Michael L. Turner 1971-2008
"Good Luck!" It's such a short phrase, but its a phrase that has lived long in my mind, and one that I believe to still drive me to this day. It's been almost two weeks since the death of Michael on June 27th, and this blog is in memory of my first encounter with a man that has effected my life's goals to this day..
It was Thursday, July 6th, and the family and I was supposed to attend church that night, but because it was 13 days way from my birthday and the only chance of me meeting my favorite comic creator, we put God on the back burner. HE will forever love me anyways, right? It was the beginning of Michaels big Fathom/Witchblade/Tomb Raider
Crossover tour with TopCow
, and Bedrock City Comics
of Houston, Texas was manic enough to order enough of the book to score an in-store signing..
So, there I was, dragging my mother, father, and sister along for the ride, and carrying my collection of the Fathom series from issue 0-12 along with a sketchbook to pass the time. Comic stores to this day is heaven to me, and even more so whenever I was sixteen. So, needless to say I was wondering around the store two hours before the signing sampling what was out at the time..
Before soon, the empty store turned into a gathering, and I knew I had to get in a line before other comic nerds herded me to the back. In a few short minutes Frank M. was walking through the back door to the counter of the signing with a portfolio in hand, and I nearly freaked. It was HIS portfolio! That meant that HIS original art is freakin' in there! Wait! Here HE comes!
Michael walked into the room, and by this time my sister who was standing right behind me was embarrassed by this Japanese school girl in front of her. "IT'S HIM! IT'S HIM!" I said in my barely audiable indoor voice. So, with comics and sketchbook in hand I braced myself for the meet..
I remember standing there and watching others get to Michael before me. They had 20 books for him to sign, and all I could think was the arrogance of bringing so many books and tiring out Mike before I could get to him..! The nerve, right?!
Finally, I got up to him, and like all emotionally unstable teenagers meeting their idol would do...I said nothing. I stuck out 6 books for signing, and gazed at the marker in his hand like an ancient secret to drawing was going to be revealed to me. Yet, Michael was as nice as anyone would assume him to be. The smile on his face, and look in his eyes, showed his appreciation for his fans and determination to sign every last book handed to him..
While he was signing I noticed a paper next to him stating that he would give an original sketch for a mere $5! So, I signaled the parents for a five-er while the signing continued, and asked about the sketches. He gleefully confirmed that he was going to be selling them, and I shoved my 5 bucks in front of Frank to make sure I was on the list..
Once Michael signed my books I directed myself to the holy grail of them all...Michael's portfolio. Glory, glory, hallelujah...who needed God when I had creation right in front of me?
I had to muscle a couple of nerds to get to the portfolio, but when I did...it was beautiful. Interior pages from the latest issue of Fathom, cover art from Aria (which I had Michael sign, and he made a remark of remembering that drawing)
, Fathom and Witchblade
...it was awe inspiring. But wait, then I found out that you could buy the pieces he was displaying..!? Mom, Dad! 200 bucks quick!
That would have been nice, but no dice. But there was blasphemy in the house of Turner as one art buyer tried to get Michael to lower his price on a piece because of an ink smudge. AN INK SMUDGE! You're buying a Turner, man! Be proud as some of us can't get their parents to fork up $200! The nerve..
..but I digress.
The sketches were at hand, and my number was about to be called. In excitement I waited, and plotted how I could hang around the counter after my sketch to watch Michael draw and learn some secrets. Though, my plotting was haulted as my Mom chimes in, "Show him your sketchbook!" Huh? No way! My art can't bother the likes of Turner!
"Oh, c'mon." She responded..
Finally, my number was up and Michael asks who I would like him to draw. "Vana." His eyes seemed to light up, "Hey! You're like maybe the second person who has asked me to draw her!" and I retorted, "Well, she's designed really awesome, man!" So, he gets to drawing.
"Wait, how are you drawing her face without any guidelines?" I asked while staring at his hands again. "I've been drawing for awhile, so I don't really need them anymore...well, except whenever I'm drawing something challenging." Nice!
"What do you use a kneaded eraser for?" like a curios child (which I was)
. "Ah, here's the trick..!" And he showed me how he used the eraser in his work. "Stick around after the sketches, and I can show you more stuff." Que the choir of angels...n-n-n-now!
"Sweet! Sure!" I said trying to quiet the school girl on the inside...and then comes my mother, "Hey, Mike! Do you think he should throw away his sketches? He always does." and hands Michael Turner my sketchbook. SHE HANDED MICHAEL TURNER MY SKETCHBOOK! Mom...No!
"Wow." Came from Michael. Frank comes in, "Damn! And you throw these away?" Michael follows with, "And how old are you?"
"16 about to be 17.." I said trying to shake off the stunned feeling of them looking at my sketchbook.
"Well, when you're 18 look us up..!" OF COURSE! OF COURSE! OF COURSE!
"Of course..! Thank you for the sketch!" And I walk away, wide-eyed and stunned..
"See. I told you." My mom chimmed in..
I stayed and watched Michael sketch throughout the evening like a leech, and soon the crowds dewindled, and it was dark outside. As the last of the customers had their sketch made I waited to get more drawing pointers from Michael, but alas, I think I had too much excitement already as the store clerks took Michael away for some drinks before I could say anything..
There is a list I have with creators that I someday wanted to work with. This list is short, and on June 27th it got one more name shorter.
"Good Luck!" is what he wrote on my sketch that Michael made for me, and this sketch still hangs above my drawing desk to drive me foreward and achieving my goal as a comic artist. So, Michael, you are still a driving force for me, though from that day we have never formally meet again other than though pictures and words. (Michael responded to a letter of mine through Wizard magazine under the name of Daniel C. Jaramuth...they spelled my last name wrong...and they printed my art in issue 8 in Fathom Vol. 1...I'm the art that is at the bottom right center with Aspen and Blue Man.)
Thank you for the memory that will never fade in my mind as this blog has proven, Michael, and I hope to someday honor you of that memory through my art..
So, the journey is over for you in this life, but I pray that in the next you will continue to shine the light that I experienced that day. You will be missed, and "Good Luck, bro!"
You can check out the photos and the sketch at:i35.photobucket.com/albums/d16…