Writer and Entertainment Journalist Josh Belcher - Rocking God's House (Cropped)Kevin Eastman, the man who co-created the fondest memories of my childhood (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), is getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign on August 1, 2017 for his latest project, Drawing Blood: The Story Behind the Stories.

It is a “completely fictional true story,” according to Kevin, who will be working alongside co-writer David Avallone (Twilight Zone, The Shadow, Doc Savage: The Ring of Fire, The Secret Diary of Betty Paige) and artists Ben Bishop (The Aggregate, Nathan the Caveman, Lost Trail, and cover artist for IDW’s TMNT series) and Troy Little (Chiaroscuro, Angora Napkin, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

Here is the storyline direct from Kevin Eastman’s website:

Who is Shane Bookman? 

Creators Kevin Eastman and David Avallone, with Artists Ben Bishop and Troy Little, want to tell you his story with their new comic book series, DRAWING BLOOD. 

In 1992, Shane “Books” Bookman, and his brother Paul, released their scrappy indie creation on the unsuspecting comic book universe: The Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls. To their great surprise, everyone went wild for the adventures of three feline Katana wielding mutant cats, and a multi-million dollar franchise was born. 

After more than a decade and a half of global success – comics/action figures/movies and just about anything else you could sell with a Ragdoll on it — the creators imploded. Too young and too naïve to know how to handle the sudden pressures of wealth and fame, they split up, and the franchise eventually sold. 

Now “Books” is hitting his forties (hard), his money all gone, his artistic inspiration tapped out, and his very life in danger from the loan sharks his crooked business partner failed to tell him about before committing suicide. It’s hard enough to recover from a catastrophic encounter with the hit and run driver called “early success,” without having to worry about killers chasing you all over town. 

Drawing Blood is a dark-comic-drama (dramadey?), the story behind the stories, a look inside the twisted life of a professional cartoonist. A roller-coaster of show biz and sex, fame and infamy, controlled substances and uncontrolled artists, genius and goons, this series takes you into the darkest corners of a mad world only talked about in the hotel bars of a Comic Con. 

Drawing Blood is co-created by Eastman and Avallone, with scripts by Avallone. Primary art by Ben Bishop, with some sequences by Kevin Eastman and Troy Little and a Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls one-shot drawn by Little. Variant covers will be by Kevin Eastman and a constellation of comic book stars. 

I had the chance recently to speak with Kevin Eastman and, I must say, God made Kevin Eastman very special. From his and Peter Laird’s minds and hearts came the joy and delight of my childhood and that of many millions of other people the world over. Besides that, Kevin is a delight to chat with, and I am so glad the man who is responsible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is gracious, kind and humble (and very patient and understanding when it comes to fans like me!). I’m a Ninja Turtle for life, nothing will separate my fanship, and as Kevin mentions in the interview below, the Turtles are 34 next year. (And I will be 35 in October!) Cowabunga Dude!

