Thursday, January 15, 2009

TMNT Groupshot

Yesterday the artists here were contacted by Gary on behalf of 4kids. 4kids is putting together a 25th anniversary animation special about the Turtles and they were wanting submissions from all the associated artists. This is the piece I did for that purpose.
I had to smile at the similarity to the recent Nobody cover. It seems when I get a composition in my head, I'll sometimes reuse it several times. Notice also, a few shared design elements.

Please allow me to rant a little here. This was done as a freebie. In this year, when Mirage is paying 7 figures to a company to advertise and promote the Turtles anniversary, I find it vaguely insulting that we, the artists of Mirage, are expected to do this stuff without pay. Why is this? I want to know, who else is working for free? What is it about artists, that the work they do, has a stigma of having no value? I'm not sure why this is- perhaps drawing is thought of as common, or they see it as being effortless. That Mirage itself has participated in this attitude, I find somewhat sad and more than a little ironic.


  1. You rightfully deserve compensation, Mr. Lawson. You've been with the company for decades, and have churned out some memorable stories in your tenure. This is true of most of the others that are being asked of this. This is ludicrous.

  2. First of all, I think your piece is just incredible. I love the angle that you used, and the little details (like birds in the background) breath life into the scene. Great work!

    Second of all, it saddens me to hear that the Mirage artists are getting the short end of the stick. This is the 25th Anniversary, and I don't think the TMNT would've made it that far without all of the creative forces surrounding the characters. Jim, you've contributed to almost every comic book incarnation of the turtles. It's a bloody shame that you're not getting compensation for your work, especially after all you've done for Mirage. Is there no way to bring this issue up with the powers that be?

  3. I like this one Jim, and I find it a low blow every time I see this crap happen to artists.
    You my friend are not alone, I wish there was a way artist could get the respect they truly deserve.
    I may not work at mirage but I see and have been told of what goes on and sadly some times I wish I hadn't.
    I shake my head and upsets me a great deal that the guys that brought me so much joy and happiness from childhood to my now adult life get treated no better than lowly employees at some mass retail fast food chain.
    I'm trying to have a more postive out look on life in 2009 but it's honestly hard when I see things falling apart all around myself and others in the business.
    This may be a bit out of line for me to say also but I wish 2 certain higher ups would get their heads out of their butts.
    I also feel that I should say that while I've been overly critical of your current style of art I do apricate what you do and how much time you put into this property.
    -Vaughn M.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Got a nice rise out of that Playmates employee over on the Technodrome, Vaughn. I still can't get over his or her utter disrespect for people who work retail, let alone fans. Remarkable.

  6. ah so you did see it, well like I say if you can't be famous be infamous lol

  7. Honestly, it doesn't cost anything to get a hack to do something that will pass as "good enough" these days, so why would anyone want to pay for anything good anymore?

    Here's my favorite story:
    A good friend's promotional company called me to ask if I could both write and illustrate a 365 page a day calendar for a Pharmaceutical company and they wanted it FINISHED in less than 6 weeks! They liked my stuff so I told them I could do it but realistically I would need 6 months. I pleaded with them to not trust anyone that claimed they could complete this job in 6 weeks, that it was virtually impossible. They of course went with someone who couldn't draw, write a gag cartoon or point out Snoopy in a Metlife commercial, but he convinced them he would be done in 6 weeks. He was done 8 months later and, you guessed it- it was crap.

    The next year thesame comapny contacted me to make the same type of calendar for Verizon, but-- you guessed right again! They wanted it in 6 weeks! Ha ha!

  8. Oh, and beautiful work. Your brain is huge.

  9. So, let me get this straight... Mirage/4Kids want to "honor" the TMNT artists by featuring their work in some sort of retrospective for the 25th anniversary. And in order to show their true appreciation for what those artists have contributed for those 25 years, they "honored" them with absolutely no pay for the work being contributed.

