Turner died of cancer. He wasn't even 40. He went through chemo, had part of his hip bone surgically removed, he went through Hell. And yet, he was always smiling and greeting fans and spending time with them and doing sketches and making them feel like they were the great ones. The fans were doing him the favor, not the other way around. He died in the middle of the ChicagoCon. It was like a black cloud descended on it.
So keep in mind I am totally not dumping on the guy when I say I didn't like his artwork. I respect the man, and I recognize the talent and skill, it just didn't appeal to me. I want to be absolutely clear on that point.
Turner's comic company, Aspen, lives on. And the message board continues with the whole "we love our fans" vibe. There is a specific thread for eBay buyers who want to know if a Turner sketch they are thinking of bidding on is the real deal, and the staff does dig.
A guy on eBay calling himself DB--Fathom Forever is auctioning off Fathom sketches. Notice, that is plural. The sketches are the same thing. Now, keep in mind, a lot of your comic artist have stock poses that they use when doing convention or concept sketches. Look often enough, you'll see it. It's one part familiarity and one part being a pose they like (Misty the water sprite on my cover for Cloudburst? I was looking at some sketches of Rhapsody and other chibi characters I was developing, and noticed they were posed almost exactly the same with the slant, head down, big smile, and right arm in some sort of presenting motion). However, this guy was selling three identical sketches, the only difference being one was black ink, another was silver, and the last was gold. There weren't even the expected variations you get from drawing the same thing freehand (look at Rhapsody's hair -- I can never get the "wings" on top of her head to look exactly the same from one panel to the next). An examination was begun, and trained pro artists pegged them as traces. Turner's lines were smooth and flowing because he was familiar with what he was doing. The strokes were confident. These are squiggly and the weights are off, like someone carefully tracing over the original image on a lightbox.
This caught the attention of Rich Johnston, who writes the Bleeding Cool comic rumor column. He posted a quick report, and the regulars poo-pooed the guy as a scammer and a douche.
And now, it gets interesting.
A new user joined the board, calling himself Turner Fan. He claimed that the accusations are unfounded, where's your proof that the pictures are fakes? It didn't take long for everyone there to pwn his ass. The poster not only wrote with the same questionable English skills as the guy who was selling the sketches on eBay, but his defense was less than ingenious. At one point, when one poster pointed out the lightbox thing, he actually asked, "What's a lightbox?"
Everyone kicked Turner Fan around for a while, when all of a sudden, another user joined in. Calling himself DB--Fathom Forever, he claimed he was the seller, the pics were legit, and what Johnston was doing was libel. Johnston admitted he was nervous, as that is a very serious accusation. The board regulars started hammering DB--Fathom Forever as being Turner Fan. This was denied.
Then, the web admin for Avatar Press, which hosts Bleeding Cool, chimed in. He said that the IP addresses for both Turner Fan and DB--Fathom Forever were the same. Both accounts were created on and posted from the same computer in the same house.
The admin published the IP address. Internet detectives zeroed in on an area with a roughly 17 mile radius in Michigan where this guy was.
But wait! There's more! The co-founder of Aspen MTG signed up for the Bleeding Cool board to say that he checked the logs, and the one guy on the Aspen boards defending the sketches as legit...had the exactly same IP address as Turner Fan and DB--Fathom Forever.
Strange...no further communication on ANY of the boards from this dipshit. Suddenly, that "libel" stuff looks a lot less likely.
I thought about making this a Junior Matlock Club, but this just didn't seem right for it. But that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy this.