Mike Wieringo tribute promotional image
I was as surprised as anyone to learn of Mike Wieringo's untimely death at the age of 44 last month due to a sudden heart attack brought on by a congenital, hereditary problem with his aorta. Having never had the pleasure of meeting the artist, whose work I've long admired, it seemed a no-brainer to attend the tribute being held in his honor at the Baltimore Comic-Con today by some of his closest friends in the industry to publicly celebrate Ringo's life and work. Speaking on the artist's behalf were his friends Todd DeZuniga, Cully Hamner, Mark Waid, and Scott Kurtz, along with a late-in-the-game guest appearance by Tom Brevoort.

Call it what you will, a tribute, a remembrance, a memorial ... this was truly a special event, and I'd like to salute all of the gentlemen who took the stage to celebrate their absent friend. For the stories they related, the hearts they wore on their sleeves, the laughter they generated (I haven't laughed this hard since Kevin Smith's panel at Comic-Con) and, yes, the tears they shed ... all of this was brave and generous and true, and Mike Wieringo was clearly well served in having these men as friends (as, just as clearly, these men were honored to be numbered as Wieringo's friends).

I took several pages of notes during the almost two-hour panel, but I think I'm going to simply let the above stand, absent any pull quotes and similarly absent any telling tales out of school regarding specific anecdotes related during the panel (I hate to resort to cliché, but truly, you had to be there, friends). Suffice to say, Mike Wieringo left his (giant) footprint on the world of comics, touching the hearts of thousands (if not millions) with his wonderful artwork and, even more importantly, touching the hearts and improving the lives of all those who knew and loved him.

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