Tag Archives: Peter Laird

Vizionz of TMNT #2: Jim Lawson

Jim Lawson is best known for . . . illustrating TMNT comics. Most Mirage Studios artists focus on licensing art or toy design but Lawson has drawn a ton of TMNT comics. In fact, no one has drawn more, so eat up!


TMNT #20 (1989) pencils by Jim Lawson, inks by Eric Talbot



TMNT #28 (1990) art by Jim Lawson

TMNT Adventures #7 (1989) pencils by Jim Lawson, inks by Gary Fields



TMNT Volume 2 #8 (1994) pencils by Jim Lawson, inks by Eric Talbot

TMNT Volume 4 #2 (2002) pencils by Jim Lawson, inks by Peter Laird

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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 . . .

KEVIN EASTMAN & PETER LAIRD
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?

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-smash-up-20090408112817101

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

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-27333-Des-Moines-Graphic-Novels-Examiner~y2009m10d26-Nick-Buys-Turtles-Will-Comics-Suffer

G.

-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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Series
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)

Mini-series
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)

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

 

Zeromayo Studios Publication History

Series
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

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

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The History of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Part V: Mirage Studios Returns (2001-present)

Here’s a brief summary of what happened with Mirage after they stopped publishing TMNT comics in 1995.  Kevin Eastman bought the semi-erotic science fiction comic magazine Heavy Metal and moved to Los Angeles to focus on that.  He also launched a new, live-action TV show, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, in association with Fox and Saban.  The new show was actually the ratings leader in its time slot but was cancelled after its lone season, 1997/1998.  Playmates finally stopped producing TMNT toys in 1999.  With the end of the Image Comics series in 1999, the Turtles were basically dead.

Surprisingly, even without TMNT projects to keep them together, most of the Mirage artists remained in Massachussets, working on various independent projects at the Mirage Studios facility.  In 2001, Eastman sold his share of the TMNT to Peter Laird, who immediately set out to restart the entire franchise.  Just like in 1984, his first step was to launch a new comic series, TMNT (just the initials, not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).  In spite of the acronym, in the new series the Turtles are no longer teens but rather in their 30s.

Laird writes the series (it’s still in publication) and originally he provided inks and fucking INCREDIBLE tones.  Apparently the workload was too much for him because the tones were scaled back after the first couple of issues and now it’s barely there at all, unfortunately.  Unlike the classic series, there’s an ongoing narrative but it seems to have dozens of loose ends and frequently hit brick walls.  The most interesting story aspect of the new series is that aliens have landed and become a fairly common site on earth, so the turtles are able to walk around in broad daylight.

TMNT Volume 4
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TMNT Volume 4 #2 art by Jim Lawson with awesome tones by Peter Laird, #28 art by Jim Lawson with no tones :-(

The new series went on hiatus in 2006 but finally returned last month with a unique distribution plan.  New issues are available to read online FOR FREE.  Print versions of the new issues are limited to 1,000 copies and cost $10 each.  Back before the hiatus, this series was only selling about 4,000 copies per issue.  Now that issues are limited to 1,000 copies it almost seems like a vanity project (but I don’t mind).

In a way the main series has almost become a sidenote to the more popular and widespread spin-off series Tales of the TMNT.  This series is published on an almost-monthly schedule and is about to reach its 50th issue.  Stories published in this series can take place at basically any point in time, meaning sometimes we see little kid Ninja Turtles, sometimes old men, whatever.  Indpendent or underground comic creators are given the chance to create issues and sometimes Mirage Studios members take their turn, much like the middle years of the original series.

The new Tales of the TMNT series
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Tales of the TMNT #9 art by Jim Lawson, #14 art by Rick Remender & Michael Manley, #36 art by Paul Harmon, #40 art by Diego Jourdan

The current publication regime is much more satisfying than the Archie, Image or Dreamwave runs but in most ways it falls short of the original Mirage run.  The main TMNT series is somewhat aimless and the inks really vary in quality.  Many of the indie artists hired to work on the Tales of the TMNT series are just not nearly as interesting to me as those that worked on the old series and most of them make little to no attempt to co-opt the “Mirage style”.  Still, I generally like and I’m glad it’s around.

Mirage Studios 2nd Generation TMNT Publication History

Series
TMNT #1-29 and counting (2001-present)
Tales of the TMNT #1-46 and counting (2004-present)

Mini-series
Leonardo: Blind Sight #1-4 (2006)
TMNT Movie Prequel #1-5 (2007)
Raphael: Bad Moon Rising #1-4 (2007)

Special
TMNT Official Movie Adaptaton (2007)

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The History of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Comics Part I: Mirage Studios (1984-1995)

The TMNT were conceived in 1983 as a tongue-in-cheek joke, primarily as a parody of three comic series that were very popular in the early 1980s. The whole teenage aspect comes from DC Comics’ Teen Titans. The mutant part came from Marvel Comics’ X-Men and the ninja part came courtesy of Marvel’s Daredevil. The turtles part came out of thin air. So basically these two losers, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were having a very difficult time breaking into the comics industry and it’s easy to see why – their style was really unconventional at a time when there wasn’t a whole lot of variety in comics, let alone alternative publishers to turn to.

