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Turtles Take Time – The Backstory

On October 25, 1989 I received a letter from none other than one of my heroes, Richard Corben. Attached to the letter was a rough sketch for “Turtles Take Time” and the adventure began …

I recently re read all the files related to this wonderful project and have posted them for you to enjoy among the Early Turtles Archives.  Plus for a limited time, if you make a purchase of $15 or more on a book, toy or original art I will send you a First Printing of this glorious book.

Here is what I wrote then for the inside covers of TMNT #33

To even begin to express my feelings about Richard Corben would take more pages than this entire issue!

Let me step back and put that thought into a little more perspective. Jack Kirby is the sole person responsible for tearing into my imagination, leaving be no choice but to pick up a pencil and start.

Around 1976 I made a discovery comparable to stumbling upon the lost city· of Atlantis itself! A copy of Heavy Metal found its way into my hands. Between the other wonders inside, a story leapt out and grabbed me by the throat! The startling color, the exaggerated realism, the entire imagery blew me away! I had discovered a chapter of Den. I had discovered Richard Corben.

I was instantly insane with the fever to see more, much more. I scoured what comic outlets there were at the time, and with each venture, a new treasure by one of the most prolific artists of our time.

His work in the underground comix hit me like a nail through the forehead. God, the limitless freedom within! Books and stories like Grimwit, Deathrattle, Fever Dreams, Up From The Deep, Slow Death, Cidopey, How Howie Made It In The Real World, and Rowlf!

What Kirby had started, and the dreams I had of working for one of the big two, faded with each new find. Each new story showed me what possibilities existed. No house style, no set format, no character to keep in check, no content restrictions. Total creative freedom.

I do want to mention a few other heroes, other unleashed imaginations that would shape the direction I would choose; freedom of expression, and self publishing itself – a concept which at that time, most often generated little or no financial rewards for the creators that put their heart and soul, blood, sweat, and tears into a medium they truly loved, their world of words and pictures, comix.

Corben led to Bode, Bode to Crumb, Crumb to Shelton, Shelton to Sheridan, to Jaxon, to Irons, to Spain, to Griffith. To name just a few. So many I feel are too often overlooked in the history and growth of graphic narrative. There’s an entire universe of these landmarks out there, folks. If you are some of the fortunate ones to have made that discovery, never mind. If not, please, people, explore.

This is the third time that Richard has graced our Turtles with his immense skill, and each time I’m shown more possibilities, more avenues to explore, and as always, I’m reminded that I am but a seven year old at the drawing board, with crayon in hand and so much to learn.

Any creative hopeful has many teachers, but there is always one that shines so bright, so intense, that you are forced to open your eyes and ‘really look’ at your choice of medium for the first time. Richard is that teacher for me.

I’m quite sure even he doesn’t realize what he’s taught me, as indirectly as it may have been, but I shall remain forever grateful to have had the good fortune to share in Richard Corben’s boundless world of storytelling!

Thanks Richard.

As for the extremely talented Jan Strnad, my apologies to him and his fans. If it seems I’ve just fit him in at the end of my intro, but Jan, my hat is forever tipped for your exciting and wonderful work on this issue. I still get chills when it hits me, the creative team of “Mutant World,” and one of my all time favorite short stories, A Brief Encounter At War, allowed us the honor of “Turtles Take Time.”

Thanks Jan.

Lastly, for anyone out there for whom this issue is their first taste of Richard’s abilities, below is a list of highly recommended reading.

Den, Den-Muvovum, Bloodstar, Jeremy Brood, Mutant World, Vic and Blood, The Complete Corben Underground Collections, Vol’s One, Two, and Three, Rip in Time, Den – The New Series, Children of Fire, Bodyssey, Werewolf, and Son of Mutant World, which is now on sale.

Best Wishes!

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