Heroes Con: The 'Ringo Scholarship at SCAD

Shortly before his August 2007 death, Mike Wieringo told his brother Matt he worried he hadn’t left his mark on life, that he hadn’t built something to last. “Mike didn’t really get the impact he made on the industry,” his brother said.

It’s only the lucky few who understand the impact they make before they die. But considering how embedded Wieringo’s art and memory are throughout Heroes Con his year, his ignorance of his own importance seems all the more sad.

Matt Wieringo and a large group of creators manned a booth in the artist’s gallery in support for The Mike Wieringo “The ‘Ringo” Scholarship, a need-based scholarship to the Sequential Art program of The Savannah School of Art and Design. Wieringo and Mike’s sister-in-law Suzanne finalized the scholarship’s paperwork about two weeks ago, he said.

According to the official news of the scholarship, it is designed to help provide similar help to artists at the Savannah College of Art and Design or SCAD. Domestic and international students with have a minimum 3.0 grade point average who demonstrate financial need and display a serious interest in pursuing comics as a career are eligible. The scholarship will take effect in the artist’s second year of classes, and is renewable for up to two additional years, provided the student continues to meet the criteria.

The recipient will be chosen from three finalists determined by the college in a portfolio review by Matt and Suzanne Wieringo, along with a rotating group. The ultimate goal for the ‘Ringo is to raise enough funds so that it can cover a full year’s expenses at SCAD (classes, materials, room and board), approximately $30,000.

In addition to selling volumes of Wieringo’s Image series Tellos, The Hero Initiative/Marvel What If book, original art, a tribute sketchbook and other donated items being sold, a number of creators signed at the Her Initiative booth to raise money for the fund during the Heroes Con weekend. The signing for the What If? book in particular saw a very substantial line throughout the 10-man signing event, involving all of the creators present who worked on the special issue.

Matt Weiringo’s ultimate goal is to raise a total of $600,000, enough to initially award a year’s tuition and enough interest to sustain the scholarship indefinitely. Wieringo said at last count, the scholarship had about $25,000. “The more we put into the fund, the more we can give its recipients,” he said.

The ‘Ringo Scholarship will be a constant presence at Heroes Cons to come, said Shelton Drum, the convention’s organizer. Details pending, recipients hope to be announced at each Hero’s Con beginning next year and each year thereafter.

Wieringo, who lived in Durham, N.C., also provided most of the art when Drum remodeled his store, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, in Charlotte. Wieringo designed the bathroom door to look like the infamous phone booth Clark Kent would treat as his dressing room. And of course, Wieringo sketched out the design of the life-sized Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus fighting above the cash register island and statue case.

Drum said Wieringo was a constant presence in Hero’s Con, dating back to his days as an art student. “He was a real nice kid,” Drum said. “By the time he was a pro, he was already in our inner circle group. And boom, overnight he blew up doing the Flash.” Wieringo never missed a Hero’s con from 1985 to the 2007 convention before his death.

During all those conventions, Matt Weiringo made a point to attend Heroes Con – mainly as a chance to catch up with his ever busy brother. “90 percent of the time I was here to see him,” he said. “This scholarship gives us a good reason to keep coming back.

“I just hope if he’s watching he’s proud.”

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