    Meanwhile, Peppercom gets $1 million and they can't even write a complete sentence or do fact checking; Playmates allows its employees to attack fans on message boards; and Mirage, or the entity that exists between just Gary and Peter, just sits back and lets all this shit happen.

    And then they dare attempt to cry about low comic book sales.

    You rock, Jim. Not all of your art these days flows with me, but I like this one. And I'll always have your back, and I think that goes for everyone else here as well.

    Oh, and Murph wins for the Care Bears stuff. :D

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. The TMNT franchise are in the wrong hands.
    Jim, your art is awesome!

  12. Thanks for your words of support.
    I don't like slagging Mirage. I've been here 23 years and the job I have- it's great. Most mornings I can't wait to get in here and start drawing. I"m truly grateful, but don't use that gratitude as a weapon against me.
    Yes, there is a dark side- one that I referred to earlier. I guess in this situation, with a property as massive and successful as the Turtles, it's the natural co-mingling of the number crunchers and the creators, and it's not hard or unexpected to figure out that profit will take priority.
    As far as Pete goes, in my entire relationship with him, he has done nothing but support me. The number of times he's been there, providing me with work- with the Turtles or with my own stuff, such as Paleo- it's uncountable. I owe him many, many thanks.
    I guess in conclusion, I just want to say that I'm sure as with any artist, my work is so personal to me that it hurts when someone doesn't even value it enough to think it deserves payment.

  13. Jim,

    I've been TRYING to think positive about things as of late. I've been following the situation closely, and have come to the same conclusions that Vaughn and Rose pretty much have. With so many people against Gary, only one has actually stood up for him. That should tell folks allot.

    And now after reading this out rage, it's really a shit box Mirage seems to have become. And I apologise for swearing...I don't do it often, but seeing the franchise that brought me so much joy as a kid crumble like this, in it's 25th year, really is ticking me off.

    Why is Mirage still with Playmates? Turtles is their BIGGEST BRAND NAME, out of the 6 or so franchises they have...and this is what they do in the anniversary year? We get 10 or so toys re-released and no Back to the Sewers Line....perfect!

    Take a look at the Star Wars line to see what a REAL toy company can do. Fan interaction, actually LISTENING to fan suggestions, collectible pieces, busts, interactive weapon toys like FX light Sabers... Where is all this for the Turtles line? Oh, that's right. I forgot. Vanilla Ice Donatello is supposed to help out because it 'has play value'...apparently.

    Volume 4 has dropped off the face of the Earth. Gone now that it's free as Pete focuses on his blog. Tales is going strong, but I'll admit to not be buying because I'm waiting for Trade Paperbacks to save shelf space. And, thanks to the wheeling and dealings of Gary, if Trade Paperbacks DO happen, god forbid we see them in Barnes and Noble.

    4Kids Started off great, but now they apparently think a brand they actually own, Chaotic, is more profitable than Turtles can ever hope to be, so maybe that is why the turtle toon is ending this season? The Lackluster and kid friendly Fast Forward didn't help things either. Apparently no lessons where learned from the Real Ghostbusters and how ABC messed up the successful formula of a popular show...

    Have I missed anything else, or did that just about cover it? As much as I hate to Diss Peter...He's already got his millions made, so what does he care if the company goes down the crapper? Set himself up for retirement pretty well. But asking the artists to do this crap for free is just an insult.

    As someone else posted, why are you guys even still there? If payment is cut to zilch, I'd say go find another job ASAP before Gary lets Mirage implode..

    Best of luck to Jim and Murphy and everyone else in whatever they do for 2009...and it'll be an interesting comic con this year, with all this going on, that's for sure :)..

  14. Wow, just wow. I, like Neil have tried to be optimistic, but more I try the more I see that make me question that optimism. It's the 25th anniversary of one of my all time favorite franchises and it looks like it's basically a funeral march. Murph, Jim best of luck in what ever you do, be it with Mirage, or where ever you fall after this thing is said and done.

