Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Recently, I've been asked to do a couple of email interviews. This is the first one that I've done and the longer of the two but I thought that I'd post it here. The interviewer is a guy named Elliot, and it occurs to me now that I never asked him just what this was for. Pretty typical for me.

Interview with Jim Lawson.

Recently, on your blog, you addressed the issue of the TMNT purchase from Nickelodeon, and briefly mentioned some of your possible future plans. Have you further thought about your options since then?
>>Not really. It’s been kind of overwhelming emotionally since the announcement of the sale—I think only now that the dust is beginning to settle and I can start thinking about the future. As I sit here right now, I can’t honestly say just what it is that I want to do.

Do the possibilities still remain to finish up the Paleo TPB and even release more Paleo comics?
>>Yeah, definitely. Paleo was published under the Zeromayo partnership between Peter (Laird) and myself. Whether Pete still wants a relationship and involvement in that, that’s unclear to me. However, I don’t see that there would be anything preventing me from finishing the TPB myself.

You also mentioned that the thought of doing a children’s book has been in your head for awhile, do you have any ideas that you might want to share about what this would involve? Dinosaur themes or something similar to your work from on the Turtles Comics?
>>The children’s book idea is something that’s always appealed to me- and now that I’m playing around with colors, even more so now. Nothing concrete, storywise- but you’re correct, dinosaurs are absolutely a direction that I would like to go.

How did Peter Laird break the news about the deal to the writers and artists, or how did you find out about the deal?
>>I think that it was October 13—Gary (Richardson) called us all into a staff meeting here at Mirage. Everyone was there including Pete. It was then that we were told that a deal to sell the Turtles was nearly complete. Some details of the sale were talked about and Pete discussed his situation and reasons for my he felt he had to make this decision. Contracts were given us to review and sign. It was pretty emotional.

You explained your personal account of what it was like for you to walk around the Mirage office after hearing about the deal (as a zombie), were everyone else’s reactions similar to yours?
>>I think so. Everyone seemed sorta paralyzed by the news. But conversely, I think that we all knew in the back of our minds that this day was coming.
I’m happy for Pete—it’s been tough watching him struggle for the past few years with regards to his loss of enthusiasm for the comics. I hope this unburdens him and he can rediscover the creative person that he once was.

I’ve always enjoyed how stylistically and minimalist your artwork has been especially in depicting action, how did you develop this style that has almost become synonymous with the TMNT?
>>Lots and lots of drawing. I’m asked occasionally why my style changed so dramatically over the run of the TMNTs. I can’t say that it was my intention to draw the way I do now-it just naturally happened. I really like that it’s such an evolving thing- it’s very exciting for me as an artist.

I’ve noticed that the pacing and beats in all of the miniseries that you have both written and drawn have had a lot of downtime, scenic, mood-setting moments (most recently in the Donatello miniseries) which is quite impactful stylistically. What’s some of the inspiration behind these moments?
>>That’s an interesting question. In response to that, all I can say is that I try for a sense of realism in my stories. I very much want to try to convey a character’s mood or emotion- I want to really get in their head and to know what an individual’s thoughts are. It’s during my own quiet times when I’m introspective and reflecting so I think that that’s what I try to bring into my writing.

What is your creative process like? Do the writers leave you plenty of room for your own interpretation?
>>It changes from writer to writer, but for the most part, yeah- in my experience the writers that I’ve dealt with have allowed me a lot of freedom. Perhaps it’s because Mirage was what I consider a small-time publisher- everyone pretty much knew each other so I think there was this sense of familiarity and trust.
As for my creative process, there’s no trick to it really. I’ll usually have some germ of an idea and write it out more or less in outline form. Often, certain scenes that I want to highlight I’ll try to dialogue at that early stage. Occasionally, I’ll even have ideas about how I want to end the story and I’ll have to backward engineer events leading up to that.

Do you have any special pencils or pens that you like to work with, and what is your view on digital pen tablets?
>>Yeah, every artist has their favorites. The pencil that I like right now is something called a Black Warrior. My favorite paper is Strathmore Bristol. With pens, I’ve been using some Japanese brush pens for the past few years- my favorite is the Zebra FD-301. More recently, I’ve taken to using the Pentel Pocket Brush—it features a waterproof ink that is required for use with watercolors.
I have no view on digital pen tablets, as I’ve never used one.

For the younger generation of Comic readers today, you were a participant at the Creator’s Bill of Rights drafting, could you explain your influence in the couple day event?
>>In all honesty, I don’t think that I had much of an impact on the Creator’s Bill of Rights. Peter and Kevin were the influential ones- myself and the other Mirage artists wre more secondary characters, in my opinion.

How was it like working with Tristan Jones for the first time on Tales #64 (out now)?
>>Awesome. Tristan’s a hell of a nice guy, as well as being a very talented writer. His enthusiasm for the Turtles is infectious. I’m gonna miss him a lot.

