Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the great inexplicable pop phenomenons of our time, a creation that began as a one-note joke between friends, and went on to conquer the world. It's a franchise that's proven to be endlessly adaptable, appearing in endless variations in numerous media, with an appeal that spans generations and a fanbase that continues to expand with each passing year.
One of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the history of our planet is the question of what killed the dinosaurs. There is, of course, the leading theory that the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event was the result of a massive asteroid impact, something that's supported by a layer of sediment in the fossil record that includes high traces of iridium, and by the discovery of the massive Chicxulub crater, all of which amounts to a pretty compelling batch of scientific evidence. Personally, though, I don't buy it, and not just because of noted scientist Dr. Victor Fries and his assertion that the mass extinction was the result of the onset of an ice age.
No, my doubts come from the fact that, like everyone else who read Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1989, I already know what killed the dinosaurs: It was the Ninja Turtles. Specifically, Leonardo. I know, I was surprised, too.
This week DC launches Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the unlikely crossover series that brings IDW Publishing's current iteration of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's TMNT characters together with DC's Dark Knight; one of the biggest success stories in creator-owned comics meeting one of the most famous corporate comics brands.
Batman and the Turtles have relatively little in common, but the Turtles have been teaming up with comic book characters far beyond their home milieu pretty much since their first appearance. In fact, the characters are so weird at their core that there's really no setting, genre, or comic book character that they can't fit in with. When discordance is in your DNA, you can't clash with anything. So on the week of their team up with the Caped Crusader, what better time to revisit some of the Turtles' greatest comic book crossovers?
For over four years, IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been one of the best comics on the stands, hands down. It's a blend of everything that TMNT has ever been, a synthesis that combines action, sci-fi and ninja mysticism into one sprawling, epic story that has spilled out from an ongoing series into a string of miniseries and one-shots that have built something genuinely incredible. Now, the series is closing in on its biggest story yet with the release of #50 and the ultimate battle between the Ninja Turtles and Shredder's Foot Clan.
To mark the occasion, ComicsAlliance spoke to co-writer Tom Waltz, TMNT co-creator and series co-writer Kevin Eastman, and series editor Bobby Curnow about the history of the series, covering the process of rebuilding TMNT for comics from the ground up, the happy accidents that led to some of their favorite new characters, and the surprising, heartbreaking challenge of coming up with something horrible to do to a party dude like Michelangelo.
Q: Why do you think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has survived and thrived for 30 years? -- @ballsmonkey
A: I have a whole lot of affection for the TMNT, and I don't think that's just because I was the perfect age to drag my parents to Pizza Hut so that I could get (and subsequently wear out) a VHS tape of the one where they fought the giant robot rats. Don't get me wrong, the nostalgia's a huge part of it, but it's not something that's unique to my age group. The fact is, if you've been a kid at any time in the past three decades, you've more than likely grown up loving those characters just as much as I did. And that in itself, the staying power that this strange franchise created by two dudes in a kitchen, is interesting.
The thing is, even though I tend to think of TMNT as the archetypical unlikely success, the more I think about it the less I think that it actually was all that unlikely.
Thursday's links await, after the jump.
The man who co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Peter Laird is set for perhaps his weirdest voice acting gig yet this weekend's latest CG animated episode entitled, "Ice Cream Kitty," on Nickelodeon. Kevin Eastman will meow it up as April's cat, who accidentally ingests a flawed retromutagen experiment -- flawed because Mikey just dropped a scoop from his drippy ice cream cone into the mix -- and transforms into one of the weirdest/cutest mutants the current series (or any series) has ever seen. You can see the transformation take place after the cut in advance of Sunday's episode.
Turning 30 isn't everyone's favorite, but when it comes to Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it's nothing but a cause for celebration. To commemorate this mutant milestone, in May IDW will release its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary Special, an anthology bursting with all-new content from a selection of the comic series' most influential creative teams. If that's not enough, the anthology will come wrapped in the first official TMNT collaboration between Eastman and Laird in years. To get the full scoop, ComicsAlliance got in touch with Eastman and TMNT editor Bobby Curnow. Click through to read the full interview and see the brand new Eastman and Laird art, along with a piece by Eastman, Simon Bisley and Ryan Brown.
While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in the midst of a creative renaissance at IDW, with the current series making our own Best Comics of 2013 list, the publisher continues to release reprints and collections of stories that had been unavailable for years. Recently, IDW released a new hardcover edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 25th Anniversary Collection, which was originally published in 2009 (the actual 25th anniversary) through co-creator Kevin Eastman’s Heavy Metal publishing house, re-mastering the artwork and providing some stories with color for the first time.
Unlike ComicsAlliance editor Caleb Goellner -- who seems to bleed green -- I’ve only read a few issues of the new series. I really, genuinely liked it, but felt like my memories of the original comics, if not the comics themselves, were better. For that same reason, I haven’t bought a single issue of IDW’s Classics reprints; just saw enough of the first collection to know that I didn't like the cold digital coloring. Really, I didn’t want to see TMNT with new eyes; I wanted it to remain great in my recollection, rather than diminished by the reality. I didn’t want to find out that literally the most important comic in my life was reduced to trash because of the passage of time and changes in perception.
Curiosity got the better of me.
Created just for the new continuity of IDW's current ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series, new villain Old Hob was one of the first (furry) faces fans were introduced to when the book's first issue arrived in 2011. Beginning life as a mutant by attempting to straight up eat an ooze-covered Raphael before having his eye gouged out by a still-normal-rat Splinter, the new villain's predatory instincts have since culminated in one of Casey Jones and Raph's worst beatings in the series thus far. This week in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villain Microseries #3: Old Hob by writer Jason Ciaramella, artist Dave Wachter and colorist Tyler Walpole, however, fans will have a chance to see another side of Hob and learn what set the kitty down a life of brutality.