Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Creator awards $10,000 Grant to Minnesota Cartoonist

Like many boys who grew up in the nineties, Lars Martinson was a devoted fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He bought the comic books and action figures, watched the television show, and went to the movies.

“I spent a small fortune on Ninja Turtle merchandise” said Lars with a smile, “Never did I imagine I’d actually see a return on that investment!”

But in late 2007 he did. Lars was awarded a $10,000 publishing grant from the Xeric Foundation, an organization founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started as a self-published comic book, and in a nod to his roots, Laird established the Xeric Foundation in 1992 to help foster the publishing ambitions of other comic book creators.

The grant was awarded for Lars’ graphic novel Tonoharu: Part One. It tells the story of a group of foreigners living in southern Japan, where Lars worked as an assistant English teacher from 2003 to 2006.

“I’ve often found it difficult to describe my experience in Japan to those who have never been there, because there’s no common frame of reference.” said Lars, “I hope that the interplay of words and pictures in Tonoharu can more effectively convey the joys and frustrations of living there as a foreigner.”

Other than a connection to Japan, does Tonoharu share anything in common with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

“Well, not really” said Lars with a laugh, “But I hope that it proves to be as successful.”

The first part of Tonoharu is available now. For further details, visit Lars’ website at

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