Archive for June, 2005

I left my back in Charlotte

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get a new blog post up– and I promised a HEROES CON report would be up right after I returned from the show. The problem is that I’ve been in agony from what is either a smashed disc or a pinched nerve in the left side of my spine ever since Sunday morning (the last day of the show) and have been unable to sit at my computer for more than 10 minutes or so since I returned from Charlotte. I’m not exactly sure what the specific cause of my pain is– it’s possible that it’s a combination of several factors. The chairs that are provided by the convention center are the worst enemy of ANYONE with back problems, and I’d have to consider myself to be among the ELITE of folks with back problems (a distinction I’d rather not have, mind you). And so, combined with the fact that the tables aren’t able to swivel to an angle like my drawing table at home is, it’s a recipe for a lot of back pain. I’ve ended each day at almost every major multi-day show I’ve been to in the last 5 years or so barely able to walk after the show closes. Another factor, or culprit, could be that I spent 4 hours Saturday morning on my hands and knees drawing a huge piece of art for the annual Art Auction that’s held at HEROES. The poster board they provide was too big to work with on a table, and a bit too flimsy to hold and balance on my lap sitting in a chair, so I had to work on the floor of the hotel room. It was a painful 4 hours, but I ended up being pretty happy with the way the piece came out. The final suspect in the cause of my back pain is possibly my own fault. I went to the gym in the Westin Hotel on Saturday and Sunday morning. On Saturday, I did some weight training and ran on the treadmill for about 20 minutes. On Sunday, I just ran on the treadmill– but this time for about 30 minutes. I felt really good and energetic, and so pushed myself a bit harder than I usually do. When I got off the treadmill, I felt a beginning of the pain that would incapacitate me so much this week. At first I welcomed the pain in the lower left side of my spine, because I’ve lived with pain on the RIGHT side for so many years, it was a welcome distraction from that dull, constant and maddening throb that I feel day in and day out.

But it kept getting worse and more intense.

And so now here I sit, finally able to spend a little longer in the chair at my computer. I went to a doctor a few days ago, got evaluated, and got prescriptions for some powerful pain killers and muscle relaxers that are helping somewhat. But I think the disc, or nerve, or whatever it is, is finally beginning to heal a bit. I hope SO MUCH that is the case– because the last 4 days have been a real nightmare, and for someone like me who has learned to live with constant, chronic back pain, that’s SAYING SOMETHING.

The show itself was a fun experience, overall. It was a BLUR, but an enjoyable blur. The highlight for me was Friday afternoon when my brother Matt and sister-in-law Suzanne showed up, and brought with them a wonderful SPIDER-MAN birthday cake that Suzanne had baked for me. Suzanne is a wonderful cake maker and it was a delicious example of her prodigious abilities. Here’s a picture of the three of us with the cake– the only picture I ended up getting the whole weekend (despite promising tons of pics on my message board).


Me, Matt (aka MAFUS) and Suzanne (aka SQUEEZE) Wieringo with the amazing SPIDER-MAN cake Suzanne made.

It was also very nice to have so many folks who read the blog and read in the HEROES CON program book that it was my birthday on the 24th coming up to wish me a happy one. And being able to spend the day (and the weekend) with my buddies Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau and Scott Kurtz was wonderful.

And so another HEROES CON goes into the history books. I think I finally learned at this show that it’s virtually impossible to get sketch commissions done during the show itself. After 13 years as a professional comic book artist, I have a LOT of printed material out there. And so trying to sketch while folks are bringing some– or ALL, in a few cases– of this material up to have signed in a never-ending stream of smiling faces doesn’t allow for any time to draw. And to be honest, I’d rather sign comics for folks who have bought them than to try to work up commissions anyway. I deal with more people signing than sitting with my head down and sketching. At future shows, I might (if I have time beforehand) work up a dozen or so sketch pieces to offer to folks and just spend the show time signing for people who have copies of my comics. I don’t know how many people may have been too shy to interrupt me while I had my head down drawing, and ended up just walking away without getting their books signed. Some comics fans are shy like that.

I hope this post hasn’t come off as TOO negative…. it wasn’t my intention. This blog has served at times in the past as a bit of free therapy and catharsis…. and I was just trying to use it for that purpose again. I want to publicly thank Shelton Drum and his great HEROES staff for a wonderful show. And to Matt and Suzanne for being such sweet and wonderful relatives– I love you both. And thank you to Todd and Craig for the wonderful birthday gifts and making each day of the show a blast with your wonderful humor while we were sitting behind the tables. And thanks to my buddy Scott Kurtz for hanging out with me before, during and after the show. It’s been great having you as a house guest and a ‘con buddy’ this past week.

If any other details of interest come to mind over the next week, I’ll be sure to post ‘em here.

This is entry 125.

