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Interviews w/ TMNT Site Administrators

We have a special appreciation for TMNT related sites from around the web, together all these TMNT sites serve as a channel to deliver news, videos, art, and much more. Our close friends/administrators took a moment for an interview to share their thoughts on everything related to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We are sure many of you avid fans have visited these sites before.

 Questionnaire:

1. What is your favorite incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and who is your favorite Turtle and why?

2. What inspired you to create your website about the Ninja Turtles?

3. Who is your favorite Villain ?

4. What motivates you to continue operating your website?

5. What are your thoughts so far on Ninja Turtles 2014 film?

 

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1. What is your favorite incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and who is your favorite Turtle and why?

I’m truly old school here.  I’m absolutely most fond of the original Mirage comic book series, especially the first issues drawn and written by Kevin & Peter.  Those are the books that I first came across over 25 years ago and, of course, began what turned out to be a life-long hobby of collecting.  The art in those early books really captured me.  My favorite Turtle since the beginning was Leo just due to his leadership traits and skills.  Also, as a kid, I always felt like his swords were the best weapons of all the Turtles so I’m sure that also played some part in him being my favorite.  With that said, Raphael is a very close second for me.  I’ve always had a kinship with Raph’s rebellious nature and his desire to keep himself more isolated.  I like “Lone Wolf” characters.  He and Casey Jones were truly the best duo in all the stories for me and, while others may not agree, I really thought “Bodycount” was awesome.  

 

2. What inspired you to create your website about the Ninja Turtles? 

Quite simply, my motivation for the website came first from necessity and secondly from desire.  In regards to necessity, my collection became so large and expansive that I needed a means to properly catalog and archive it.  I’m what collectors might call a “completionist” or (as I prefer) “completist” – my goal is to have all the TMNT variants, covers, trades, hardcovers, appearances, etc.  After over 25 years of collecting, that goal results in a very large collection.  At the beginning I kept track of everything in a notebook and then eventually migrated it all into a spreadsheet.  However, due to all the pictures and scans of everything, it became very laborious to keep the collection records aligned.  It was my quest to find a solution to this problem that naturally led me to investigate some database options.  As I looked into the various database choices I had, this is when my desire for a website came into play.  The more time I spent reviewing the contents of my collection, the more I realized what a shame it would be to have such a vast and extensive collection just sitting in a database for my own enjoyment.  So, I sought out a web database solution that would allow me to make my entire collection available to the world.  Fast forward a few years (along with a couple shifts in logistics) and that database has now been built.  Now, all that remains is to complete the design and implementation of everything and my collection will soon be live for everyone to enjoy.  

 

At the same time, since I knew the collection website was going to take some serious time, I decided to get myself “out there” and create a blog where I could write posts about my collection and maybe discuss the comic books.  I did this for a while but with Mirage TMNT Vol. 4 and Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2 both winding down at the time, there was very little activity to post about and I didn’t want to post too much about my collection and spoil the eventual launch.  Then, Peter Laird sold the TMNT to Viacom (Nickelodeon) and, within a year or so, IDW had the publishing rights to TMNT comics.  While it was awesome to have the Turtles back in print, having them in the hands of a mainstream publisher created a big problem for me (and many other “completist” TMNT collectors)…variant covers.  With TMNT #1, the sheer amount of variant covers (nearly 20) that IDW produced was overwhelming (and somewhat confusing).  As a collector, I had to ensure that I acquired every cover and variant for each issue and so I began to keep track of these cover variants on my blog along with their release dates.  I created a post for each of the comic books that IDW solicited and then listed the covers to be issued for each of them.  I simply started doing this for my own organization (and still keep doing it for that reason).  However, it seems that this quickly struck a chord with many other TMNT collectors/ fans and allowed them to stay up to date on the flurry of comics and covers IDW produced.

 

So, while I set out only to create a collection website, I now have both a blog and a collection website.  I truly enjoy doing both.  The collection website allows me to keep track of my entire collection in an organized database AND (upon launch) will allow the world to see the collection in its entirety.  The blog you see today will just be an extension of my full collection site and it will keep going strong just as it is today.  However, there will be some styling changes to the blog upon launch of my collection website (but I think it will be awesome).

