Here’s a bit of urban outside artistry that our publisher/editor-in-chief Kevin Eastman found amusing: Renaissance artists portrayed in the masks worn by their namesakes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Eastman co-created the TMNT with Peter Laird in the early ’80s, and they made their first appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 in May 1984, published by the Massachusetts-based Mirage Studios. That comic book sold out almost instantly, and was known to trade at 50 times its cover price as the TMNT phenomenon went national.
Ultimately, it was the financial bonanza of TMNT-mania that enabled Kevin Eastman to swoop in and save Heavy Metal magazine from certain death a few years later. God bless the Ninja Turtles.
Dippie has just scaled these walls with Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello – not the turtles, but the Renaissance painters. A child of the 1980s and 90s in New Zealand, Owen loves the teenage mutants as well, so why not combine the Renaissance with modern cartoon crime fighters?
But why were the Turtles named after Renaissance artists anyway? Peter Laird explained it in an interview:
It’s really kind of stupid. We had this story about how the turtles were being trained by this rat who had come from Japan and was a ninja master. We thought about giving the turtles Japanese names but we couldn’t think of authentic-sounding Japanese names. So, we decided why not name them after Renaissance artists? We picked the artists we were most familiar with and went with it.
It didn’t read as quite so “stupid” in the comic though — Eastman and Laird gave an explanation that holds up as well as anything else in comic-book origin stories:
More photos of Dippie’s work from BrooklynStreetArt.com.