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Artist Kevin Eastman Discusses the Music and Mojo in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’

Comic book artist Kevin Eastman joins us today to discuss the wonderful new film, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.’



Kevin Eastman

The wildly entertaining and action-packed hit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is now available to buy or rent on Digitally from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Acclaimed by both audiences and critics alike, the film features an incredible animation style that looks like a living oil painting. Boasting a Certified Fresh 97% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has been called “a vibrant, hilarious adventure” (Tom Jorgensen, IGN), “action-packed, exciting, abnormal, and humorous in equal measure” (Ross Bonaime, Collider), and “the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie we always dreamed of” (Brian Truitt, USA Today).

Fans who purchase the film digitally can delve into the making of the movie with over 40 minutes of bonus content! Join the young new voice cast as they explore the “teen” in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then go behind the scenes with the all-star voice cast, including Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, and many more! Explore the film’s unique animation style, plus learn to draw the leader of the Ninja Turtles, Leonardo. Bonus content is detailed below:

  • TEENage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are voiced
    by teenagers for the first time! Hear how each Turtle was cast and how having all four boys record together helped create the authentic camaraderie seen on screen.
  • The Mutant Uprising: Get to know the Turtles’ mutant antagonists, led by the wild and original character Superfly, voiced by Ice Cube.
  • New York, New York: The Visual World of Mutant Mayhem. Take a deep dive into the breakthrough visual style of the film’s characters and environments and how they evolved over time.
  • Learn to Draw Leo: Try your hand at drawing the Turtle leader with this fun tutorial!

After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend, April O’Neil, helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate. But they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.

We thank Kevin Eastman for taking the time last week to field a few questions for V13 via Zoom. The audio (via SoundCloud) and video (via YouTube) are available here if you’d prefer to hear Eastman’s answers in real time.


Kevin, in your wildest dreams, did you ever think this little independent comic would be pushing on 40 years onwards?

Kevin Eastman: “Absolutely, a hundred percent. (laughs) No.”

Good answer.

“I always love it whenever I’m asked that question. I immediately flash to the same moment: telling my parents when I was younger that I wanted to be Jack Kirby when I grew up and write and tell comic stories for a living. And they get this look of horror on their face. They’re like, oh, we’re going to have one of those kids that’s never going to move out of the basement.


“And the fact to not only have the dream realized with my co-parent and creative partner, Peter Laird, to be coming up on 40 years later, as you said, to do it still. I was drawing before I got on to do interviews. And when we’re done, I will go back to drawing Turtles, and that’s the greatest gift.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie still

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie still

How involved are you with these films as they come up year by year? Are you still an active presence, or are you more hands-off?

“In the early days? For the first 20 years, when Peter and I were fully in control, we worked on every cartoon show and every script. We had the approval of likenesses, all the movies, and toys. We were very active and participated in all those elements, which was incredibly inciting and engaging. And we got to work with some wonderfully talented people.

“And as I then stepped away, still involved but wanting to be less involved in the business and more involved in the creative, depending on the situation, the new owners of the Turtles, Paramount, Viacom, and Nickelodeon are doing just such a spectacular job. They certainly don’t need to bring me in on any of these projects, but they always do. And they’re very kind and considerate. They involve me a little bit more in some and a little bit less than others.

“In this one in particular, it was Jeff (Rowe), Evan (Goldberg), and Seth (Rogen) have an idea, and we’re bringing them in for all the reasons we’re bringing them in. And the result is self-explanatory. They just killed it on every level. And I love the fact that I can be more involved. I work mainly in the comics, which is the grassroots part of what I love about it. But then to see something like this unfold and sit there and watch it as a fan and laugh out loud and get emotional and all that stuff was just what a wonderful experience.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie still

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie still

I like that all of the Turtles’ voices in this film are by such young actors. I think that adds something to it.

“They killed it on every level. We loved hearing Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko, or Post Malone as Ray Fillet, and Jackie Chan as Splinter. But the wonderfully creative concept of bringing it in actual real teenagers, and not only as Jeff and Seth and Ev said, that they would not only write material for them to record and banter and record them together, but they would sort of record some of the conversation in between takes and sort of pick up the rhythms of how they talked and interacted. And that’s what I felt about the brotherly family aspect of their banter. It was just natural and organic and lovely and was laugh-out-loud funny in many cases.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie still

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie still

Nice. The big draw for me on this film is the music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Can you talk a little bit about how that came about? It’s just miraculous.

“Yes. I blame Seth and Evan and those guys, and I think that it was one of those things. I’m a big fan of Trent Reznor’s soundtrack work and many others, but I drift back immediately to what I love so much about Steve Barron as a director for the first Turtle movie. He came out of music videos. He did the Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean.’

“Music as a component to his storytelling was an important part of that complete vision. And I feel like Jeff, Seth, and Evan took the same approach. And when you can bring Trent Reznor in and let that wonderfully creative genius do what he did, then insert some of the pop hits and new songs with something like Four Non-Blondes ‘What’s Up.’ The moments where it felt like, ‘Hey, we need a pop song to put here. Let’s find something that works.’ It was choreographed to work like this, and so I thought it was just really intertwined wonderfully. It’s great.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie poster

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem movie poster