Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Blast from the Past #645: January 26, 2005: Re: ninja stuff

Subj: Re: ninja stuff
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 10:19:58 PM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Kevin Munroe

In a message dated 1/26/05 2:05:40 AM, Kevin Munroe writes:

<<Hey Peter,

I'm sure you're probably hip-deep in notes for all the stuff you're looking over, but I'd love to have a phone conversation with you some time next week about your views on the whole ninja vs. samurai/bushido concept. (particularly how each discipline pertains to the Turtles.) Had a few questions come up when working on everything from story to even weaponry.

I have my theories/interpretations, but I wanted to see what your views were.

Back to packing - we're moving on thursday. Yay.




Good luck with your move -- you have my sympathies!

About ninja/samurai... I'm happy to have another phone call with you, but let me set down here a few musings about the subject.

When Kevin Eastman and I created the Turtles, we were operating with a limited amount of knowledge about what ninjas were/are. We did do some research, and had been exposed to various concepts and iterations of ninjas through other comics, TV, movies, books, etc.. We made the Turtles ninjas instead of samurai in large part because the hiding/sneaking aspect of ninjas seemed to perfectly fit with these wacky anthropomorphic mutants, who would need such skills to survive in a human world, and because they were "cooler" than samurai. Even though we knew that the ninja were historically like "hit men", and had a fairly nasty reputation, we thought we could establish a modern breed of ninja, a ninja with "honor" -- a shadow warrior who would "do the right thing".

We made Splinter's owner, Hamato Yoshi, one of this type of ninja (though now that I think back on it, we never really showed him doing too many good things -- just being better that the bad ninjas. like Oroku Nagi and Oroku Saki).  In any event, Splinter, once he became sentient, took this one step further, and passed on to the Turtles his even more enlightened version of "honor".

Of course, it is debatable whether the concept of vengeance killing (as in the Turtles killing the Shredder to avenge Splinter's master) is compatible with "honor". We played with that a little in the early comics, where the Turtles started to question the mission that Splinter had sent them on (to kill the Shredder) and how it had so many negative repercussions.

We did lift much of the "honor" bit from what we knew of the samurai "bushido" code, and in fact even referred to it as such in some comics and TV. I know that this is in some sense mixing apples and oranges, but given the bizarre nature of our set of characters, we felt comfortable doing a little mixing and matching.

Like many things, the nature of "ninja" has changed over time. As you are probably aware, there are "ninja schools" in this and other countries where people are trained in ninja techniques -- not as potential assassins, but in much the same way and for the same reasons that people study other martial arts like judo, karate, kung fu, etc. -- for physical and mental conditioning. I think we took the "cool" parts of the whole ninja bit -- the martial arts, the weapons, the stealth -- and applied them to the Turtles and our concept of ninja, and left out all of the sketchy stuff -- murder for hire, poisoning, terrorism, etc..

Hope that helps!

I am busy writing up my thoughts on the second treatment -- I'm about halfway through and have about eight pages so far. Also, you sent some sketches a few days ago, which I am having trouble getting because the images are embedded in the email instead of being attached. Can you resend that email with the images attached? AOL seems to deal with that better.

Talk to you soon.

-- Peter


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  2. There may be honor in the ninja after all. Tall my sources state that ninjas didn't appear until approximately 600-900 AD for the more unconventional source of fighting. I believe it is possible they existed as farmers. I noticed a trend in ninja weapons and farming tools. For instance if you take a pitchfork and take off the end you'll have a Bo staff and a Sai, Kusarigama resemble scythes used to cut down wheat, and Manriki could be easily made of rope and anything weighted like a bag of rice. Japan and China have a well known history of fighting themselves and each other over control. As the fist ninja would it be dishonorable to want to know what your enemy is doing ahead of time and stop it in some way shape or form? I don't think so because if it were me I'd want my enemy to be down and out with as little bloodshed as possible since they targeted the higher ups mainly should they be credited with killing a few or fighting for and saving those they care about. I guess when it comes to honor it all depends on who the winner is, because by default if you lose or you're caught you're dishonored.
    Meanwhile summer's finally here and i can get to work on more drawings. My cousins are going to be moving up there and if they have time I asked them to stop by Jetpack Comics and Shell back artworks. Still working on the thank you project
    MS =^_^=