He and Laird made extensive use of the paper in early Turtles comics. “When you look at those early Turtles issues, you’d see not only black and white, but a couple shades of gray,” he said. “I bought the last 300 sheets of this tinting paper before the company went out of business about 10 years ago. I’m actually drawing on the same paper we used back in the earliest days of the Turtles, so that’s kind of cool and nostalgic. It’ll be this sepia-toned, black-and-white homage to the earliest days of the Turtles with all the nutty Kevin Eastman panels.”
Beyond the annual, Eastman is still working on the ongoing IDW Turtles series, which released its 12th issue in July. “It took 12 issues to get to the point where Shredder’s back in full glory, and Karai’s there and all the elements are there,” he said. “We head down these three-, four-issue arcs, each one setting up and tying different elements of the universe to where the foundation is complete, and now it’s time to really turn up the volume. I think between what’s been laid out in the first 12 issues, to what’s been done in the individual character ‘Micro-Series’ one-shots, it’s been building the universe, and some of the stuff we’re doing with it — I would like to say we have a few surprises and a few twists I hope fans will embrace.”
For Eastman, working with Waltz and IDW has been a fabulous experience. “Tom grew up a huge Turtles fan, and I think what’s interesting — but makes me feel old — is some of the guys I work with, what inspired that relationship is they grew up reading the material. Tom had such a love and passion and knowledge for all of the different [TMNT] versions,” Eastman said, adding, “He in my opinion had the formula down, and I just flipped. I loved it. I got to come in at the end and go, ‘You know what, if you just put that piece over there, and that piece there a little bit — connect it better, but you’re already there.'”
Eastman is just as enthused about the people heading up Turtles projects in other media. He’s thrilled with Ciro Nieli, the executive producer of the new animated Turtles series on Nickelodeon. “The new animated Nickelodeon series is hands-down, knocked-out-of-the-park fantastic in every way, shape and form. I just love it. It’s one of my favorite versions of the Turtles in cartoon form ever,” he said.
Despite the online controversy, Eastman remains firmly in support of the upcoming Turtles live-action movie produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes. “I talked to [producer] Scott Mednick yesterday, and he’s seen the most recent 50 [script] pages and said it’s as good as the last version — they’ve really knocked it out of the park,” Eastman said. “I’ve seen a chunk of it, and it’s going to be a great movie, despite what everybody thinks.” As for the studio pushing back the film’s release date to 2014, Eastman states there were good reasons for it. “Essentially they pushed it back for two reasons: One is the director, Jonathan Liebesman, wanted to make sure he could do the effects to the level he wants them at, and the fight scenes to the way they should be. Also, their release date is almost exactly on the 30th [TMNT] anniversary. May 5, 1984 is when the first Turtles comic came out. May 16, 2014, is almost exactly 30 years after. So basically it’s an anniversary movie now.”
Eastman is busy working closely with Liebesman, Mednick and writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec. “Doing sketches, drawings and character designs, bouncing stuff around with the writers, talking with the director and the producers — I’m actively involved,” he said. As with all of the Turtles projects going on right now, he assures fans they have nothing to worry about. “When you see what Ciro’s done with the TV series, and obviously what the fans have seen us do with the IDW series, what they’re doing with the movie is creating its own story, but it has to be true to the source material or we’ll get fucking murdered. To be blunt.”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2012” is available from IDW Publishing this October.