There was a somber feeling this morning at Wizard World Chicago as fans, co-workers and friends of artist and Aspen Comics founder Michael Turner shared their shock and sadness over his death last night.
The Aspen Comics booth was quiet, missing the usual faces who would greet guests at every Wizard event. While Aspen Executive Vice President Frank Mastromauro and Editorial Director Vince Hernandez were at the booth on Thursday night during preview night, they and other Aspen creators flew out of Chicago early on Friday for Los Angeles, aware that Turner's condition had worsened. A representative for Aspen today said his family and friends from Aspen were with him last night when he passed away. Turner had been recently hospitalized for complications from a surgery he underwent in February in his continuing battle with the bone-based cancer chondrosarcoma.
The Aspen Comics panel that was scheduled for today at 1 p.m. was canceled.
At the Marvel booth, Jim McCann, Marvel's Marketing Manager, was working on a tribute to Turner that will be presented at the Secret Invasion panel today at 1 p.m. Turner had been working with Marvel since signing an exclusive with the company in 2005, including providing artwork for covers for Fallen Son and World War Hulk. The artist was scheduled to next do interior work with Jeph Loeb on a story set in the Marvel Universe.
"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."
David Hyde, Vice President of Publicity for DC Comics, said DC would also be paying tribute to Turner at the company's noon DCU: Crisis panel. Senior Editor Dan DiDio was expected to talk about Turner, whose work was seen on so many of DC's comics over the years, most recently on Justice League of America covers and interiors in the "Supergirl from Krypton" story arc of Superman/Batman. Geoff Johns, who was scheduled to appear at the convention today, had canceled his appearances because the Los Angeles-based writer few back to L.A. early this morning. He and Turner were working together on the unfinished series Ekos. They were also close friends.
Joe Yanarella, Senior Vice President of Operations for Wizard, said the convention had encouraged moderators of panels to observe a moment of silence for Turner. He said there would also be a moment of silence on the con floor for the creator, although the time for the observance was still being determined.
Update: Saturday's Green Lantern panel scheduled for 5:00-6:00 pm has been cancelled due to Johns' departure.