At Bleeding Cool, we don't usually play the game of running interviews created by the PR of a publisher looking for coverage. I usually take the position that if someone wants to advertise a project, they can talk to Bleeding Cool's advertising people (Jim Kuhoric is your main man for that). And if you want me to interview you, there's a possibility I might ask less PR-friendly questions, or questions about other issues than the specific thing you're promoting. That's part of the deal.
But I'm going to make an exception today, for an interview with Kevin Eastman concerning an IDW Turtles project, because this one has suddenly got rather newsworthy. It involves the launch of IDW Limited.
A new company from comic publisher, IDW which will publish new high end collections of the publisher's comics. When the company fed me the interview with a few pictures, a little Googling led me to a lot more. I'm not exactly sure if they wanted me to find so much though…
Of late, IDW has led the industry in reproducing classic material in a high end fashion, with Scott Dunbier's Artist's Editions leading the pack. IDW Limited is that, and much more.A new Artist's Edition format. A new format for publishing personalised comics. And a way for individuals to get signed and sketched items, some normally reserved for retailers to encourage increased sales of the regular product. And all offered direct to the consumer, bypassing distributoir and retailer alike.
Here's how they describe it.
IDW Publishing is thrilled to announce the launch of IDW Limited, a new division that will specialize in producing high-end, collectible editions of their wide catalog of books. Catering to the loyal and committed fans that have helped make IDW a success, IDW Limited books will feature unique elements like original sketches and creator signatures on luxuriously designed packaging not available anywhere else. These top-of-the-line rarities will aim to enhance and expand existing books, providing beautiful reading and collecting experiences fans will be proud to display on their shelves.
They are launching one of their new formats, the Deluxe Limited Edition, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Here is the first volume – in all of its three variants
Limited to 175 copies, each IDW Limited Red Label of Change Is Constant is housed in a custom slipcase, also containing unique, hand-drawn sketch art from Dan Duncan and a signature plate signed by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, series writer Tom Waltz and artist Dan Duncan. Signatures and artwork are housed in a hardcover artist's portfolio accompanying the book. $125
Limited to 25 copies, each IDW Limited Black Label of Change Is Constant is housed in a custom, handcrafted traycase, also containing a unique, hand-drawn illustration with full colors from Dan Duncan and a signature plate signed by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, series writer Tom Waltz and artist Dan Duncan. Signatures and artwork are housed in a hardcover artist's portfolio accompanying the book. $250
Limited to only 10 copies, the Blue Label edition of Change Is Constant is housed in a custom handcrafted tray case, also containing a full color illustration of the entire Turtle Team from Dan Duncan and a signature plate signed by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, series writer Tom Waltz and artist Dan Duncan. Signatures and artwork are protected by a hardcover artist's portfolio accompanying the book. $350
You can see how that works.
Another new format is the IDW Artist's Edition Portfolio, playing off of their Artists's Edition reprints of classic comics to resemble theorigianl art board. This time, they resemble the artists's own portfolio. There will be 100 copy limit portfolio editions of Bernie Wrightson's The Muck Monster for $95, and the same for Neal Adams' Thrill Kill. Both have hard portfolio covers with the story made up of reproduced art pages, at the same size as they were drawn on as similar card stock to the original art board as possible.
They are also selling signed and sketched retailer incentive covers, previously unavailable to the public, direct from their website.
Future projects include Zombies Vs Robots: Z Boys in the Robot Graveyard, Zombies Vs Robots: THIS MEANS WAR, Alan Robert's Crawl to Me Deluxe Limited Edition and Transformers: Art of the Fall of Cybertron Deluxe Limited Edition.
There will, no doubt, be retailer outrage at this move. But also considerable creator envy, wondering how they can get their work produced in such a fashion. And here's one of them now.
The interview with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, was conducted by IDW's Nate Murray.
We're a year into the IDW re-boot of the turtles. How does it feel to be back in the swing of things?
Incredible really–it never ceases to amaze me the support the TMNT's have not only from the original fans of the black and white series, but the masses that discovered them from the Animated series and still hold it near and dear. Personally, working on the new series with the genius Tom Waltz, mind-blowing Dan Duncan, extremely talented Rhonda Patterson, razor sharp Bobby Curnow, basically the whole IDW crew–along with MASSIVE support and direction from Nickelodeon has been life changing–simply put I have re-discovered my love of not only drawing comics, but most of all, drawing Turtles. It's been amazing and then some.
