When Phil Yeh started the murals at the site of the first McDonald’s in San Bernardino with his artist friends in 2012, he had great dreams that one day some of his more successful friends would show up and add to the walls.
On May 11, 2018, Kevin Eastman made an appearance in San Bernardino to add the characters that he created with Peter Laird in 1984. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started as a black and white comic book, became an animated cartoon series, and then branched into feature films.
Yeh first met Eastman in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1990. He had been suggested to come up and meet Eastman by cartoonist Rick Veitch when they were both in Budapest, Hungary painting a mural for literacy with cartoonists from around the world. Eastman agreed to fund Yeh’s book Theo the Dinosaur in 1991 which featured a foreword by First Lady Barbara Bush.
Yeh has devoted his life to promoting literacy and creativity. He formed the group Cartoonists Across America & The World in 1985. This group of artists has painted more than 2,000 murals in 49 U.S. States and 18 countries. Most of these murals have been painted with students.
In 2011, Yeh suffered a stroke. He was unable to draw or paint for a number of months. When he met Albert Okura, the man who owns the museum on the site of the first McDonald’s, Okura offered him the outside walls to create murals.
The South wall is about San Bernardino. The north wall features California’s Route 66 from Needles to Los Angeles. Yeh enlisted various artists to help on the project, notably Sandy Fisher Cvar, to complete portraits of various noted people from San Bernardino. Beth Winokur, Rory Murray, and Jan Windhausen joined many other artists in creating these murals with Yeh. Yeh created a fantasy vision of San Bernardino on the back wall of the museum, where various cartoonists have added their characters into cars painted by Murray.