Let me tell you a little story about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When these pizza loving dudes were first introduced, they were written by a guy named Peter Laird, and drawn by Kevin Eastman. Then, the two split, and Eastman left the sewers forever… Or so we thought. Cut to years later, and Eastman returned to TMNT, but on writing duties this time. Eastman did panel breakdowns for the issues, but no art from the Turtle’s master… Until now. As revealed at IDW’s SDCC 2012 panel, we can now EXCLUSIVELY reveal that with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual #1, Eastman will not only write, but also draw a full, extra-sized turtle story for the first time in decades:
MTV Geek: What made this annual the right story to step up and take control of both writing and art?
Kevin Eastman: It is all IDW’s fault!!! I so love the re-launch that Tom Waltz, and Bobby Curnow are spearheading with IDW and partner Nickelodeon–I have REALLY gotten excited about the storyline and the TMNT’s–in a creative way that I haven’t in fifteen years, I couldn’t help myself. I pitched Tom and Bobby the idea, they fixed it, then got the okay from Ted and Greg and Nick–and here we are! I could not be MORE excited to be not only working on a new TMNT story in a decade and a half, but doing ALL the artwork–something I have not do in more than twenty years!
Geek: For the layman, who may not know… You’ve been doing layouts for the series, but this annual is full on art – what’s the difference in workload, and execution for you?
KE: Tom, Bobby kick around lotsa story ideas and concepts–Tom does most of the rest of the heavy lifting, Dan Duncan and Rhonda Patterson rock the interior art and I do one of the covers–with this one, i did the beat sheet, Tom did the script and I am doing all the pencils, inks, and tones for the story–like I said above, something I have not done with the TMNT’s in nearly twenty years! Crazy! The workload is huge, I’m moving to another state and still running Heavy Metal–and am 100% committed to nail this deadline–I seriously can’t remember a time, since the early days of working with my best friend Peter Laird, I’ve been so pumped!
Geek: What can you tell us about the annual’s story? We know it starts with Raphael and Casey out on the town…
KE: The classic beginning–two botherly knuckleheads clowning around, and one thing leads to another–the snowball down the big hill effect–and this entire insane adventure is born out of one goofy mis-step! It is a detective story at the very heart–a who done, who double crossed who (or triple crossed who) and Casey and Raph have to see it through to the end–and it has a ton of action!
Geek: What’s your take on where Raphael is emotionally when this story starts?
KE: With this one, Tom and I wanted to keep it a bit more “less intense emotionally” if you will–yes the arc’s are strong and meaningful, but most of the beats relate to the what is going on at that moment in the story as opposed to the heavier over all structure–not that this is outside of that, but the pace was intended to be faster, reactionary to the layers we peel away then and there rather than the deeper stuff.
Geek: How about Casey?
KE: Pretty much the same as Raph’s really–but it is his neighborhood, people know him so he’s a little more guarded of exposing Ralph on the one hand, but still trying to pull out all the stops to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Geek: Does this tie into the bigger story you’ve been telling in the main series?
KE: That is what the cool part is to me–it does–but not in a; “If you miss this clue or these story–you’ll miss something in the big picture story–all the pieces and the players are there, and they help push the story along, but it isn’t a big link/reveal–just a wicked lot of fun!
Geek: In a bigger sense, what brought you back to the Turtles, and what’s keeping you there?
KE: Tom, Bobby, Ted and the guys–what Nickelodeon is letting the team do has blown my mind–I am SSSOOOOoooo into this storyline and where it is going–all the AWESOME connectors that Tom has brought to the vision–that take me, and all the fans back to the classic black and white days in tone and certain beats–but everything else is there too–the original animated series, the movies–it is all there, and re-connected perfectly in my opinion–and WHAT a strong foundation to build from!
Geek: What’s the coordination with Nickelodeon been like on this? And how is it different going from your own creation with no oversight, to part of a giant corporation?
KE: Seriously–exciting in EVERY way! Under this structure, it is all about the creativity, without all the insane distractions of running the business–and I think that is why it is such fun, and why I think the fans have reconnected in such a big way–they feel the vibe, it is working, and that is keeping them there–digging every issue–they are feeling the thought and care that is going into the new series! The fans can make or break what every we’re trying to do–and right now they are making it work.
Geek: Additionally, what about the coordination between this book, the cartoon, and the movie? Are they all separate entities, or do they have eyes to each other?
KE: What I think is really cool, is that Nickelodeon/Viacom are allowing each vision to remain separate, yet built on the same “original” foundation–which offers a lot of connectors, but each version gets to spin on it’s own axis. Things that Tom and I came up with for the comic series you’ll only see there–Ciro’s work on the animation, only there, and Joss Appelbaum, Andre Nemic, and Jonathan Liebesman are going kick it in over-drive with the film.
Geek: Back to the annual, when you’re drawing a big book like this, where do you draw your inspiration from for the fight scenes? Are you lurking around karate studios to keep your moves fresh?
KE: “Fist of Legend”, “District 13 B”, “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Snatch” will all find their inspirations all over this story–and that’s the REALLY fun stuff for me–I love working out those scenes–especially when you hit a groove and they really click! These are going to REALLY click!
Geek: For fans who may have lapsed a bit from TMNT, why come back for this annual?
KE: Well, we never really did one back in the old days–so it seemed perfect! We always drew our inspirations from classic Marvel and DC days, and grew up loving special events like the Annuals–which would often have expanded story lines or double headers so I feel like I get to complete a VERY cool classic idea–twenty years later! I feel like I get to do it in a way to thank the fans for waiting so long for me to return–and double sized at that!
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ANNUAL #1 launches from IDW in October!