Friday, July 09, 2010

A Story From Two Years Ago

This story actually starts almost three years in 2007. Mike Wieringos sudden and tragic death in August of that year was a shock to me. I was a huge fan of his work and followed his blog which he updated regularly. He had posted on a Friday, wishing everyone a good weekend, and no-one knew that he'd be gone from us before he could post again.

Through his good friend and regular collaborator Todd Dezago I had managed to get hold of a commemorative sketchbook done for Mike, which arrived just a week or two before I left for the US.

Flashforward to the Friday evening of SDCC 2008. It's 5:30 and people are starting to pack up as the hall closed at 6. I ask Claire to just take one more walk through Artists Alley before we leave while it's nice and quiet.

Wandering through I happen onto a table with some very nice art laid out, and the artist is relaxing behind it all chatting to a girl.

"I know it's late" I said, "but I was wondering if I could buy one of your sketchbooks and get a quick sketch." That was how I got a lot of my sketches. Most of the artists had sketchbooks for sale and if you bought one there was a page at the back for a quick sketch. I asked them to do the sketch into my sketchbook instead, which was roughly the same size, not some huge A4 monstrosity.

"No problem! I'd love to. Who do you want?"
"Oh, it's late, and I'm sure you're tired. Pick someone you enjoy drawing and can sketch without too much work."
"Fair enough," he replied, checking out the cover. "You like Marvel then? I've always been a fan of Juggernaut. Is he ok with you?"
"Perfect."

And so James "Bukshot" Bukauskas started on his quick pencil sketch of Cain Marko's super powered alter ego. Claire marveled at his work that was on the table and I started to leaf through his sketchbook.

"Cool. Ninja Turtle. Ha! Thundercats. Woah. G.I. Joe Dreadnok." And then I turned a page and went silent. Claire spotted the change first.
"What is it" she asked.
"This sketch. I know this. I got this just before we left in a book for Mike Wieringo."

James looked up from his sketch.

"Yeah. I don't generally draw stuff for things like that, but Mike was a nice guy. He was a great artist. I wish I'd met him."

I'm not ashamed to say that my eyes started to water up a little looking at that sketch. It was a black and white piece with Spider-Man crouched atop a No. 2 HB pencil saying "Thanks Mike". James and I got talking about Mike then, and our conversation just ran on.

Somehow we got on to happier subjects and we mentioned that after San Diego we were heading to Las Vegas to get married. James looked at the girl behind the table and they both laughed! Turned out the girl was his girlfriend, and they were planning on getting married in Las Vegas later that year!

By the time Claire and I said our good-byes, I felt like we were long time friends. James and his girlfriend were so incredibly nice, and the short, quick, easy five minute sketch of Juggernaut that James had started turned into my favourite sketch in the entire book, not only because of how awesome it is, but also because of the story that goes with it.

If you ever see this James, I hope you and your wife are having a wonderful life together, and I want you to know that I will always be eternally grateful for the time you gave to Claire and I on that Friday of Comic Con in 2008. You deserve every happiness and success. God bless you.

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