One of our newest interviewers, Lindsay Garber got a chance to sit down and talk to Kevin Eastman the week before Comic Con, and here is what we found out!
Lindsay Garber: I know you’re busy, so if you don’t mind, I can just start asking some questions?
Kevin Eastman: Lets go for it!
LG: As we know Steve Ditko just passed, and I know Daredevil was an inspiration/influence with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, can you share any thoughts or feelings on him as an artist, his career, or any influences he might have had on you/TMNT/Heavy Metal?
KE: Oh my goodness, yes. You know I look at, whether it be Ditko, Bill Everett from Daredevil, to Jack Kirby to so many icons that I define as giants I literally stood on the shoulders of, because without their work and their creations, the things that they did, a kid from a very small town in Maine discovered comic books, and became obsessed. I still remember clearly telling my parents, when I was 9 or 10, that I wanted to be a cartoonist, like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. They had this mortified look on their face like, oh my goodness were going to have one of those kids that never moves out of the basement. They are directly responsible for my passion, my obsession, my lifelong desire to do what I want to do, which is tell stories. He is most and incredibly missed. He was one of the original inspirations of the silver age. My generation. I’m 56 years old now, and that’s the kind of stuff I was reading. I’m very sad to see him pass, it’s a great loss for us all.
LG: Sorry about the heaviest question, I promise you that’s the heaviest question I will ask here.
KE: Oh no, it’s so timely. It really is, when you see somebody like Janice Cohen, Russ Heath, or John Feverly pass… I mean there’s so many like Bernie Wrightson within the last year. It’s really sad to see when you lose one of your warriors. It’s very sad. I’m one of many who will miss him.
LG: Thank you for that, I’m only 32, I will definitely have to research him more. I’ll blame my youth and my parents not being nerdy enough. I never really got into him until he passed. It sucks when someone is gone, it’s when you miss them.
KE: Too true.
LG: So into some other stuff of TMNT, Pizza is very iconic in the show, when I think TMNT, I crave pizza.
KE: I love it!
LG: Why and how did pizza become so integrated in the comics/show?
KE: It’s funny, one of my first after school jobs when I was in high school, was I worked in a pizza place. That was Louies Variety in Westford, Maine. I always loved pizza and I learned how to make it. It’s been a life long passion, my size and shape will tell you it’s true. When we were developing, it wasn’t so true in the original black and white comic books, but as we were transitioning into the television show. Which really designed them as stereotypical teenagers from 1988. What would teenagers eat? What would mutants eat? Turtles or not, well they’d want to eat pizza. So it was a natural process, and added to the humor, and development of the concept that helped the silliness and humor. A natural joke. It does make me crave pizza every time I think of it too.
LG: Yeah, I kinda want some now, do you have favorite type of pizza out of curiosity?
KE: Yes we do, a family favorite, inspired by my wife Courtney. Her dad loves Hawaiian style pizza, but he puts jalapenos on it. It is so yummy! When we go for pizza that’s what we share.
LG: Hawaiian is my favorite too! I’m going to try that and call it the Eastman.
KE: I love it!
LG: Also on the same theme, when I think of the overall cheese theme, there is Shredder, Splinter is a rat, April has an American cheese colored outfit, is that something that was accidental?
KE: Totally accidental, but I think some of the greatest ideas come from subliminal influences. Shredder was created specifically because Peter’s wife Jeannine. She would make us dinner and to pay her back in some small way, we did dishes. One night Peter was washing dishes, and I was drying, and I reached my hand into the inside of a cheese grater with a towel to dry it, and I turned to Peter (around 1984) man wouldn’t it be crazy if we had a bad guy and he had these on his arms. He’d shred your skin off, and he laughed and said, “Yeah, we’ll call him the Shredder”. The Shredder came from doing dishes. I can’t speak to the influence of April’s yellow jumpsuit but I will say it was fun back into the day. We wish she had a few more outfits.
LG: She’s a busy, on the go woman, so it made sense. Jump in the outfit and go!
LG: There were so many crossovers, for example BATMAN/TMNT. Is there one you would love to see happen in the future, or a favorite that has already happened?
KE: I loved doing crossovers. They are so much fun. I will say that the first ones, like the IDW Comic Universe, was a Turtle universe in it’s self. The first one we did was a Ghostbusters/Turtles crossover, which I was so thrilled to be doing, having grown up as a huge Ghostbusters fan, that was really fun. Then Batman, when they mentioned that there could be a Batman/Turtles crossover, the fanboy inside of me was just beyond excited. The fact that it was done, and done so well… James Tynion was the writer and Freddie Williams was the artist. They crafted such a beautiful story, and not just visually, the story was great. I’ve looked at my wish list, everything from Jack Kirby’s Kamandi “The Last Boy on Earth”, a boy character set in this universe. Daredevil/Turtles would be a dream come true. Most recently we’ve had people commenting at shows that Deadpool/Turtles crossover would be hilarious. Don’t know if that will ever happen, but all of those are a lot of fun. If I had to pick one I’d probably say Daredevil/Turtles would be one of my favorites.
