Thursday, January 01, 2009

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I can remember the first time I saw a commercial for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon; I was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade. They kept the turtles in silhouette...laughing and cracking jokes—keeping it very mysterious. Like most 9 year-old boys at the time, I loved the show immediately when it aired. But it never occurred to me to try drawing them until I watched my classmates doodling away. I definitely enjoyed drawing before then, but I don't remember making such an effort until I started drawing Ninja Turtles. I was surprised at how easily it came, and how much fun it was to write and draw my own stories. As I got better, the net effect was even more rewarding. And I haven't stopped drawing since.

So, the Turtles have always carried with them a certain nostalgia for me. And I'd like to spend this post walking you through some more artwork (see earlier post) I found over Christmas.

Here's a group drawing from 1990. I had probably been drawing them for a year or two by this point. This picture was taped above my bed—my bed, by the way, was fitted with Ninja Turtle sheets and I had all four stuffed animals. Not to mention the toys...OH, the toys!

Here's another from a year later...I had moved to drawing with a pen. This replaced the previous drawing above my bed.

By 4th grade, I discovered that there were Ninja Turtle comic books which predated and spawned the TV series. I learned that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird where the guys who created the Turtles, and that the comics had a slightly different look. I was trying to capture that style in the above drawing of Leonardo.

Below are a bunch more drawings from 1991-93:

I must've been working on shading here (thus the sun as a light source).

Ha! A meaner looking Turtle...there might've been a rogue turtle named Slash from the series (don't ask how I remember this stuff).

I took a crack at a sewer background in this one.
Raphael was always my favorite of the bunch.

This drawing of Leonardo is on yellow scratch paper, so I must've drawn it in study hall (I'm in middle school at this point).

Now, my days drawing the Turtles were twofold. I worked hard at learning how to draw them in various poses, but I also came up with my own spin-offs—pretty much all things ninja and mutant related. I spent the better part of elementary school making my own comic books.

The first spin-off was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Creatures. I figured, why stop with turtles? I created mutant versions of a bull, a dolphin, a shark, a lizard, a rhinoceros, a rooster, a keeps going.

Instead of Shredder, I created a villain named "Tin-Skin."
Good one, Bobby :)

Here's a spread right out of Bobby's Comics Volume #2 (1989)

And then there were the Ninja Blobs! Just cut the animals right out of the equation and make ninjas out of blobs of mutagen. In one comic, I even had the Ninja Creatures team up with the Ninja Blobs.

The final iteration was a story where Ninja Turtle stuffed animals (like my own) came to life! Looking back, this was a way for me to make comics without having to labor over drawing all the complicated muscles and features.

Below is one of the few editions of Bobby's Comics in COLOR! Note, Volume #17! I think this might have been the last one before I dropped the Bobby's Comics publishing name.

By this point I had moved on to drawing in those blank books you can find in art stores. The book is dated 1991-92, so I was 12 years old (6th grade).

And here's a spread. Shredder is miniaturized too...he jumped out of a poster at some point.

So, that about wraps it up! In middle school I started drawing comic strips with truly original characters and stories. As you can see, I definitely got my start as an artist expressing my obsession with the Ninja Turtles in pictures and comics. I spent so much time drawing as a kid, it's hard to imagine a more productive period of my life! Then again, kids do have a ton of time on their hands. I hope this was a fun read for you. I'll be back to posting current work (from 2009) in my next post.

UPDATE: Peter Laird has a blog! Tons, and I mean TONS of original TMNT art. I may have to sit down and sketch some turtles for old times sake. Also, I just added the Teenage Mutant "Wimpy" Turtle pictured below (ha).


David DeGrand said...

I swear we must have shared the same childhood because I too was a Ninja Turtle nut (still am) and filled up notepad after sketchbook of my crappy renderings (none of which survived unlike yours.) I still have all my turtle toys (as well as the Slash figure that you drew!) I gotta say you had quite the drawing chops at such a young age, there's no way I'll ever post any of my work from when I was that young. Thanks for sharing!!

Bob Flynn said...

Ha! I bet we're only the tip of the iceberg. One thing I didn't dig out of my closet was all my Turtle toys, but I know my parents have them stowed away somewhere.

It was fun to notice was how much improvement I made after only about 3 years. Then again, I was a drawing machine back in those days :) Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks!

~ tOkKa said...

-->> ..damm, i totally missed out on ' Bobby's Comics ' the first print run, this sucks .. total collector's items !!

Tell him, if you see him.. that those kick hyper ass !!

.. 'specially the ' PUNKER ' turtle.


Dan Z. said...

Whoa! You must've been a pretty intense little dude. (With all those little panels vol. 17 looks like a TMNT comic drawn by Chris Ware.) Thanks for sharing Bobby!

Bob Flynn said...

I was definitely intense about the turtles, and drawing. Fun Chris Ware comparison...when I opened to this page, I was struck by the panels that have the little connecting unit between them...I have no idea where I picked that up from. Some of the layout is almost as confusing as some of Ware's---probably why I resorted to using the blue arrow :)

Keith Zoo said...

AHH this is the best thing ever. Seriously Bob, it's gold.

Erin Snyder said...

I think I remember some of those turtle pictures. Oh, and I'm surprised you didn't mention that Kevin Eastman grew up in the same hometown.

Bob Flynn said...

Ha! I figure you might recognize some of it. I never knew what was true of the Kevin Eastman mythology...people used to tell me he went to Bonny Eagle (our high school). Wikipedia says something else, but this is promising:

"Kevin Eastman was born in 1962 in Portland, Maine to Sandra and Kim Eastman. His childhood was spent in the tiny hill town of Groville, Maine where he grew up with his three sisters, Marlene, Judy and Maryann."


Seems like a reputable source. I guess there is a chance he went to our school.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Erin!

Erin Snyder said...

The Wikipedia page for Bonny Eagle HS claims he attended, but then, it is dangerous to take Wikipedia at its word.

I do recall hearing first-hand stories from teachers, rather than just rumors from students, for what that's worth.

The real proof, however, is that every single biography I've ever read from Eastman has omitted where he grew up and went to high school. This pattern suggests a direct attempt by Eastman, himself, to suppress this information.

What other high school could elicit such hate and shame?

Unknown said...

Oh my gnosh, you had it BAAAD for the turtles. This was such an awesome post.
When was the last time you drew a ninja turtle? I'd love to see your take on the guys now.

Jeaux Janovsky said...

I love everything about this post Bob! Totally Cowabunga style!

Taryn said...