Can you tell us about the creative process, and how you've been involved with the series?
For the regular series, it is Tom spearheading the ideas with series editor Bobby–before running things past me for thoughts and input–(and if they didn't do their job so well I'm sure I would have more than I do!)–before discussing everything with team Nickelodeon–who has simply been fantastic with ideas and support for the whole re-invention–they have allowed ideas to be explore that I think have really resonated with fans in a big way–and I'm one of the biggest fans of the new series, especially with artists like Dan and now Andy Kuhn doing the regular work. Really, REALLY talented people all the way around. I also get to do one of the variant covers–that Rhonda Patterson does knockout covers that make me look REALLY GOOD! (Thanks Rhonda!)
*For the Annual, I did a full treatment, Tom fixed a lot of it with the final script, and Nickelodeon and Bobby brought in the final tweaks that made it all work sooooo nicely. From there is was easy–as it was all drawing for me–sorting out the acting and the fight scenes–and I got into it so much so that I asked, and got to add twelve more pages! So we took it from a 48-page story, to a 60-page block-buster! I can't wait to get fan feedback on this one, my first full TMNT story in a few decades–let's find out if the fans still like what I have to say!
IDW Limited is launching their site with the first story arc of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Change Is Constant. You've contributed signed signature plates to go along with the books. What made you decide to do that?
What excites me personally about the whole concept digs right down to the core geek in me–as well as being a fan of very cool books! I have a few personal signed treasures in my collection, and I think it is that word, "personal" that is the key here–as most of the folks buying these higher end editions are the real serious fans of the projects –and want to have them in their collection because it holds special, very happy feelings about–treasured moments, that at a glance can transport them to another time and place that makes them smile.
Being a part of that, whether it is signing a limited number of signature plates, or doing original sketches—it's a great feeling that doing something that simple for me, does so much for a fan on the other end–and that is pretty awesome.
I am a HUGE book collector/fan with thousands and thousands in my collection–and my favorites are always the special editions–not necessarily because they're rare and valuable–as much as I love all the care that went into the production, but more because of all the behind the scenes/making of bits–the process of how the project came to life–what was done, almost done, or changed–for better or worse–but it is all there–and that–is a very long answer to what I love about this edition–all the groovy bits!
Will you be working with IDW Limited more in the future?
In a hot second! I LOVE the oversized hardcovers of the original TMNT series, the Ultimate collections, (and I love the new softcover mini collections) but I especially love the Rocketeer, Thor, Wally Wood, Groo, and Daredevil editions–I look at them again and again–I will be buying EVERYTHING they do in this series–and if I get to be part of another fantastic collection–even better! Hah! Seriously, these are books that I feel are presented in the way they should be–as a work of art to be enjoyed again and again–it really is awesome to be a small part of it.
This hardback edition of Change is Constant is packaged with your page layouts for the first four issues. How were those used exactly?
Accidentally actually–Dan Duncan certainly doesn't need layouts from me to tell a great story–it was more for the ashcan/launch for Comic Con–I had already come on board to do covers for the first four, and was fully sold on the new story structure Tom Waltz wanted to do–so I suggested I do the layouts for the first eight pages as a kind of blessing from me, telling the fans "Hey, I love this! Check it out!" and the whole team dug it–I especially dug it–so we all kept it going through the entire first arc. Man what a blast that was! I hadn't worked on a sequential TMNT comic story since 1995, and I really had the best time in a long time.
There seem to be a lot of small references to the original series in the new book, the opening fight scene, the scientist named 'Chet', any other subtle nods we might have missed that you'd like to point out?
That is what I love about so much of the new structure Tom, IDW and the gang Nickelodeon put together for the new series "foundation"–by pulling all their favorite bits and pieces from all over the TMNT universe(s), including letting me come have some say and play, and putting in all kinds of little cool bits like that! So, I'm not going to be the one to put out any spoilers, but will ask the fans to keep their eyes open and pop us a note when they find one! What fun!
IDW has been doing some interesting crossovers recently, the turtles got a brief appearance in Infestation 2, is there anyone from their other books you'd like to see them mix it up with? GI Joe or the Transformers? How about Turtles and Triceratons vs. Star Trek and Dr. Who?
