Thanks to everyone who has written with encouraging words about my wife's cancer. We both appreciate all of the sentiments. Quick update on Traci, and then I'll move on to the latest piece. She's now begun a new clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania, and we're hopeful that the success they've had with this combination of chemo and another drug will also apply to her. Although her cancer has advanced quite a bit since the time I mentioned it here, she's hanging in, and with the support of family and friends, we're managing to keep things afloat, and stay relatively sane throughout this difficult time.
As to the aforementioned friends, Matt and Suzanne Wieringo are a couple of very good ones. Many of you know about my friendship with Matt's brother Mike. Since Mike died, Matt and Suzanne and Traci and I have become good friends. They are actually a part of our (ever-growing) network of support, and have been incredibly kind to us in the face of Traci's illness. They recently came to see us for a visit, as detailed on Matt's blog, and we had a wonderful time seeing them. They also did a lot to help out around here, even though they were only with us for a little over a day. I'd had a little surprise waiting for them for a few months, and was so glad I could give it to them in person.
First, the background. Last summer, I attended Heroes Con in Charlotte for the first time. I'd brought copies of my NASCAR Heroes comics, and gave one to my good pal, Todd Dezago, who also happens to have been Mike's best friend. Todd was flipping through it at my table, and asked me something that I still feel honored by to this day. Looking at the portraits of the drivers I had done for the comic, he asked me if I'd be willing to do a portrait of Mike for him. I was floored, as I had actually intended to do just that for him as a birthday present (we share a birthday, October 10th) that fall. It's nothing new for Todd and I to be thinking of something at the same time. It's happened many times before. We attribute it to the common birthday, but really, it's probably just that we have the crazy gene in common! Anyway, this was one time that I was actually surprised by what he asked me, and of course, I told him I'd be honored to do the illustration for him.
Todd sent me a bunch of reference photos of Mike, and I went to work. I finished up the following piece in November, and now have permission to share it here:
Todd told me I could mention where he's using it, so it's for the upcoming Mike Wieringo Tellos tribute book. That's all I know about it at the moment, but Todd will be issuing a press release at the appropriate time. As for Matt and Suzanne, when they visited, I gave them two card stock copies of the portrait, one for them, and one for Matt's parents. It's probably one of the most meaningful pieces of art that I've ever had the privilege to create, and Matt told me it's now hanging in a particularly appropriate place of pride for me, the guest room where Mike stayed when he visited Matt and Suzanne. I can't think of a more touching place, and I'm so pleased that it means so much to them, my very good friends. Thanks guys!
I'll be back soon with more new art. In the meantime, in light of the previous, hug your loved ones, and make sure they know what they mean to you.