 

3. Who is your favorite Villain ?

If I have to pick then it would be Shredder but I’m not sure I even really have a favorite villain.  I’ve always enjoyed seeing the different villains throughout the years but I’m especially enjoying the villainous characters Nickelodeon and IDW are producing.  I like their take on the classic TMNT villains but I really like seeing the introduction of new ones.  

 

4. What motivates you to continue operating your website?

Well, I’ve probably covered this enough previously but I’ll elaborate just a bit.  I’m a very organized and methodical guy and I can’t stand having so much stuff without there being some sort of organization to it.  The collection website allows me to keep up with the organization of everything I already have and my blog lets me keep up with everything that I “need.”  I’ve always had a need to manage all of this but I’ve either done this offline or kept it to myself.  I’m so excited to share my collection of TMNT comic books, action figures, and memorabilia with everyone.  I know it’s taking longer than I’d like to get the site live but I truly believe the wait will be worth it. 

 

5. What are your thoughts so far on Ninja Turtles 2014 film?

Quite honestly, I haven’t kept up too much with the new film on the horizon. I do a cursory read of the actors involved, the director, etc., and I do know about the rumors of them being “Alien” Turtles instead of Mutant Turtles.  My personal opinion is that I hope they stay true to the true Turtles’ origin story enough so that they don’t alienate (no pun intended) the long-time Ninja Turtles fans.  I think a major departure such as “Alien” Turtles could be detrimental but we’ll just have to see what the story brings.  I can say, though, that I am very excited to see the Turtles get the same CGI treatment that the Transformers received.  The original Turtles movies were great for their time (and are classics – well, at least the first one is) but I’m very interested to see what the Turtles look like when integrated into the movie the same way the Transformers were.  I think that will be really cool.  I also wouldn’t have any issues if the Turtles were a bit darker and the action/ violence is ratcheted up a notch or two.

 

 

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1 A. What is your favorite incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

That question gets harder and harder with every new version – I don’t stick to just one. The major factor for me always is the ‘family’ dynamic.

I grew up with the Old Toon where they weren’t so much family as they were Friends. I thought I was different to think that they could be an actual family. Then the live action movies and Archies comics showed me that I wasn’t just imagining it – those kept my interest in turtles up even through the ‘drought period’ in the 90s. 

Once I got in college, I got hooked on the 2K3 cartoon. This was also the same time I discovered the Online fandom, and got into writing and drawing. I absolutely loved the show, even though it kinda petered out in the end.. hard to believe it’s been Ten Years.

Right now, I am in love with the Nick Turtles. I guess I’m a bit partial to it, after having been involved with the ‘mutation in progress’ event in San Diego several years back. I had some reservations with how some of the characters were being changed from previous looks, but I am very confident that this show is going to be one of the best incarnations, period. Ciro and his team have done an amazing job so far..

1 B. Who is your favorite Turtle and why?

Okay, favorite turtle…  Michelangelo, hands down. I related to him the easiest; Youngest of four siblings, a complete hambone. Probably gets away with a lot more than he should. I’ve like him in just about every incarnation… well, maybe except the 2007 movie – and his whole ego trip after the Battle Nexus storyline in the 2K3 show. With the 2K3 and Nick shows, however, Donatello is becoming a close second. He’s the quiet thoughtful type…who could figure out how to MacGuyver a carburetor, egg-beaters and an old 8-track player into a desklamp/defibrillator.

Splinter is just as much my favorite as any turtle. Ever the father figure, always around to give advice or a smack upside the head when needed. I adore Nickelodeon’s Splinter… he is just about everything I was hoping for in his character. He’s not a frail lil old rodent with one paw in the grave, spouting strange fortune cookie lines every once in a while.

2. What inspired you to create your website about the Ninja Turtles?

Well, that credit goes completely to Stephan. He approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining his blog to post about turtle news. I was originally just posting episode discussions on one of the major TMNT fan forums. But he got a good crew of writers together, Jester’s editorials on the fandom and the occasional comic review, Stephan and Dave have both been a powerhouse with posting information about updates on Everything… News comes so fast now, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with.

 

3. Who is your favorite Villain?

Definitely the Shredder. There’s a complex backstory which steers him into what he becomes. He’s suffered the loss of his brother through a feud over a woman – who wouldn’t be affected by that? No doubt, Nagi was a sleezeball for attacking Shen, and Yoshi had every right to defend her. But that logic doesn’t work for a boy mourning the loss of his older brother. His hurt and anger warped him into one evil sunovabeech that ends up becoming his downfall. His soul seems forever in torment because of it, too…

It’s one of those classic storylines in literature that you just can’t go wrong with…  

 

4. What motivates you to continue operating your website?

I love to write – doesn’t matter what it’s about… I love to write and interact with other people. 

