I was always a Turtles kid. I was OBSESSED with the cartoon when it played in the UK. For us they were the Teenage Mutant HERO turtles as “Ninjas” were just too goshed darn violent for the vulnerable minds of British kids. In our version they even had to edit the show so that you never saw Michelangelo’s Nunkaku as they were illegal at the time. Swords? No problem! Two sticks connected by a string? How dare you? Lock them up!!!
When the film from 1990 appeared in cinemas my Dad grudgingly took me along. I had already watched the behind the scene’s documentary and managed to record it off the TV onto VHS and watched it hundreds of times. So it was fair to say I was excited.
We came out of the cinema and I was blown away and declared it a cinematic masterpiece. Dad never let me forget that! The best film ever! I stand by that. Sure, Vanilla Ice would come along later and rap “Go ninja go ninja go!” and spoil everything, the turtles would travel in time, sure… but that first one was clean. And yes, I know you can see the actors eyes peeking out through the mouths of the turtle suits. I didn’t notice or care.
Now that I’m an adult and a full time artist, (and if I had access to the turtles’ time travel device) I would no doubt blow my younger self’s mind by telling him that one day he would actually work on the Ninja Turtles himself and find a small place in their story.
This year I nervously attended “Comics Salopia” in Shrewsbury and queued up for portfolio reviews. I’ve had some bad experiences at Comic conventions in the past. My style isn’t typical and that’s sometimes met with a resistance. But when I met Chris Ryall from IDW and he said the words “Is there any property we have that you’d be interested in working on?” there was only one word that squeaked out. “Turtles?”
It didn’t happen immediately. I had to pester them a little. At first I got the “We don’t have anything for you right now.” emails and despaired. But I kept at it. I even started to mock up my own Turtles comic to show them. Just a three page, self contained story about Raphael dreaming of an endless battle while being in a coma. I was determined to wow them! They would have no choice dammit!
My birthday came around and on the way to get my car to drive to my birthday dinner, I found my car had been smashed to pieces when an elderly driver got confused and hit the wrong pedal. No one was hurt, but it made my birthday pretty miserable.
Then….the day after, an email arrived. The best email ever. There was a cover spot open. IDW had a Ninja Turtles cover they needed doing, and I was going to do it! My birthday has now been officially moved!
I worked very hard on it. It had to be perfect, and I am pretty proud of it. Dad would be amused, and would likely roll his eye a little too, but I’m pretty sure he’d be proud too.