Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Co-Creator Kevin Eastman talks with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.com about the upcoming Paramount Ninja Turtles movie, drawing Casey Jones and a possible new Heavy Metal movie.
TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles.com: You’ve said in the past that your favorite Turtle to draw is “Raphael” and that after drawing all four Turtles your favorite Turtles character to draw is “Casey Jones”. I was wondering why that was and if there was something that made you identify with Casey Jones over any of the other Turtles characters?
EASTMAN: Casey was the first human character that we introduced after April O’Neil. With Casey too, you go back to the early days when Peter and I were doing everything on the Turtles comics by ourselves. At the time vigilante stories were becoming really popular in comics and in movies. The way it usually went was that a character was introduced and then his family would be killed and then he would go off on a revenge spree to exact his own justice. So I said to Peter, “Why don’t we do something like that, but instead of having him be a vigilante for that reason, what if he became a vigilante because he had watched too much bad television.” (Laughing) Peter Laird’s love of bad television like The A-Team (1983-87) also inspired him and how he looked too.
Casey Jones is really a great example of how Peter and I worked together as a unit. Raphael is a hot-head and we thought that Casey could be someone that we could introduce that was even more hot-headed than Raphael, and that would cause Raphael to look back at himself as a character too. If it sounds as if Peter and I were calculated in the creation of Casey Jones, we really weren’t. We were just having fun…laughing
One of the things that is so great about you Kevin is how positive you’ve been…There’s so much negativity online about the coming of the new NINJA TURTLES movie. Why do you think people are so focused on the negative in regards to the new TURTLES movie?
EASTMAN: Well, it’s a scary thing. Going back to when I was growing up and reading comic books…There was always different art teams and different writers working on the comics that I loved. If you liked a particular artist or a writer and what they had done, then when you got the next issue, and someone else was filling in for them, it would really frustrate you. Peter and I only did the first 16 issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together before we started having guest artists come in. When we would have guest artists come in they would provide us with different ideas and different interpretations and different looks for the Turtles. We would say, “Well, that’s not exactly how we do it, but that’s really cool.”
When we worked on the first animated Turtles series, we understood that the characters needed to appeal to six-year-old children. We went from producing a black-and-white comic book to a full color animated series. It was Peter who came up with the idea for each of the Turtles to wear different colored eye bandanas. We were now writing for a different audience but we’ve always tried to maintain the feel and integrity of the original characters that we created.
The Turtles have been changed in everything that has been made with them. From the 1990 live-action Steve Barron movie, to the IDW series, to the Nickelodeon animated television series…Each version of the Turtles have had their own look and feel. Some of the Turtles mythology was changed for some of the shows over the years, and that was scary as hell when we were approached with those ideas. When we agreed to those types of changes we were worried that the fans would crucify us. We’ve taken chances with those types of things over the years. But we’ve always been proud of the fact that the integrity, heart and soul of those characters has always been present in every Turtles incarnation that has come over the last 30 years.
That goes for the upcoming NINJA TURTLES movie as well?
EASTMAN: It’s the same approach. When they approached me about the new movie we had 30 years of ideas to look through. I think it’s important to give these new Turtles a different look and feel that sets them apart from what is being done with the Turtles on the Nickelodeon animated series. We wanted to make the Turtles as cool as possible while at the same time creating a new beast onto itself. The script is great for the new movie.
I used to laugh…Every time I would visit Ciro Nieli at the animation studio he would say, “Here comes Obi-Wan”. I would look at what everyone was doing there for the Nick animated series and I would be so blown away that it would make me so excited for what they were doing with the Turtles. It’s the same thing with the new NINJA TURTLES (2014) movie. When I first sat down with Jonthan Liebesman and Michael Bay…These aren’t guys who want to do a Turtles movie for the money. These are very creative guys and their heart is really in the right place with the Turtles. They really want to create good stuff. That’s the most important part of it. If you do good stuff, then hopefully the fans will come out to support it. People are uncomfortable with the look of the Turtles now, but I think they’ll like them once more is revealed. I’m really happy with how the Turtles turned out in the new movie.
I know a new HEAVY METAL movie has been in the works for a very long time….Are you still working on that? When will we see it?
EASTMAN: I’d love it. Thanks for asking about it. I had a four year experience working with David Fincher and Tim Miller at Blur on a HEAVY METAL project that we tried to get Hollywood to agree to. Hollywood is a town of great vision, but at the same time, it’s a town that can have a limited vision as well. I’ve also met with Robert Rodriguez, and he’s one of the greatest guys you could ever meet. Some of the best ideas that Robert and I had for HEAVY METAL came at four in the morning when we were hanging out in my studio just talking about stuff that we both really like. We’ve just had some investors get involved and they’re interested in bring a new HEAVY METAL movie to the big screen. It’s time for HEAVY METAL. It’s going to be extraordinary. It’s going to be fantastic.