I love the crossovers! Especially Infestation! Personally, I would love to see a Star Trek crossover, as that was such a huge influence for me, but a GI Joe crossover would be a complete blast! Man, you could really go nuts with the action there–I would love to layout those fight scenes! Outside of IDW, and I know fans will laugh, but I LOVE the Flaming Carrot! We have done a few team-ups with Bob Burden and the Carrot (and the Mysterymen!) but think the time would be right to do a big TMNT/Carrot "Secret Wars" style four issue series–with Simon Bisley covers!!!!
I would LOVE that! I think the fans would as well–Stan Saki, and his awesome creation Usagi Yojimbo, have been both an incredible inspiration and a member of the TMNT family since the earliest days–and I know there are tons of GREAT story ideas yet to mine there! Let's hope it happens and soon!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has run the gambit from being a group of rather violent vigilantes to comedic kid's show stars, and they've been loved the whole way through. Why do you think people can connect with the turtles in so many different ways?
The core characters really are, what I think, the biggest attraction–the fans relate to them specifically and strongly I believe. I look at that concept kinda the same way I relate to/love my favorite life long inspirations/heroes–like Captain America, Daredevil, Batman, and groups like the X-Men and Avengers–there have been all kinds of different versions of them, some stronger than others–all of the versions reflective of the times they are written or drawn in–but it was always the "core" character I related to that kept me coming back again and again. To think the TMNT's have reached that level with fans is mind-blowing to me–we're nearly 30 years old and still have an incredible following–that is the biggest compliment to what Peter and I originally created–ever! Awesome really.
Follow up- how violent do you like your turtles?
I look at the action sequences the way I look at how they are done in different films–certain TMNT stories require action scenes like an old Errol Flynn film, like the Cerebus / TMNT crossover, others like Bodycount–are more of a John Woo influenced hyper-violent experience, but to me personally, I think I would keep them all more like a classic Bruce Lee film–intense action without the flying body parts. The action needs to fit the story–and that is what has been so cool with the Turtles, we've been able to do them both ways.
The turtles have been through space, they've been through time, is there more ground for them to cover? Any wild locations left on your wish list?
Funny, I was thinking about this when answering the last question—I would love to do one set in Hong Kong–I think you can experience some really, REALLY cool plot devices and attitudes–old school and new school, just by turning the right or wrong corner in that city–I think there are a ton of great ideas that could be explored there. The other would be the middle of a Guy Richie film, "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" or "Snatched" have several of my all time favorite film characters–the Turtles in London would be kick ass!
So incredibly cool–and as I mentioned earlier, life changing in many ways. Getting back in the mix with the IDW Turtles Series reminded me not only how much I love drawing comic, but how much I LOVED drawing the Turtles! Not that I never "not" liked either part, but between running Heavy Metal magazine–writing and story boarding comic projects I was doing with Simon Bisley, working on script I wanted to direct a feature films, working with David Fincher or Robert Rodriguez on a Heavy Metal film or TV options, and various other distractions–all took me away from what got me into the business in the first place–I wanted to be Jack Kirby–why the hell am I doing all this other stuff? So, I seriously credit Ted Adams and the crew at IDW for opening the door for me again–and making the "Welcome Home" the best experience ever!
How's Lost Angeles progressing?
Fantastic really! Tom Waltz and I are breaking down the origin film script into six issues, Simon Bisley has finished all the basic character designs and several of the covers–and we're ready to ROCK! As soon as I wrap up the TMNT Annual, I'm jumping into the Lost Angeles with both feet–I can't wait–it is the first full series I have done like this outside of the TMNT's–I'm pumped!
Will we see any familiar faces (turtles or otherwise) in that story?
Man, we have to sneak something in somewhere don't we? Hah! That is the fun stuff! With such a big, intense, post apocalyptic setting–there's ALL kinds of room to tip the ol' hat to a few of some of our favorite characters and films–so I'll simply tell the fans to "watch the backgrounds!"
Anything else you'd like to share?
Man, so much I'd like to share between the TMNT projects, Lost Angeles and my regular day job publishing Heavy Metal Magazine, but I'll spare the world at large for the moment–and we can circle back to that at a later date! The one thing I would like to say is a big hearty THANKS to all the awesome fans who have given me the best job on the planet for the past 30 years! I get to work and create in a field I have loved my whole life, a place that is beyond my wildest dreams–but would have none of it without them. So I'll say again, Thanks for all the support gang–look forward to seeing you out there at a show or signing soon!
You can follow IDW Limited, as I have just done, on Twitter here. As it stands, I am their first and only follower…