Little known fact. The late Michael Turner was one of my personal heroes. He was also one the catalysts who inspired me to go to art school and get my BFA in computer animation. It was on the path of getting my BFA that of course eventually led me to becoming a published author and a comic book nerd seraph that you’ve all come to know and feel morally ambivalent about.
And to think none of that might’ve happened had a chance meeting not occurred.
He was a phenom. His unique artistic style took the comic book industry by storm. Michael Turner was one of the most gifted writers/artists in the game.
I had the pleasure of meeting Turner several years ago when I was living in the bowels of hell known as Chattanooga, TN. He was on a signing tour and he stopped in at the local comic book store. I was irked because I was scheduled to work and I would miss meeting him.
Obsessed with his art, I followed Turner’s career pretty closely. I was surprised to learn that he was a fellow Tennessee boy. I can’t tell you how many days and nights I spent sketching away in my tablets, trying to emulate his penciling style. And on top of that… well… he was hot. Smoking hawt.
Suffice it to say I wasn’t going to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity; job or no job. Given how abusive and thankless that job was, let’s just say my decision was a no-brainer.
I went on my “lunch break” and headed out to the comic book store to meet one of my heroes. I stood in line and waited for Turner to sign issue 12 of Fathom which was the big crossover featuring Tomb Raider, Witchblade and the titular heroine herself.
He greeted me with a warm grin and signed my copy. As he signed, I flipped through his portfolio and saw his various pieces.
“Did you have any formal training?” I asked.
“Nah,” he said. “I took one art class one time and I got a C-.”
“Do you have any advice for novice artists?”
“My only advice would be to just to keep at it and keep working on it.”
I thanked him and we shook hands. You could tell his warmth was genuine and he couldn’t have possibly been a nicer guy.
I must’ve been gone from work on my “extended lunch break” for a couple of hours. I never did get caught or get in any trouble. After work, I returned to the comic book store and imagine my shock to learn that Turner (who was supposed to have been gone at that point) was still around greeting fans and signing autographs.
The store manager stated that Turner stuck around of his own volition, was one of the friendliest people he ever met and an all-around class act.
A few weeks after the signing, I learned that Turner had been diagnosed with cancer. What was even more inspiring was not only did he beat it, but he came back with a vengeance.
He launched his own company, produced his own titles, and was still sought after by Marvel and DC alike to do cover art and story arcs. And when the cancer returned, he didn’t let it stop him. Giving credence to the notion that Turner was every bit the superhero that he made his living drawing.
When things got rocky in art schoool or when pissy professors were lining up eager to tell me that I would never finish school, let alone work in the field, he was one of my inspirations to keep me persevering. Persevering to the point that I graduated with honors with received the departmental award for outstanding contribution to the media arts and animation department. Persevering to the point that two novels, several short stories, and hundreds of articles later, I’m just getting started as a pro author.
While our only meeting was brief, Turner shaped me in a profound way. To this day I imagine his other fans still echo that sentiment.
To Michael Turner,
Your time on this world was far too brief but that didn’t stop you from making a monumental impact. You created new worlds for us to explore and you showed us a glimpse of the beauty that was in your soul. Your work and character inspired countless lives and for that all I will be forever grateful.
Take a bow, and thank you.