I don’t know what you heard about me
But a bitch can’t get a dollar out of me
No Cadillac, no perms, you can’t see
That I’m a motherfucking T-M-N-T
i was recently commissioned to draw the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and April O’Neil.
i asked the client if he wanted the original comic book versions, the TMNT that most people are familiar with from the 80’s cartoon (i realise there have been subsequent cartoons, but all of them were tripe compared to the original) and live action films, or something else.
His answer was the best i could hope for; “cook up something cool, i trust you.”
After that the only thing left to find out was who his favourite turtle was. Luckily he gave the right answer; Michaelangelo.
It always bothered me that the Turtles were portrayed almost as kind of stealthy samurai characters, using more honourable fighting tactics and fighting their enemies head on – which is NOT what ninjas do, they’re sneaky, devious types. So, with that in mind i kind of re-designed them and added a bit of tech and light body armour, i also decided i was going to give them all red bandannas like in the original comic and then give them items colour coded to their colours from the cartoon series/ films.
I wanted to give the turtles very separate personalities that were easily discernible through their body types, if you look at the classic animated designs each of the turtles’ silhouettes were indistinguishable from one another so i wanted to aim for easily identified silhouettes. Here’s my take on the turtles separately;
Raphael: The heavy hitter- when he can be bothered to work as part of the team.
” i’ve always seen Raphael as kind of a jerk, he’s a rage-fuelled berserker tool – i once summed him up as the kind of guy who would hire prostitutes and hit them in the face.”
Donatello: The team’s tech and communications expert and weapon designer.
“i saw Donatello as that kid who couldn’t relate to people, but had limitless potential when writing computer code or solving impossible math equations… you know, that kid…“
Leonardo: The leader of the team, well trained highly skilled and uncompromising.
“The annoying one, a tool but a different type of tool to Raphael. He’s the take charge, don’t listen to anybody else’s opinion, expect others to follow without question type of wang.”
Michaelangelo: The youngest brother; the hyperactive, loud mouth of the team.
“i always liked Michelangelo, he was the fun-but naïve- possibly ADHD one. Not only could he beat you up in real life, but he’d probably hand your ass to you in Halo, too.”
More importantly he was the client’s favourite character so i tried to make him stand out, give him a little more personality and * pop*. So i decided – since he’s the youngest and always portrayed as kind of a geek – i would make him the sort of guy who would tailor his gear to reflect that; his shell is painted like a Koopa shell from Super Mario Bros. and he wears an extra belt with a batman belt buckle. I also gave him an iPod and a couple juice boxes- cos you gotta keep the energy up when you’re sneaking around the sewers and rooftops of New York.
April O’Neil : A plucky reporter, and the Turtles’ first connection on the surface.
“Any man who grew up watching the TMNT cartoon who tells you they didn’t have a crush on April when they were a kid is a filthy liar and you should fight them.”