LG: I didn’t even think of Deadpool, I would love to see that too.
KE: That would be so twisted, it would be awesome.
LG: Also there have been so many renditions of TMNT, what is your favorite TV/movie/game rendition?
KE: I’ll set aside the black and white universe, the one that Peter and I did, because that will always be our favorite, obviously. I would point to a couple and say, top of the list is the live action Turtles Movie from 1990. It’s just a perfect movie. You put Steve Barron who directed, Jim Henson who created the costumes for it, what they crafted for the story, they took all the heart soul and tonality of the Black and White comics, and mixed it in with the comedic and lighter side of the animated TV series of the time, and I thought it was a perfect blend of a movie that satisfied all ages. Kids and grownups. If I had to pick one, I’d go for that one.
LG: Speaking of the live action movie, me as a fan, I love to see things from my favorite shows brought into my real world as a tangible object. What is your favorite movie prop created for TMNT?
KE: A couple. When we first saw the full turtle costume, even without the actor inside it, they were really hand crafted to fit a specific actor. To help with muscle movements, and the stunts. Seeing the actual costume was like literally seeing one of your creations existing. It brought them to life. Raphael’s Sais. The TCRI Canister, that contained the ooze in the first movie. What’s really fun, is that Neko toys put out recently in the last year, they put out an authentic Casey Jones mask. We designed that mask. It wasn’t modeled after anything. Casey Jones mask in the first movie was made into a collectors item. They also did the TCRI canister, which we thought was fantastic. I’d point to those two things for sure.
LG: Those are great. I’d love them as well! When you first started working on TMNT comics with Peter Laird you would mail the pages to each other. Technology has changed a lot since then. What apps, gadgets, tools now can you not live without in your field of work?
KE: No, it’s funny. We were lucky back in the old days. The first issue that we worked on together we literally worked in the same studio, and were able to pass the pages back and forth. There was a short period of time when I lived in Maine, and he lived in Connecticut, so we mailed a few pages back and forth, but I also took a few bus trips down, and we got to work together. After that we were in the same town, or the same studio. Even today… I love technology. I love what you can do with it, especially the Wacom tablet. So many different kinds of graphical layouts but I’m still an old school guy! I pencil on a paper, I ink on the paper. Then I have to scan it and send it to a colorist, but I still like the feel of the paper, the pen drag across the paper. I get excited about a brand new brush or pencil that works well, some white out that actually covers up a mistake without having to go over it again. I’m totally old school. I do love texting though. My wife Courtney, my son Shane and I are all on a thread.
LG: Texting and Memes are some of my favorite things. So congrats on the Drawing Blood comic through Kickstarter. Is there anything else new coming up you can share with us to look out for?
KE: Drawing Blood was a dream come true. We launched it after Comic Con last year. The fans came out and supported it. David Avallone and I were the creative writers, Ben Bishop the artist with Troy Little. We’ve all been drawing and writing like crazy. We completed the 100 page graphic novel literally last week. We’re just doing some final finishing touches before we get it off to the press. So at Comic Con this year we’re going to give some of the fans a little insight for them. It’s such a great thing to get back to self publishing and creation. No editors, no one else to decide but us what is to be done. I have another project called Lost Angeles, a post apocalyptic, Warrior meets Romeo & Juliet. I’ve been working on that for about a year. That’s getting close hopefully near the end of the year to be put out as a regular book. There’s always fun stuff I’m working on and keeping notes on and hoping to work on in between all the Turtle stuff, my first love, which I still work on. Regular issues, regular covers, the awesome IDW 48 page Raphael one shot graphic novel out this Christmas. There is always Turtles in the mix which I dearly love. It’s still great to get in other projects like Drawing Blood, and Lost Angeles and a few other ones I’ll ease into for projects next year.
LG: I recently saw Biz n’ Buzz on a Twitter photo of yours, anything new with them?
KE: Biz n’ Buzz started as something as a joke. Simon Bisley did this lovely doodle of us. Mine being Buzz and his being named after him. Being these oddball kinda slacker dudes that sort of wander around oblivious. They try to do the right thing but find themselves in trouble constantly. We developed it as an animated series a couple years ago, and shopped it around to a few places. I’d love to see it actualized as an animated series. It was designed with a tonal edginess of… like Rick and Morty, pull no punches like Rick and Morty and Southpark, one of those humoristic places. If the worlds not sick of those then maybe there’s room for a Biz and Buzz series.
