Tag Archives: Kevin Eastman

25 Vizionz of TMNT #1: Eastman & Laird (REDUX!)

Remember a couple of months ago when I started a series called 25 Visions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ripping off Milo Prometheus’s 75 Visions of The Bat-Man series?  I only completed a couple of entries before I petered out.  The main issue was that I was tired of digging around all over the inter-netz looking for cool skanz to use.  Additionally, I was looking for the most zip-pow images, so I included cover paintings for the most part at the expense of actual sequential, interior art.  Well, now that I’m restarting the series, I will be focusing exclusively on interior art cuz that’s whut komix is all about!

PS – I’m restarting the series because I downloaded a ton of TMNT comics at comicsworld.wordpress.com so it’s no longer a pain in the ass to find scans.  Amen.  Without further ado . . .

Eastman & Laird are best known for . . . TMNT, which they created.

TMNT #10 (1987) art by Eastman/Laird

TMNT #6 colorized version (1986) art by Eastman/Laird

TMNT #14 (1988) pencils by Eastman/inks by Eric Talbot

TMNT #50 (1992) art by Eastman/Laird

TMNT #8 (1986) art by Eastman/Laird

Eastman and/or Laird were the primary artists on the following TMNT comics:
TMNT 1-7, 9-12, 14, 15, 50
Leonardo 1
Donatello 1
Michealangelo 1
Raphael 1

They also illustrated many short stories and provided inks (sometimes very heavy-handedly) on many other TMNT comics.

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Bye Bye Mirage?


I wrote about the Ninja Turtles stuff going on, in regards to Mirage Studios, at examiner.com; check it out:



Mirage Classics Part 3: TMNT comics by Eastman & friends

After Eastman & Laird lost their interest in making comics together, Eastman occasionally recruited one of his friends/peers from the comics world to work on new TMNT stories with him. The results were always great, although the products reflect the influence of the guests much more than Eastman’s own style.

TMNT #18 (1989)
story: Mark Bode & Kevin Eastman
pencils: Mark Bode
inks: Kevin Eastman & Eric Talbot
The color reprint of this issue was the first Mirage comic I ever bought and it was sweet. Bode draws almost exactly like his famed father, Vaughn, but Eastman’s and Talbot’s inks give everything a ragged, hard edge that compliment the very uncharacteristic-for-Mirage story taking place in China and featuring a Bruce Lee wannabe.

TMNT #32 (1990)
story/pencils: Mark Bode
inks: Kevin Eastman & Eric Talbot
Another great issue that’s out of character. This time the Turtles go to Egypt to save April who, for SOME REASON, is a reporter, even though she’s a computer programmer in every other issue of the comic series. Huh?!

CASEY JONES: NORTH BY DOWNEAST #1 & 2 (1992/1993 Plastron Cafe Anthology, 1994)
story: Rick Veitch & Kevin Eastman
pencils: Rick Veitch
inks: Kevin Eastman
Veitch had been invited to work on some TMNT issues in the past but this time he undertook a Casey Jones solo story that originally ran, partially, in serialized form in an anthology title. The story is ridiculous – apparently there is a race of crab people living in the ocean. Who knew?!

BODYCOUNT #1-4 (1994, 1996)
story and pencils/roughs: Kevin Eastman
inks/finishes: Simon Bisley
Eastman’s pencils must have been really rough because the art looks 100% Bisley. Apparently, Eastman wanted to write the most violent, wild story he could and decided to include Raphael and Casey Jones. It’s actually a very fun, retarded story, with perfectly appropriate art by Bisley.

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-AO- Mirage Classics Part 2: TMNT Comics by Eastman & Laird 2 of 2

A conclusion of the CLASSIC TMNT work by Eastman & Laird. By “classic” I mean stuff that I can proudly recommend to other people.

1986 TMNT #9 story by Eastman and Laird, pencils by Michael Dooney, inks by Mirage Studios guys
I first read this issue when I was 11 and it was years later before I even realized Eastman and Laird didn’t pencil it. They were the primary inkers on it, though, and I guess that shows the power an inker wields. Anyway, the Turtles infiltrate a penthouse full of machine gun ninjas to restore honor to some old-ass Japanese family.

