The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are coming to celebrate the first anniversary of the San Diego Comic Art Gallery in Liberty Station and to help comic creators in need.
The Heroes in a Half Shell will be the stars of a one-night show at the gallery displaying 100 original comic book covers by 100 different artists as part of the Hero Initiative’s “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 100 Project.” The project, a partnership with IDW Publishing, is a fundraiser for the Hero Initiative, a non-profit organization that offers financial support for comic creators.
Many writers and artists who have worked on famous comic series as freelance and contract workers struggle to make ends meet, said Jim McLauchlin, president and a founder of the organization.
“A lot of those guys work for hire. They are a bunch of living legends who don’t receive the benefits of their success,” said Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who now curates the gallery. “It’s a way of giving back.”
One hundred artists, including Dale Keown, Whilce Portacio, Bill Sienkiewicz and Walter Simonson, illustrated original covers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic book No. 50. After the one-night exhibit, the comics will be auctioned on eBay starting June 14. Eastman has created an additional 15 covers, which will be available for purchase at the event, and he will be drawing a couple more during the open house.
San Diego Comic Art Gallery: “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 100 Project”
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday
Where: San Diego Comic Art Gallery, 2765 Truxton Road, Liberty Station, Barracks 3
Phone: (858) 270-1315, Ext. 2138
All proceeds go to the Hero Initiative, which has granted more than $950,000 for everything from rent to medical expenses to those who work or have worked in the comic-book industry. Previous 100 Project collaborations included Hellboy, The Walking Dead and The Uncanny X-Men. McLauchlin expects the Turtles to raise at least $50,000 to $60,000.
IDW Publishing, which printed the comic books with blank covers for the illustrators, opened the gallery a year ago as part of the company’s move to Liberty Station.
“There’s a pretty vibrant comic community in San Diego,” said Ted Adams, IDW’s CEO, publisher and cofounder. “We wanted to be a resource for the community. It’s the only place where you can see where comics come together.”
The gallery includes Eastman’s working studio, which is packed with Turtle and other comic memorabilia.
“I wanted to have the space be a celebration of all things comic and comic art,” Eastman said of the gallery.
Current showings include the art of Sara Richard, with covers of My Little Pony, and Jem & The Holograms; illustrations by Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz from the 2012 mini-series “Daredevil: End of Days"; a display of Captain America memorabilia including Eastman’s drawings of the superhero starting when he was 10.
The Hero Initiative event, part of Liberty Station’s monthly First Friday open house in the Arts District, also coincides with the opening of the latest Turtle movie, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.” (Moviegoers from Liberty Station’s theater, The Lot, can redeem their ticket stubs for a free comic book Friday, as well as June 10 and 11.)
For Eastman, it’s all about the love of comics.
“Everything you dream about, you can go there and create your own characters, your own world, your own universe,” he said.
Schimitschek is a freelance writer in San Diego.