I am beyond excited to discuss your new project Drawing Blood. Tell me, is it semi-autobiographical? 
What it is I call it a completely fictional true story [laughs]. It’s not autobiographical or semi-autobiographical per say. I had this idea probably about ten years ago, and it was a accumulation of a lot of things that sparked it. In an interview, I read about Wally Wood, who was one of our great heroes who had kind of a very tragic life, a lot of miss steps and a lot of personal issues, and I started thinking about my experiences, Wally Wood’s experiences, Jack Kirby’s experiences, Steve Gerber of Howard The Duck, you know, everybody that has worked in the world of comics and has gone outside the world of comics have had some pretty wild stories and some pretty wild experiences. So I sort of took a cross-section of all of those and sort of I felt like there was a very interesting story that could be told sitting within the realm of comic book artists.
I don’t know if you remember, there was a movie called Amadeus that was done years ago about Mozart. I was thinking about that concept of taking an artist, whether it be a musician as he was or an artist like Picasso who had a crazy life or Vincent Van Gogh, and can apply that to the world of comics again, with people working in comics, where I sort of borrowed ideas from or use some of their experiences. According to this one character, interestingly enough, you will kind of follow him and follow his path and what he has done and try to find his way back to that original spark that drove him to tell stories and what to draw comic books. It’s a lot of different stories, but I want to put it into an interesting environment. There is a little Sin City, there is a little Spinal Tap, a Little Amadeus: it’s really a fictional story but based on real life events from a lot of different people.
Once again, as you mention all of this stuff, I just want to again say thank you for all you have done; you have brought so much joy to my life and I am so excited about your new project! Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign for this project.
The Kickstarter goes live August 1, but let me just come back from that and just say thank you, you know, I have an awesomely blessed life, I sold out of my interest in the Turtles many years ago, but what I love about what I get to do today is that the Turtles are going to be 34 years old next year! My wife Courtney and I, we travel a lot of shows, we do 13 to 15 shows a year all over the world, and it’s you guys the fans that have made it possible. It’s something in the Turtles that you fell in love with all those years ago and the fact that I get to meet people like you at these shows and people that tell me the same kind of stories, things like, “Oh my gosh when I first saw the Turtles I loved it, I had all the action figures, I wore the Halloween costume for two or three years in a row”–just try to imagine how happy and how honored and how cool that makes me feel that it has touched you guys in that way. And I would not have the greatest job in the world if it were not for you guys! I am lucky and that is what I kind of want to do with this story “Drawing Blood,” is sort of [explain] why I wanted a place in the world of comics, to give people an idea of what goes on from an inside perspective. It has never really been done before, you know, a fictional story [like this] of one character’s path, making some good decisions and making some bad decisions [laughs], just to tell a really interesting story.
Okay, now it’s time for two Ninja Turtle questions! [Just sit back and imagine a 6-foot-tall 275-pound bearded southern man getting giddy and squirming in his chair as I ask these questions! (me)] My daughter Hannah turns 17 on Friday the 27th, and we share a kinship of the Turtles, and I am proud to say it has carried into a second generation. She had a great question we wanted to ask you.
Oh well that’s great; tell her i said hi and happy early birthday!
(Hannah’s question) Which Ninja Turtle do you most relate to? 
Man, that is a great question, and always the toughest one to answer because although Michelangelo was the first Turtle I had ever drawn and I always feel like I am partial to him because he was firstborn, if you will, [laughs], I really think all of them together, ’cause all of them and everything were all sort of created that same night. I kind of look at them like, you know, Pete and I are the Turtles’ dads. So it’s kind of hard to choose the favorite child, but you know at the same time sometimes when I want to write a story or just focus on one character I often turn to Raphael because you can do more with him. You can take him to more places that you can’t necessarily take the other Turtles, you know, team him up with Casey Jones and it’s like the two goofballs brothers, and when they are not beating each other up they are beating up bad guys [laughs], so I love them all, but like I say Michelangelo was the first born so I am pretty partial to him. I always thought Raphael and Xmen’s Wolverine would make for a great story line (hint hint @Marvel).
Oh man, that would be awesome!
I always thought Rapheal and Wolverine or even Deadpool as a character, even before the movie came out, and the movie was awesome. But I always thought [laughs], how interesting it would be with the Ninja Turtles and Deadpool! But, yeah, I would love to see it!
Also, I have always wanted to know, as you had mentioned Amadeus Mozart earlier, and you named all the Turtles after artists, what was the connection there? 
Well, I had always been a fan of history, especially art history when I was younger. I was just fascinated with anything to do with art, especially historical stuff. I just love it, and one of the things I fell in love with was Leonardo DaVinci , who was not just an amazing painter, but a sculptor, he was an inventor, he was a botanist, and some of the machines, some of the stuff he invented–flying machines–and he was just the term Renaissance Man, and so really he was one of my favorites. Michelangelo of course and his work with the Sistene Chapel and one of his students at the time was Raphael, so as Pete (Peter Laird) and I were coming up with names for our characters, traditional Asian names didn’t fit. it was appropriate but not silly enough because we are talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [laughs], and we thought of American names like Bob and Steve and it still didn’t sound silly enough so i just blurted out to Pete. “Hey, why don’t we just call them, I dunno, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello?” Pete laughed and we said, “Yeah, that’s it!” And after that it just sort of worked!
Be sure to check out Kevin Eastman’s new project Drawing Blood: The Story Behind the Stories and the new Kickstarter campaign. Kevin had these closing comments to say to all Ninja Turtle fans: “I sincerely appreciate your and everyone’s support, and we are pretty excited about next Tuesday [Aug. 1] when it’s going to go live. I thank my fans in advance for taking a look at it and considering it.”