TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (published by IDW) reached its 100th issue this month. Which is no small feat in today's market. I was fortunate to be included in the issue with a pin-up and a brief interview about my contributions to the series (I did the art on #51 & #52 and a few covers). Therein, I praised the great TMNT artist Jim Lawson, but felt the urge to expound more on this unique and (I feel) under recognized artist.
On the topic of TMNT, I can wax poetic. Like many kids, most of my early comic book reading was pretty scattershot; buying whatever random titles caught my eye. But things changed once I got ahold of a collected edition of the original Eastman & Laird TMNT comics. From then on, my casual interest in comics turned into a lifelong obsession.
At that time there were 2 versions of TMNT; the original Mirage Studios comic (printed in b&w and aimed at “mature” readers) and the kid-friendly cartoon version and it’s accompanying comic, TMNT ADVENTURES (printed in color and published by Archie Comics).
As the TMNT empire expanded Eastman & Laird brought on a stable of artists to continue with the comics. Like other TMNT mainstay artists, Jim Lawson contributed to both the Mirage and Archie comics.
I first saw Jim Lawson's work (inked by Gary Fields) in TMNT ADVENTURES #7 (1989). I immediately loved Lawson's clunky, chunky, muscular, off-kilter style. His style was somehow both loose and solid at the same time.
In the TMNT MAGAZINE (1990) Lawson provided short comic features and his artwork (inked by Dan Berger) took on an even looser and more cartoony look.
Towards the end of TMNT ADVENTURES Lawson's linework was inked by Eric Talbot. The result was a sort of gritty/cartoony style with areas of heavy black and a stippling effect that perfectly matched the darker "MEGADEATH" story arc.
Over the last decade or so, his style has (mostly) settled into a approach emplyoing brushstrokes and crosshatching techniques. His marker coloring technique is also excellent.
Thankfully many of the comics mentioned above can be found in newly released reprints from IDW (which I highly recommend). And, of course, you can find Jim Lawson online where he posts his incredible comission work on Instagram at: @jimlawsontmnt