a bit down thinking that he wanted to leave a nice legacy and that it had been his brother
matt who reminded him of tellos. matt told him that tellos alone was so much more than anyone could ask for from a lifetime.

we were both very proud of tellos.
and i’m sure that’s where he is now.

aug 22 2K7

Me again.

I’ve just lost the coolest big brother ever and I’m going to miss him more than I can express. He was young, healthy and had such wonderful things ahead of him, just over the horizon. And it would be so easy for me to get angry right now. Mike and I both inherited that hair-trigger Wieringo temper. I still have it. But something happened with Mike when he started drawing comics. Either it was achieving his lifelong dream or meeting so many wonderful people like Todd and Craig. Maybe it was just his amazing empathy for other creatures. But he got rid of the temper. He became the gentle soul we’ve come to know the last fifteen years or so.

So, though I could easily give in to the oh-so-tempting urge to put my fist through a wall right now, I won’t. I’m gonna do what Mike would do. I’m going to laugh a little, cry a little (or a lot, actually) and hug Charlie and Toonces and my family. And let the anger go. As someone else said in a tribute, I’m going to be like Mike.

If this horrible tragedy, and that’s what it is, has taught me anything, it’s that the old cliche, “life’s too short”, is a cliche for a reason. If there’s someone you love, tell them you love them every day. Quit putting off that phone call and just do it. If there are friends you’ve lost touch with, reach out. If you’ve hurt someone or they’ve hurt you, ask for forgiveness and forgive. Be good to others and to yourself. Get that check up. Eat healthier. Exercise. If your job is causing you stress, find another one that you love. And learn to love each other a little more. Because life IS too short. In fact, life, it seems, is shorter for some than for others.

I want to again thank everyone, Mike’s friends and his fans, for all the support and all the donations to the ASPCA and the Hero Initiative. So many folks have been so wonderful and helpful, I can’t single out too many because I’d forget some. But the shining lights have been Todd and Craig for their support and friendship to Mike and now his family. Mike’s web master, Steve, for allowing us to post here and keeping the site going under trying circumstances. Scott Cates of MothComix for showing class under pressure. Andrew and Vanessa at Chapel Hill Comics for coming through for us when they were dealing with their own tragedy. Shelton Drum of Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find for making Mike part of his family and going out of his way to help us. Richard Case, Randy Green and Mike’s buddy Glenora for checking on us and Charlie. Cully Hamner, Jeff Parker, Scott Kurtz, Mark Waid, Jamar Nicholas, Rich Faber, Traci Wagner and Chris (“Kempliiiiiitzzzz!”) Kempel and a hundred other people who called my brother their friend and proved it with heartfelt rememberances online or at the service. To my friends, Christian, Don, Marvin and Paul just for being there.

Most of all, thank you to Mike’s fans. You bought his books, you enjoyed his art and you’ve always shown class here at Mike’s blog. This was the friendliest place on the internet and I looked forward to coming here every other day to see Mike’s newest sketch and read your comments. I’ll really miss that. And to the fan that placed Mike’s artwork up and down the street outside the service…the unexpected rain may have washed away your efforts, but they weren’t in vain. We know about it and it touched us deeply. Thank you.

Take care of yourselves and if you want to keep in touch with me or Todd or Craig, we’re on the web. I don’t kid myself that anyone came to my blog for any other reason than I’m Mike’s brother. But I’d still like to hear from you. Soon, this site will be as Mike left it, looking forward to great things. He was taken much too young. But he dreamed big and he achieved those dreams.

How many of us can truly say that?

August 23, 2007

More on Mike’s Memorial Service on Friday

Enough people have asked about this that it warrants a post, though every time I do this, I feel like an imposter. Please bear with me. We’re planning on getting together after the service at a pub down the block from the funeral home. I’ll withhold the name until the service, but I thought people who were planning to come should know that we have something planned. The pub is aware we’re coming. I understand some of you may have to leave or that groups may splinter off and do their own thing. That’s fine. Craig, Todd, Suzanne and I will be going to the pub. I don’t know about you, but I plan on getting blotto in Mike’s honor. (You with me, Leaf?)

Mike’s best friend Todd Dezago has posted the following on his blog and we both thought it prudent to copy it here. I think this sums up what we’re needing right now. Please take it in the spirit it’s given. We’re grieving right now and just need some time to get ourselves collected. Here’s Todd:

“…and to everyone who have so warmly and generously asked/offered/begun putting together the many tribute books and portfolios, we are moved beyond words.truthfully, the number of people wanting to do tribute books has become a bit overwhelming and, at the moment, we’re all still pretty numb about what has happened. we would love to be involved in any tribute that is being done for mike, but right now matt, suzanne, and i just can’t think in those directions.
once some of this crazy sadness is over we’ll be glad to talk more about this.
just too sad right now.”
Again, thanks for all the good thoughts and all the prayers. If you’re coming tomorrow, we’ll see you then. If you can’t make it, please keep us in your thoughts.Take care,