As many of you know, Aspen comics CEO, creator of Witchblade, Fathom, and Soulfire, and all around inspiring artistic talent Michael Turner died this weekend after a very long and courageous battle with cancer. Like many, this news came as a tremendous shock Saturday morning because despite the toll the disease had taken on him over the years, the guy always appeared to be healthier looking, more fit and tan, and just happier and more energetic than the rest of us at comic book shows. I truly believed he would outlive us all.
Many might be surprised to know that despite our very similar paths in life, I didn't really know Mike all that well. Sure, we spoke on the phone several times over the years, exchanged pin-ups and covers for each other's creator owned projects, and even came very close to being partners in the original Cliffhanger comics line-up in the late 90's along with Joe Mad and Humberto Ramos. But in the end, we just remained acquaintances, sharing pleasantries at conventions like passing ships in the night and catching up on each-other's goings on through mutual friends and colleagues. Which is why I'm a little startled at how much his passing is affecting me today. Perhaps it's because of those intertwined paths.
You see, we both broke into comics, Image Comics, around the same time and around similar ages in the early 90's. I joined up with Jim Lee's Wildstorm studios, he joined up with Marc Silvestri's Top Cow. I was fortunate enough to have break-out success with Gen 13, he had breakout success with Witchblade. We also both seemed to simultaneously garner a mutual reputation for drawing sexy women in what would be defined as the "Image style", and seemed to be constantly linked and compared with each-other around this same time. later we both broke away to create our own very successful comic book sensations, Fathom and Danger Girl. Like I said, we just seemed to be linked in some sort of strange cosmic way, like brothers in comic-dom. Constantly competing with each others success, and ultimately, becoming much better craftsmen from that spirited competitiveness. bottom line, I think we made each other better artists.
When I first met Mike, I'll be 100% honest, I don't think we clicked. He seemed to be a bit arrogant to me, perhaps a bit full of himself for my taste. He just seemed to be good at everything and would make sure you knew it. But as the years went on I began to realize that I had Mike all wrong. He wasn't arrogant at all, he just had a lust for life. He lived life to the absolute fullest. No day, no time was wasted. The guy wasn't only a comic book artist, but an avid skier, a scuba diver, a trained martial artist, the list goes on and on. And what may have initially seemed like him being full of himself was really just an intense drive to be the best at what he could be. It goes without saying that the guy wanted to take on the world. Not only constantly taking risks with new creation after new creation but having the balls to create his very own comic book company. Trust me, you need to have a healthy ego to succeed in this business. You have to believe in yourself more than anybody, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and Mike just really and truly believed in what he was doing.
I didn't know Mike Turner as well as I wish I had, but his life is a real inspiration to me and will continue to be. He's taught me not to let the "bad" in life get you down, and to pursue your goals and your dreams no matter what obstacles life throws in your way. And most importantly, to get outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and live every day to the fullest because everyday is a gift to be cherished.
You will be missed Mike.
J. Scott Campbell