1986/1987 Leonardo #1 and TMNT #10 story by Eastman and Laird, inks by Mirage Studios guys
Another Christmas story – even though a year could NOT have passed by in the continuity since the last one. Anyway, Leonardo gets fucked up by the Foot, who then invade April’s building with Shredder and cause a ruckus. Casey returns, as well, but the Foot are too hot to handle. The good guys all escape to rural Massachussets. This was all adapted for the first movie.

1987 TMNT #11 story and art by Eastman and Laird
This whole issue is basically April’s journal. Leonardo slowly recovers. Donatello and Casey try to repair old trucks, Raph becomes an animalistic hunter guy. This was issue was adapted in the first movie, as well.

1987 TMNT #12 story and art by Peter Laird
I guess after 3 years Eastman and Laird secretly hated each other and they decided to do issues individually. It was during this time that Laird selected Jim Lawson to be his BFF and sidekick for life and Eastman chose Eric Talbot to be his bff and sidekick for the next 6 years or so. So this was Laird’s first solo issue in which the Turtles fight some fairly dangerous poachers in the Massachussets woods.

1988 TMNT #14 story and pencils by Eastman, inks by Eastman and Eric Talbot
The Turtles go into town and get mixed up in a bizarre gangster story involving a golden calf. Okay.

1988 TMNT #15 story and pencils by Laird, inks by Jim Lawson
A retired super villain comes out of retirement so the super hero team that used to fight him comes out of retirement, as well. It’s kind of clever cuz they’re all in their 60s/70s. Also kinda cheesy. The TMNT basically just happen to be there.

1989 TMNT #19, 20, 21 story by Eastman and Laird, pencils by Lawson, inks by Eastman, Laird, Talbot
These three issues make up the “Return to New York” storyline. After several issues of kicking it in Massachussets our heroes decide to return to New York to settle accounts with Shredder. For many TMNT fans, probably including me, this is the ULTIMATE. There’s very little character development or humor, just 120 pages of gritty, hardcore action. The Turtles and a triceraton named Zog infiltrate the Foot’s new facility and a whole lot of people die graphically. They encounter the badass Elite Guard and learn that Shredder was brought back to life via some ninja hocus pocus that involves worms feeding on his remains. Then they get to fight 3 monsters that were the initial, failed attemptsto revive Shredder. Finally, Leo fights Shredder one on one. Shredder is beheaded and his corpse cremated. No talking, no celebrating, the end. One of the more hardcore and impersonal comics I’ve read. The series probably could have ended at this point. For Eastman and Laird, it pretty much did.

1990 TMNT The Movie adaptation by Eastman and Laird, pencils by Lawson, inks by Eastman, Laird and Talbot
They were too busy to make new comics but they could do the adaptation of the movie? Okay. It turns out very well, actually, with the same look as Return to New York. They crammed a SHITLOAD of panels on each page to make it all fit into 64 pages.

1992 TMNT #50 story and art by Eastman and Laird
The last classic TMNT work by Eastman and Laird. They dragged their asses out of their mansions to create this wordless issue, which launched a boring 13-issue storyline they didn’t even draw. This issue lacks the boredom, though, and is pretty tense due to its silence.

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-AO- Mirage Classics Part I: TMNT Comics by Eastman & Laird 1 of 2

So, these are the CLASSIC issues of TMNT that were created primarily by Eastman and/or Laird. You may or may not be surprised by how few isues they actually did, considering how famous they are for it.  The criteria for this list is, “Can I recommend this to other people?”

1984 TMNT #1 story and art by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
First issue evarrrrrr, so naturally it introduces the TMNT and Splinter, who tells them to go kill this guy Shredder. They fight a bunch of Foot Clan ninja and then fight Shredder on a rooftop. This whole sequence was adapted for the end of the first TMNT movie, but in the comic the Turtles are able to kill shredder without any help from Splinter.

