I won't purport to have been incredibly close to Mike Wieringo, but I talked to him every now and then in email and along the convention circuit, and had an immense amount of respect for him long before i ever met him. He was an incredibly warm and friendly person, and his enthusiasm was infectious, in person and on the printed page.
I don't mean to use Mike's passing as any kind of soapbox here, so forgive me if this seems in bad taste, but the one tragic thing that always stuck out to me about Mike was that he soemtimes seemed unfulfilled by the projects he was on, and seemed to always long to return to creator-owned work. He told me once that he really respected guys who toughed it out in the creator-owned market, and those words still really help give me the strength to soldier on in the lean times. I've often said that life is too short to walk around in other people's footsteps and the sudden loss of such an immense talent has really shaken me, really driving home the fact that none of us know how much time we have in this world. i truly believe that life is too short to not follow your dreams, and especially as an artist, be constantly striving for creative fulfillment and seeking what makes you truly happy.
the above image is a sketch Mike did of Fear Agent's Heath Huston. i will always be touched and honored that he saw something in our creation that sparked him to pick up a pencil for a quick one amidst the heaping workload he always had.
so, to an amazing cartoonist and an even better person, i wish Mike Wieringo godspeed. We'll all miss you down here.