Review: Kevin Eastman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography
TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman guides you through a dazzlingly, in-depth look at the creation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From the modest beginnings to the merchandising, pop culture juggernaut, this collection of concept art, comics pages, and insider–behind-the-scenes notes–has been “sold out” and hard to find for years. But now it’s back in print for a new generation of fans to enjoy.
Kevin Eastman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Artobiography is being reprinted by IDW, much to the joy of fans who have found it incredibly hard to find since its original publication in 2002. So now that you can get your hands on Eastman’s Artobiography again, is it worth picking up?
The collection serves as a quick, broad sketch of the Turtles’ history from conception to the early 2000s. Eastman only gives the briefest of history lessons on what went down behind the scenes with the comic. He mentions the fact that he and Peter Laird drifted apart over time, but we never get any insight into their relationship in the good years or the bad. We do get a plethora of sketches, thumbnails, finished pages, posters, and covers from some of the most famous issues of the series. Over 1,000 color and black-and-white images are presented in the book, many seeing print for the first time. Eastman opens up his extensive files to give readers a good look at his art process and what went in to creating the characters and stories. Every so often the thumbnail/finished page commentaries are broken up by sketchbooks and image galleries.
Eastman presents an in-depth look at the art for the series, but the presentation is largely visual. He offers up commentary to some of the pieces but there isn’t much in the way of actual history of behind the scenes stories on his TMNT days. There are some sections depicting his time working on the live-action movies, but even they are sparse.
Bottom Line: Eastman searches through his TMNT files and puts together a scrapbook every Turtles fan will love. While it would have been fantastic to have more exposition on the making of the Turtles behind the scenes and on the page, Eastman gives us a great art history of his and Peter Laird’s time together during the “golden age” of turtles. Hopefully with the Turtles current wave of popularity, Eastman will compose a second volume or a more descriptive history of his pop culture phenomenon. If you’re a hardcore TMNT fan and its art, this is one you’ll be glad is seeing print again.