Wednesday, August 12, 2009

not sad


all i wanted to do today was write a short little something about mike that wasn't sad. something happy and funny and not sad or mournful in any way.

but nothing was coming.
i went to bed and told myself something would come--only to end up tossing and turning and not being able to sleep. i got up at about 3, came into the office. nothing. for inspiration, i opened up the files of the story ideas mike and i had hoped to one day get to work on. zip.

i went back to bed at about 5:45, feeling defeated.

i just read matt's...

it's perfect.

go read it.

great story, matt!

and thank you--'cause YOU inspired me.


did i tell you this before...?

in january of 2000, while mike and i were in france for the french debut of tellos at the angouleme festival international de la bande dessinée (comics convention), we were fortunate enough to enjoy a trip on the super-fast bullet train (speeds close to 300 miles per hour) which took us from paris to the show in the bordeaux region. though the train emitted a constant hum due to the speeds it was traveling--with the occasional BOOOOM! of compressed air when the train passed another bullet going in the opposite direction (the first time this had happened, mike had been dozing a bit with his head against the window. woke him up fast.)--after a fashion, everyone else on the train had settled into and almost ghostly silence. most were reading. there were a few people having conversations like us, but they seemed to do this almost by reading lips. and even though we were barely whispering, we were acutely aware that we were talking the loudest. and imagining that we were being rude. ugly americans.

a short time later, in one of the seats/booths catty-corner to our seat, a family was also making the trip; mom, dad, grandma and grandpa--and a little boy of about 6 or 7 sitting between his grandparents and quietly working on a coloring book on the narrow table between him and his parents. he was wearing a small walkman or discman or something. mike and i noticed him because, every once in a while, he would hum a bit of whatever he was listening too under his breath.

and then, he started to sing.

at the top of his voice.

the spell broken, the whole car came to life as every passenger snapped his or her head around to see where the noise was coming from. the parents and grandparents quickly shushed the little boy who, himself was surprised by the sudden attention from his parents. "pourquoi?" he yelled at them before they could get him to take his headphones off. mike and i had to pound one another in the arm to keep from laughing out loud.
the parents quietly explained to the little boy that he could not sing with his walkman on the train, he said, okay, and the train fell back into it's mesmerizing trance.

until he started singing again.

once again, everyone looked around, some wearing expressions of frustration or even distaste. mike punched me in the mouth to keep me quiet. i stabbed him in the thigh with a sharpie. cap on.

the boy was once again, wide-eyed and apologetic, his six-year-old innocence buying him another chance. with a nod of understanding and agreement, he put the headphones back on and got back to work coloring.

so when he started singing that third time, we just couldn't hold it in any longer. sure, fewer people turned around--they knew now that there was a decidedly uncouth little boy back there whom his parents could not control--but they snapped around even quicker when mike and i broke. we just couldn't hold it in any longer and we broke like dams, bellowing out our laughter, mike with that pure, uncontrollable, honest laugh. the ugly americans were embarrassing themselves now more than they could've ever imagined.
and, of course, didn't care.

but really--we just broke the seal. 'cause once we just let it out, the entire car--well, maybe not the entire car, but definitely our area--let loose, filling the car with laughter and finding the little boy, and the whole situation, quite funny indeed! and maybe, probably, they were laughing at us too--or maybe they needed us to break the ice--or i don't know...
i just know that it struck the two of us so funny that we laughed for a good long time and were wiping tears from our eyes before we were through.

miss ya, mike.
thanks again, matt.
smell ya later!


Brian said...

What a wonderful story, Todd, thanks so much for sharing.

Mike's love of animals is well known and I think he would have loved the story about this hero dog, especially the ending.

Sorry, you'll have to cut and paste as I don't know how to do a link.|main|dl1|link3|

Anonymous said...

Hey Todd,
Love this story. It's awesome!

Adam Hutch said...

Great stroy Todd.

Cully Hamner said...

It's hard to believe it's been two years. I still think of him so much-- usually it's something that makes me laugh.

I think that's a good thing.

Christian D. Leaf said...

An excellent tale, Todd.

Squeeze said...

The funny stories are the best. And luckily we have so many with Mike. You are right, his laugh was booming and honest. Great way to put it. That Italy trip had so many funny moments. (See Matt's blog for details) On the plane ride over they were showing 'Galaxy Quest'. We all had our earphones on and all of a sudden Mike's booming laugh came through the earphones. He laughed at that movie and didn't care who heard him. Matt spent half his time laughing at Mike laughing at the movie. Funniest thing was we watched the same movie on the way back and he did the same thing! :-0

Scott Weinstein said...

That's a great story, Todd. Thanks for posting it.

There was a really nice memorial to Mike on Newsarama today:

Pablo said...

I haven't been by in awhile. I just wanted to say what a great story that was, remembering the good times.

Matt Wieringo said...

Thanks for the link, Scott! And thanks for yours too, Brian. What a great story about the dog.

And, while I'm at it, thanks Todd and Suzanne. Suze, you're right. We should watch GALAXY QUEST tonight in Mike's honor. That plane ride was sooooo funny.

craig rousseau said...

see, know i laughed out loud here in the studio reading about mike laughing at "galaxy quest", hearing it in my head...

Heywood Jablomie said...

Thanks for the story Todd!

I love hearing as many stories as people can share of Mike he totally came across as one of the coolest people.....totally miss seeing new work from him

Heywood Jablomie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heywood Jablomie said...

(Didn't like the original post i had)

Wanted to thank Scott for that link too-very nice story, but who's this Tom Dezago who created Tellos with Mike?? =P

Leanne said...

Such a great story, Todd! It made me laugh out loud. And I'm with Heywood Mike-- I can never get enough of these stories.

Been thinking about you guys today.

todd said...

we are, of course, overwhelmed by the outpouring of well-wishes and remembrances. i was going to try to reply to each person individually, but there are so many of them. so please forgive me for copying the comment i posted on my facebook page for all who commented there.
it really says what i wanted to say...

thanks so much to all of you--so many of you--who sent warm wishes to matt and squeeze and me today! to lose mike so young, so early in his career, will always make me feel that he was gyped a little. God has his reasons and i can be patient until i find out what they are, but it is so nice to see so many wonderful people remembering him for his amazing art---and, even more, for the amazing person he was.
thank you all.

rwhannah said...

Great story. It makes me think of those awkward moments that shows like The Office capture and magnify so well. It also says a lot about the stuffiness that still lingers in society, and highlights one of the great things about you loud and ruckus Americans. You guys are just about being YOU. Rules? Conformity? What's that? Although I never even met Mike, I was telling Matt that its through him... via Leanne, that I got to know a tonne of great people I might otherwise never have known. So I don't have any stories that are directly my own, other than Leanne's insane shyness around him, which is always fun to embarrass her with. ;-) Mike was great to her, and I owe him for inspiring her so much.

Matt Strawbridge said...

Another great story that I hadn't heard, thanks to Todd. The first one was Matt's.

At the Chicago 09 con, I recently asked Craig what Mike was like. I'd never gotten a chance to meet him, though I dearly loved his work. Craig said that Mike'd play it off and say he was mean, but he really wasn't and that you could tell. That he was the most genuine and nicest guy you could imagine. Hearing all these stories and talking to Todd and Craig, I surely do know it to be true.

I wish all of you the best today. Go out and pet your animals. One of my cats and I are going to curl up with Tellos now.

Thanks for the story, Todd.

Matt Strawbridge

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