Life before breaking into Comics
Michael Turner was not interested in comics as a young child. He did however possesses a love for art, to the point that he was constantly drawing. Originally, he never intended to become an artist. He wanted to follow in his stepfather's footsteps and become a doctor. He attended the University of Tennessee, however with only two semesters remaining decided that he wanted to leave Tennessee for a while. With a friend he traveled to Aspen, Colorado. There he skied, earned money by waiting tables and in the summer undertook a roadtrip throughout the western United States to play volleyball. Unfortunately, Turner sustained an injury, which forced him to return home to Tennessee.
Originally, Turner had planned on pursuing his studies, but his recent experiences had changed him. He realized that his wish of becoming a doctor was more for his stepdad than for himself and decided to put an end to his studies.
Michael and his brother Jake took all they owned and moved to California. There he once again waited tables and became an instructor at a kung fu studio.
Eager to pursue his love for art, Michael visited the San Diego Comic-Con with some sample pages. Four major comic studios rejected his work until he met with David Wohl from Top Cow. He was still uncertain of his career choice until he suffered another injury during a Kung Fu tournament. After he broke his ankle, Michael was no longer able to wait tables. He began drawing in a more serious way and produced several other sample pages that he posted to every company on the market. Top Cow once again showed interest in Michael, and he became the background artist for Marc Silvestri on Cyberforce.
In 1995, Michael Turner first began work as an artist for Top Cow. There he did background art and provided art for the Ballistic mini-series before eventually co-creating Witchblade. For this he had to move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Jason Gorder, Peter Steigerwald, D-Tron and Randy Queen were his fellow roommates. Other artists at this time at Top Cow who motivated the hell out of Turner were David Finch and Brandon Peterson. Together with David Wohl, Marc Silvestri and Brian Haberlin he then produced Witchblade, a mystical story about a NYPD detective called Sara Pezzini with the power of an ancient artifact - the Witchblade. For the next two years he was the penciler of Witchblade and also drew some Crossovers with Tomb Raider. But he felt that it was the right time to move on because his inspiration struggled.
As he was an ambitious scuba diver, he spent his vacation with his brother in Tahiti where both of them did a shark dive. After having seen this monumental experience, he decided to invent something new. Turner wanted to share his experience. While doing so he created Aspen Matthews, a marine biologist who was to discover that she is not a human being but of a descent much more below the surface, in his creator owned series Fathom.
Finally, in '98 he came out with Fathom, a comic he wrote and illustrated. Everything went just fine until one day he was diagnosed with cancer. He recovered and in '02, created his own publishing company, Aspen MLT. Under Aspen MLT he continued the Fathom comic (after a year-long lawsuit over the rights to the title), coming out with another volume and several miniseries. He also worked on Soulfire and Shrugged, two other series he created, and had a fourth comic ( Ekos) to be released after Soulfire was underway. Aside from his own projects, he also did cover work for both Marvel ( Civil War, Fantastic Four, Fallen Son) and DC ( Flash, Identity Crisis, Justice League of America). His only interior work for DC came in the stunning Superman/Batman Supergirl arc, in which helped reintroduced the character into the current DC Universe continuity.
His many activities lead to several severe injuries. His first even leading to him being paralyzed for several minutes. So he was used to getting injured. One day during a snowboard trip he fell on his hip just before a big signing tour. At the hospital x-rays didn´t turn up with anything but a MRI gave him the shocking news: Michael had a tumor on his hip bone. But still he went on the tour, after several stops he got the even worse news he had bone cancer. First, he was pissed off but very soon he began to realize that he could make it and so he began to think positively again. He wanted to be an inspiration to others. A lot of bone and muscle tissue were removed during the operations and he had to do chemos as well.
His dad also suffered from cancer and during this time they spent a lot of time together. This was the cause for the Fathom # 1/2 issue.
He returned to Top Cow after he recovered but he was not the same man. He had changed again and wanted to do his own thing. So he founded Aspen, MLT.
With several friends, he had at Top Cow and elsewhere like Peter Steigerwald and Frank Mastromauro, he left his employer and founded Aspen, MLT. Named after his favorite heroine and himself: Aspen Matthews and Michael Llayne Turner. And he already some further ideas in his pockets: Soulfire (then Dragonfly) and Ekos. But these titles just like Fathom were facing a lawsuit against Top Cow. Top Cow claimed rights to these titles just like Aspen, as they said that Michael created the characters and therefore had the rights.
But all this lead to the fact that Aspen was not able to publish any comics yet. So Michael was able to take a job on Supergirl as he was phoned by Dan DiDio. Together with Jeph Loeb and his friend Peter Steigerwald he gave Supergirl a new look, although he did not know nothing about the DCU at all. So he first started with Covers for Teen Titans and then went on to produce the Supergirl arc in the pages of Superman/Batman. From there he created covers for Identity Crisis, everything to have enough money fro his company.
In 2004, Aspen won the lawsuit and so Soulfire was able to hit the stands.
Michael Turner was not only a penciler but he was also a master of Tai Chi Chuan, a centuries-old Chinese martial art form of self-defense. What is more, because of his father he learned at a very young age of two years how to do waterskiing. So he could win his first tournament at the age of eight years and later became the national-champion barefoot waterskier. Apart from that he was also into Tae Kwon Do, tennis, basketball and golf. When Turner attended college he started playing volleyball. When moving to San Diego, he learned how to scuba dive.
Death and Tributes
Michael Turner passed away, after his long battle with cancer, at the young age of 37. He died on the opening Friday of the Wizard World Chicago Convention in 2008, and there was a minute of silence dedicated to him on that Saturday. On the San Diego Con there even was a whole panel dedicated to him.
A few months later the trade "A Tribute to Michael Turner" came out in which many of his colleagues and friends wanted to express their sadness about his death. Wizard edited their Millenium Edition of Michael Turner and renamed it "Tribute Edition".
His comic legacy will live on in the future movie project Fathom, which will star Megan Fox.