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Mondo is celebrating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the release of an action figure based on Kevin Eastman’s very first sketch — doodled on a napkin — of one of the heroes in a half shell.
Called, appropriately enough, the First Turtle Figure features five points of articulation, and is available in four varieties: B&W Version, which imitates the original pen sketch; Color Version With Red Mask; Color Version With Orange Mask; and the Deluxe Limited Edition, which is the B&W Version with three interchangeable heads sporting white, red and orange masks.
IDW Publishing has announced it will relocate in June to the former Navy barracks within San Diego’s historic NTC at Liberty Station, where it will open a comics art gallery.
Located within the publisher’s new offices, the San Diego Comic Art Gallery will serve as a permanent home to showcase sequential and animation art, with retail space and working artists. Harry L. Katz, former head curator in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, has been named as the gallery’s curator.
Mondo has debuted four limited-edition posters by four artists representing four eras of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s a lot of fours.
Going on sale sometime Thursday, the prints are: the 1980s animated series, as depicted by Tom Whalen; the 1990 live-action film, as interpreted by Rich Kelly; the Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird comics that started it all, as reimagined by JC Richard; and (my favorite) the current Nickelodeon cartoon, as illustrated by Andrew Kolb.
Mondo fans know the drill by now: The posters will go on sale online Thursday at a random time; you have to follow the Mondo Twitter account to watch for the announcement.
Featuring a foreword by co-creator Peter Laird, the 192-page hardcover is billed as “the complete, never-before-told story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” from their birth as a black-and-white comic book by Laird and Kevin Eastman to their success as a multimedia franchise that includes animated television series, live-action movies, video games, toys and clothing.
Farago, curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, interviews everyone from Eastman and Laird to puppeteer Brian Henson to Vanilla Ice. The book also feature a range of inserts, including fan club letters, the first press release from Mirage Studios, and reprint of the first TMNT comic.
Priced at $50, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History is set for release in June.
Conventions | The inaugural Indiana Comic Con, held over the weekend at the Indianapolis Convention Center, attracted nearly 15,000 attendees, and it sold out on Saturday. Guests included comics creators Joe Eisma, Steve Englehart, Geof Isherwood, Joelle Jones, Don Kramer, Cary Nord and George Perez, and actors Evan Peters, Caity Lotz, Maisie Williams and Daniel Cudmore. [WRTV]
Comics sales | Comics sales in the direct market were down in February for the second time in two months, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. John Jackson Miller runs the numbers: Sales of comics and graphic novels combined are down 10.39 percent from February 2013 in terms of dollars, 14.77 percent in units. Because January sales were also anemic, year-to-date sales are down as well. Still, Miller notes, total dollars are up 3 percent from February 2012. February is traditionally a low month for comic sales, and the number of releases is the lowest in months, with just 692 new products (comics, graphic novels and magazines) being shipped last month. [Comichron]
According to US Today, Ice Cream Kitty gains its powers when it eats ice cream mixed with mutagen, and it “turns into the Turtle’s secret weapon.”
Eastman’s appearance on the show is just one way the TMNT’s 30th anniversary is being celebrated. A March 14 episode reunites the voice cast from the original cartoon — Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon and Rob Paulsen. Meanwhile, an anniversary special being released by IDW will reunite Eastman with Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, who worked together on the cover. The Turtles will also be featured this year in Comic-Con International’s souvenir book, which spotlights various comics and pop culture anniversaries.
Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are marking the 30th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in May by collaborating on a cover for IDW Publishing’s special issue. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the two have worked together on the property that launched a multimedia empire.
“Working on the TMNT comics with the wonderful and amazing IDW team over the last three years reminded me how much I missed and loved the four green guys,” Eastman said in a statement. “Getting to work with my co-creator Peter Laird again is the icing on the cake — and then some! It really took me back 30 years, to the earliest days, with the fondest memories, and why we got into this business in the first place.”
Debuting in 1984 as a black-and-white self-published comic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began as a parody of Cerebus, Daredevil, New Mutants and Ronin. However, the property soon spawned animated TV series, movies, video games and endless merchandise. Laird, who in 2008 completed a buyout of Eastman’s interests in TMNT and Mirage Studios that began eight years earlier, struck a deal in 2009 for Viacom to purchase the property for a reported $60 million.
IDW’s 48-page 30th Anniversary Special features new short stories by such creators as Dean Clarrain, Chris Allan, Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco and Jim Lawson.
Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles products have grossed more than $475 million in retail sales since the latest animated series premiered in September 2012. The announcement, made this week at the Brand Licensing Europe show in London, comes just four years after the cable network’s parent company Viacom bought the property for a reported $60 million.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, about $250 million of those sales come from the United States, with the remainder coming from overseas markets, where the Turtles are just as huge. They’re the top action figures in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and, yes, the United States (where Nickelodeon says they make up 15 percent of the action-figure market).
“Nothing’s bigger,” Pam Kauffman, the network’s president of consumer products, told the trade paper. “We are beating Iron Man, Batman, WWE.”
A limited edition of the Artist’s Edition: Best of EC Covers Portfolio, two new Locke & Key pewter replicas and a glitter variant for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #9 are among the highlights of IDW Publishing’s exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International.
