In Wednesday’s debut issue of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, TMNT fans discovered an exciting surprise.
Not only did one of the black and white, Mirage-era Turtles show up on the final page of issue #1, but Kevin Eastman, the original co-creator of the Turtles, drew him.
And there will be more Eastman art coming in future issues, according to series writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II. Eastman had already been announced as a cover artist, but in future issues, Eastman will be drawing all the interior artwork of the original, black-and-white Turtles as they interact with other characters on Williams’ pages.
The surprisecrossover is the result of Tynion’s storyline, in which a universe of amalgamated characters (part DC/part Turtles) is in the midst of a “Crisis in a Half Shell.” A version of Krang (who is merged with DC’s Anti-Monitor) is trying to change things in the original Turtles universe, and various other combined characters are helping him, including a creepy Joker/Shredder character known as the Smiling Man.
Eastman’s involvement in Volume III isn’t the only surprising development for the Batman/TMNT series. Later this spring, Warner Bros. Animation will release an animated adaptation of the series’ first volume, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Turtles.
Newsarama talked to Tynion and Williams to find out more about working with Eastman to bring back the Mirage-era Turtles and what they think of their comic book being made into an animated movie.
Newsarama: James, we talked before the issue came out about the fact that you’re doing a “Crisis on a Half Shell” story that features amalgamations of DC and Turtles characters, as well as the crisis in the Multiverse. Now with Batman/TMNT III #1, we’ve learned that includes a pretty exciting crossover into another part of the Multiverse. Can you talk about it now that the issue’s out?
James Tynion IV: Yes, as we reveal in the first issue of Batman/Turtles III how Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Turtles is actually working on some of the art in this issue, specifically because the original black-and-white Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be appearing as characters through this run.
Nrama: Is this another one of those ideas that you’ve had for awhile that is finally coming to fruition?
Tynion: That was the crazy idea in this, that I was so sure that we were not going to be able to do. I was so convinced that Jim Chadwick at DC was going to tell us no, that the people at IDW were going to tell us no, that Nickelodeon was going to tell us no - and even if they all said yes, we still had to get Kevin Eastman on board.
Thankfully, everyone immediately was really excited by the concept.
Nrama: And I can tell you are too.
Tynion: It’s so freaking exciting seeing Kevin Eastman pages coming in.
Nrama: So this continues into future issues?
Tynion: Yes! Issue #2 is definitely the biggest Kevin Eastman issue, where we’re going to see the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle origin revisited. We’re going to see lots of key mythology touched upon.
And we’re also going to understand a bit more about what the prime universes are and what Krang has learned and how he’s going to use them.
But yeah, I am super, super psyched.
Freddie Williams II: Yeah, see, my memory — and it’s probably revisionist memory or something like that of whenever James is talking to me about these ideas. But each time, it’s always at a convention, and it’s always at a signing. And there’s always a line of people in front of us.
But James kind of turns his head away from the line of people and under his breath, he’s like … “this is another crazy idea I have.”
And it’s always awesome.
So the way I remember hearing about this is, James was whispering, “What do you think about maybe seeing if Kevin Eastman wants to come in and do some….”
And I was like, “That would be amazing!”
I thought he meant a guest issue or something, but he was, like, “no, no, what I mean is, he’ll be drawing the Mirage-era Turtles, and they’d be interacting with our Turtles.” And I just thought it was an amazing idea.
A million years ago, back when I was in high school - because I’m a real old guy - I remember talking to all my best friends and saying, like, "Wouldn’t it just be awesome if you took the artists that are known for drawing certain characters, and you just put them all into a book? So in other words, every occurrence of this character would be drawn by the artist that’s known for drawing the character."
And I remember also all of us saying, that’s just too cool to happen. You would just assume it could never be logistically figured out and stuff.
So this is very much the embodiment of that, with having Kevin come in and draw.
So it’s like, my art on the same page as his art.
Nrama: So are you sharing pages physically?
Williams: Yeah, we’re trading pages back and forth.
Even if this book had somehow never come out, to me, it’s just a dream come true to have that sort of interaction with Kevin Eastman, because he’s one of my long-time artistic heroes. And I love the original Ninja Turtles.
So it’s amazing to be involved with this and see it all come together, and for it to come together in such an organic fashion with what James has in the story — I’ve said in a couple interviews that James is a genius, but that’s not just me saying something idly or without meaning. I really mean it. It’s put together in a fantastic way.
Nrama: Since you guys are talking about the wider Turtles universe, how does it feel that there’s an animated version of your first volume coming out soon, Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Did you know that was coming? And were you involved at all?
Williams: I’ll start, because I am not involved at all. I heard the rumor that there would be one online, along with everyone else. That was a couple years ago. And I thought, OK, well that’s not happening.
But then about a month before we actually started production on this volume, I heard a confirmation. So I think there’s an assumption that I know more than I do.
I’m just excited to see it with everyone else! It’s definitely cool that it’s happening.
But James, you know someone who’s working on it, right?
Tynion: Yeah, I’m friends with the guy who wrote the screenplay for the animated movie, Marly Halpern. He told me at a party awhile back, he was like, “Oh, I don’t know if you know this exists yet, but I think we’re going to do Batman/Turtles as one of the next movies.”
I’ve met a handful of people from DC animation, so I heard bits and pieces over time, but never more than I was allowed to know.
It was one of those things where, similar to Freddie, I was just like … you know, because I also know that, in Hollywood, there are a lot of these things that go into production and don’t necessarily happen.
I mean, I know this involves big, massive studios interacting with each other, given that the Turtles aren’t owned by Warner Bros.
So I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
Every now and again, I was just ask, “This still exists, right?” And it would be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it still exists.”
And then ultimately, seeing the trailer. And more than just seeing the trailer … seeing the arc clearly from the story that Freddie and I told in that first volume is just… it’s an indescribable feeling, and it’s incredibly exciting.
Honestly, the day that it comes out, I’m going to be watching it. I’m incredibly, incredibly excited.