  15. Jim that's a beautiful piece. I really like the black and white skies -- the birds remind me of your Blindsight series.

    It's really upsetting to read about you, or anyone, who has worked so long and loyally for the same company getting the short shrift. And I can understand the mixed feelings given all the positives that have happened, too.

    I think there is a solution (there always is) but nothing changes if nothing changes....

  16. That's a nice piece. As a freelance artist myself I sympathize with you. And as a corporate employee, I also sympathize -- the corporate world is a cold place, and decisions are made based on the bottom line, not the well-being of employees.

    It must be weird when the guy who started the company is a personal friend. I would have some pretty conflicting feelings if I were in your shoes.

    Nice artwork. Plus, can I say I used to dig Bade Biker and Orson??

  17. This is so disheartening, and it brings my blood to a boil. If it weren't for the fact that you guys earn your living from drawing comics, I'd cancel all my TMNT book-buying today based off this knowledge. The piece is fantastic, and I'm so disappointed that you guys don't get the compensation (or the credit) you so rightfully deserve.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. -->> O please, they beyond DESERVE it.

    It's injustice here .

    Paraphrase what i posted on Rose's :

    ..a double blow, double discouraging .. to those of us who look up to these people and who's work gets shunned by the industry in general.

    Kinda like a punch in the gut, a kick in the face and when your face down they stab you in the back.

    Can be beyond disheartening.

    Despite what people think of him and his work.. :

    Jim remains one of my heroes so.

    At this moment,i honestly don't give a f7ck what any of you reading this think about me .. or about Jim's work , good or bad or in between.. he's shown allot of kindness and generosity to me i've never deserved and stepped above and beyond to show how much heart he had years ago in some of my darkest of times.

    Maybe that makes me biased. Again i just don't give crap what a hater would say.

    So you know.. this is even more damaging to some of us than you can realize.


    I guess my challenge now is to try to find some perspective.. very hard at the moment.

    ( Earlier i was to exhausted to comment on sh7t so.. .. )


  20. Mr. Lawson that is an incredible piece. I would love to see it available as a print, like the cover to the Tales of TMNT Treasury edition.

  21. I understand your reluctance to "bite the hand that feeds you", Mr. Lawson, but every so often, you've just got to vent about what bugs you at work. I feel the same way about my job - some of the management may be more gestapo than great, but I don't know what I'd do without that job.

  22. That's great! Reminds me of the original cover for TMNT #1, and the newer version of that used for the covers of TMNT #50 and the PBBZ reprint of TMNT #1. Compare the other two covers to this piece, and it's like seeing turtle comic evolution. Very cool.

  23. من منا لم يبحث عن ارخص شركة مكافحة حشرات بجدة كما أننا نهتم كثيراً بشفط وتنظيف البيارات ولدينا شركة تسليك مجارى بجدة أما بالنسبة لتنظيف خزانات الماء نحن لدينا شركة عزل خزانات بجدة وبالنسبة لتنظيف المنازل السكنية نحن لدينا شركة تنظيف شقق بجدة وبخصوص البلاط والرخام شركة غسيل بلاط بجدة ولدينا فى الطائف أيضاً شركة غسيل بلاط بالطائف وبمدينة مكة المكرمة شركة غسيل بلاط بمكة أما بخصوص نقل الأثاث المنزلة فنحن نمتلك نقل عفش بجدة

  24. its very great شركة رش مبيدات بجدة الشركة الأفضل فى السعودية والتى تعتبر افضل شركة رش مبيدات بجدة نحن نضمن لكم الجودة والتوفير لاننا ارخص شركة رش مبيدات بجدة ونقوم بمساعدتك على القضاء التام على الحشرات فى شركة رش حشرات بجدة كما اننا نعمل فى مجال مكافحة الحشرات أيضا فى شركة مكافحة حشرات بجدة والتى تعتبر افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات بجدة بل وتعبر كذلك ارخص شركة مكافحة حشرات بجدة