You know, we’ve been around for only a few years, but we’ve been through some important events in the history of the franchise and the fandom. We had the Era of Eastman and Laird TMNT culminate with ‘Turtles Forever’, we saw the great Purge of the Geocities from the internet – what a huge loss of fanworks… and the new life of TMNT in the hands of Viacom/Nickelodeon. 

The Turtles have always been a part of my life – I live in the very same town where Peter and Kevin first came up with their idea of turtles, and I still go to the comic shop where they sold their very first issues.. I’ve made so many friends and connections with TMNT, both in real life and online – dude, it got me a trip to California! It’d be a sad day to see our blog go the way of the internet dustbin.

5. What are your thoughts so far on Ninja Turtles 2014 film?

Eeh…. that’s a loaded one.

I’m not really sure what to make of it. The rumor mill has been going full bore for several months now. We had the original uproar that they were going to be background alien figures with scenes of Megan Fox face-hugging Casey Jones taking up most of the screentime. We had the leaked script about some crazed Colonel Shrader, we had other stuff about the title being only ‘ninja turtles’… and now there’s buzz about filming being done at a ski resort.

Now we have our cast… mostly. the only names I’m familiar with are Danny Woodburn, who’s cast as Splinter, and Will Arnett… who knows what his role’s going to be. I’ve never seen the Turtle actors’ other works, so I really don’t know what kind of movie we’re going to get. For all we know, this could turn into some huge camp-fest with a bungling Shredder trying to take over the world in some ‘Pinky and the Brain’ type of scheme. But, Michael Bay is sneaky…he Never shows all his cards.

The one thing I’m looking forward to is seeing the quality of the motion-capture. The level of detail we saw with Davy Jones in PotC: Dead Man’s Chest was amazing… I’m really hoping that we’ll get that level of CGI in this movie. Things have evolved so much since the first movie’s animatronics…

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1. What is your favorite incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and who is your favorite Turtle and why?

That’s a tough choice, as just about every incarnation of the TMNT is wildly different from all the others, offering something completely unique. But if I had a gun to my head, I might actually have to go with the current IDW series.  It features a well-balanced blend of all the previous takes on the TMNT, but more importantly, boasts a consistent and planned-out mythology.

Not to detract from the older TMNT comics and cartoons, but many of them had a “making it up as we go along” quality which, while crafting an aspect of uncertainty and suspense, also had the consequence of feeling “sloppy”.  Plot threads would be introduced then summarily forgotten about as newer threads took center stage, creative team shake-ups and publishing highs and lows would cut off volumes and story arcs before they could be resolved and so forth.  I love the Mirage comics, make no mistake, but after Volume 1 there’s a distinct lack of focus and follow-through.

The IDW universe, though the relative new kid on the block, has the benefit of a mapped out storyline and an internal consistency to its universe that you just don’t see in many of the older incarnations.  While some are put off by the mixing of TMNT media elements, I first cut my Turtle teeth on the Fred Wolf cartoon, so I’ve never had an aversion to multi-colored bandanas or Technodromes or gaggles of wacky mutants.  The IDW book has its setbacks, make no mistake (the editors need to nail an artist to the floor so they can’t run away after four issues), but I think if you read the ongoing, micros and minis in chronological order from start to the current issue, you’ll discover one of the richest and meticulous TMNT universes we’ve ever gotten.

 

2. What inspired you to create your website about the Ninja Turtles?

TMNT Entity was spawned out of my desire to create a review site for something.  ANYTHING.  I just wanted to write.  I dabbled with a few topics and eventually settled on a horror movie review site, PelleCreepy.  I maintained it for several years, but horror movie sites are a dime a dozen and PelleCreepy never took off.

Ninja Turtles was sort of filling a niche.  It was a subject I was fascinated by, but also one with a relative lack of in-depth review sites dedicated to it.  When I started, I wanted to make my site more than just a blog for my personal thoughts on the TMNT comics, but an information resource cataloging and summarizing and indexing them for reference.  Almost five years later and I’ve come closer to my goal of reviewing every TMNT comic ever made.  Closer, but still a ways to go.

