Friday, August 24, 2007

rich case

one of the most incongruous things to me about someone passing is that it inadvertantly becomes a sad sort of reunion. you are thrilled to see old friends, but certainly not under these circumstances.

i have seen--and been in touch with--lots of old friends in the past two weeks. i have hugged them and cried with them and told them, as we are reminded to do in times like these, how much they mean to me. i have vowed to keep in better touch with cully and scott kurtz.

if it could be, my bond with craig has grown even closer.

in being at mike's house, and going through his stuff with matt and suzanne, we quickly realized that even though we had each other to keep our spirits up (well, as 'up' as they could be...), it wasn't difficult to come across something or other of mike's that would catch your breath or bring on the tears. it was great that randy green stopped by one day to break things up. randy still has no idea how much his arrival just gave us that chance to come up out of the sadness and reset our attitudes.

the next day, rich case came by and did the same thing. seeing that we'd really needed that, rich suggested that we join him, and his lovely wife colleen, for dinner the following night in hillsborough, the town where mike and rich used to have their artamus studio with other great artists like jeff parker, scott hampton, chuck wojekewicz and chris kempel. (d'oh! rich just told me it's "Wojtkiewicz"--but i was close!) dinner was great--we went to tupelo's, the mexican restaurant that we always went to when i'd come down and visit the studio, and the evening was filled with memories of those days for rich, matt, and me.

best though was to be able to see rich, catch up with him, and miss mike together a little.

i always talk about how mike and i first met when we were haphazardly thrown together on an issue of sensational spider-man, a pairing that would last another 25 issues or so. what it really was though was a "teaming" as mike brought with him his pal and studio mate, rich case, as inker on the book. how cool to be working in the same studio--i wanted so badly to move in there and be a part of that energy!

rich and i became friends then too. (i was able to gush over his wonderfully quirky pencils on the doom patrol!) we even worked together on a two-issue story for sensational (while mike was taking a month off) that rich had come up with and was kind enough to give me co-plotting credits for.

it must have been january or february of 2000, tellos had just debuted the previous summer, and mike, rich, and i were scheduled to be guests at a small show in chicago that motor city con organizer, gary bishop. i got there okay.

mike, rich, and chuck were stuck on a frozen runway in either philidelphia or pittsburgh. i think rich thinks it was indianapolis. i think he's wrong. anyway, they were waiting out there on the plane for about five hours, the uncomfortable seats messing up mike's already messed up back.

though tired and frustrated, mike put on a smile when i met them in the hotel lobby and rich showed me this sketch mike had done in his sketchbook while on the plane, worrying about how bored i probably was at the show without them.

rich found it again for me the other day and reminded me of the whole fiasco.

of course, that's how I remember it.
you can check out rich's version over at his way cool blog, rhomblog, at:

thanks, rich--for everything!
i love ya, man!


Brian said...

It is at times like these that friends truely are worth their weight in gold.

Heywood Jablomie said...

Yes I second that. I always liked Rich's work, although I admit to not always keeping up with what he was doing. That picture Mike drew is hilarious Todd. Were ya really all pierced up like that back then?

Christian D. Leaf said...

Todd Sauce, eh? You plan on bottling that fine looking concoction anytime soon, Todd?

Good memories and their accompanying laughs always help ease the pain. Keep sharing 'em.

Chris Gardner said...

Hi Todd, I wanted to say, as probably thousands have, that I'm so very sorry about Mike, I'd never had the pleasure of meeting him but I just adored the guy through my daily visits to his fantastic blog and his DrawingBoard entries and the like. What a sweet soul he was, there just aren't many like him. You, Craig, Matt and his family have been lovely to remember Mike as you have and to share things with all of us along the way. Mike had good friends and a loving family for sure. I'm not a comic artist but I am an Illustrator by profession, have been about 14 years or so and I'm really wanting to do a portrait of Mike to give to Matt at the Baltimore Con. I have some work posted on my blog for you to see if you'd like to, I promise I'll do Mike justice and hopefully the work shown will make you feel comfortable enough to help with a picture that I can use. There are lots on the web but I'm hoping for something that his family and friends would view as a picture that really captures him, perhaps a favorite. I hope this isn't a bother, and I apologize if somehow it's out of line, I've been a fan of Mike forever and I really wanted to do something to express that and I honestly didn't know who else to ask. Take care Todd, and best of luck in the future. -Chris Gardner.