Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Blast from the Past #693: Sketchbook page 38, design for "Kirby, the 5th Turtle"

Here on page 38 of the sketchbook we have my attempt at a design for the character of "Kirby", who was supposed to be a "fifth Turtle" in the proposed -- but never made -- fourth live-action TMNT movie. This drawing appears to have been inked by me with one or two markers.

It's very odd for me to see Turtles without their kneepads -- they look so, well... naked, with their knees hanging out in the breeze.




I have to also say that this one makes me cringe just a little bit. Some of the details of the period in which this drawing was made are lost to faulty memory, but I do seem to remember a number of heated discussions about the studio's desire to have another Turtle in this fourth live-action movie, and that desire colliding with my feeling (as I have stated a number of times before) that just adding more Turtles is a creatively bankrupt idea. It's easy, it's lazy, and -- generally speaking -- it's stupid.

As I recall, the only way I could agree to go in this direction--  and not puke -- was to imagine that this "fifth Turtle" was NOT just another turtle that happened to be in the bowl with our original four Turtles and then somehow gotten lost (but conveniently mutated and trained and equipped in similar fashion) -- an idea distressingly common and popular among some of the movie and TV and toy people we'd dealt with over the years -- but instead a Turtle from another dimension in some ways parallel to the dimension of our original Turtles.

Truth be told, I never really liked the idea, but I was prepared to accept it if it meant we could do another movie. As it happened, that deal fell apart, and that fourth live-action movie never happened.

I'm kind of glad it never did. -- PL


12 comments:

  1. thank god that didn't happen, im praying the new turtle movie has more dimension X properties now that Shredder is a white guy, hopefully hes a utrom.

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  2. Considering your general feelings on other Turtles, I have to ask, Mr. Laird: what are your thoughts on Slash? He's quite a popular character that has appeared in almost every incarnation of TMNT except for Mirage and 4Kids (and I'm somewhat curious if your "no extra Turtles" rule had anything to do with this). Since Kevin Eastman created him originally, I'm surprised no one at Mirage attempted to use him in the comics or anything.

    Kirby could've been a potentially cool idea, provided his origin wasn't just "another Turtle in the bowl that got lost, etc." as you said. I guess it's just as well, though.

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    1. To be honest, I've haven't ever paid much attention to "Slash" -- he just never interested me that much. -- PL

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  3. I know you don't like the idea of the 5th turtle (and frankly so do I). But, I like how this seems to free up the artist to do stuff that usually isn't standard.

    I dig the sword handle, similar to a Triceraton weapon.

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  4. Hi Peter,
    Did you have a problem with the comic/tv show aiming for a more commercial angle compared to your original comic? I remember reading an interview with Kevin where he said he didn't really care, but that you might have cared more about it.

    Also, did you envision the race of the characters such as the turtles, splinter, Shredder? Did you think that they should all be caucasian?

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    1. "Did you have a problem with the comic/tv show aiming for a more commercial angle compared to your original comic? I remember reading an interview with Kevin where he said he didn't really care, but that you might have cared more about it."

      I only had a problem with it when I felt that it was getting way too goofy and silly, and missing what I saw as some great opportunities to tell stories which could be dramatic as well as humorous.



      "Also, did you envision the race of the characters such as the turtles, splinter, Shredder? Did you think that they should all be caucasian?"

      Mmm… I'm not sure if you are pulling my leg with this question. The "race" of the Turtles and Splinter? They're turtles and a rat. And the Shredder -- at least in the Mirage comics -- was always Asian, specifically Japanese. -- PL

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    2. Thanks for answering. I wasn't trying to pull your leg. I think on the TV show Splinter was a human so I got mixed up. And I thought you may have "imagined" the turtles as humans, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I don't like that Shredder and many others will be caucasian in the movie. Do you have any thoughts on that?

      I know that when you guys originally drew the turtles, it was done for self-amusement. But when you guys drew the very first comic, what were your motivations for that? I'm curious to know what went through your mind...eg. just having fun with Kevin, or seriously trying to make money, or wanting to entertain lots of people etc.
      Some artists tend to only care about "artistic integrity" while others just want to give people what they want. It's something I struggle with. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

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    3. "Thanks for answering. I wasn't trying to pull your leg. I think on the TV show Splinter was a human so I got mixed up. And I thought you may have "imagined" the turtles as humans, if that makes any sense."

      Aside from an idea Kevin and I kicked around where MIchelangelo would have masqueraded as a human in order to move around among them undetected, I can't recall ever trying to visualize the Turtles as human beings.

      " Anyway, I don't like that Shredder and many others will be caucasian in the movie. Do you have any thoughts on that?"

      It seems a bit odd to make the Shredder white… but it might work in the new movie. I'll wait and see. I'm more concerned by how much what has been officially released about the new TMNT movie seems to closely resemble the contents of that awful script which was floating around the Internet some time ago. But who knows? It could turn out great. I'm hoping it does.

      "I know that when you guys originally drew the turtles, it was done for self-amusement. But when you guys drew the very first comic, what were your motivations for that? I'm curious to know what went through your mind...eg. just having fun with Kevin, or seriously trying to make money, or wanting to entertain lots of people etc.
      Some artists tend to only care about "artistic integrity" while others just want to give people what they want. It's something I struggle with. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. "

      As I recall, our major motivation for doing that first TMNT comic book was a burning desire to SOMEHOW get into the world of comics, and it seemed that self-publishing our nutty little comic was probably the best, and most likely at that time, way to accomplish that goal. -- PL

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    4. Thanks that's interesting to know.

      Just one last question for now...when you were coming up with the stories/characters etc and doing that first comic...even before you actually published it, were you really confident and sure that fans were going to embrace it or react to it?

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  5. One thing about Slash though is he wasn't a random 5th Turtle in the same bowl as the other four. I agree with his stance though, retconning that there were always 5 turtles is just a bad idea.

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  6. I never thought a 5th turtle would be a good idea. Slash I can understand from a villain standpoint. Adding in another hero turtle would ruin the dynamic that makes TMNT so great. What personality could you give this other Turtle that isn't already had by the four existing?

    Now if he were from a parallel dimension type scenario that would be better but I think you would need 4 turtles once again. As a single turtle I'd only see the 5th working as if he were somewhat similar to a Casey Jones type character. Rogue Vigilante . Has somewhat of a role within the group but very minimal. Rarely would they cross paths or team up. Could make for a great micro series.

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  7. I grew up with the RPG then the comics (never the cartoon, even though I am a child of the 80s). The alternate dimension turtle could be a cool story: my brothers were killed, I am alone...I reject this world and how soft you've all grown...okay, now after the story we're friends, but I must return to my own world and make things better there...

    I still cross my fingers you might put out more TMNT comics eventually. Just...such good stories, and REAL characters.

    Mike from New Brunswick, Canada

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