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IDW Publishing Opens Doors To San Diego Comic Art Gallery

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman will be first artist showcased

San Diego based IDW Publishing is among the top five comic book publishers in the U.S. It recently moved offices from Pacific Beach to Liberty Station. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says it has also just opened the doors to the new San Diego Comic Art Gallery, featuring the art of Kevin Eastman.


Companion Viewing

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (TV Series, 1987-96)

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (theatrical film, 1990)

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" (1991)

Thursday night San Diego-based IDW Publishing opened the doors to the new San Diego Comic Art Gallery. The first exhibit is dedicated to Kevin Eastman, the comic book artist and writer who co-created the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1984.

Kevin Eastman remembers the day he told his parent that he wanted to be a comic book artist.

"They were like 'Oh my goodness, he will never move out of the basement, you know it’s not a real art form, you can’t really make a living, how are you going to support your family?'" he said.

And those were the people who loved him. But to be fair, that was decades ago and comics and Eastman have come a long way.

The opening exhibit at IDW Publishing’s new San Diego Comic Art Gallery not only highlights Eastman’s art but also allows you to watch the artist at work in his natural habitat. IDW recreated Eastman’s studio inside the gallery. The studio is a jungle of green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures and toys. Just looking at the clutter pleases Eastman.

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Comic book artist and writer Kevin Eastman sits amidst the toys in his studio that is located inside the San Diego Comic Art Gallery. Gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am to 5pm, and it's free to the public.

"One of the things that I felt was important about having a studio space right in the middle of the gallery — it sort of sets the tone, it shows people where the artwork you are going to see on the wall, where it comes from. This is literally the desk where I drew a lot of those pictures you’re going to see on the wall," he said.

Harry Katz curated the exhibit and was thrilled that Eastman kept just about everything relating to the Turtles.

"You can see where the turtles came from, where this cultural phenomenon came from … comic books were considered a low form of art but when you see the original art and you see the intellect and thought that goes into these things and how they are put together I think you’ll have a much better appreciation of how much they mean to us and how much effort goes into making a popular and commercially viable book," Katz said.

Ted Adams founded IDW in 1999 and publishes the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" comic. He said the gallery is his way of giving back to the community.

"We really thought that since San Diego is so identified with comics because of Comic-Con, the chance here to essentially have a little bit of a Comic-Con year round … What we are trying to do is to educate people about the art of comic books, how they are made and really let people engage with artists and really understand what the editorial process looks like, the graphic design process, all those kinds of things," Adams said.

Through Eastman’s work you get a detailed view of the process from the very beginnings.

"The post-its where I say Donatello’s mask should be purple. Some of the story notes for the earliest books I wrote on yellow lined paper, I didn’t know how to type so you see my bad spelling and my handwriting and everything that came to it so for the novice to the most hardcore fan there is something that they all can enjoy," Eastman said.

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

The fifth and oft forgotten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Venus. She is on display at the San Diego Comic Art Gallery.

The exhibit provides a historical journey of the Turtles including the oft forgotten fifth turtle, Venus De Milo.

Venus took her name from the art that inspired Eastman. Now Eastman hopes to convince people that comics are art, too.

"A true art form and what I think in many ways is a true American art form," he said.

And an art form that involves a lot of talented people, said Adams.

"There’s a comic book writer who sat down and wrote a script and there’s a comic book penciler who sat down and penciled it out and inker who finished that pencil illustration, a colorist who came in and did their work and a letterer who put the word balloons on and an editor who put it all together and a publisher who brought it to the marker, those are really interesting things for the public to learn about and they can do that here at the IDW Comic Art Gallery," Adams said.

The gallery also has a lending library and a studio for an artist in residence. Adams said that as recently as five years ago people were still looking down their noses at comic books but he insists they are definitely art.

"People are really interested in comics right now in a way that they never have been before," he said.

The gallery is located at Liberty Station. It is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.


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