1984 TMNT #2 story and art by Eastman & Laird
Introduces April O’Neil, Baxter Stockman, and the Mousers (never seen again in the comics).  In the comics, April is a computer programmer, not a reporter.  When the Turtles return home to tell Splinter about their adventure with the mousers, they find that he’s been kidnapped omg! The whole “Splinter is missing” thing also made it into the first movie.

1985 TMNT #3 story and art by Eastman and Laird
Introduces jack shit. The Turtles drive around with April looking for splinter until they’re all mistaken for some armed robbers and drive around like wussies instead of killin’ cops!

1985 Raphael #1 story and art by Eastman and Laird
Raph gets antsy and leaves the sewer to search for Splinter. If you’ve seen the first movie, you’ll be familiar with the following sequence: Raph interferes with a dangerous, hockey mask-wearing vigilante named Casey Jones, resulting in a vicious street fight.

1985/1986 TMNT #4, 5, 6, 7 and Fugitoid #1 story and art by Eastman and Laird
Apparently, way back in 1986, some people felt the series jumped the shark at this point.  These issues combine to tell a rather epic story that begins with a run-in with remnants of the Foot Clan, which results in a chance spotting of the building owned by TCRI, the same company whose logo appears on the cannister that mutated the Toitles.  They infiltrate the building and find that it’s filled with Utroms, the alien race that inspired the villain Krang on the kids TV show.  There’s a melee and the Turtles are teleported far, far away.  They meet up with a fugitive robot, the Fugitoid, who possesses valuable information that the Triceraton aliens want.  They’re captured and there’s a really sweet gladiatorial sequence during which the Turtles kill some badasses.  Then they fight their way out, get back to earth, learn that the Utroms are friendly and have Splinter (they rescued him from the Mousers) and all ends well.  Yay.

1985 Michaelangelo #1 story and art by Eastman and Laird
Yay, a Christmas issue!  As an old man, these are the kinds of stories that I really like, as they show the Turtles doing fairly normal things and not just fighting werewolves or aliens or whatever.  Basically, some thieves steal a truck full of the latest must-have Christmas toy.  Michaelangelo chases them down and then delivers the toys to an orphanage.

1986 Donatello #1 story and art by Eastman and Laird
The all-out homage to Jack Kirby.  Donatello discovers that April’s new tenant (she rents out a room, apparently), a dude named Kirby, just HAPPENS to have a magical crystal that he attaches to his pencil that makes his drawings come to life. 

1986 TMNT #8 story and art by Eastman, Laird and Dave Sim
The TMNT team up for the first time, this time with Dave Sim’s Cerebus.  They meet a time lord chick named Renet, go back in time, meet Cerebus, fight a goat guy named Savanti Romero and then end up in April’s shower.  Eventually, Dave Sim informed Mirage that the issue had been reprinted too many times and denied them permission to ever reprint it.  Mirage also offered to produce a Cerebus action figure as part of the TMNT toy line but he said nope!

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AO*: Mirage Studios TMNT sequence and honest appraisal

*AO = Allison Optional (for future reference, AM = Allison Mandatory)
All articles are mandatory for Scott and Greg – sorry, guys!
Ryan and Natalie are free agents of their own destiny.

This is not an article but rather an honest appraisal for all them Mirage Studioz komix I been writin’ about.  As much as I continue to like the TMNT comics currently published by Mirage, they don’t really hold a candle to the CLASSIC stuff.  Even the later comics from the original Mirage era doesn’t compare.  There are a few things that made the ‘classic’ Mirage stuff (1980s/very early 1990s) so special but primary among these is the immense attention to detail, largely thanks to the greytones and shading.  This technique has still very rarely been used to this day and it really MADE many of these comics. 

Most of the issues were pretty long.  There was no artificial limit on page numbers like you find in DC or Marvel Comics.  Even mainstream comics from 1980s all-stars like Alan Moore and Frank Miller and underground kings like Dave Sim were typically held to specific page counts.  In Mirage’s case, the stories were as long as they needed to be, sometimes up to 50 pages.  Most of the issues were self-contained.  This all resulted in single issues feeling like an event.  TMNT was never a monthly 22-page comic with a regular creative staff – until 1992.

