Wednesday, October 28, 2015

TMNT


I recently drew two issues (#51 and #52) of TMNT for IDW. The first issue is on sale today, so I thought it might be a good excuse to write about my history with the Turtles.

Over the last year, I've been working on the sequel to my 2013 series PLANETOID (Image Comics). I'd made a lot of progress but I was feeling kind of burnt out and bothered by the fact that it had been so long since I'd had any work out on the shelves. Coincidentally, around this time, I got an offer from the always affable Bobby Curnow (IDW) to do some fill in work on TMNT ongoing series.



I'm wary of working on licensed properties (based on past experiences) but TMNT is a special case. The IDW series is a rare thing in comics. The series seems to be doing everything right in terms of how to manage a licensed property. It has reached the milestone of 50+ issues and garnered a loyal readership and the talent involved in the series has remained top notch throughout it's run. But most importantly (to me) the series has the blessing and participation of one of the original creators, the great Kevin Eastman.

As a kid I read a lot of random Marvel titles, but the single comic book publication that made me want to draw comics myself was the color edition of Eastman and Laird's original series published by First Publishing.



At the time, the TMNT craze had just begun, and I was hooked on the cartoon and toy line, but what's special about this particular volume is that it collected the original TMNT comics which were essentially creator-owned, underground comics. Even as a kid I could tell the difference from the Marvel/DC comics. As a result, I began drawing my own characters and stories rather than copying existing characters. 

All the hype aside, Eastman and Laird's original TMNT are simply very good comics. The storytelling is bold and sure-footed as is the art itself. The Turtles themselves are probably the most iconic and well designed post-Kirby superheroes. Even the lettering (by Steve Lavigne) is very good. But above all, I loved the world-building in those original comics. Usually world-building refers to fantasy environments, but Eastman & Laird's grittily detailed New York City stirred my imagination as much as any other world I've experienced in fiction.



Also, (and this may seem like an odd thing to focus on) the introduction (by Stanely Wiater) in Vol.1 also had an impact on me as a kid because it went into some detail about Eastman and Laird's inspiration. In the introduction, three comic book artists are named in bold; Jack Kirby, Richard Corben, and Frank Miller.



These names stuck out in my mind and from a young age I had my eye out for their work (this is pre-internet, mind you). Eventually, I got my hands on Miller's RONIN, Corben's DEN, Kirby's KAMANDI, etc. Years later, as publisher of HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE, Kevin put out a anthology of Corben short story work, that again, was a revelation to me at the time.

I could go on about all the ways in which TMNT influenced me (Jim Lawson's work on the TMNT ADVENTURES series needs mention) but I'll just say that it's quite literally a childhood dream realized to have worked on the series and say thanks to the IDW crew for letting me onboard. It was fun drawing these two issues. A lot was learned. 

I'm now back at work on PLANETOID and the work is coming easier to me now...  and I hope to have an announcement soon! Till then, be well.



3 comments:

  1. Thank you for another fantastic posting. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a speech next week, and I was looking for more info ;)

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  2. Hi, Mr. Garing. Let me preface by saying I am one of the original "Turtlemania" kids from back in the late 1980's and early 90's. I was a very young child when the cartoon came out and the 1990 movie is still a favorite. I have followed the IDW TMNT comic from issue 1 and really enjoyed it. But when you came on, I fell in love. Your TMNT issues and pinups are what I want TMNT to be all the time. It's the closest IDW has come to looking like the gritty, urban turtles of the early Mirage days. Thanks for the great issues. That cover to #52 is what IDW TMNT should have been from the beginning. The other artists have all been wonderful, but you are the standout in my eyes. I'm only commenting now because I am currently re-reading the first 100 IDW issues and going through a a bit of a personal TMNT renaissance. I love your art and am going to keep an eye out for more. Planetoid is going to be on my radar.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the nice words, Greg! I too, have gone through a few "TMNT renaissances" of my own after discovering the original Eastman & Laird comics as kid and have enjoyed many of the iterations since. It's too early to announce anything yet, but I may be returning to the world of TMNT in the near future! In the meantime, if you enjoy science-fiction or fantasy comics, then my creator-owned work on PLANETOID and GOGOR might be of interest. All best you and please stay tuned...!

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