Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles products have grossed more than $475 million in retail sales since the latest animated series premiered in September 2013. 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.
As much as I love comics, as much as I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as much as I love writing and as much as I love drawing, I do not envy the folks at IDW, who secured the license to produce new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from the new owner of the ninja turtle characters, Viacom. Sure, from a business perspective, it sounds like a great opportunity for a comics publisher, particularly a smaller one without, say Time Warner or Disney breathing down their necks to turn huge profits constantly.
But from a creative standpoint? What do you do with the characters in 2011, after their mega-successful first life as black-and-white comics stars from the mid-eighties, their even more successful second life as late-eighties cartoon, toy, movie and marketing juggernauts, and the many, many less successful attempts to rejigger them in various media, with varying levels of success, over the course of the last ten to fifteen years? After all, even if approached as a nostalgia-driven project, there are two very different most-prevalent takes on the characters to try and tap into.
I think IDW probably has the right idea.
They somehow managed to lure back one of the two creators, Kevin Eastman, after he had been largely absent from the comics for years (His fellow co-creator, Peter Laird, had been heavily involved in the last Mirage series, just previous to the Viacom sale). Eastman is co-writing the new series with Tom Waltz, and co-penciling with artist Dan Duncan, essentially providing layouts for Duncan to finish.
They also chose to start fresh with the narrative instead of picking up where one of the past volumes of the comics left off, or simply rebooting and telling the same old story all over again. There are, so far, some pretty key differences, including a new villain and the fact that the four title characters didn’t all grow up together.
I don’t know how well IDW is serving the many potential TMNT audiences, but I was pretty excited to see a “micro-series” starring Raphael on the stands this week.
IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall has posted some interesting bits from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 at his blog, including the variant covers, a link to a preview, and side-by-side comparisons of Kevin Eastman’s storyboards and Dan Duncan’s finished art (colored by Ronda Pattison). It’s interesting to see how much the layout changes from draft to finished product, and also how dynamic Eastman’s drawings are — the figures are rough, but there’s a lot of energy to them, and they could almost stand on their own.
Publishing | As the fallout mounts from the revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff, plans to revive the Terminator star’s acting career have been put on hold — a move that now extends to The Governator, the comics and animation project co-developed by Stan Lee. “In light of recent events,” representatives announced last night, “A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics, and Archie Comics, have chosen to not go forward with The Governator project.” However, Entertainment Weekly notes the statement was revised two hours later, putting the project “on hold.”
Unveiled in late March, on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, no less, The Governator features a semi-fictional Schwarzenegger who, after leaving the governor’s office, decides to become a superhero — complete with a secret Arnold Cave under his Brentwood home that not even his family knows about. “We’re using all the personal elements of Arnold’s life,” Lee said at the time of the announcement. “We’re using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor.” But even before the couple’s separation became public, producers had backed off depicting Shriver and their children. [TMZ, Entertainment Weekly]
It is perhaps the greatest comic never published. Intended to be a 12-issue miniseries ambitious and complex enough to make Watchmen look like Wizard of Id on an off day, Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Big Numbers was a Joycean look at life in a small English town as a big-box retailer prepared to set up shop. But this grand fiction-as-fractal-geometry experiment only managed to produce two published issues in 1990 before hitting a massive delay during work on issue #3, losing Sienkiewicz, moving from Moore’s Mad Love publishing imprint to Kevin Eastman’s Tundra, tapping Sienkiewicz’s then-teenaged assistant (and current reclusive Pim & Francie creator and alt-horror superstar) Al Columbia to take over, losing Columbia and all the pages he’d completed, and finally shuddering to a halt.