Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turn 30 With New Art By Original Creators Eastman And Laird

With all the hullabaloo surrounding the release of the first trailer for the upcoming Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revamp, it seems to have slipped slightly under the radar that everyone’s favorite “heroes in a half shell” are about to turn 30 years old this May. IDW Comics, headquartered in San Diego and initially known for its horror comics such as 30 Days Of Night, has a very special gift for fans to celebrate the occasion: new cover art for its 30th Anniversary Special (to be released this May) by original Ninja Turtle creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

The Hollywood Reportergave a look at Eastman’s thoughts on the reunion:

“Getting to work with my co-creator Peter Laird again is the icing on the cake — and then some,” Eastman said of the collaboration. “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.”

The true origins of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t lie in a broken canister of radioactive ooze, but rather in a humorous sketch made by Eastman during an evening of brainstorming with Laird in November of 1983. In May of 2012, that initial sketch garnered $71,000 at auction. Funded by a loan from Eastman’s uncle, a tax refund, and the emptying of bank personal bank accounts, the duo started Mirage Studios in March of 1984, self-publishing 3,000 copies of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those first 3,000 copies quickly sold out and they printed another 6,000 copies that followed suit. By May, they had paid back their loan and managed to split around a $200 profit. Eastman and Laird soon realized that what had originally been intended as a one-shot comic had far more potential, although the world didn’t get a second issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles until January of 1985. Sales of issue two prompted reprints of the first issue and the ball simply kept rolling from there, bringing the world more comics, television shows, live-action movies, video games, seemingly infinite merchandise, and even a traveling live musical tour, the “Coming Out Of Their Shells” tour, sponsored by Pizza Hut in 1990.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 had an original sale price of $1.50. Today, first-run copies price between $2,500 to $4,000.

Creative differences soon began to weigh on the partnership between Eastman and Laird. In June of 2000, Eastman sold his ownership to Laird and The Mirage Group, a buyout which finalized in 2008. The following year, in 2009, Laird sold off the franchise to Viacom/Nickelodeon, retaining the rights to publish up to eighteen black & white (the original format) of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles per year. Eastman become affiliated with the franchise once again in 2011 when he began working on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics for IDW Publishing. He has also been very vocal in his support for the upcoming film, despite initial rumors that the origin story of the Turtles would be changed to make them extraterrestrials (a rumor producer Bay put to rest in an interview with Moviefone).

So, this May celebrate the 30th “birthday” of everyone’s favorite reptilian martial artists with a slice or two of pizza, plenty of Turtle Power nostalgia, and maybe even giving the new reboot a fair chance because, as Wombat points out via Twitter, things may always change but they often, at heart, remain the same.