This evening, my daughter Emily wisely advised me to make a statement about the MTVN/Viacom/Nickelodeon buyout of the TMNT property on my blog... so I am going to try to do that. I suspect it won't be the last statement I will make about this subject.
I will try to touch on some of the things that folks have inquired about, but I can't guarantee that all questions will be answered.
First, why did I sell the TMNT? There are a number of reasons, but first and foremost is that I have been doing this TMNT thing for twenty-five years, sixteen of them in partnership with TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and the last nine as sole owner of the property. That is a long time. It is almost half my life (I'm 55). I never expected to be working on the same thing for this long. And it has worn me down. I am no longer that guy who carries his sketchbook around with him and draws in it every chance he gets. That guy did all of the pre-TMNT artwork you have been seeing on this blog in many of my "Blast from the Past" posts.
I miss -- I really, really miss -- being that guy.
My fervent hope is that by divesting myself of this wonderful but needful-of-constant-attention property, I might -- I just MIGHT -- get back to being that guy. Or something LIKE that guy.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention that my energy level for things TMNT has flagged in these last few years. As one result, the production of TMNT Volume 4 comics has slowed to a crawl. That's not good. I have a conclusion planned out for that series, and at some point I want to get to it. Maybe this sale will help me get to that point. We'll see.
The idea of a sale of the TMNT property to a third party is not a new one. Kevin and I, while we were still partners, discussed it during the 1990's and actually came to the conclusion that if the right deal came our way, we would take it. We got a couple of offers -- one of which was, in retrospect, pretty decent, and another which was simply ludicrous and insulting. We took neither of them. This one, this sale which was completed on Monday of this week, came out of the blue. I was not actively pursuing selling the property, though Gary (CEO of Mirage) and Fred (my attorney) knew that it was something I might be interested in should the right buyer with the right deal come my way. And then Viacom/MTVN/Nickelodeon showed interest and we started talking.
I've known for a long time that at some point in my life I would sell the TMNT. I just wasn't sure when it would happen. But, as they say, in this case "the stars lined up".
I know that many fans are concerned with how the TMNT will be treated now that they have a new owner. I am also concerned, but I have faith that the new owner will treat the property with due respect and make the most of it. And the simple fact is -- I didn't have it in me any more, and the property DESERVED a new owner. Now it has one, with powerful roots in the entertainment business. I am actually quite excited to see where they take TMNT.
I am pretty certain that what Viacom/MTVN/Nickelodeon will do with the TMNT is NOT going to be what I would have done with it had I kept ownership. But is that necessarily bad? I think not. For example, if Kevin and I had had our way back in 1987, the original TMNT animated series would have been a lot different. It would probably have been a lot more like the 2003 4Kids show. Now, I really like the newer 4Kids series, but I also know that many fans much prefer the lighter, goofier original series. I don't know what the new Nickelodeon series will be like... but maybe it will be something better than either of the old shows, or simply something new and different, with a fresh approach and attitude. I think everyone should wait and see before passing judgment.
One comment -- which I have seen online several times -- expresses the sentiment that this sale will mean "the end of TMNT". This baffles me. Unless I am completely naive, the sale to Viacom could very well mean a brighter future for the TMNT property than was previously feasible.
On a final note (at least for this statement), please understand that I sold the TMNT property, not Mirage Studios. Mirage still exists, and it's still my company. It just doesn't own the TMNT intellectual property anymore. I'm not sure what its future will be. For a little while, it will be helping with the transition of TMNT over to its new owners. But after that...? I don't know. What I am hoping, however, is that this little core group of creators sticks together, both as friends and collaborators. And I think that is certainly possible. -- PL