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.”
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.
The Xeric Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded in 1992 by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, has announced its final grant recipients:
• Laurianne Uy, Polterguys
• Max Badger, Oak
• Arwen Donahue, Old Man Gloom
• Marnie Galloway, In the Sounds and Seas: Vol. 1
• Olivia Horvath, Tiny Bangs
• Aidan Koch, The Blonde Woman
• John Malta, The Professor and the Paperboy
• Hazel Newelvant, Ci Vediamo
• Shih-Mu Dino Pi, Dear Beloved Stranger
• Liz Plourde and Randy Michaels, How I Made the World
• Benjamin Seto, Usagi Jane and the Skullbunnies
• Darin Shuler, Castle Wood
• Caitlin Skaalrud, Sea Change: A Choose-Your-Own-Way Story
• Bernard Stiegler, The Reptile Mind
• Laura Terry, Overboard
• Elaine M. Will, Look Straight Ahead
• M Young, Wild Child
A combined $74,510 was awarded to help creators publish their comics. Laird announced in July 2011 that he was ending the self-publishing grants because changes in technology now allow creators to release their work online. The organization has awarded more than $2.5 million since 1992.
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]
Although many were surprised by yesterday’s announcement that Viacom had purchased Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for $60 million, co-creator Peter Laird makes it clear the sale of the ’80s indie-comics hit turned multimedia franchise was a long time coming.
“Why did I sell the TMNT?” Laird wrote yesterday afternoon on his blog. “There are a number of reasons, but first and foremost is that I have been doing this TMNT thing for twenty-five years, sixteen of them in partnership with TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and the last nine as sole owner of the property. That is a long time. It is almost half my life (I’m 55). I never expected to be working on the same thing for this long. And it has worn me down. I am no longer that guy who carries his sketchbook around with him and draws in it every chance he gets. … I miss — I really, really miss — being that guy.”
Laird, who in March 2008 completed a buyout of Eastman’s interests in TMNT and Mirage Studios that had begun in 2000, noted that his interest in the property had faded in recent years: “As one result, the production of TMNT Volume 4 comics has slowed to a crawl. That’s not good. I have a conclusion planned out for that series, and at some point I want to get to it. Maybe this sale will help me get to that point. We’ll see.”
He also stressed that he still owns Mirage, the company he founded with Eastman in 1983.
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, thanks largely to the efforts of licensing agent Mark Freedman, the property soon spawned animated TV series, movies, video games and endless merchandise.
Under Viacom’s ownership, TMNT is destined for a new feature film from Paramount and a CG-animated TV series from Nickelodeon, both in 2012.