The Wizard World Comic Convention is coming to New Orleans November 30 through December 2. The popular geek-a-thon is taking place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Tickets are on sale now, thousands of fans will descend on the Crescent City dressed to the nines (as their favorite comic book and tv characters).
If New York's recent Comic Con is any indication, the city will be overrun with Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and everything in between! It will look like Halloween all over again.
Special events at the New Orleans convention this year is the reunion of the Star Trek; Next Generation crew. It's been 25 years since they hit the airwaves and seven of the series' characters will be on hand to meet fans. Those attending in honor of the historic show are Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker), LeVar Burton (Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge), Michael Dorn (Lieutenant Worf), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi), Brent Spiner (Lt. Commander Data) and Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher). The show ran seven years from 1987 to 1994.
Also in attendance will be comic book legend Stan Lee, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Eliza Dushku, Reservoir Dogs headliner Michael Madsen and WWE® Superstar CM Punk®. They will be joined by an All-Star collection of well-known artists and a variety of activities, exhibitors and special attractions in the final event on Wizard World's 2012 calendar.
Mr. Lee will appear on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2, while Dushku and Punk are scheduled to attend on Saturday and Madsen all three days.
Also on hand is Kevin Eastman, one of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Peter Laird is co-creator with Kevin), I asked Kevin a few questions, including about the upcoming movie, which is quite controversial in fans' eyes due to some interesting changes with the beloved characters.
ME: Congratulations on the success of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimate Collection Vol. I" and the new moving that's in progress.
KEVIN: Thanks. Very exciting stuff going on these days!
ME: What will you be doing at the convention? Are you there all three days?
KEVIN: This ended up being a last minute event; I had been wanting to do more shows with Wizard, I had never done a show in New Orleans, and just happened to have a friend working on a film there who invited me over to the set, so as I started making arrangements to come visit him, he said come for the show and so I sort of invited myself!
Unfortunately, I will only be signing on Saturday, (and doing a panel at the end of the day Saturday), and then back home to work, but mainly I will be talking all things Turtles, Heavy Metal, and some new projects.
ME: You have been doing these conventions since the mid-1980s, how have things changed?
KEVIN: Back in the earliest days, using San Diego Comic Con as a reference point as I have been going there since 1985, those shows seemed to have a more "intimate" relationship between the artists and the fans, and the dealer rooms seemed to have a more "Flea Market" feel to the booths, places you could go and spend hours digging around for odd bits and pieces for your collection. Today, they seem more "Pop Culture/Trans-Media" promotional events; pushing the latest comics and film/TV projects, not that that is a bad thing, at the end of the day most fans there are happy to go and be part of these exhibits. It's a place full of like minded friends and fans. They can meet some of the creators of their current or childhood characters.
ME: How and why did you decide on the Renaissance names for the Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael)?
KEVIN: When you are working in the silly "scope" of an idea like the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" naming your characters traditional Asian inspired names didn't seem silly enough, traditional American names, also not silly enough, so as both Peter Laird and I were big art history fans, it almost seemed instantly mutually agreed, when one of us blurted out, "How about Renaissance artists for the names?" We both completely agreed. Funny side note, Donatello was almost named "Bernini!" I was a big, big fan of his work, but Pete suggested how about another name that ended with an "O" like "Donatello" and I both agreed; besides, he was a pretty awesome sculptor as well...
ME: Is this new annual book the first time you have drawn the Turtles in the past 20 years, or have you dabbled or doodled them over all these years?
KEVIN: The last full TMNT story I did before the new IDW Annual was back in 1996, a one hundred page graphic novel I did with Simon Bisley called "Bodycount", but I always have something TMNT going on in my various entertainment/publishing adventures. Over the past fifteen years I have put out three TMNT books/collections, an "Artobiography" (covering my personal behind the scenes TMNT work with Peter Laird), a collection of remastered TMNT stories for a "25th Anniversary" book, and a new hardcover release of "Bodycount" which was awesome to see after many years.
Besides that, I had worked on some of the earlier version of the new TMNT film going back nearly four years (I'm also working on the new one), and I was invited to come back and work on the new IDW TMNT series, and have been helping on various levels (plots, designs, and finished covers) for at least twenty/twenty-two months now--AND having the time of my life on all of them!
