Remembering Michael Turner

Cover to Action Comics #812 2nd Print
Cover of Superman Batman #8
Cover of Witchblade #1
Michael Turner

Saturday morning brought sad news for the comic collecting community. Fan favorite artist Michael Turner passed away late Friday night. Vince Hernandez of Aspen Comics, Turner’s company, issued this statement late last night:

Hello all,

Unfortunately it’s with great sadness that I must inform everyone that Michael Turner tragically passed away last night, June 27th at approximately 10:42 pm in Santa Monica, Ca. Turner had been dealing with recent health complications arisen in the past few weeks. More details concerning Turner’s passing, and services, will be given shortly.

Anyone wishing to send their condolences to Michael Turner’s family is encouraged to send to:

Aspen MLT, Inc.
C/O Michael Turner
5855 Green Valley Circle, Suite 111
Culver City, CA, 90230

Michael Turner had been battling cancer for years yet still found time to pencil hundreds of covers and make appearances at conventions and shops nationwide. I had the pleasure of meeting Turner a few years ago during a promotional tour in support of his company Aspen Comics. Turner had to cancel the initial tour for health reasons but the following year he made up for every missed appearance as promised. He was young, vibrant and if he was sick you would never had known when meeting him.

Click here for more on ”Turner’s death”.

Michael Turner began his career working on backgrounds for Cyberforce #9 at Top Cow comics in 1994. A year later Turner got the job that would make him famous, penciling Top Cow’s Witchblade. Turner’s style had been likened to famous X-men artist’s of the late 80’s and early 90’s Jim Lee and Marc Sylvestri. His thin lines and detailed penciling made him a breakout fan favorite and vaulted Witchblade to sales numbers comparable to that of Marvel’s X-books.

In 2002 Turner would leave Image Comics to start his own company, Aspen Comics, with his hit creator owned title Fathom as the flagship book. Issue #0 of Fathom hit shelves in April 2005 but the series would be plagued with delays due to both health problems and the heavy demand for Turner’s cover art. Fathom ended in December of 2006 with issue #11 but was supposed to re-launch this July with another #0 issue.

Turner’s Aspen Comics mainly published Fathom and the mini-series that spun out of the book but there were other creator owned series such as Turner’s Soulfire (2003) Shrugged (2006, co-written by Turner), Heroes (2006, based on the hit NBC TV series) and Iron and the Maiden (2007).

Though Turner’s work at Top Cow, Image, and Aspen Comics helped to build his fan base he was probably best known for his work at both DC and Marvel comics. In 2004 Turner along with Soulfire co-writer Jeph Loeb would work together on the Superman Batman story arc that would reintroduce Supergirl to the DCU. Turner co-wrote and penciled the six issue “Supergirl frim Krypton” story that saw instant sellouts and multiple printings. At that same time DC’s 2004 controversial crossover event Identity Crisis #1-#4 featured Turner cover art.

From there Turner’s artwork could be seen on variant and incentive covers from almost all the major comic companies. The fans loved his work and Turner covers of everything from Action Comics to last summer’s World War Hulk disappeared from new comic shelves and continue to sell for premium prices.

Below is a short list of some of Michael Turner’s most collectible work. All prices listed are for comics in Near Mint condition.

Witchblade #1, Image/Top Cow, 1995, $30.00
Witchblade #1, Image/Top Cow, Museum Edition (limited to 50), $250.00
Witchblade #1, Image/Top Cow, Diamond Comics Retailer’s Incentive, $100.00
Superman Batman #8, DC, 2004, $10.00
Action Comics #812 2nd print, DC, 2004, Sketch Cover. $6.00
Heroes #1, NBC/Aspen, 2006 San Diego Comic-Con edition, $80.00
Civil War #3, Marvel, 2006, 1:75 incentive cover, $20.00
Project Superpowers #0, 2008, Dyanmite, incentive cover, $15.00
Michael Turner will be missed by both his fans and the comic professionals that had the chance to work with him during his all too short lived career. During the Wizard World Chicago-Con this weekend several of Turner’s peers spoke about how much he will be missed and the mark he left on the comics business. The quote that struck me the most was from Jim McCan, Marketing Manager for Marvel:

“Mike would want us to keep smiling,” McCann said. “That’s the way he was. He was always smiling, and you never knew how much pain he was in. That’s the kind of person he was. And his spirit is here.”

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