Another thing that made the classic era Mirage stuff so great was the high level of creativity and freshness.  You can just tell while reading these comics that Eastman and Laird were caught up in something much bigger than they ever expected.  Their greatest strength was ideas and they just poured out.  Then, just when things started to slow down, Eastman and Laird handed over the reigns to other artists.  For a couple of years, this worked really well, with many artists presenting wildly varying takes on the TMNT.  Some of these issues were complete farces or parodies, even featuring Mad Magazine artists.  Now-legendary artist Michael Zulli portrayed the TMNT in a very realistic way, complete with beaks and claws and unhumanlike speech.

I now feel that the sum was much greater than the parts and one of those parts was FRESHNESS and EXCITEMENT.  When TMNT Volume 4 started back in 2001 it tricked me.  The first couple of issues had a lot of frenetic action and an incredible attention to detail in the greytones but it seems the new freshness wore off quickly because BAM with issue 3 the greytones were scaled back considerably, the pencils became more rushed and the inks rather sloppy.  I love Mirage artist Jim Lawson like I love my own child (Park) but his current work doesn’t excite me like his stuff from say 1989 did (but hey, at least his style has dramatically evolved unlike so many comic artists).  The good thing about the current Tales of the TMNT series is that there’s a lot of fresh blood involved – either underrated professionals or soon-to-be estabished up-and-comers.  These guys have the freshness but maybe not the style of the CLASSIC issues.

I believe I will compile a list of the really classic Mirage/TMNT stuff.  Mirage is actually very slowly posting each issue of TMNT Volume 1 on their site to view for free.  Most of the classic Eastman & Laird issues are already up but none of the guest issues are available yet.  Here’s a sequence for you to eyeball – pages 23, 24, 25 and 29 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10 from 1987, which came out right as the stupid kids cartoon was hitting the air.


In this sequence, the Foot Clan have beaten Leonardo to a pulp and invaded the building in which April O’Neil lives and operates an antiques store.  Casey Jones, familiar at this point only to Raphael, decides to intervene.  You may recall that this whole scene made it into the 1990 TMNT movie, but in that version Raphael received the beatdown and Shredder was not present, replaced by a bald geek named General Tatsu.  I would like to call attention to the inkng and the tones.  Most of these panels appear to have been inked by Eastman.  His lines are so harsh and jagged.  There are few curves or soft lines.  The greytones are not overwhelming still really complete the art.  The panels themselves are unique, with jagged, scratchy lines instead of the typical straight lines.  I’m surprised more artists don’t do this as it’s probably easier and doesn’t look any worse.  Perhaps the strongest aspect of these pages is the general layout.  Notice that three of the pages have spaces that are not covered by panels at all.  On the last page, there are two panels that Casey Jones spills out of as if he’s escaping them.  The arrangement of the panels shows real foresight and creativity.  Even today, there are very very few artists that work this way.  Even the Mirage guys have largely forgotten this art. 


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Mirage Studios Miscellanea Part 1: Non-TMNT Publications

The mid-80’s success of series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cerebus, Flaming Carrot Comics, Usagi Yojimbo, Concrete, etc., caused a black and white comics boom.  Suddenly, comic shops were flooded with them.  The success of their TMNT comics and the new boom inspired Mirage to expand their publications beyond TMNT, beginning with a Fugitoid one-shot, which lead directly into TMNT #5.  Former Muppeteer Tony Basilicato signed on with his series Prime Slime Tales in 1986.  After only 2 issues the series moved to Now Comics, where it lasted for 2 more issues and then DIED.  New Mirage staff artist Michael Dooney launched his own series, Gizmo, featuring the intergalactic travels of a humorous robot and his dog-like companion.  Mirage artist Jim Lawson launched Bade Biker and Orson, starring a mild-mannered motorcyclist and his small frog-man pal.  The indie talent-featuring anthologies Gobbledygook and Grunts were published as one-shot specials along with a collection of pretty lame rock ‘n roll-themed gag strips by Mirage staffer Ryan Brown.


