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Michael Turner

June 30, 2008

1971 – 2008

It would be presumptuous of me to say that Michael Turner was a friend of mine. I met him only a few times, but I knew him. And he knew me.

For those of you who are not aware, Michael Turner was seen as one of the best comic book artists in the 90s and continues to remain a popular figure in the industry. After working for Top Cow and starting his creator-owned comic book “Fathom”, he broke out on his own, becoming a comic publisher. His company, Aspen MLT, was launched in 2002. Recently his work can be seen gracing the covers of various Marvel and DC titles.

Michael Turner passed away on June 27, 2008 finally succumbing to an eight year battle against cancer.

When I met Michael Turner, I was very much the comic geek fanboy and it was before I started training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, however was I garage training with my friends in Hawaii during that time. He came to Hawaii for a week of rest and relaxation with three other friends, Frank Mastromauro, Frank’s wife Kelly, and Peter Steigerwald.

So I hung out with them and got to know everyone of a little bit better. I found out Michael was funny, entertaining, a good standup guy (literally as well) and a bit of a daredevil. He used to take vacations that included dirt-biking through jungles and parachute jumping at over 10,000 feet.

And then I found out that he liked martial arts. He trained in several forms of Kung Fu, one of them he was an instructor in. One night we had a tiny training session, everyone got into the mix.  Eventually there was sparring involved. I actually got to spar with a comic book great and got my ass handed to me.

Afterwards our Kung Fu ace, Dustin, decided to step up to the plate.  The thing about Dustin was that he was always a ball of limitless energy; trying new things, doing triple jump kicks in the air, sword forms with a back scratcher.  But Michael got the best of him, and I remember Michael quoting the Matrix as he got Dustin with a playful jab, “Good. Adaptation, improvisation… but your weakness is not your technique.”  Everyone got it, except me, it took awhile, but he had everyone laughing. 

The next day Michael taught me and a friend of mine a few basic techniques and theories in his art. One of them I was particularly fond of and I used it from time to time to prove that anyone can do martial arts because strength doesn’t matter. It worked. And it was a great opening line for the ladies.

What’s funny is – and you’ll not get this off of any comic book website – it was that trip to Hawaii where he complained about his hip being stiff and sore. The same hip where they found his cancer months later. The same hip his doctors operated on, getting rid of all cancerous material by removing all of the bone in that area.

A few years after Michael’s trip to Hawaii, a friend of mine, Sam, lived in California for about a year and worked at Aspen Studios among other places. He went over to Michael’s apartment for a get together because Michael couldn’t leave his place. After the greetings and the meal and everyone settles down, out of the blue Michael asks Sam, “How’s Pat?”

Michael Turner asked how I was doing. I’ll never get over that.

It is amazing how connected we are. The people we meet. The things we encounter. The lives we influence.  I’m seeing that more and more everyday, especially while I’m here in Japan. 

Here’s to Michael Turner; comic book great, martial artist, someone I could have known better if the circumstances were right. You’ll be missed.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2008 9:13 pm

    Nice eulogy.
    Sorry to hear about his passing.

  2. June 30, 2008 9:18 pm

    Wow, that’s a cool story.

    Yeah, I saw the news coming out of Wizard World, and it was pretty sad. I remember reading an interview w/him after his surgery… he had a pretty great attitude about it all.

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