The Ninja Turtles, from their very beginnings, represent a major milestone in the development of indie comics.  More than just the fictional stories themselves, I’ve found myself increasingly fascinated with the publication history of the brand and its numerous eras in growth.  Patched together from editorials, forewords, decades of interviews and personal creator blog posts, there’s an enthralling story behind the TMNT and I’ve come to enjoy discovering it just as much as I enjoy reading the exploits of the characters.

TMNT Entity also gives me the opportunity to continue translating manga in my spare time (as TMNT has a rich history of manga never released in English), so there’s a pleasant aspect of variety in my hobby.

 

3. Who is your favorite Villain?

That’s an easy one.  The Rat King!

It doesn’t matter what universe he’s in, the Rat King is always a mysterious and intriguing character.  In the Mirage comics, he began as a deranged lunatic and grew into a spirit guide forever attached to Master Splinter (let’s just forget about that origin from Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2). In the old Fred Wolf cartoon, at least in its early years, he was an unpredictable and unaligned party that would sometimes be met as a super villain out for world domination, or sometimes just a territorial recluse that held no personal animosity toward the Turtles.  In the 4Kids cartoon, he was a malfunctioning cyborg consumed by hate and confusion, not to mention a fighter capable of putting all four Turtles and Casey through their paces.  I’ve yet to watch the new Nick cartoon, but I hear he’s voiced by Jeffrey Combs and, as a self-professed horror movie fan, that’s pretty enticing.

And on top of all that, the Rat King tends to be used sparingly, be it comics or cartoons (I think he was only in 2 issues of Archie’s TMNT Adventures).  When he shows up, it feels like something special.

 

4. What motivates you to continue operating your website?

Feedback!  Just the knowledge that people are reading.  I love getting in (civil) discussions about the books in the comments section of my reviews.  The online TMNT community is a close-knit but impressive group (particularly those putting together independent, self-publishing ventures like the Volume 3/Image conclusions or the English translation of “The Paradox of Chudnovsky”) and there’s nothing more fun than talking about the comic with people who enjoy it as much as you do.

Beyond that, well, I just really want to fill in all those blanks in my index pages and fulfill my goal of reviewing it ALL.  Maybe in another 5 years.

 

5. What are your thoughts so far on Ninja Turtles 2014 film?

Hmmmm.  I’d say “cautiously optimistic”, but that seems a bit naive, right?

I’d like to say we don’t really know enough yet to properly pass judgment (presuming they’ve completely abandoned that leaked script, mind you), but many of the decisions aren’t exactly instilling me with confidence.  I am not a supporter of Megan Fox, but thus far her casting is the only news that’s got me feeling concerned (again, presuming they’ve ditched that leaked script).  Really, it’s just a matter of “wait and see”.  When it comes to media, I’m a stern believer in “voting with your wallet”.  I’ll go see it when it comes out and if I hate it then I won’t be in the theater for any of the sequels.  But I’ll at least give it the opportunity to prove my suspicions wrong and make me eat my words; it deserves that much.

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1. What is your favorite incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and who is your favorite Turtle and why?

Luke: I would definitely have to say my favorite incarnation was the first live action movie. I was already a huge fan of the turtles, but the movie made it real for me. It made the turtles larger than life in a way that the cartoons never could. From that point on, I simply could not get enough TMNT in my life. Every bit of homework I did in school was littered with turtles drawings after that.

Jeremy: Yeah, I’ve got to go with the first movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original comics; I have them all at home. In fact, that’s what I used as my primary source material when considering where to take the DOTN storyline with Luke.But the first movie, so far, has done the best job of bringing the Turtles to life in a way that’s fun and as realistic as you can get when you’re considering four giant walking reptiles. I think these two qualities are what the Turtles need. 

 

2. What inspired you to create your website about the Ninja Turtles? 

Luke: Steve Lee and I were active duty Air Force stationed in Germany back in 2005 when Batman Begins came out. Immediately after seeing that movie, we knew that a new standard for comic book movies had been set. We knew it was only a matter of time before TMNT was brought to life in a similar way. We wanted to be the ones to write the story. Immediately we began conceptualizing and writing our story. it took us four years to finish the story, but we wanted every detail to be as perfect as possible.