All of the convention-exclusive items will be available at the publisher’s booth, along with limited advance copies of the highly anticipated Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1, and Berkeleyworks: The Art of Berkeley Breathed: From Bloom County and Beyond.
See the full rundown below:
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Crater XV HC (Top Shelf, $19.95): I’ve been following (and loving) the serialization of Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden in the digital pages of Double Barrel, but I know that I’ll be picking up this hardcover collection of the further adventures of sea dog Rusty Shanks nonetheless. The Canadian space program deserves no less.
In The Days of the Mob HC (DC Comics, $39.99): To say that Kirby’s 1970s take on the organized-crime world of the 1930s is something I’ve been longing to read since I first discovered its existence would be an understatement, so I’m definitely looking forward to this deluxe reprint, complete with material that wasn’t in the original edition.
Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse TP (Rebellion/2000AD, $24.99): John Smith’s cosmic authorities are one of comics’ most secret treasures, I think, especially when he’s paired with an artist like Edmund Bagwell, who brings a wonderful Euro-Kirby influence to the stories in this collection. Really looking forward to this one.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen GN (First Second, $17.99): As a sucker for good autobiographical comics and also good food writing, the idea of Lucy Knisley creating a food-centric memoir — complete with recipes! — is far too good to ignore. I love that publishers like First Second are publishing work like this.
Solo Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics, $49.99): Even though I own most of these issues from their original appearance, the oversized hardcover format is waaaay too tempting when you consider some of the material this book has up its 500+ page sleeve: Paul Pope covering Kirby! Brendan McCarthy channeling Ditko as only he could! The amazing Darwyn Cooke issue! The only thing that could make this better would be if it included work completed on follow-up issues before the plug had been pulled … But maybe that can appear in a second volume, one day…
Following up from last week’s opening of their joint exhibitions at New York City’s John Levine Gallery, the contemporary art magazine Hi-Fructose has an image-rich, wholly enthusiastic review of the twin shows of Ashley Wood and Jeremy Geddes.
Another sometimes-comics artist, James Jean, is again producing work in unexpected formats (remember his delightful wooden wedding invitations?). Check out that work, and more by street artists Joe & Max, sculptor Tim Bruckner, Tim Maclean and more, below.
Now available On Demand, the documentary Comic Book Independents by director Chris Brandt receives wider distribution at an interesting time. In the midst of a migration of comic book creators from work-for-hire to creator-owned projects, and just as a renewed discussion about creator rights gains momentum, this documentary offers fascinating insight on what it means to go it alone in comics.
It’s not your usual comics documentary, and if you’re a creative type yourself, or are interested by those who are, you’ll probably find yourself inspired. Framed by information from cognitive psychologist Dr. James Kaufman, the human process of creativity as it is realized in comics is broken down and explored by some of the art form’s most interesting thinkers and voices.
The very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing, thrown together as a joke in November 1983 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, was bought Friday by an anonymous bidder for $71,700 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. An undisclosed percentage of the proceeds will be donated to The Hero Initiative.
“What an incredibly exciting week this has been! The Turtles have been blessed with the best fans on the planet, so I chose this event to make available personal historical TMNT items for those really hardcore supporters – but WHOA – what a response!” Eastman, who consigned the sketch to the auction house, wrote in a statement. “My many, many, thanks to all the fans that have given me the best job in the world, and for their love for a great, goofy, bunch of green guys that just wanted to be normal teenagers – Mutant Ninja ones anyway!”
That 1983 drawing led the following year to the publication of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, a black-and-white parody from Eastman and Laird’s Mirage Studios, that, with the help of licensing agent Mark Freedman, grew into a multimedia empire of comics, animated television series, feature films, video games and merchandise. Laird completed a buyout of Eastman’s interests in TMNT in 2008, and then sold the property to Viacom the following year for $60 million.
“For 30 years the Turtles have been a worldwide phenomenon, entertaining hundreds of millions of children and that influence shows no sign of slowing with the upcoming TV and film projects featuring the team,” Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions said of the sketch. “This is a piece of pop culture that will only increase in value and influence over the coming decades.”
Auctions | Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing, the sketch initially thrown together in November 1983 as a joke but ended up launching a multimedia phenomenon, is being sold by Heritage Auctions. The high bid, as of this morning, is $4,250. The auction ends May 3. [Heritage Auctions]
Digital comics | Viz Media has formed a new division, Viz Labs, to focus on the digital side of the business, and they have put Gagan Singh, who helped develop the digital platform for Viz manga and anime, in charge of it. What does this mean? It’s anyone’s guess, but one possibility is that Viz, which has one of the best digital comics platforms out there, might be thinking about offering its digital service as a separate product, perhaps as a platform for other publishers. [Viz Media]
Digital comics | Digital comics distributor iVerse will launch a digital comics lending service for libraries later this year. [Publishers Weekly]
If buying an entire comic shop on eBay is out of your price range, this might be more your speed: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman is auctioning off his art studio, with some of the proceeds going to benefit the Hero Initiative.
Technically it’s not his whole studio, as that’s attached to his house, but it is all of the contents contained therein. That includes his drawing table and chair, 600 DVDs, original art, action figures, rare T-shirts and a whole bunch more. Check out the video up top to see him give a tour of the studio. Eastman will also make an appearance at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles on Jan. 4 to count down the end of the auction.
Right now the bidding is at just over $4,000, with eight days still to go.