Saturday, 28 June 2008

Comic Book Artist Michael Turner Passes On

Comic book artist and creator Michael Turner passed on June 27 after a long struggle with chondrosarcoma (a cancer that attacks cartilage). He was 37 years old.

Turner was born April 21, 1971 in Crossville, Tennessee. He was discovered by artist Marc Silvestri of Top Cow Productions at a comic book convention. His earliest work was on Silverstri's Codename: Strykeforce in 1995, a title published by Image. At Top Cow he worked on the Ballistic mini-series in 1995 and co-created Witchblade, on which she worked several issues. Among his last work for Top Cow was on the Witchblade and Tomb Raider team up. While at Top Cow he created the comic books Fathom and the never published Soulfire.

It was in 2002 that Turner left Top Cow to found his own company, Aspen MLT (Aspen for the lead character in his comic book Fathom and MLT for his full name, Michael Layne Turner. Aspen's entry into publishing was delayed by a year as Turner undertook a lawsuit against Top Cow to gain the rights to both Fathom and Soulfire. In 2003 Aspen published the Fathom mini-series, the last art Turner did on the title. It would resume publishing regularly in 2004, and Soulfire would make its debut.

Turner would also do some work for the major comic book companies. He illustrated Superman/Batman #8-13 in 2004 and contributed several different covers to DC Comics, including ones to The Flash #207-211 in 2004, a variant for Superman #205 in 2004, various covers for Justice League of America #0-12, and others. He also worked on covers at Marvel, contributing a variant to Civil War #1-7 in 2006-2007. Black Panther #23 in 2006, variants for Uncanny X-Men #500 this year, and others.

Turner was diagnosed with cancer in 2000. He would lose a hip, 40% of his pelvis, and three pounds of bone. While the cancer would go into remission after radiation treatment, it had returned several times since.

Michael Turner was a prolific artist, capable of producing a good deal of work in a short amount of time. Turner's style was somewhat reminiscent of the art produced at Image in the Nineties, which I never found appealing. But Turner also stood out from the other artists to emerge in the Nineties. Indeed, he was one of the few artists to emerge in the Nineties who was capable of drawing women without making every one of them look like pinup girls on hormones (the women of Gen 13 were a perfect example). I am not sure he will ever be listed among the greatest artists of all time, but he was certainly among the most talented today.

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