Kevin Eastman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Co-Creator, Takes Over Meltdown Comics for 35 Days
"He had to top my drawing and of course I had to top his drawing so I did a sketch of four standing in this dramatic X-Men pose or whatever," says Eastman. "He inked it in and when he inked in my pencil drawing, he added Teenage Mutant."
Eastman continues, "The next day -- we didn't have any distracting paid work going on-- we said, let's come up with a story that tells how these characters became the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Thanks to a loan from Eastman's uncle, they were able to self-publish a small run of the comic. It was popular, so much so that their print runs increased dramatically with new issues. And because this was a DIY effort, they owned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, when TMNT hit big, they profited. Then Heavy Metal went on the market and Eastman was able to buy the publication that had inspired him years earlier.
Throughout his career, Eastman has touched on a number of different audiences. With Heavy Metal, he's helped champion the finest artists working within the realms of sci-fi and fantasy. It's with his breakthrough work, though, that he's reached the widest audience. From its beginnings as an indie comic geared towards older readers, to its later incarnations as kid-friendly cartoons, toys and movies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has amassed a following that spans generations.
"After 28 years, different people's entry point into the Turtle universe comes from so many different directions," says Eastman. "There are people who saw the cartoon and never realized that it was a black and white comic book."
He adds, "A lot of people who found it as a comic book, we lost a lot of those guys. Those guys wouldn't follow the animated series or they felt that it was a sell-out of some kind. They like the original version."
Still, TMNT has endured. And, like a lot of other characters with histories firmly entrenched in the 1980s, Eastman and Laird's four "heroes in a half shell" are about to hit the radar of a whole new generation of comic book readers and TV watchers.