|"Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" #1|
In December of 2006, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Wieringo. Although the interview never saw print, it was one of my more memorable ones, as Mike took my questions and did what he did with everything he worked on: poured his heart into it. So I'm pleased now, with the help of CBR, to bring you my chat with Mike, and I hope you'll join me in remembering one of the greatest storytellers of our times as we look back on his career and on one of his favorite characters, particular, the Amazing Spider-Man.
Wieringo's love for the webslinger went back to childhood. As he explained, "My first exposure to Spider-Man was the comics that my father would buy and bring home. We were stationed in Germany back in the early '70s, and my dad was a big comic book fan --it obviously rubbed off-- and would buy as many comics as he could get his hands on at the Camp PX (Post Exchange). I didn't really read them voraciously over in Germany at the time, but I knew the books he was bringing home and would flip through them. My favorites were the Marvel comics right from the start-- and Spider-Man was foremost among those favorites for me. When we moved back to the States, I started really reading the books my dad had bought, and those Lee/Romita/Kane issues-- like the death of Gwen Stacy and the drug issues-- made a huge impact on me."
|Spider-Man guest-starred in 'Ringo's "Fantastic Four" run|
"It was a huge honor to be asked to work on an ongoing Spider-Man title. Spider-Man is one of those characters that I thought I'd never get a crack at, so it was thrilling, exciting and more than a little scary to be actually taking a shot at drawing him. Fortunately, I was paired up with Todd DeZago as the writer, who not only was a great guy to work with, but ended up becoming one of my best friends. We really clicked creatively with how we wanted to handle the character. Our sensibilities for Spider-Man ran almost exactly along the same lines, so it was a fantastic experience for me from start to finish."
|"Sensational Spider-Man" art by Mike Wieringo|
|Spider-Man by Mike Wieringo|
"There's an old saying that goes, 'You can't go home again,' and part of me was feeling that when I was first offered 'Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.' I felt, though, that after about a decade after first drawing Spider-Man, and the fact that my work had changed and grown over the years, it would be interesting to revisit the character to see how I would handle him after that distance of time. Mark Waid and I had actually done a two-issue guest starring team-up with Spider-Man and the Human Torch during our 'Fantastic Four' run, and I got a little taste of the character again, so it kind of whetted my appetite for more. So when Tom Brevoort offered me 'Friendly,' I jumped at the opportunity to draw Spider-Man again on a regular basis.
|Spider-Man by Mike Wieringo|
Wieringo wasn't just an artist. In every sense, he was a storyteller, someone who always managed to combine his visuals in such a way as to give the reader a clear sense of where the story was going, what the characters were feeling, and an overall sense of emotional intensity that prompted the reader to turn the next page and find out what would happen next. Regarding his approach, Wieringo related, "I have long preferred the plot method of working as opposed to full script. But having worked with full script stories for going on six years now, I've become quite used to it. I was writing and drawing my own stories from very early on in my childhood, so storytelling-- both written as well as visual-- in the comics medium is important to me. Collaboration is important. But the present climate in the comics business is such that collaboration on a story level isn't all that possible, and so I've come to terms with my role. I certainly would, though, love to write a Spider-Man story, either for me or someone else to draw. I've always had aspiration to write as well as draw professionally."
|'Ringo's "Spider-Man/Fantastic Four" is much beloved by fans|
|"Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" #4|
In this writer's opinion, the recently completed "Spider-Man/Fantastic Four" series was everything comics should be, and I regret that we will not see what Wieringo had coming next. But this man made everything possible of his 44 years on this Earth, and for that we should be thankful. Goodbye, Mike. We'll miss you.
Now discuss this story in CBR's Spider-Man forum.