Dringenberg was born in Laon, France. Dringenberg's earliest work was in independent comics in the 1980s for publishers such as Eclipse Comics and Vortex Comics, including Enchanter, Alien Worlds, Total Eclipse and Kelvin Mace. He worked on Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters, a parody of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which itself was a parody of many then-current comic books, and Shock the Monkey. His mainstream work includes DC's Doom Patrol with writer Grant Morrison, where he co-created Flex Mentallo, the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering, and White Wolf Publishing's card game Vampire: The Eternal Struggle.
Dringenberg came to prominence for his work on The Sandman, where he started as the series' inker over pencil art by Sam Kieth but switched to pencilling when Kieth left after the fifth issue. He drew eleven issues, all but one inked by Malcolm Jones III, and his understated, realistic style did much to establish the tone of the series. He co-created the popular character Death, whom he based on Cinnamon, a woman he knew from the dance clubs in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gaiman had imagined her looking like Louise Brooks or Nico, but ultimately preferred Dringenberg's version. Dringenberg stated in a 2014 interview that "None of the characters are direct renderings of individual people; they're composites emerging from my memories; case in point, while my friend Cinnamon was a primary visual inspiration for Death, she never actually posed for me as the character while I worked on the series. Most of the time, my girlfriend Givette and my friends McAnn and Nyssa actually posed and they each brought their own personalities to the task." He co-created Desire, basing his/her appearance on the work of Patrick Nagel, and had a hand in much of the character design apparent in the early series.
Dringenberg's work appears in the Sandman collections "Preludes and Nocturnes", "The Doll's House" and "Season of Mists". He is credited in every printing as being one of the series' creators, as he is responsible for the iconic representation of many of the principal characters.
He is an illustrator of book jackets and CD covers, most notably for various books by J. R. R. Tolkien, Kij Johnson, Charles de Lint, Kage Baker, and San Francisco's Big City Orchestra. He did interior decorations for Sharyn November's Firebirds Soaring (2009).
Dark Horse Comics
- "Mike Dringenberg". Lambiek Comiclopedia. February 4, 2011. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013.
- Mike Dringenberg at the Grand Comics Database
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
The Sandman saw a variety of artists grace its pages. Sam Kieth drew the first few issues, followed by Mike Dringenberg, Chris Bachalo, Michael Zulli, Kelley Jones, Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, and Shawn McManus, among others.
- Tousley, Nancy (October 12, 1991). "Artist draws a 'cinema for the page'", Calgary Herald, p. B9.
- Manning "1980s" in Dolan, p. 240: "Neil Gaiman, aided by penciller Mike Dringenberg, introduced the character Death to a fascinated readership...Death was an instant hit and arguably became more popular than the Sandman himself."
- Bender, Hy (1999). The Sandman Companion. DC Comics. pp. 237–241. ISBN 978-1563894657.
- Curiel, Jonathan (April 18, 2014). "The Sandman Speaks: Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg on the Glories of Their Graphic Novel". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014.
- Burgas, Greg (January 7, 2013). "Comics You Should Own – Sandman". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 10, 2014.