We spent a while chasing around the various people who owned the rights at the time, only to discover that because we were unsolicited nobodies, getting anything we wrote turned into a movie was more or less impossible. This was a little discouraging, but we decided to continue looking for ways to tell our story. Steve and I were both huge manga fans, so it occurred to us that we should turn our story into a graphic novel. I found Ray Dillon on twitter, he hooked us up with Jeremy Fiest, and the rest is history.

With the website, our hope is to reach enough turtles fans with what we have created that IDW and Nickelodeon will have no choice but to allow our book to be published. This would allow us to complete the final 11 chapters of the book, get it printed, and finally make it available to everyone who has been asking for a copy. Nickelodeon has denied our requests for publishing because they feel our story is too mature, but we believe our story is exactly what the fans have been waiting for. Unless we are able to prove to Nickelodeon that they can make money with a more mature take on the turtles, we will never be able to finish telling our story. That is why I created the website.

Jeremy: I wasn’t a big part of setting up the website, but I do think it’s important because, while we may never get the okay to produce this officially, I think that many fans of the Turtles appreciate what we’ve done. I know it’s not much. Trust me, I had estimated that the graphic novel would be somewhere around 300+ pages finished, but this may be all we may ever produce, unless Nick or IDW decide to give it a shot. I think the website acts as a good reminder that we’re still around, willing and able to proceed. 

 

3. Who is your favorite Villain ?

Luke: My favorite villain has always been Shredder. I love how human he is. I love his history. I love his reasons for hating the turtles. Everything about Shredder makes him a compelling villain and worthy adversary for the turtles. I also love the Shredder because I believe that in many ways he represents what each of the turtles are capable of becoming, and gives us a beautiful picture of what each of the turtles will have to overcome in order to become true heroes.

Jeremy: Shredder. I think he’s fascinating and I don’t think any medium has done him justice yet. In fact, you’ll notice the first chapter tells a bit about his childhood. Well, if we were to complete chapter three, you’d see more of him. The structure of the comic juxtaposed the stories of Oroku Saki and the Turtles. Saki’s story would tell the events of his life that led him to becoming the Shredder and finally killing Hamato Yoshi, and the Turtles story would follow them while they were still early in their new careers as crime fighters as they faced a dangerous enemy as well as grapple with some obstacles within their own group. I saw this book as an opportunity to show Shredder’s human side–to understand the man behind the monster–and get away from one dimensional portrayal we’ve seen of him everywhere else. 

 

4. What motivates you to continue operating your website?

Luke: I am motivated by a love for the turtles and a desire to see their story told in a way I love. I do not believe this is something Michael Bay will be giving us in next year’s live action movie.

I also hope that enough fans will discover what we have done and create an internet buzz that Nickelodeon and IDW cannot ignore. I am unable to afford completing the last 11 chapters of our story, but I’m hoping that by keeping the website operational it will eventually end up in the right hands, or influencing somebody that has the power to let us finish what we started.

Jeremy: As I mentioned before…why not? We’ve already done the work. Why not get it out to those who may appreciate it.

 

5. What are your thoughts so far on Ninja Turtles 2014 film?

Luke: I think Michael bay will deliver a wonderfully action packed unintelligent light hearted film that will appeal to the masses. I personally believe he will choose to put the turtles in supporting roles of a main character who is human, like April. Michael Bay did this in Transformers by giving the transformers themselves supporting roles to Shia Labeouf’s character. I do not believe this is the right approach for a Turtles film.

I also believe it will contain and unhealthy amount of slapstick humor, and will not be rooted very well in reality, much less treat the turtles like the ninjas they are. I do not expect the movie to have any real heart. I will see the movie, but my expectations are extremely low. I do not believe Michael Bay knows how to tell this story, I also disagree with the decision to involve Kevin Eastman in the script writing process. I think he is in too deep to offer a fresh perspective.

Jeremy: I’m not a Michael Bay fan, but he’s not even who we need to worry about–Jonathan Liebesman is a terrible choice to direct a turtles film. And Megan Fox as April? I’m sorry, but I’ve already written this project off. It’s going to suck. There’s no doubt about it. Lets talk about the new Turtles cartoon. Awesome, yeah? I love it. I’d take the cartoon any day of the week over Bay’s stinker project. 

The Author

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior

Zach Gasior is an author and English professor at Baton Rouge Community College in Louisiana. His short stories have been published around the world, and he has two non-fiction books in print. He has contributed articles to several different sites, and has been a fan of the turtles since he was two years old, and his favorite ninja turtle is Raphael.

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