Can you hint at anything that might catch our eye in the second two pieces to the Donatello miniseries?
>>Not really. In the Don mini, my intent was to give a view of the character that might be a little different than what most people might think. The darker side of Donatello, if you will.

Currently, you’re working on quite possibly the last comic of the TMNT at least for a decent amount of time with Tales #70. You stated that the story is set in Return to New York and that you’re replicating the process and feel of those comics back in the 80s. Are there any other exciting things that this issue may contain?
>>The story will feature Raph, almost exclusively. Eric and I have in mind a fight scene that will be unlike anything that I’ve ever done, so I’m looking forward to how I’m going to choreograph that in the pencils. The book will also be done on the old school Duoshade paper so that should give it a classic RTNY feel, I hope.

Over the last 20 years you have drawn plenty of frames in comics, are there any that stand out to you as a favorite? Or any issue that you had a lot of fun on?
>>A standout most certainly has to be the Leonardo mini-series, Blind Sight. Much of that book was done in white silhouette, and that gave it definitely a different look. As well, it was a real challenge to my drawing and design sense, as far as actually creating the art. Unquestionably the most memorable book that I’ve done.

You often post commissions on your blog, will you continue to do commissions and how would someone go about getting one? What is the average cost?
>>I’ll continue to do commissions until I leave Mirage, most likely. When that day is though, I’m not entirely sure. That said, folks who want a commission need only to contact me at my email: Prices vary with the number of figures and complexity of the drawing. As far as a range, commissions are generally from $50.00 to $250.00. Most are in the $100-$150 neighborhood.

Despite having your job as a TMNT writer and artist for the last 20 years, are you excited for the break to try something new?
>>Absolutely, and I think that’s why I’m uncertain about the whole comics thing—part of me is really hungering for a new adventure, something totally different. It’s hard to imagine a future without drawing as being my bread and butter, but that certainly is a strong possibility.

Just for some general questions that you may have fun at:

What’s your favorite music/band/musician?
>>No question, REM is my favorite band.

What type of Motorcycle do you ride?
>>Right now, I have 4 motorcycles—they are:
2005 Yamaha FJR 1300
2007 Moto Guzzi Griso
2009 BMW F800 GS
1979 Honda Ratwing

What are you currently reading?
>>I very recently finished “Endless Horizons” by Dan Walsh. Walsh is a sometimes columnist for several motorcycle magazines and this is his travelogue about a journey that he took to South America.

What is/are your favorite film(s)?
>>Films that feature some kind of adventure, I guess. But within that, everything from Hildago to The Road Warrior to Up to Kun Fu Hustle to Army of Darkness.

What is the comic that continues to inspire you?
>> Usagi Yojimbo amazes me. How Stan (Sakai) can continue to generate stories that are of a consistently high quality after all these issues- it’s stunning. I just bought the little hardcover/color comic that he just published, Yokai. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Thanks so much for doing the interview, and I hope to get a commission from you soon (thinking Leonardo… I really need more artwork in my apartment).


  1. Intersting interview. I wonder where this will be printed/posted.

    I have to say, I'm getting excited about Tales 70, in a sad sorta way.

  2. Thanks for sharing this further insight into your work, Jim! I'm kind of not surprised you didn't ask what the interview was for, because you're always so accommodating to us fans. :)

  3. Hey,
    This is Elliott. I interviewed Dan Berger and Jim basically just to get their voices out there and provide some insight into the recent purchase, their work, and future plans.
    I'm actually currently working on the interview (with a few extra questions from some follow-up e-mails) right now. It will be posted within the next day or so on my blog at:
    I don't mind that Jim didn't ask what it was for, I was more so just excited to be able to do it. Once again, thanks for the interview Jim, and I'm really excited for that Leonardo drawing!


  4. Jim, I always appreciate your honesty and insights whether it on turtles, drawing or hogs..

  5. Here's the link that I promised the other day:

  6. Hey Jim, I was going through my nearly complete Ninja Turtles collection and started to page through "Mutants Down Under" one of the RPG books that you did allot of illustrations for. It's nuts you got mutant koalas, kangaroos, lizards, dingos, dude's riding giant ants and all kinds of awesome stuff all over this thing. It displays your amazing range of awesome bad ass animal character's. Anyhow what I'm getting at is... you should make your own ninja turtle's. not turtles exactly but pick an animal or group of animals put them in your own world and go for it, make a first issue and see how it does. You've got the talent and fanbase it takes to make it happen with ease. You could walk into any publisher with a stack of comics you have done as your portfolio and walk out with a sweet deal.

  7. Intersting interview. I wonder where this will be printed/posted.

    Work From Home india

  8. Hi Jim, Thanks for mentioning Yokai. I can use all the publicity I can get. We just got back from Japan (I've been writing about it on my blog), and I'm just getting caught up with all the stuff I missed while there, including your blog.
    Stan Sakai