Interview: Peter Laird

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“Timing,” Peter Laird proclaims wistfully, “in a lot of ways is everything.” A quarter of a century after first introducing his most famous creations to the world alongside long time co-conspirator Kevin Eastman, the artist has had plenty time to reflect on such things. It’s hard to argue with the sentiment. The introduction of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a black and white comic in the fall of 1983 was about as perfect as timing gets.

Three years after the release of that first book, the Turtles had been successfully translated into an animated series and action figure line. Soon after that, Eastman and Laird’s creations would become a bona fide cultural phenomenon.

Even after the cartoons, and the movies, and the breakfast cereals, however, the duo have never forgotten their roots as struggling independent cartoonist who, in the face of rejection from power house publishers, Marvel and DC, took a leap into the often rocky world of self-publishing. Eastman, for his part, launched Tundra in 1990, publishing works by artists like Jim Woodring, Scott McCloud, and Mike Allred. Laird took things a step further, creating the Xeric Foundation, which since 1992, has been a major force in self-publishing, having issued grants to such future big name artists as Jason Lutes, Adrian Tomine, Tom Hart, Jessica Abel, and Gene Yang.

We had the fortune of bumping in Laird in amongst the gauntlet that is The New York Comic Con Artist Alley. We spoke to the artist about his journey from self-publishing to pop-cultural icon.

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Interview: Bob Fingerman Pt. 3 [of 3]

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Of course Bob Fingerman is kidding when he suggests that the title of this article ought be “Bob Fingerman: Portrait in Self-Defeat.” Well, mostly.

Fingerman doesn’t go out of his way to please all the people all the time—after all, that’s what syndicated Sunday funnies are for. In the most simplistic terms, his work often reads like an adult What If? comic. What if zombies took over an elementary school? What if a black man’s brain was transplanted into the body of a white teenage girl? What if vampires had a conscious about the whole killing people thing?

The results are strange, warped, hilarious, occasionally disturbing, and, above all, aggressively unique, which is no doubt one of the main reasons why the artist’s short-lived stint on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven.

But, while Fingerman has seemingly been less than eager to compromise his work for the sake of wide-scale acceptance, over the years, the industry has largely come around to his unique vision.

In this third and final part of our interview with Fingerman, we discuss the artist’s brushes with the mainstream.

[Part One][Part Two]

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