The Art of Kevin Eastman
Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, has been working in comics for 30 years. He and collaborator, Peter Laird, created the TMNT and self published the series beginning in 1984. The book was a runaway success, but it wasn’t an easy start. Originally from Portland, ME, Kevin moved up to Northampton, MA where he and Peter met and formed Mirage Studios, so named because “there wasn’t an actual studio, only kitchen tables and couches with lap boards”. Citing artists like Jack Kirby and Richard Corben as his influences, he and Laird came up with the Ninja Turtles after Eastman comedically sketched a squat turtle in a mask with nunchucks strapped to his hands. In May 1984, Eastman and Laird self-published ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, a 40 page comic with an initial print run of 3,275 copies. By September 1985, it received 3 additional printings.
1987 saw the debut of the first Ninja Turtles cartoon, which ran for 10 seasons and 193 episodes. In 1988, Playmates Toys debuted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, and they’re still manufacturing various incarnations of them today. 1990 gave the world the first (of three) live action Ninja Turtles movies. The first film, to this day, is the second highest grossing independent film of all time. After the 3 Turtles movies, there was an animated film in 2007 and a rebooted live action movie in 2014. Movies, cartoons, toys, clothing, video games and 30 years of, arguably, the most loyal fanbase in comics – It’s safe to say that Kevin Eastman is the most successful independent comic creator of all time.
Outside of the Turtles, Kevin Eastman has made significant contributions to the comics community, including Tundra – a publishing venture that provided a creator friendly environment for comics creators to help them maintain ownership of their work, The Words & Pictures Museum – an art museum in Northampton that showcased different artists in cartoons, comics, & graphic novels, and finally, his purchase of Heavy Metal – the long running sci-fi/fantasy magazine. While he sold the magazine in 2014, he still serves as the publisher. As of now, he is the writer and cover artist of IDW’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ monthly comic. Eastman resides here in San Diego with his wife, Courtney, and their son, Shane.