Then the black and white boom imploded and the expansion efforts whithered away with only a few specials breaking up the TMNT logjam in the late 80’s/early 90’s, including a Gizmo and the Fugitoid mini-series and a goofy one-shot about sausage-shaped monster cliches called Hallowieners.  In 1989, Mirage published an interesting collection called Mirage Mini-Comics, which contained a dozen 3″x4″ mini-comics by various independent creators such as Mark Martin, Rick Veitch, and Steve Bissette.  Without any fanfare at all, Mirage published the last few issues of the cult series, The Puma Blues.


In 1992, Mirage published an Usagi Yojimbo spin-off mini-series by Stan Sakai, called Space Usagi.  The experiment was a success and Sakai moved the main Usagi series to Mirage.  This new series was published in color and signaled Mirage’s move toward color.  Eventually, another Space Usagi mini-series was released.  A new black and white anthology series, Plastron Cafe, was launched and then cancelled after only 4 issues.  Jim Lawson released a well-illustrated but somewhat aimless mini-series, Dino Island.  In 1993, Mirage artists Peter Laird, Michael Dooney, and A.C. Farley initiated the misguided Next Comics project, a strange attempt at creating an integrated super hero universe.  Laird’s effort, Stupid Heroes, was decent but slavish in its attempt to replicate Jack Kirby.  Dooney’s series, Xenotech, did nothing to distinguish itself from the many identical series pouring out of Image and Marvel Comics at the time.  Only Farley’s Bioneers seemed to be on track for something special but was extremely complicated and never made it past the first issue.


Shortly after, Mirage’s publishing arm closed its doors.  Laird and Lawson formed a new publishing company that could possibly be considered a successor to Mirage, called Zeromayo Studios.  They began work on a series of ambitious series of graphic novels about interplanetary motorcycle racing called Planet Racers.  After the project was completed, Lawson created the series Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous.  Each issue relates a day in the life of a dinosaur, with lavish illustrations and compelling stories.  Most of the former Mirage staff, with the notable exclusion of Kevin Eastman, started a company called Funatix! with the aim of launching new annoying multimedia kids enterainment franchises.  After years of failure they decided to get the ball rolling by publishing comics featuring some of their properties.  These comics went to press but were never released.


With the rebirth of Mirage Publishing in 2001, most of these projects went by the wayside as Mirage artists once again had TMNT-related work.

Mirage Studios Non-TMNT Publication History

Prime Slime Tales #1-2 (1986)
Gizmo #1-6 (1986-1987)
Bade Biker and Orson #1-4 (1986-1987)
The Puma Blues #20-23 (1990)
Plastron Cafe #1-4 (1992-1993)
Usagi Yojimbo Volume 2 #1-16 (1993-1995)

Gizmo and the Fugitoid #1-2 (1988 )
Space Usagi #1-3 (1992)
Dino Island #1-2 (1993)
Stupid Heroes #1-3 (1993-1994)
Xenotech #1-3 (1993-1994)
Bioneers #1 (1994)
Space Usagi Volume 2 #1-3 (1994)

Fugitoid (1985)
Gobbledygook (1986)
Grunts (1987)
Rockola (1988 )
Mirage Mini-Comics (1989)


Zeromayo Studios Publication History

Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous #1-8 (2001-2003)

Graphic novels
Planet Racers Book One: Life Season
Planet Racers Book Two: Off-Season
Planet Racers Book Three: Janus Rising


Funatix! Publication History

Specials?  Series?
Eagles of the Vortex #1 (2000)
Howlers #1 (2000)
Lewis and Klork: The Lost Planet Expedition (2000)


 Stuff created for Mirage but published elsewhere after the publishing arm folded

Guzzi Lemans #1-2 (1996) published by Antarctic Press
Construct #1-6 (1996) pubished by Caliber Comics


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