Michael was a former student of mine. One day while teaching in San Jose, I was walking around class and saw this guy drawing. I told him to stop drawing in class...but I also wanted to talk to him after.
At the time I was developing my first comic book and when I saw his artwork popping off the page I thought, "Man I've got to talk to this kid."
After talking with him he agreed to do work-for-hire artwork based on my own design and sketches. He cranked out a preview comic, then did the coloring as well. I was always amazed at his expertise in all areas. Meanwhile I moved to Southern California to be closer to some of the comic book companies with the intention of doing more books if things took off.
Once the comic was done, it was time to shop it around. Comic-Con was coming up so I bought him a ticket, drove up to Northern California (I was living near San Diego at the time) briefly met his mom, picked him up, and drove back down to San Diego all within 12 hours.
We spent two days there, walking the floors, talking to folks, trying to garner interest in the book. At the end of the second day, Michael, tired, decided to sit on the floor near the front entrance. I walked away to go chat to some more folks and told him I'd be back. After about an hour or so I returned to one of the most coolest sights I've ever seen.
Michael was still sitting on the floor, drawing pad in hand, multiple pens in his fingers, and he was drawing like some mad mozart in the zone. And the part that made it so cool was that there was a crowd of people standing all around him. Watching him. Cheering him on. I've never seen anything like it nor will I ever see it again. When he was done, there was a gleam in his eye. Joy on his face. This is why he came to this planet and he was living in that moment, expressing his purpose in the purest form possible.
After the show I drove him back home then turned around once again to San Diego. It was the last time I saw him. We chatted over email for a while but as his college career started to take off, and I began working on other projects we both lost touch.
Today, I was in the process of pulling out that comic so I could put it up on a few websites for promotion and decided to look Michael up again. What I found saddened me beyond belief. Even though he's been gone for a few years now, the news is brand new to me, and it will take a little time to get used to.
Michael was a good kid. Fun, funny, and opinionated, and wouldn't harm a fly. The world is a sadder place by his passing and as I look at his artwork that he's done since we worked together I'm both angry and amazed.
Amazed because he grew into the artist that I knew he was on that day that I passed by him in class as he scribbled on his paper. And I'm angry because of the amount of creativity and things yet invented by him that will now never see life.
My thoughts go out to his family and friends, even if it is a few years later. I hope this story gives you some sense of condolence that your son/friend was truly a light, and even if it was just for a short time, he did for at least one moment truly live.
When the comic he did is transferred to digital form I will post the link for you to check out. If anyone has his family's contact info please contact me so that I can send them a copy as well.