Comic-Con@Home: Discussing Jennika And A Post Issue #100 World At The IDW TMNT Panel

by Gary Catig

Early Friday afternoon, IDW held a little art party during their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel for Comic-Con@Home. They had three talented artists that have worked on different TMNT titles with the publisher. Present were co-creator, Kevin Eastman, current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles writer and artist, Sophie Campbell, and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles artist, Chad Thomas.
While the trio worked on their own illustrations, Eastman declared the current IDW series, the definitive Turtles run because it created a whole universe and picked from the multiple universes before it producing a new foundation to tell these stories. They brought in old fan favorites with slight changes but also new ones.
The conversation then steered towards the newest turtle, Jennika. There was always a plan to include a female member to the group in the comics, but Eastman was wary due to the reaction to Venus de Milo in the Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation TV series. The character was first introduced in issue #51 and initially didn’t have long for the series but after growing popular, she evolved and was eventually included into the family. When they saw Campbell’s designs of Jennika as a turtle, it really brought her to life.

Eastman’s piece during the panel

Speaking of Campbell, she’s taken over the main series after the game changing 100th issue (side note: Waltz and Eastman wanted the bomb to mutate the majority of New York, but pivoted and made it a smaller portion). It seemed pretty obvious for her to bring the Turtles out of the sewers and into Mutant Town. All the residents have some things in common but are forced into a location that they can’t leave. She wanted to explore how people’s lives would be upended and destroyed after becoming a mutant and the society’s response. The writer/artist thought it would be more interesting to see the residents come together to form a society and culture.
Jennika fits in the storyline because she’s a new turtle for a new world. She blurs the line between the mutants who were first animals like the Turtles and the ones who were initially humans like herself. Her experiences help bridge the gap of these two realms. These two different origins of the mutants will play a role in future issues when a new community activist character is introduced but isn’t considered unfit to govern because he never knew what it was like to be human. Also, coming up Jennika is still adjusting to her transformation and will give up playing instruments because of her fat turtle fingers.
Near the end, Thomas took the opportunity to express how much of an influence Eastman was on his career. It was through the 90’s cartoon and the Archie comics that he decided to pursue working in comics. Eastman was touched and it reminded him of a similar situation when he met Jack Kirby and said the same thing.

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