Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blast from the Past #298: more notes from developing the 2K3 TMNT show

Another randomly-chosen email, this time about one of my favorite TMNT Volume 1 comic book adaptations. -- PL


Subj: Fwd: Kirby
Date: Friday, May 23, 2003 11:52:36 PM
From: Pete
To: Lloyd

In a message dated 5/8/03 5:51:46 PM, Lloyd writes:

Hey Peter -

I was working my way through the Kirby show and I noticed that he calls the
device he made the "Gravity Equalizer" and not the "Gravitic Equalizer" as
it's called in the original comic. I don't recall this change, and as I
know how attached you are to the original I wanted to know your feelings
about it. I can easily have it changed if you prefer.


I appreciate your perceptiveness, but I think that's no big deal. I didn't notice it!

Also, while I have you here, did you watch the Kirby locked picture yet? I
have to say that the ending is a REAL DOWNER, and it kinda bothers me. I
know we talked about it, and Kirby's last line does speak to his situation
in life, but it really doesn't speak to his situation this particular story
(which is a rather light-hearted fantasy, all things considered). I really
think it'd work better to find another quote from him (did you ever get that
Comics Journal Jack Kirby book I sent you?) that was a more appropriate
message to Don and the situation than what we currently have. Let me know.
After viewing the episode I had to ask one last time!

I did watch the locked picture today -- I was really looking forward to this one. I got quite a thrill seeing so much of one of my favorite TMNT stories realized on screen. And while I am about 95% happy with it, I am also somewhat disappointed with the ending, though for a slightly different reason than yours. I don't recall exactly how it was in the final script and/or the storyboards, but I was surprised and a bit let down that the episode ends on Raph's "What's eatin' him?" line and not Kirby's "Life at best..." quote as in the comics (in the show, that quote comes when Don looks at the paper airplane in the cellar). Also, because there is no written text on the paper airplane/sketch page, the scene is kind of weird because it plays as if Kirby is speaking (which he is not), instead of Don reading what Kirby has written and the audience (and Don) hearing the words in Kirby's voice. If there is any way to get the text of the note onto the paper in that scene, I think we should do it.
While the story is a downer in a sense, in another sense it's not. The only REAL downer, as I see it, is that Don had made a cool new friend and lost that friend all in one afternoon... and MAYBE also that Kirby can't get back to our world. I guess I always thought that there are two reasons that Kirby sacrifices his chance to get back to our world and lets Don go though the shrinking portal first: One, Kirby's a good guy with great nobility, and Two, if he had to be stuck somewhere with little or no chance of getting back to our world, this other dimension -- where he is now a hero in the eyes of the human-types that live there, and they've come right out and told him that he's welcome in their lands -- is definitely far from the worst place to be. And when you think about it -- he's a guy living by himself in a crummy little dingy basement one-room apartment!
Here's what I would prefer to see, if possible: The paper airplane flies out of the disappearing portal. Don picks it up, and looks at it. Cut there (before we see the drawing or hear Kirby speaking his written lines on that sketch), then go to the shots of Don coming back upstairs, Raph doing his "What's eatin' him?" line. Then a new shot of Don sitting down somewhere (preferably by himself in a separate room, but maybe we could get away with him sitting down on the living room floor as he had been earlier, or maybe at that table where we had seen him earlier welding/soldering something). And this is where we cut to the angle on the unfolded paper airplane, and see and hear Kirby's last note to Don. End.
Now... I can almost hear your voice saying we can't do any new animation, because of time constraints, or budget. I hope that's not the case, and this would be very little in the way of new animation, and as I pointed out we could probably use already created backgrounds, and only animate a couple of seconds of the figure of Don as he sits down and holds the paper.
As far as changing the content of those last lines from Kirby to Don, I would prefer to leave them as is, but if you want to offer a hint that MAYBE Kirby is not lost forever in that other dimension, perhaps Kirby could say something like "See ya around, pal!" or "Hope to see ya again someday!" or something like that after or before his "Take care of yourself!" line. Oh... I just thought of another subtle but perhaps cool way to imply that maybe it isn't hopeless -- if we COULD do another couple of seconds of animation (and this would not be terribly complex animation -- one figure against a static background) AFTER Don reads/hears the note from Kirby... we cut to a medium (waist up) shot of him sitting there... and then he just raises one eyebrow, maybe touches his chin (the classic "Thinker" pose) and maybe goes "Hmmm..." The idea here is that the viewer would be inclined to think, from this little hint, that clever boy Donatello is already thinking up some way to rescue Kirby from that other dimension (even if he isn't going to in the course of this series).

Dan Berger watched the episode with me and pointed out a possible goof-up in logic and continuity: As animated, the drawings that we actually SEE come to life and come off the page in Kirby's sketchbook don't leave any trace (the weird little winged fly thing, the stickman)... but later, when Kirby and Don are in the other dimension, we see that all of the other creatures that Kirby drew ARE still in the sketchbook, at least in the form of pencil drawings. It's probably too late, but I wonder if we can change those bits where the critters come off the page (and by the way, I LOVED the way they animated that -- peeling off the page -- and the way the "stickman" acted cracked me up) and instead of the drawing disappearing as the critter comes off the page, have it stay there, not in color, but as a black and white pencil drawing.
Dan also pointed out that Raph is wearing his elbow and knee pads... in the shower! (I can't recall right now -- is he also wearing his bandana?)

Lastly, I desperately need your notes for episode 34 1st draft script! And
we'll be sending you a new draft of 33 tonight.

I'm trying to find that file for ep. 34 first draft script, but all I can locate on my computer for ep. 34 is the outline. Please re-send it! (I also did NOT get ep. 33 new draft today.)

-- Pete

1 comment:

  1. Thats cool to see the different endings and the behind the scenes altering of it all. You guys plotted #33 and #34 pretty early which reveals in this continuity Shredder is a renagade Utrom.

    Great idea letting us see the correspondence with Llyod's okay.