Comic-Watch: Thank you so much Kevin for taking the time to talk with us at Comic-Watch today!
Kevin Eastman: No problem at all, glad to do it
CW: Looking back on the success of the IDW series what has been your proudest moment so far?
KE: The wonderful thing with the IDW TMNT Universe is working with Tom Waltz and Bobby Curnow, we’ve sort of picked our favorite thing over many different universes and rolled them into what we call the IDW TMNT Universe. We were able to cherry-pick so many great ideas and so many great characters that we were able to re-invent, re-stage, or re-introduce different characters over the course of the series. We have been doing it for 11 years now (laughs) and obviously issue 100 is my favorite. I call it the definitive series, but it will never have the foundation that the original had that I and Peter did with the black and white series, and that is why I call it the definitive turtle series that addresses everything and every character from the universe.
CW: Throughout the history of the turtles we have seen some memorable crossovers, Batman, Savage Dragon, The Flaming Carrot just to name a few. Is there a character or a team that you would like to see the turtles crossover with?
KE: With the Turtle and The Flaming Carrot, both started out at independent comic creations so their crossover was just a natural inevitability. The Batman and Turtles crossover were one of those things that we never thought would be possible but when DC came on board and IDW came on board and Nickelodeon came on board and introduced James Tynion and Freddie Williams and made that story all that it could be and ten times more. My favorite crossover would be a Turtles and Kamandi crossover because that was the original mutant animal genesis of all thing’s turtles. The Turtles in the Kamandi universe would just be a page-turner where we could do some pretty amazing things.
CW: You’ve mentioned before that Jack Kirby and Kamandi were huge influences when you were young. Do you ever find yourself looking back to Jack and his work when you are experiencing writers/creators’ block?
KE: Yeah…(laughs) I will say this, all my ideas can be stolen from this giant that I stand on the shoulders of. When I look back to the stories that made a difference in my life and made me want to be a storyteller are guys like Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and many others I use as my inspiration for storytelling and story threads. We consume all of our favorite parts of pop culture and sort of try to claim them, re-claim them, or re-direct them and work them into our ideas. We are living on borrowed time. Our stories hopefully do justice to those that we are trying to bring joy to.
CW: How hard was the decision to kill Splinter, and if you could touch on how long that decision was in the making?
KE: That is a great question and it’s a tough thing. Say for example one of my favorite Jet Lee movies is called Fist of Legend. In the story of Fist of Legend his master is defeated, the story is a revenge story about this character passing. To me that is our version of Splinter in that the turtles were raised and trained and through their evaluation of their story is to defeat Oruki Saki and the Foot Clan. It was one of those good versus evil stories like the Rebel Alliance takes on the evil Empire. That was our approach to it. Let’s take it in that epic scope where the whole battle for the universe could take place in one neighborhood in one afternoon. When we approached it, again it was like a good versus evil epic story and we just hope that our characters are interesting enough to pull people into a larger story than that would keep them tuned into all thing turtles (laughs). We’re talking 36 years later and…WHAT! (laughs). I and Tom wanted to tell an epic story that was important and didn’t want to tell a storyline that would let the fan base down.
CW: What do you think has kept the turtles so prevalent 30+ years later?
KE: It comes down to the fans. If Tom and I were working on a big part of the Turtles for the IDW universe, or whether it is the BOOM universe or Nickelodeon we want to make the storylines important and not do a throw-away story. (Laughs) How we do not run out of ideas is by working with these artists and writers we who come up with these fantastic concepts and ideas that take it to another place that we didn’t even think about. As much as we are ingrained with all things turtles, we always want that fresh perspective and we work with so many great artists who draw beautiful versions of our characters and that’s what is inspiring. So ultimately, we want to tell the best story we can tell and that is what makes it work. Here we are 36 years later and still telling turtles stories and that means so much to us which we want to keep exploring where our characters can go and if the fans want to come with us than we are all the more lucky. With guys like Tom Waltz who brought in a fresh perspective on what we were doing and helping the stories come to life. Watching City at War unfold and I was just as big of a fan while it was going one and hopefully, our fans were as well.
CW: The Last Ronin plans to play on the darker side of the turtles, will this be more like a DC Elseworlds type of story or will this be canon and affect the current arc.
KE: That’s a perfect question because as Tom and I spent that last 10 years preparing for issue 100 we said, “where do we from here”? I had mentioned a story to Tom about a year before that I and Peter wrote a story that was set 30 years into the future from 1987 so it would’ve been like 2017 (laughs) and I remembered that I and Peter never finished the story. I showed it to Tom and he and I dug deeper, and we sort of elaborated on it. We decided to adapt this into a 200-page story which is 5 20-page issues and we said let’s explore this in a way like Frank Miller did with the Dark Knight. Tom and I approached this story and it’s going to be set into the future like 20 years or so. It’s going to be dark, edgy, and is specifically and solely directed towards the original turtles audience, the older audience that lean more towards the Mirage Universe, the IDW Universe but it is going to be an independent universe within itself and it’s going to be hyper-violent, epic, it’s going to be something that touches on things that a lot of fans can relate to but it is a wholly and solely a story that is dedicated to the heart and soul of all things turtles. I’m not sure if this is Tom and I’s swan song but it is something Tom and I have been thinking about for about 2 years so this story is going to be everything that every fan has ever wanted to see with the turtles. You know, people ask me if I’m sick of the turtles yet. I always say no, I could never get sick of these characters that Peter and I created. It’s like with these ideas, these icons, and things that we have done and just like we love our Captain Americas, we love our Batmans, we love our Avengers, all these characters and this is our love and passion and commitment to some of our favorite characters and we just want to treat them the way we were inspired.
CW: Kevin you mentioned that the Las Ronin could possibly be you and Tom’s swan song. After issue 100 when Sophie Campbell took over, and there was Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz aren’t on a turtle book, that was a big change in direction.
KE: Tom and I are the biggest fans of Sophie Campbell and what she has in mind and me and Tom knew what she was doing early last year. Tom was the head writer for 100 issues, as much as I would like to take credit for those it was Tom that really piloted, crafted, wrote almost every single one of those issues. I looked at Tom and said, “well, what do we do now”? Let’s do our Dark Knight, let’s do something no one has ever seen before. It was just a natural evolution and a very organic process which is a very beautiful process. You have to make the story the most important and well-crafted part of the adventure. I love what Sophie is doing, I love what Tom is doing. When you guys start seeing what we are going to do with The Last Ronin, buckle up and hold on to your seatbelts cause it’s gonna be something special.
CW: Well Kevin that is all I have you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, this has been our absolute pleasure.
KE: I’ll tell you that this is all your fault and thank you (laughs). I always say that I have the best job ever because I have that best fans ever. Thanks for hanging out with us.
Make sure you stay up to date with all things Kevin Eastman and the turtles by visiting: https://fan.kevineastmanstudios.com/
A Joyous Shell-Ebration! 36 Years of Timeless Turtle Fun: An Interview with Kevin Eastman!
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