In May of 1984, Kevin Eastman, along with Peter Laird, created something really special, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This year will celebrate the Turtles 35th Anniversary.
When the TMNT first came on to the scene nobody could have imagined how huge they would become. From countless comic books, to toys, TV shows and movies. Anybody around growing up in the 80's, was no doubt a fan of the Turtles. As a lifelong TMNT fan, it's amazing that there is still amazing content coming out on a monthly basis.
With a slew of new projects and storylines, such as "City At War", the road to issue 100 of the IDW series and Vol.3 of BATMAN/TMNT, this is shaping up to be an exciting year for TMNT fans worldwide.
Not only is Kevin staying busy with all things TMNT, but he is also returning to self-publishing. This May see the launch of DRAWING BLOOD through his own Kevin Eastman Studios. This is sure to be a book that no fan of Eastman will want to miss.
COMIC LOUNGE: TMNT is celebrating it's 35th anniversary this year, could you ever have imagined they would still be around?
KEVIN EASTMAN: I always go back to the first printing, when Peter and I did the first version of crowdfunding ( borrowing money from family and friends) raising money for those first 3000 issues. We hoped that it would sell enough, a couple hundred copies at most, so that we could keep going. Luckily, it started selling and it didn't stop. Before we knew it, we were doing the ongoing monthly issues, which then evolved into the roleplaying game, toys and a cartoon.
It seemed like it would work at the time, but we couldn't even imagine it working as a cartoon and a toy line. But t's thanks to all of you guys, the original fans, that were tuned in constantly and fully committed to it. Just a shot, haha, 35 years later, I'm stilling having the best time of my life and the best job I could ever imagine. I'm fulfilling a childhood dream, thanks to my fans I get to draw comic books every day. It's amazing!
COMIC LOUNGE: Do you have any plans to celebrate the milestone, with events or anything like that?
EASTMAN: There's so many different little things that are happening.
Have you happened to catch the Netflix series called "The Toys That Made Us"?
COMIC LOUNGE: No I haven't, what's that about?
EASTMAN: Oh, you would love it! You should check it out and recommend it. They started the series a couple years ago. They would do this whole historical process of going back to the beginnings and origins, the lifespans of toys and action figures like G.I. Joe, Star Wars, He-Man, and so many others. So there doing a big segment on the Ninja Turtles for the 35th Anniversary, which should be pretty cool.
Another thing we're doing this year, based on the month of May, which is when we self published and released the first original Turtles comic book, I've gone back to self publishing. I have a series coming out in May that I'm self publishing called DRAWING BLOOD. It's based on a character, that's kind of semi-autobiographical but also a more complete take on a completely fictional true story of a guy in this comic book universe that created these characters and had some success but lost his mojo. It's kind of a "Spinal Tap" meets "Breaking Bad". It's kind of a crazy comic series we're publishing. The fist issue comes out in May of this year and it runs for 12 issues. So fans can look forward to that.
We also just announced the next volume of BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, which I will doing part of the art on. I get to work with the super awesome and incredibly cool, Freddie Williams. James Tynion wrote the script, he did such a fantastic job with series 1 and 2 which is why we're doing series 3. The fans kind of commanded it. But Freddie is still the main series artist, but we still have some cool things we're working on together. I got some cool stuff I'll be doing in the interiors but Freddie is still doing the heavy lifting.
So those are some of the key highlights, but something else I want to mention as being part of the 35th celebration is that I've been working with the incredible Tom Waltz, who's head writer of the IDW Ninja Turtles series and created that universe and has written every single issue We are on the road to issue 100, which comes out in November of this year, it's gonna be a double-sized extravaganza of awesomeness and coolness.
We're paying tribute to one of our favorite series, which was the original Mirage "City at War" series that was done back in the 90's. So this is our tribute to that story. Some pretty explosive storylines are coming up. We started with issue 90 and working our way up. Buckle up and hold on to your seat because it's a crazy ride to issue 100.
COMIC LOUNGE: Awesome! So the IDW series is now the longest Ninja Turtles series. How involved with the series have you been since it's initial conception?
EASTMAN: It was definitely very early on. From issue 1, when my friend Scott Dunbier and some of the main team at IDW acquired the rights to do the comic series. They invited me down to come see what they had in mind and that's when I met Tom Waltz. Tom had designed a pretty epic storyline where he thought the series would go fully tuned in to the love and respect he had for the original Mirage series and the Fox Kids 2000 animated series.
I joined in from issue 1 by helping do layouts and helping guide the story first 4 or 5 issues. Then Dan Duncan, who was the original artist for the first 12 issues, didn't really need my help because he was such a fantastic artist in his own right.
Since then, I've been involved in plotting and did some graphic novels. Pretty much every step of the way, for all 100 issues, I've had the good fortune to work with this great creative and it's been an absolute blast. I think I've done about 150-200 covers for the ongoing series and related series, some of the one-shots, specials and things like that. It's been the best ride ever.
COMIC LOUNGE: You already spoke about BATMAN/TMNT Vol. 3, but can you talk a little about what the story will be about?
