Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures has refreshed the original 1987 cartoon into a new comic series!
The new series takes the aesthetic and personalities of the characters from the series so many of us grew up with and gives us new stories to enjoy. There’s known favorites and deep cut characters coming back for another round against the turtles.
I got to speak with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures artist Sarah Myer about how they found out they got the job, putting their stamp on the characters, and what they want to work on next!
TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles.com: Thank you again for meeting with me!
Sarah Myer: Of course, yeah!
TMNT: So I know that you are now doing artwork for the Saturday Morning Adventures for IDW- What was it like to get the call that you’re gonna be working on a Ninja turtles book?
SM: I got to tell you, guess where I was? Disney World! When I got the call for the artwork, the interiors. It was May of this year and I was on vacation in Disney World and I was like “Wow, it lives up to his reputation. I was so excited in fact, like I looked at my email when I saw it at like seven in the morning. I was in Pop Century Hotel in Disney World and, I literally was so excited I almost like walked around just telling strangers. Like, I felt like I wanted to do that, you know? But, yeah, and it was just amazing. Because prior to this I had worked as a colorist on TMNT Saturday Morning Adventures 1-4. And I was doing variant covers, so it’s been awesome. I’ve had so much fun drawing the interior so far.
TMNT: Has it been difficult trying to follow the character models at all and still putting your own spin on the characters in the book?
SM: I would say not so much! Not a lot, which I’m really happy for. A big amount of that has been due to Nickelodeon being so easy to work with. You know, basically, if I get a note from them, because they’re usually so easy going with it, I know that it’s literally just if it’s something absolutely necessary. I have no absolutely no qualms whatsoever about modifying something or changing something if it needs to. But they give us a lot of freedom and I really appreciate that. One of the things, with regards to the ‘87 turtles- It looks so different from season to season, depending on the animation studio. I would say, if I had to describe like what version I generally draw like, it would probably be what I consider TOEI Animation, but B-team. They worked on a lot of episodes from like season 3-4, 5 even. And six, here and there. “Donatello’s Degree” is an example. “Leonardo versus Tempestra”, if you look at the turtles characters, they look a little bit more- almost like Doraemon, or like, Keroppi like. I don’t know if you have a pen or something I can draw it for you.
At this point, I start to scramble for the sharpie and LITERALLY any scrap of paper I can find. It’s Comic Con, so there were plenty of sampler books! Thank you again IDW!
SM: So, like essentially, I don’t wanna get get caught or whatever while I draw for you while I’m talking. I tend to draw kind of that sort of more- the cutesier looking turtles. But, I always make sure to keep the characters a model. I think the side characters are more challenging! It’s like Chromedome, for example, you got to make him look right! He’s a robot, so you definitely have to keep all the proportions right. But the Turtles I tend to draw a little bit more like- flexibility in terms of their facial expressions, you know?
TMNT: Have you done anything that you can put your own stamp on? To say, “This is my artwork in this book!”
SM: Oh, I guess I guess the one thing if I had to say, there was one sort of stamp, in terms of like, that would make people think “Yeah, that’s a Sarah Myer turtle right there.” Would be the guy I like to make full use of their eye ridges. They’re at the ridge above the where their eyebrows would be. Kind of considered their eye ridges, or eyebrow ridges. For example, if I draw like a worried looking Donatello here.
Sarah takes a second to touch up their Donnie sketch
SM: I always like to sort of draw like that. I always kind of map out where even part of there their eyebrow ridge might actually come up over, outside the circular shape of their heads. That, I guess, would be something. l guess I just draw them very expressively. I always try to draw the moments like you’re in mid motion, too in the in the comic.
TMNT: I know that’s one thing that’s really hard to do with artwork is to make the characters not seem stagnant. To make it seem like it even though you’re looking at a still picture, you wanted to seem like it’s mid motion, and you do that really well!
SM: Oh, thank you! Thank you! I guess it is probably the one rule that I try to give myself is keep it on model as much as possible but don’t sacrifice-and this is something I’m telling myself you know-but don’t sacrifice your expressiveness for for the old model looks. So, like, you know they’re the face shape might be a little bit distorted if it needs to be. If I’m like, having them be really worried, you know, then then the line then becomes lower. That might not have showed up as much in the show, but it’s like for the purposes of the comics it’s really expressing their emotions.
TMNT: It almost reminds me of old “Tom and Jerry” cartoons.
SM: Yeah, the squash and stretch!
TMNT: Yeah and how accentuated their face would be. It gives me a lot of that vibe.