Mike

One for the road

OK– so Scott and me, we’re headed out today for the drive to Charlotte and HEROES CON. Before we go, though, I’ve had to schedule a visit from the folks who installed my heat pump/air conditioning unit some 7 or 8 years ago. It seems that some time between the time I left to pick Scott up from the airport yesterday and the time we got here to my house, the unit decided to stop working. And after I had promised Scott a beautifully chilly house to arrive to (the temperature’s starting to heat up, as summer hits). I’ve had nothing but trouble with this unit for the past 5 years or so. I think they sold me a lemon– but since I declined the extended warrantee on the thing back when I first bought it, I’m basically screwed. I’ve had as much work done on it as it originally cost back in 1996/7…. and that was about 4 grand! The repair guy they’re sending is named Rob– and he’s the one they’ve sent almost every time I’ve had to have work done. It’s like we’re becoming old friends.

So anyway– back to the con for a second, now that I’ve vented. I’ll be taking my digital camera, and hopefully get a lot of fun pictures of the show. We’re due to return next Monday afternoon– so hopefully I’ll have a report about the show up either that evening or the next day. In the mean time, I’ll leave you with one more sketch– this one of the Princess from the cover of my ‘hopefully-soon-to-be-released’ sketchbook. And maybe I’ll see some of you who read this online self indulgence at the show!

saturnprincess.jpg

OK.. those of you NOT going to the show, see you here next week. And try to stay COOL. Hopefully after today’s repair visit, I’ll be able to do the same…….

This is Entry 124.

Mike

THE SATURN KID…. now in COLOR!!!

Since I knew I probably wouldn’t have the time to color the cover to my upcoming (soon, I hope!) sketchbook, I engaged the services of the inimitable KELSEY SHANNON to provide the color work– and I must say, the results are absolutely AMAZING!!! Since the piece is supposed to be set on the planet Saturn, I asked Kelsey to give everything that golden glow that the planet seems to give off in all the pictures I’ve seen of it. The atmospherics that Kelsey gave the piece just blew my mind…! And the lighting he put on the main figures is just perfect. I want to say a HUGE PUBLIC THANK YOU to Kelsey for the astounding job he did on this piece. Now I’m more excited than EVER to get the sketchbook produced and in my hot little hands. I’m hoping to have it done in time for the BALTIMORE COMICON which runs September 17th and 18th this year. In the mean time, I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of my buddy Scott Kurtz of PVP fame on Wednesday. He’s flying into RDU International, where I’ll be picking him up– and then we’ll be driving down to HEROES CON on Thursday to get there the day before and chill with any other pros that have come in early. It’s going to be a blast having Scott here…!

saturnkid_corrected-copy.jpg

OK, that’s it for today.

This is Entry 123.

Mike

Still on my mind

Anyone who bought the issue of DRAW! magazine from a couple years back that had the interview with me contained in its pages more than likely saw a bunch of developmental sketches from a project that has been swirling around in my mind for many years. Heck, I remember talking about it with my buddy Todd Dezago back in 2000 when we were attending the COMICON in San Diego together during the launch time of the ill-fated GORILLA COMICS line. I’m not going to go into specific details about the themes or motivations of the characters (a handful of whom appear in today’s sketch)– but let’s just say that I’ve always wanted to do a very dark, almost apocalyptic story about some young people who discover they have special powers trying to save humanity in a story that involves lots of destruction of buildings and throwing of cars and stuff. Something that’s kind of an anime/manga inspired tale of horror and destruction.

So since the idea keeps bubbling up to the surface in my head once in a while, I thought it would be fun to do this sketch of the main characters. It’s a little on the rough side, but I didn’t have that much time.

chaos.jpg

Hey, do yourselves a favor and go check out the cool forum over at my buddy Jamar Nicholas’s JNN (JAMAR NICHOLAS NETWORK) …. it’s got sections for a lot of great comics guys like Mike Hawthorne (artist on the new MACHINE TEEN mini at MARVEL), Mike Norton (artist of the GRAVITY series at MARVEL), Scott Cohn (artist of the KILLER STUNTS mini from ALIAS) as well as my buddy Jamar himself. It’s a fun place, so give it a look!

OK…. that’s it for now.

This is Entry 122

Mike

HEROES CON’S a’comin’….

I got a reminder from Dustin Harbin over at HEROES AREN’T HARD TO FIND (most folks just call them HEROES for short) that they needed a piece for their program book for the HEROES CON starting next weekend– and the subject this year is FANTASTIC FOUR in honor of the movie coming out this summer (not to mention the fact that the FF are just great characters in general). Shelton Drum (HEROES owner and all-around great guy) likes to have a unifying theme for the program book each year, and this year, it just HAPPENED to be centered around the characters starring in the comic I JUST LEFT. It’s funny how things some times work out that way. So I whipped up a quick pencil sketch for them to include in the book– and I thought I’d share it here with you.

fantasticfour-copy.jpg

HEROES CON is always a wonderful event. I’ve attended the show every year since 1985– and this year, it runs from June 24-26. It’ll be DOUBLY special this year, since the 24th just happens to be my birthday. I’ll be 42 this year (man… old age is coming like a freight train…!)– so I’m going to treat the show as my own personal party! It WOULD have also been my 20th anniversary of attending HEROES, but they didn’t have a show in 1986 for some reason…. so that distinction will have to be saved for next year’s show.

Be sure to check out the HEROES site for all the information you’d ever need if you’re interested in finding out about one of the greatest comic book shows in the country! Hopefully I’ll see you there.

This is Entry 121

Take care…

Mike