EASTMAN: I can't give a lot away, because the people at Nickelodeon and DC Comics would fly out and lynch me in the front yard, if I let the cat out of the bag, hahaha. But I will say that with the first 2 series, with the plot and what they laid the foundation for, they are bring some of the biggest and baddest bad guys from both worlds and it's pretty epically twisted. When I saw the first outline of what they wanted to do with story, I was like "Oh Man! This is gonna be incredible".
We gotta figure out how to end this one, because we're trying to fit like 12 issues worth of stuff into 6. But, I think the fans are gonna be thrilled. It's my very creative way of saying "I wish I could tell you more, but I can't tell you too much". But you guys are gonna dig it!
COMIC LOUNGE: You also talked about going back to self-publishing, with DRAWING BLOOD. What prompted you to go back to self-publishing?
EASTMAN: One of the things, is that it really is a pure form of creativity, especially as a creator. What was so awesome and what gave us this opportunity was the break in crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, which we used. It was one of those things, if you had fans and people that were interested in the kind of things that they would like to see or read, buy, wear, or eat, then Kickstarter gave the opportunity for individual entrepreneurialism for people who thought, "This would never have a shot in a million years anywhere else". Like a big company that would take a risk on something, small, original or unique, so it was a very good place to find likeminded people.
That's how we started DRAWING BLOOD, we started a Kickstarter last August. The fans stepped up in such a huge way, they allowed us to fund the first 4 issues of a 12 issue series. Which was the first TPB, and we serviced all of our Kickstarter fans. Luckily enough, that allowed us to fund a self-publishing program through Kevin Eastman Studios. So if we have enough ongoing revenue from these first 4 individual comics, we will be able to fund the remainder of the series. This is a way to really jumpstart and kickstart the series.
There's no editor, there's no bosses, no quotas, no "Hey you need to do this to sell more comics." It's just pure and simple creativity, exactly the way David and I envisioned it. David Avallone is my partner and o-creator of the series, Ben Bishop is the main series artist, I'm doing the flashback sequences. Troy Little did the adaptation of the Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, which is a one shot that was a part of our Kickstarter. So Troy does some flashbacks in the series as well.
We've got an incredible team and the only bosses are us, thanks to our Kickstarter supporters.
COMIC LOUNGE: Are there any other projects you're working n that you can talk about?
EASTMAN: Yeah, there are a couple other interesting things. I'm returning to HEAVY METAL magazine, for a new ongoing serialization with Simon Bisley that I created a few years ago called, LOST ANGELES. It's kind of a post apocalyptic take on "The Warriors", for lack of a better term. A post apocalyptic world of gangs and turf wars and it's a love story. So I'm returning to HEAVY METAL with a new original story by myself and Simon Bisley.
Between DRAWING BLOOD and the ongoing TMNT, I've been keeping pretty busy. Marvel also invited me to do a Conan The Barbarian cover for SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, which was a huge treat for me. When I was a kid, the Marvel comics by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor Smith was one of my favorite all-time comic books. So I've got to draw Batman and Conan in the same year, can't complain about that.
COMIC LOUNGE: It was recently announce that NETFLIX was going to be doing another TMNT movie. I was wondering if you could talk a little about that? Is it live-action or animated?
EASTMAN: Sure, I'm happy to talk about it. It's gonna be animated. When we finished with the 2012 animated series that Ciro Nieli pioneered from 2012-2017, which was fantastic, I loved it very much. When they wanted to restart it, they felt like going back to a younger audience base. They wanted to explore something that hadn't been done before, which was really focusing on a younger version of the Turtles, pre the turtles that we all know. So we brought in some elements from one of my favorite movies out there, which was "Big Trouble In Little China". We've actually created this fantastical, mystical underworld of creatures, characters, and mutants. There's good guys and villains underneath the streets of New York City, so we cam bring the turtles to a place where there're more comfortable, where they can grow and learn and figure out there skills.
So that series came out last year, they just renewed a second series. As a companion to it, we're doing a NETFLIX based movie on the RISE OF THE TMNT universe. But it's gonna go bigger and deeper into the universe and bring the fans to a place something we couldn't do in a regular episode. It's gonna be a lot of fun.
Tom Waltz and I work together on the IDW Turtles series and we helped develop a part of the concept for RISE OF THE TMNT. So it was great to be part of the team and try to give the fans a different look at the Turtles and their universe
COMIC LOUNGE: Lastly, is there any advice you can give to aspiring creators?
EASTMAN: SURE! You know, I feel like it doesn't matter what time, space or place where it happens. Whether it's me 35 years ago or someone today that's really compelled to, whether you're into music, sports, comics, writing the number one rule is you have to work at your craft. If you want to be better at writing, drawing, baseball, soccer, or playing guitar; you have to practice every day. It's not always the easiest thing to do because of things like school, homework, chores, a social life, and family life. So sometimes it's hard to find even a few minutes a day. But I say, make that space, make that personal time where you can spend that 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour where you can get away to practice what you love. That's gonna pay off in a big way. Suddenly a year will have gone by and you've now spent, if you've done an hour a day, 365 hours getting better at what you love to do. So practice and focus, don't let that dream fade. Don't let it slip away. There will be naysayers, "Oh you can't do that" or "You won't be good at that". There will always be people out there that wanna squash your dreams, but don't let them get to you. Stay to true to your ambitions. Work hard to fulfill your dreams. Trust me, you'll get there.