LG: Awesome! Glad to hear it’s staying alive. Since you’ve been doing a lot of things, and being productive, what’s the best advice you have ever received?
KE: Lot of great advice. From some early encounters with comic book legends. Guys like Jack Kirby, He said “Keep at it kid, you’ll make it one day.” I took it to heart. I had an art teacher in High School named Jane Hawkes, we are talking late 70s. Being a geek was not the cool thing it is now. When you were a geek in High School you were the goofballs at the far end of the lunch room. This art teacher saw my love of comic books and she didn’t laugh, which was a first, and said “That’s great! You love them, and you love to draw. It seems to me that if you want to draw a comic books, then you have to draw so many things. You have to be able to draw everything you see. I see that you can draw a super hero in a heroic pose, but you have to be able to draw a desk and a chair, paper, and pens on the desk. The wall behind it, and perspective. You have to be able to draw everything, cars and buildings and trees. If you want to be able to draw and tell a comic book story, like the guys that you admire, you have to learn how to draw anything.” Sort of a light bulb went off over my head, and I thought she was absolutely right. She would give me extra work in my sketch book and she’d say “I don’t want to see any super hero drawings, I want to see you draw everything you can, and then you can draw your super heroes on your own time.” I thought that was great advise. It really had a big effect and a big realization for me. She was 100% right.
LG: I wish I had someone like her in my High School days.
KE: I was very lucky.
LG: Two more questions, You recently went to Las Vegas Comic Con where you wanted to get Charlie Cox’s autograph. What are you looking forward to the most at Comic-Con SD coming up?
KE: Oh man, well first, it was great to meet Charlie Cox. He did a wonderful job. Daredevil being one of my favorite comics growing up. He’s a warm and wonderful man. Really engaging loves his fans, loves his job. Just a super great guy. So my kudos to Charlie, thanks for letting me geek out on him for a minute. San Diego Comic-Con has so many wonderful things to see and do. Whether it being part of the things we do with the Turtle fans, meeting people who have traveled from all over the world to meet me or to see something new that Nickelodeon is doing with the Turtles, or something like that. One of my favorite things, and it might sound a little lame, is I love to see old friends, who I only get to see at Comic-Con. Everybody is so busy, and scattered to the winds. Whether it be Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor, I only get to run into them in a Convention. I get to have a few minutes to catch up and maybe have a beer together at the hotel bar after the show is over. It’s Stan Sakai and Sergio Aragonés, people you only get to see once a year, so I really cherish getting a chance to spend a few minutes with friends that I’ve gotten to know over the 33 years I’ve been going there. My first year at Comic-Con was 1985.
LG: Damn, that’s when I was born!
KE: It’s the atmosphere, it’s the fans, it’s hard to describe. You’ve been to Comic-Con, and a lot of people haven’t been to Comic-Con, they say “What’s it like?” and I always describe the one time a couple years ago I took a friend who did not understand what all the hubbub was all about. He said “I want to see a Comic-Con, I want to see what goes on there. It sounds like one giant party!” I was like “Well…” We went to a Comic-Con and he said after walking around for half a day, “You know what’s so cool about Comic-Con, is that it’s literally the happiest place on Earth for all these people who are here.” They save their money, they pay good money to fly there, to buy the tickets to get in. They are around people of like minds. People who love Star Wars, love Doctor Who, love Star Trek, love Turtles. We are all here to celebrate pop culture, so they are all so happy to be there. This is just the coolest thing. I like the vibe, everyone is pretty excited.
LG: And we thank you for your enthusiasm, and caring about your fans. We really do appreciate it. I know I’m an interviewer, I’m in my interviewer pants, but I’m also a fan.
KE: Well thank you! The fans get your energy up, and they make you excited and happy. We spend a lot of time by ourselves drawing, so we can get out there and meet you awesome people and see the effect. You guys give us an awesome job, so we want to meet you in person.
LG: When and where can your fans find you during Comic-Con SD?
KE: This year is kinda fun in that we usually ping pong around, but this year we kept it down to just a few key events. For example on Thursday at 1:00 to 3:00 we are going to be signing at the IDW booth. We have an IDW panel at 11:00am. Friday we have a couple offsite commitments, but Saturday 11:00 to 1:00, and Sunday 11:00 to 2:00, we are doing signings at the Planet Awesome booth. Three main signings.
LG: Kevin Eastman, thank you so much. This has been quite a privilege, honor and joy to speak to you. You are such a cool guy.
KE: Thank you!
Make sure to check out Kevin Eastman at these events during the Convention:
Thursday July 19, 11:00 a.m. – “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles For All!” Panel (Room 28DE)
Thursday July 19, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – IDW Booth (#1109) Signing
Saturday July 21, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Planet Awesome Collectibles Booth (#608) Signing
Sunday July 22, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Planet Awesome Collectibles Booth (#608) Signing