That’s right—I called out The Secret of the Ooze. What are you gonna do about it?
It’s been 25 years since four mutated amphibian reptilian teen martial arts practitioners crawled out of the sewers and leaped onto the comic page. Now they’re coming back in a big way with a new ongoing comic from IDW, written by Tom Waltz and co-written by their co-creator Kevin Eastman. Eastman answered a few questions by e-mail about his return to the characters for which he’s most known, the jumbo collected edition coming out this year, and what’s next on his plate.
MTV Geek: What’s the appeal of coming back to the Turtles after all this time?
Kevin Eastman: Perfect timing really. I hadn’t drawn the Turtles in comic book form since roughly the mid nineties, and have been a longtime friend/fan of IDW and their publishing program—so when they secured the rights they called and invited me to come play I jumped at the chance—especially when I heard what Tom Waltz and Nickelodeon had in mind creatively!
Besides, I’ve always loved the Turtles and have never been “really” out of touch with them, or the fans. The TMNT fans are the best ever—I always thank them for giving me such an awesome job and a great life! I’m always doing signings, free sketches, answering fan mail—more like Facebook these days—and creatively, I’ve done a bunch of consulting for several of the entertainment projects. Also, through my company Heavy Metal, I published my TMNT Artobiography a few years back, collected the Casey Jones/Raphael Bodycount series I did with Simon Bisley after that, and more recently a “25th Anniversary TMNT Collection” of my favorite turtle tales.
The Turtles are in my blood man!
Geek: Why do you think their popularity has endured with fans after all these years?
KE: Good question! Peter Laird and I always wondered what it was that people liked in the first place, and the fact they keep finding a new audience every few years is mind blowing! I have two boys, a 10 year old and a 5 year old, each time they discovered them and claimed them as their own I’d ask what is it they like about them—it it never had anything to do with me drawing them, it was always summed up [with], “I don’t know—they’re just cool!”
Looking back now, I think it is a couple of things—they’re misfits, or mutants in this case, just trying to fit in and I think a lot of kids out there are trying to do the same fit in. But they have a great sense of family, with Master Splinter—but most of all it is the hero thing—most of us, kids of all ages, want to not only be the one to be the hero when the chips are down and have the cool ninja moves to back it up!
Geek: How has the collaboration been with co-writer Tom Waltz? What do you think he’s been bringing to the process?
KE: Tom is awesome! A huge fan of the original series, and really the pilot of this series—I’m more of a very excited co-pilot! He went all in, did serious research, and came to the table with a truckload creative and interesting concepts that in my opinion, fit perfectly into the original TMNT universe—but at the same time, turned it on its side a little bit.
Geek: The solicitation describes it as a new installment of the original series. What does that mean for the tone and kind of stories you’ll be telling?
KE: What excited me about the entire re-invention for this series was exactly THAT! The spirit and tone are very much like the original Mirage Studios comics—lots of nice dark edges and serious plot lines, tons of action, familiar characters but with several more layers of depth added in, a touch of humor, and most of all—plot options. The groundwork that is being laid down here allows for A LOT of story possibilities—I can see a hundred different directions this could go after the first four issues, and all of them are awesome!
Geek: What are some of the returning elements and characters that we’ll see in this new series?
KE: Well, I don’t want to give too much away—all the basics are there of course, the four guys (with red bandanas!), Splinter, Casey, and April—maybe they won’t all be EXACTLY how you remember them, but they’re there… it takes place in New York City…
Heh—I’m going to stop myself here, Tom will kill me if I blow any of the big surprises!
Geek: How has it been working with IDW?
KE: Terrible really, dreadful bunch of people!
Hah! Seriously, awesome—really AWESOME! Creatively, Tom is the best, a very skilled writer—who brought his A game to the Turtles and nailed it. I expect we’ll see a bunch more awesome work from him outside the TMNT’s as well. Dan is a very professional, very talented artist—who has studied the masters and loves his job. He reminds me a bit of Alex Toth in his line work—and complimented with Rhonda’s beautiful color style—this book seriously rocks!
Editorially, the best I’ve ever seen! From Ted, to Chris, Scott, Bobby, Justin and AnnaMaria—they treat me like family, and work their asses off. I hope to be doing A LOT more work with these guys in the future!
Geek: What can you tell us about the Ultimate Edition coming out this September?
KE: I think that the Holy Grail to all the original TMNT fans is having the complete collection of the first fifteen comic books that Mirage put out, issues #1 to #11, plus the four “One Issue Micro” series Peter and I put out as self-publishers. Those were the issues where we did pretty much everything—sat down and wrote the stories together—at times sharing the same studio space—so even though we might have enlisted some help from the studio arts on the later issues, it was those issues that set up the entire TMNT Universe.
After issue 11, we were running so late on the issues, due to the workload for the TV series and licensing program—we split up the writing chores, Pete would write and draw one, I’d do another—often times working with Eric Talbot, Mark Bode, or Simon Bisley, but we never got back to a “just Peter and Kevin” issue until #50. So basically this will be the first set in the series, collection the entire original stories—with a bunch of behind the scenes commentary and such, done just for this version. Awesome stuff, and just in time for Christmas!
Geek: Any big moments from the series you’d like to tease?
KE: Trust me, I’m bursting at the seams to unload on you, but I really don’t want to blow it for the fans! I will say again the true spirit of the original series is all there—from the writing style, to the art style, and the overall FEEL of it—the flow is wonderful—but there will be a few serious surprises that will get a few tongues wagging and fans a buzzing… in a GOOD WAY!
Hmm… one thing I think I can leak and not blow any secrets—and who happens to be one of my favorite new characters is Old Hob… he’s like a mutated alley cat with and eye patch that likes to fight—and that’s all I’m telling!
Geek: Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
KE: I have a bunch of stuff in the works, but have put most of them aside for the moment to work on the Turtles for now, and I can’t tell you enough how much fun I am having being back in the mix—working on the comics—it has been far too long!
One project I would like to plug, is War of the Worlds: Goliath a 3D animated feature I have been working on for the past two years with my friends over at Tripod Entertainment—Joe Pearson and Leon Tan. The production was developed and produced in Malaysia, with the main animation completed in Korea—and I think it is FANTASTIC! Pop over to www.heavymetal.com and check out the production blog, you’ll find it on the main page—and the film could be released later this year!