there are times when a memory of mike will surprise me and i fetch a huge sigh. it catches me off guard, you know, this sudden sense of him. maybe it's when i'm watching something funny or suspenseful on tv, when i see the work of a promising new artist for the first time, something, anything, to do with animals...
that sense of him is still so powerful and strong and i cherish that.
but, y'know, it makes me miss him a lot too.
when i tell people about mike and what a wonderful person he was, i try but never have the words. i want to convey the humor and the compassion, the humility and the generosity, the kindness and the creativity and the talent and the courage that made up the man. he was a quiet and humble guy, at first, but once you got to know him--and he got to know you--he was wild and fun, bold!
from the moment mike and i first met, we discovered that our imaginations were simpatico, sparking together instantly and immediately carrying us into new worlds, new realms--the two of us could barely keep up! our visions were always very close to similar and each new offering only built whatever we were creating up even more! it was, in my mind, magic.
the other part of mike that i talk with people about--and how could i not--is his artwork. that wonderful, alive, fun, promising style of his; traditional and solid with some distinct suggestions of manga here and there. his storytelling was practically flawless, and his design-sense was simply gorgeous.
but it's the acting that i always gush over the most; his ability to convey so much emotion on the faces of his characters, in the simple body language of everyone on the page. it was this incredible ability that made my job as the writer so easy. i would send mike the plot, laying out the action, describing the action, the camera angles, the choreography as i saw it playing out in my head. suggestions of dialogue, thought, intention. and mike would send me gold. every time. what did i need to script?... in many cases, the story was already there on the faces and in the expressions of the characters...giving me the opportunity to go deeper into the characters and have them express even more of their feelings and conflict in their dialogue.
and here is a perfect example.
this page, from our Sensational Spider-Man Marvel Minus -1/Flashback issue, was one of our favorites. not at first, mind you. at first, when the Editors told us that we were going to have to pause in the middle of the three part story line we had been working on to be part of this company-wide event, mike and i (mostly mike) were exasperated, frustrated that we had to participate, that we would be losing whatever momentum we had created for the story. mike was mad. i quickly countered that we should look at this as an opportunity; we could really do whatever we want! "Whaddaya wanna draw?" i asked. "Well, uh...I like drawing Monsters. And I'd like to do more Splash pages." mike replied. "What if Pete and Uncle Ben go fishing and the run into all those old Lee-Kirby 'Where Monsters Dwell' monsters?" "Oh, that would be GREAT!"
the page above was one of the only pages in the issue that didn't feature a great big monster. when we did this brief scene, it, for us, quickly became the heart of the story. look at what mike gave me; the care and concern and love in both peter and uncle ben as uncle ben gently urges peter to reveal his social short-comings, peter not wanting to hurt uncle ben's feelings by telling him the truth. magic, mike.
i found out a few weeks later, that this page was being passed around the editorial offices at marvel as an example of character and subtext. it is probably the page i am most proud of from my comics career.
i miss you much.