Posted on December 8, 2018
Almost a full decade ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite comic book writers – Todd Dezago. He made an appearance at the first ever Coast City Comicon here in Portland, Maine. Due to scheduling conflicts, I couldn’t attend the con for more than a day and thus I didn’t meet him that year – but the following year I finally made it when he came back.
I caught him at one point when he was sitting by himself at his booth. I never imagined I would get any one-on-one time with him, but it was important that I talk to him because if I was a fan of Todd Dezago, I was doubly a fan of the amazing Mike Wieringo – who worked with Todd on one of my favorite comic series of all time; Tellos.
When I heard Mike Wieringo died of aortic dissection a few years previous, I was devastated. He was only 44 and he was my artistic hero. I never tried to ape his style, because I never could, but his artwork is unmatched even today, in my eyes.
As I approached Mr. Dezago, I was dressed as Abraham Lincoln – so I was a bit apprehensive. Yet, he was as open to me as he was to anyone else, and we soon fell into an easy conversation.
“I love Tellos, man,” I finally said at one point. “It’s an amazing book. It seriously had an impact on my life.”
“Thank you,” he said, nodding. “I’m really glad. It was a special book to me.”
I then told him that aside from his own wonderful story and writing, that Mike’s artwork was what initially drew me to the book. I explained that I loved their work on Spider-Man, and that to me – ‘Ringo’s version of Spidey was my favorite and most iconic. I loved his cartoony style and I wanted to be able to draw as dynamically has he could.
“Thank you so much for that,” he said. “Mike would really appreciate hearing that.”
There was a point where he told me a bit about what Mike had meant to him and how he had been so very angry and bitter that Mike had suddenly passed away. It was all very surreal and heartbreaking for me to be talking to this actual friend of Mike Weiringo’s who also happened to be the writer of one of my favorite titles. Nobody else came up to the booth, it was just me and Dezago for what seemed like an hour. Eventually, I had to force myself to leave his booth before he grew too uncomfortable with my fanboy presence. I probably could have stayed there all day.
Later, though, I was able to speak with him again during one of his presentations. He went around the room and asked everyone who their favorite artists were and for what books. Naturally, I said Mike Weiringo for Spider-Man and I talked a bit about his cartoony style and fluid lines and how his characters were always striking and dynamic. He thanked me and then talked more about ‘Ringo and then thanked me from the front.
Finally, as he was leaving the convention Todd Dezago actually sought me out while walking by me with what must have been his kids and he shook my hand and thanked me for my kind words about his friend. He told me he appreciated meeting me and getting the chance to talk about Mike.
It was a strange moment with the both of us mourning and reminiscing about a man who had been dead for five years. One, a close friend and colleague and the other someone who he had never met or knew existed but whose life he changed in little ways.
I guess I was thinking about this interaction because I’ve been going through and cataloging all of my comics and I’ve finally reached my collection of Tellos books. I’m definitely going to re-read them before I seal them all up again.