When I was around eleven, my cousin Josh brought a comic book collected edition (this was an over-sized trade) up to the cottage. It was from First Comics and it was this:
I’ve written about my love for the Turtles before in other parts of the internet but there has been some moving and shaking in the TMNT domain lately so I thought what better time to revisit the subject then now.
I love The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I first became aware of them via the cartoon series but it is that comic book up above that really grabbed me. It was one of the first comics I remember seeing that wasn’t published by Marvel or DC. And it had this weird little Aardvark in it that I’d have a love/hate relationship with in my older years.
The Turtles were all of the awesome stuff from Daredevil but they also liked the same type of music I did (Michelangelo for instance makes notice of a the gang playing Metallica’s Master of Puppets).
And then the movie came out.
For my best friend Gavin and I, this was our film. Both of us could quote it at any moment as we had seen it dozens upon dozens of times. One particular set of lines became kind of our bit that has stayed with us since the first film came out in 1990. Seriously, two or three weeks before Gavin got married, we were walking around our home town with a few friends. We each had a beer in our hands (flaunting it against public drinking laws) and it got quiet. Gavin took a swig and said:
To which there is only one response.
“Pizza dude’s got 30 seconds”
Oddly, it’s a film that still stands up for me (although I would kill for a special edition blu ray of this. Give me some extras for Pete’s sake. A commentary, deleted scenes, anything beyond a simple trivia game). The plot is still decent and I still love the suits. A combination of stunt performers, voice actors (Corey Feldman‘s best performance outside of Goonies) and Henson magic brought the Turtles to life in a way that has stayed with me ever since.
As all things do, what goes up, must come down. The films got pretty crappy. The cartoon ended and was eventually replaced by a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers version of the Turtles that I can barely acknowledge. The toy line became just odd and a bit of a money grab. Raph in a space suit, Leo as a cowboy.
And the Turtles kind of faded away for a bit.
2003 saw a new animated series followed by a CGI film in 2007. Both of these have some very solid points to them but weren’t quite scratching the itch. There was a great tv animated film in 2009 featuring the 2003 animated version Turtles teaming up with their 80’s/90’s animated counterparts. Turtles Forever was a essentially a fan film done on a huge budget. They even teamed up with an animated version of the original black and white comic book characters. It’s a film I’m incredibly fond of as it’s a love letter to the Turtles in a big way.
During this entire period, the original creators stepped back from their work. Kevin Eastman was the first, selling his rights to co-creator, Peter Laird. Laird then went on to sell the whole thing to Nickelodeon. Oddly enough, the main reason for both giving up their creation is the same. Let me share it with you in the form of a convention story.
A few years back (before the Nickelodeon buyout), Kevin Eastman was at Fan Expo. I own the first Turtles trade paperback. It is one of my favorite books in my comic collection. I had the luck to meet Peter Laird the year before and had him sign the book (as well as do a great little Turtle head sketch for me) and being the completest I am, I needed to get Eastman to sign the book.
The problem was, that I had heard rumor that Eastman hated the Turtles.
That he wouldn’t sign anything Turtles and you would get a death stare. That was the reason behind his sale of the rights.
But I had to try.
I quietly slid my trade in front of Mr. Eastman at his Heavy Metal booth and to my surprise, he smiled.
He signed and sketched on the front and started chatting me up.
“I really wish Peter (Laird) would put this stuff back out again.”
As most internet rumors turn out, it was bullshit. I even mentioned it to him and Kevin laughed. He explained that he loved the Turtles. Everything he had was built on the Turtles as a foundation. Without them, he would have never had the money to buy Heavy Metal. The Turtles made it possible for him to live out his dream as being a full time cartoonist. But essentially, it came down to the “I love ice creme but don’t want to eat it everyday” argument. Kevin wanted to do other things and so he sold off his rights in order to do those things. And while I haven’t spoken to him about it personally, from what I’ve read in interviews, Peter Laird did very much the same thing.
Oh and Eastman did this awesome sketch of Leonardo for me.
Which brings us to the present.
2011 brought us a new Turtles comic. Kevin Eastman was back on board for plots and layout with Tom Waltz as scripter and Dan Duncan handling a majority of the pencils. When it was first released, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I liked the first issue but it was a series that was taking bits from the original comics, bits from the cartoon and adding brand new pieces to the mythology. I’ve since grown to love the series, especially the current take on Casey Jones. IDW has also brought back the Original comic series in the form of some great over sized hardcovers
This week I got my hands on the new Turtles toys. There are two lines at the moment. One that corresponds with the up-coming cartoon and another that is a throw back to the Turtle cartoon of my youth.
While I haven’t gotten the Retro figures (I’m not too interested in them to be honest as I already have some from when I was a kid), the new line is simply amazing in both style and articulation.
We’ve also gotten word that there is a documentary coming out on the Turtles called Turtle Power. These guys have appeared to have pulled out all the stops talking to everyone from Eastman and Laird to Brian Henson and James Avery (Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince… he was the voice of The Shredder for most of the original animated series). I am so looking forward to seeing this when it’s done. If you want to lend these fine folks a hand, you can do so at their website. Here’s a look at it now.
I patiently await the new cartoon series. The trailers have yet to grab me but I’ll still give the first episode a view. If it isn’t for me, I’m still happy with the comic.
If you stand for what you believe in and the strength to do whats right… that’s Turtle Power!
And if you’re going to geek out, GEEK HARD!