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VicSage.com pays tribute to Mike Wieringo

Cover of Robin #26 by Mike WieringoThough he never, to my knowledge, worked on a book that featured the Question, the death of Mike Wieringo this past August was a blow to many of us who congregate here at VicSage.com, especially for me, Eric, the guy who runs the site.

‘Ringo, with writer Chuck Dixon, had a run on Robin in the mid-90s that’s pretty much wholly responsible for the fact that I continue to read contemporary comics. I’d grown up with my Dad’s collection, but really, before Robin, I was content browsing through whatever back issues I could find.

But as a kid roughly the same age as the title character, I found myself awaiting each issue with barely-bearable anticipation. Each issue seemed to capture the way I felt as a teenager more than any other comic, movie, or book I’d ever seen. Part of the credit must go to Chuck Dixon, yes, but one of the reasons was because the kids in the book were recognizable as such — unlike the hulking, muscular “teenagers” I encountered in other books. The Dixon/Wieringo Robin was my gateway comic drug, and without it, I doubt I’d have been interested enough to seek out the O’Neil/Cowan series that got me hooked on the Question.

The Wieringo Robin, along with Brady Anderson baseball cards, are also the reason that I love having sideburns.

‘Ringo affected the site in a more direct way than that, however. When the first version of this site was being put up on Geocities, I was still a teenager. My mind remembers me being younger, but much of the site-building took place the summer I turned 17. I probably should have known better than to do what I was about to do at that age, but I was still pretty new to the Internet and the idea of “netiquette”: Deciding that my art gallery page didn’t have enough art on it, I used a list of comic pro e-mail addresses that I’d found to solicit for folks to draw pictures of the Question. I’d been to a comic book convention for the first time the previous year, and I guess I stupidly thought that free sketches were part of the job.

Of maybe 30 folks that I e-mailed, only a handful replied. Most politely turned me down. Only Wieringo sent an attached piece of scanned artwork, saying that he’d just gotten back from a wedding and needed to warm up anyway. I was ecstatic. Of those artists I’d e-mailed, he was my favorite. Because of the way the laws of luck run in this universe, I assumed that meant he was least likely to reply.

The Question by Mike WieringoSeveral times over the years, I’ve let the site go dormant as my life got busy — when I started college, when papers got me down, when I finished college, etc. Every time, part of the catalyst in getting the site back up to date has involved my running across ‘Ringo’s sketch in my files and thinking what a kind gesture it was. From all reports, it was one drop in an ocean of kindness, and I bet he never gave it a second thought. I don’t even own the sketch — it’s probably floating around in an old drawing book of ‘Ringo’s or in someone’s collection somewhere — but I’m still very grateful, and will continue to move the sketch from site to site, computer to computer, for as long as I live probably. Some pencil lines on a piece of paper — simple stuff that brought me joy.

I just checked Geocities — the day I uploaded this sketch was Aug. 22, 1999, almost eight years before Wieringo’s death. In the days after, there was a flurry of uploads and new pages. Would it be stretching things to say that without this sketch, there would be no VicSage.com? It’s only one factor in a dozen. But would my seventeen-year-old self have had as much fun getting the site together? Probably not.

Thanks again, Mr. Wieringo.

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