Mike Wieringo is one of those artists who sometimes seems overlooked when the talk turns to the top comic artists, but it is certainly company he deserves to be in as proven by being the subject of the latest edition of Modern Masters from TwoMorrows Publishing. The thing I love about Mike is that he's really worked hard to develop a unique style all his own. So many modern artists are quite polished, and yet have little personality to their work. They seem to have all been graduates of the same art school with the same techniques. This is where Wieringo really shines. He's melded a style that combines traditional cartoon art with elements of animation and Manga for a truly unique look.
Mike's life and career in comics is told through a book long interview with Todd Dezago and along the way we get to see dozens of examples of Mike's work including published and unpublished work, some of it from when he was just 11 years old. It's really a great book for aspiring artists. I loved to draw comics quite a bit when I was younger but never felt I had the talent to go anywhere with it. Seeing Mike's early work I couldn't help but think, "I drew as well as that when I was 11!" This is a true testament to persevering and perfecting one's technique and skill. As we see Mike's work in high school when he was doing his own panel comic books and in college, you can see the steady progress he made as an artist.
Mike grew up as an army brat and moved around quite a bit. He talks about how he never had time to make many friends and kept to himself a lot, working on his art. Luckily Mike's dad was a comic book fan and both his parents encouraged him in his goal to become a pro comic artist one day. Mike took a trip to the San Diego Con in 1991 and started showing off his portfolio. He got his break at DC doing several short stories for the Justice League Quarterly anthology title but would soon graduate into his first major job as artist on The Flash, working with writer Mark Waid.
After his run on The Flash, Mike would go over to Marvel and work on Sensational Spider-Man with writer Todd Dezago. This is where I really took notice of his work for the first time. Mike and Tony talk candidly about this very tumultuous period at Marvel as they were going through their bankruptcy and soon had Sensational Spider-Man and other projects canceled. In fact you can see some fantastic unused pencils of Mike's from a She-Hulk & Thing project.
Mike would have an less than enjoyable run The Adventures of Superman before returning to Marvel again to work on the Fantastic Four where he would once again team with Mark Waid for a memorable run, again cut short by Marvel's inept management.
The book concludes with a 32 page gallery of Mike's work. The gallery includes both finished pieces and pencil layouts. There's also an 8 page color section which includes my favorite piece in the book, Mike's rendering of Captain Marvel that would make C.C. Beck proud. TwoMorrows has made another great choice in their Modern Masters series.
Reviewed by Tim Janson