SM: Oh, thank you! I actually it’s funny you should mention like old school animation because I do try to put a little bit of- any time Raphael shows up in a panel- look at him if he’s not talking. Especially because I’ll probably try to draw him like looking right at the reader. So, it’s like if Leonardo is in front panel going, “We gotta do somethig!” You’ll see Raph looking right at you. It’s a very Chuck Jones thing I like to put that in there.
TMNT: Are there any characters or any storylines that you want to tackle that you kind of remember from the ‘87 show?
SM: Well, I love Eric Burnham scripts. I got to say, currently I’m drawing issue number eight which has Mr. Ogg in it. I don’t think he was anybody’s favorite! But here’s the thing I never expected. I’m so excited to draw any of this but when I when I started drawing it in reading his script, I laughed so hard reading it. I was like I can’t believe this, but I’m actually really getting a kick out of drawing Mr. Ogg with the way he wrote it, you know? So I feel like Eric can write any character that you know appeared in the show and make their story interesting. I loved like for example what he did with Thrum the rock soldier. He was kind of an original character for Saturday Morning Adventures comic, but he’s based on the rock soldiers from the show. I feel like that script has made him such an interesting character, and it had a really good message. Having said that, I would love to work on some thing where it’s Donatello and Irma paired up as a team. They are, in a sort of an away the two clumsiest members of their own respective teams. I would love to see more of Mona Lisa, which I can’t really give too much away, but I might be working on something with that. More Donatello centric stories will be fun. I would love for the chance to do a mini series. That be fun.
TMNT: How has working on TMNT: SMA been different from working on your other books like “Monstrous”?
SM: Oh yeah I guess so it’s you know two different publishers so it’s a different editorial style and everything. Well, “Monstrous” took like 2 1/2 years to write and draw and go through edit stages. That took a long time I guess the one thing objectively that’s different is speed. This is so like breakneck speed fast! It feels like just yesterday that I was even drawing the inks for the Halloween special and now it’s out. And that can create a little bit of a kind of a different sense of a mental space, you know what I mean? It’s a little bit surreal in a way. I guess with “Monstrous” there’s so much leading up to it that I was ready for it when it came out. I forget, sometimes what Streetfighter issue is out! I was like “Wait, Ariel, is our number four out today? He’s like “Yes” I was like, “Oh crap! I haven’t even seen it yet with all the lettering, so that is surreal. In terms of like, editing, even though there’s different styles of editing on both of those books and in both of those publishers, I’ve really enjoyed working with both of the editing teams. I’m so excited to work with my team from First Second and I love working with the team at IDW. Nick and Tia have been awesome.
TMNT: Is there anything else Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle related you want to work on the future?
SM: Oh my God! I guess- OK so and I’ve said this before. I think that I told them this. If there’s any room, I would love to do a “Last Ronin” variant cover down the line. Just to draw like a more gritty style which I have dabbled in a little bit, just before I officially got to work on it with IDW and turtles, I drew a lot of fanart. In different styles. I don’t know, like I mentioned anything Donatello centric, it could be cool to do a mini series. I was also telling somebody else earlier today, I would love to draw the line art for the turtles coloring book! I think they’ll be so much fun you know because I I just want to like I think it be fun to inject all that energy into just the lineart and I think readers would have fun coloring some things. Like, I don’t know, how about we draw like Shredder and Krang having a picnic or something. That would be they’re Spring time page.
TMNT: For TMNT:SMA, it caters to both an older Ninja Turtles fans familiar with the cartoon, but it also skews to younger fans with the nature of the cartoon in general. Have you seen any big differences in the Fanbase in terms of age range?
SM: Oh man, you know I got to say- I think most people who have come by and mentioned it have been my age which is almost 40. And in some cases, I think they’ve been in their 40’s. So, it is I think it’s definitely all the kids that were young in the 80’s and 90’s tend to be the main demographic. But, at the same time, I have heard a lot of people say that they’re excited to share it with their their kids or their nieces or nephews. I guess in a way it’s sort of like all the aging millennials and younger GEN-Xers, but then also Gen-Z but like the much much younger Gen-Z.
TMNT: Is Donatello your favorite turtle?
SM: OK, so, as an adult I really relate to- Rewatching the ‘87 show- I was so amused by how stressed out he is. Also by how strangely incompetent he can be despite him knowing a lot about you know various subjects. I kind of found it very humanizing, you know? Very relatable. His inventions often don’t work! But then he will sometimes come up with just the right thing. But it’s his moments of incompetence that I is in a tote really related to. I mean how how freaking poetic does that sound? It’s like it was his moments of incompetence and failure that really spoke to me as an adult.-Done at NYCC 2023
I want to send a huge thank you to Sarah Meyer, Gregg Katzman, and IDW for their time and support!
Be sure to check out “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures” in stores now! Check out our other interviews from previous Comic cons!