ME: Which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is you?
KEVIN: Raphael. Not only was he one of my favorite artists from that time period, as a Mutant Ninja Turtle, he's passionate, hot headed, bull headed, but a good heart somewhere in the middle, and I can relate. He's my favorite to write as well, you can take an unpredictable character to a lot of cool places in a story.
ME: Your idea with Tundra Publishing, was that comics creators would work for a publisher while maintaining ownership of their work. How is that working? Most comic strip syndicates do the opposite and are reluctant to give the creator's ownership. Are you ever concerned that the creators will wear their characters thin by spreading them all over the place?
KEVIN: It ultimately failed in it's time period (the early 90's), but not because of the idea of creator rights and ownership, but because of the guy running it -- me. I set out to create the "Apple Records" of comic books, but swore it wouldn't end the same way, but I grew it too big, too fast, and the market place general wouldn't support many of the more esoteric (and expensive to publish) projects, and nearly everyone of them under sold (I didn't know how to market them better) and lost money, after four years of losing a lot of money, I merged it with another publisher (Kitchen Sink Press) and tried to get back to some creative roots, and running/publishing Heavy Metal magazine--which still is holding it's own these days (thanks to some long term hardcore fans!) and I'm happy to keep it small and focused.
At the end of the day, the fans will be the ones to let us know when they have had enough of a creation. They are the ones that gave us this awesome job, and they can take it back at the end of the day, I'm thrilled to still have the ones that I have; thirty years later.
ME: The new Ninja Turtles movie is now in pre-production, with a release date of 2014. The premise is that the Turtles have an extraterrestrial origin. Fanboys are not pleased with this. You have stated that it will work out great. Why?
KEVIN: I like to answer this by basically telling the fans first and foremost not to worry, this will be a great TMNT film. Much like many thirty year old concepts, the TMNT's have been re-invented a number of times, some were stronger than others, but if you look at what Viacom/Nickelodeon has done/allowed to happen with the new TMNT animated TV series, and the new IDW comic series, each has a slightly new and refreshed take on the "core concept," the new film with be the same, a film "well placed" in the TMNT lore the fans will enjoy. If we learned nothing else from one of my favorite "Comic Book Based Films, "The Avengers," that there's a lot to be said about never forgetting that core concept and core fan-base.
ME: What is your involvement in the movie? Did you have anything to do with writing, producing, casting? Or are you credited only with being "the creator?"
KEVIN: General creative consultant for the most part, which is cool as I get to wear a number of hats. From kicking the tires on a few plot threads with the awesome writers, Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, here and there, to banging out cool character doodles for director Liebesman, they bring me in regularly to show off the latest landscape, and to get my thoughts, and so far, I'm 1000% on board! I know it will be an awesome film, and the start of a killer new franchise for Viacom.
ME: What's your feeling about webcomics today? If you started the Ninja Turtles today, you probably would not have had to publish the first comic book and could have introduced them online via daily or weekly installments.
KEVIN: I agree 100%, and often point up and coming storytellers to pushing their work online in the usual places, as well as through more cool artistic centric places like Deviant Art, and definitely build your worlds there, tell your stories there, meet other like minded creative folks there, share ideas, and grow together; on a global level! Seriously cool way to network the hell out of a new idea, not the least of which is seeing what else is out there for inspirations. Online publishing is the next true new wave of independent publishing/self expression.
ME: What about social media and apps? Is there a Ninja Turtle app out there, is one on the way? Does Donatello or Raphael tweet?
KEVIN: Hah! Hah! I'm sure there is--I'll have to asks my friends at Nickelodeon, I'm not as up to speed as I should be with that kind of stuff personally, and avoid it when I can I guess, as I feel like I'd rather be playing with the kids or drawing than tweeting and doing the social network thing... but that is the world today and a lot of people do it, and like it! Omg and Lol, right?
ME: Thanks Kevin, I look forward to seeing you at the Comic Con!
Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con, produced by Wizard World, Inc. (WIZD.PK), will bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Admission is free for kids 10 and under, and Sunday, Dec. 2, is "Kids Day," filled with an array of programming specially designed for children.
For more on the 2012 Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con, visit http://www.wizardworld.com/home-neworleans.html
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