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Page 1 of TMNT #1 by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird (1984)

Eastman & Laird created the TMNT and self-published a 3000 copy run of their new comic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in 1984. This comic introduced each of the turtles, plus Splinter, Shredder, and the Foot Clan. On a whim, they typed up a press release to announce the comic, which was picked up by the Associated Press for some reason, greatly increasing awareness of the comic. ANYWAY, it was a huge hit in spite of the fact that it was black and white and only available in comic shops (which were not as widespread as they are today). The comic was unique not only because it was black and white but because they filled the white spaces with very detailed and I might say gritty greytones. This became a hallmark of Mirage Studios comics.

So, what started on a whim as a joke became a hit, even though it was for the most part a really big rip-off of Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil. Splinter gets his name from Daredevil’s mentor, Stick. The Foot Clan received their name from Daredevil’s nemesis, The Hand (Clan). They even tied in the TMNT’s origin to Daredevil’s, implying that the same chemical spill that transformed Matt Murdock also mutated the Turtles.

Now it was all a big hit and life had to go on, which it did in 1985 with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2, which introduced April O’Neil, Baxter Stockman, and the Mousers. This issue was also a hit so it all continued, with Eastman and Laird happily toiling away at their comics. They started to do the comic full-time and by 1986 had released several issues, introducing Fugitoid, Casey Jones, the Triceratons, and sharing crossovers with Cerebus and Usagi Yojimbo. Eastman and Laird jumped at any chance to do TMNT short stories, as well, which appeared in anthology titles or as back-up stories in other indie comics.

Eastman & Laird continue the series
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TMNT #6 art by Eastman/Laird TMNT #10 art by Eastman/Laird

In 1985, Palladium Books became the first TMNT licensees, producing a series of RPG books starring the Turtles featuring brand new character art, and sometimes new stories, by Eastman and Laird. Then Playmates Toys came along in 1987 to arrange a toy deal, followed by a deal with Murakami Wolf Swenson to produce a cartoon, followed by a deal with Archie Comics to publish a mainstream, kiddie TMNT comic, then a video game license with Konami and finally the movie license with Golden Harvest and New Line. Eastman and Laird became more involved with making business decisions than with producing comics.

To keep up with all of the licensing requirements, Mirage Studios slowly became a REAL studio, hiring several artists to draw comics, design toys, and create art for shit like TMNT napkins and party favors. The artists typically focused on designing new toy characters. If a character went into production, it could be worth $30,000 – $60,000 for that artist. In their spare time, they worked on the comics, which were now sometimes written but usually just overseen by Eastman and Laird. With some exceptions, the quality of the comics was typically maintained. Unlike mainstream comics, new issues came out when they were good and ready, not held to any schedules. Some of them were of incredibly high quality and oozed the sort of enthusiasm that can only come from independent publications.

Mirage Studios artists take over
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TMNT #17 art by Eric Talbot TMNT #28 art by Jim Lawson TMNT #29 art by A.C. Farley

At some point it seems that most of the Mirage Studios artists didn’t feel like drawing comics and many underground cartoonists were given turns to produce issues, including people like Richard Corben, Mark Martin, Matt Howarth and Rick Veitch. These comics were typically very good and usually had better stories than issues written by Mirage Studios staff members. In 1992, perhaps because the TMNT empire was starting to wind down, Eastman and Laird decided to work on the series again. They wrote and illustrated issue #50 and then wrote the next 12 issues with Mirage Studios veteran Jim Lawson handling the art. They continued to publish specials and one-shots by independent artists.

Underground creators to the fore
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TMNT #35 art by Michael Zulli TMNT #18 pencils by Mark Bode TMNT #23 art by Rick Veitch

In 1993, the series was “cancelled”, though only to give way to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2, which was NOW IN COLOR. This series was written and illustrated by Jim Lawson and features an admittedly aimless and slow plot that ends rather ambiguously. In 1995, Volume 2 was cancelled and Mirage Studios ceased the publication of comics. This was caused by a few factors: 1) the collapse of the TMNT empire 2) the huge comics industry market crash of the 1990s and 3) a flood that ravaged the Mirage Studios offices and printing facility. ‘Twas the end of an era.

Eastman & Laird return plus Volume 2
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TMNT #50 art by Eastman/Laird TMNT #49 pencils by Jim Lawson TMNT Vol.2 #4 art by Jim Lawson

Mirage Studios TMNT Publications Guide:

series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-62 (1984-1995)
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-7 (1987-1989)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (second series) #1-13 (1993-1995)

mini-series
Turtle Soup #1-4 (1991-1992)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Flaming Carrot Crossover #1-4
Casey Jones: North By Downeast #1-2

specials
Raphael (1985)
Michaelangelo (1985)
Donatello (1986)
Leonardo (1986)
Turtle Soup (1987)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)
Green-Grey Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles: The Parody (1990)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Challenges (1991)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Times Pipeline (1992)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Haunted Pizza (1992)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Maltese Turtle (1993)
Casey Jones & Raphael (1994) <aborted mini-series, later published in full by Image Comics>
The Savage Dragon/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1993)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/The Savage Dragon (1995)

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Flaming Carrot art by Jim Lawson Sushi Turtles art by Mark Martin TMNT #33 art by Richard Corben

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