Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

Why? Because they’re awesome, that’s why. Any person whom grew up in the 90’s loves the heroes in a half shell. Fact.

Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo were the epidemic of cool when I was a youngster. A hot cartoon series, a plethora of successful toys and three movies made the four mutated pets the hottest property on the planet. But why would I choose them for this week’s characters?

Two reasons – the first being the many incarnations of the turtles the tenured writers (and you kids whom play at home) have to choose from. Will we focus on the original graphic novel turtles, full of grime and grit? Shall we write a script taking place in the world of the 90’s cartoon, where Shredder has an English accent and weapons are seldom used for anything but to eat pizza from? Or will we venture to the movie universe? A weird amalgamation of the previous two worlds, but with much more Vanilla Ice.

The second reason simply being this – I will find any opportunity to relive my childhood. Any.

I suggest you do the same.


  1. I might just have to do some art for this week. I used to love drawing ninja turtles as a kid! :)

  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!

    *Has huge smile on face*

    This is exactly who I would have picked too, if I had the opportunity. Humorously enough, these guys were my first favorite comic book characters before I even knew they were comic book characters. Originally, I thought they started out as a TV series and were adopted to comics later. Wasn't until years after the fact that I learned the truth about the matter.

  3. Shall I make a triumphant return to thoughtballoons for this week?

    Yeah, probably not, but I'm gonna try.

  4. I used to be REALLY into the TMNT cartoon show as a kid, but cannot remember anything (except the theme tune -- you're welcome) about it now. But, seeing as they were a massive part of my childhood, I couldn't pass this up. I decided to proceed as if the Turtles had continued to age normally (for mutant turtles) while I hadn't been watching. Then I threw in some elements from Watchmen, for a laugh.

    PAGE ???

    1) A bar. It is Late. Raphael takes up most of the panel, sitting side-on to us at the bar and drinking from a whiskey glass. He is older and grizzled. Although he no longer wears his mask, his civilian clothes are mostly red. The door should be prominent in the background.

    DONATELLO (CAP): Yesterday, somebody fed Master Splinter rat poison in his breakfast.

    2) Raphael's glass is empty. He gestures to the off-panel bartender.

    RAPHAEL: Another.

    DONATELLO (CAP): The killer probably thinks that because we've all drifted apart over the years, we won't look too deep into this...

    3) The bartender is half in the panel now. Raphael isn't amused by his concern.

    BARTENDER: Gonna be one of those nights, eh?

    RAPHAEL: I think you've overestimated the limits of our relationship. Just pour the damn drink.

    DONATELLO (CAP): That we've moved on, gotten sloppy, or just don't care anymore...

    4) The bartender pours Raphael another drink. In the background, the door has been flung open, casting light on everything. Donatello stands, shadowy, in the doorway.

    DONATELLO (CAP): But that's NOT how we were trained.

    5) The bartender is gone again, and Donatello is beside Raphael, who takes a gulp of whiskey. Donatello, like Raphael, is also older and not wearing his mask, but his clothes are predominantly purple.

    DONATELLO: Raphael.

    6) Raphael's glass, half-empty, is back on the bar. He continues to stare straight ahead.

    RAPHAEL: This the yearly "We should put the team back together" speech? 'Cause I know what you're gonna say.

    RAPHAEL: I keep telling ya; nobody wants us anymore. We're washed up.

    RAPHAEL: There's not a damn thing you can say that'll make me go back to the way things were.

    7) Now we are facing Raphael, as if behind the bar, and Donatello is side-on to us. Raphael has the glass halfway to his lips.

    DONATELLO: Splinter was murdered.

    8) The glass is back on the bar, still half-full. Raphael stares right ahead (at us), expressionless.


    9) Raphael now turns to look at Donatello.

    RAPHAEL: I'll need some new sai.


  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Back from the Past - By MK Stangeland Jr.

    (7 Panels)

    Panel 1: - Long panel. The scene is the streets of New York City. RAPHAEL is driving a motorcycle, with MICHELANGELO riding on the seat behind him while holding a bunch of raw meat on a stick above him. A full-grown TYRANNOSAURUS-REX is chasing them.

    MIKEY: Drive faster, Raph! I think he’s gaining on us!

    RAPH: Just shut up and let me drive!

    Panel 2: Chasing the Tyrannosaurus-Rex is the TURTLE VAN. LEONARDO is driving, while DONATELLO is holding on to the front of the van swinging the winch cable around in a circle as he prepares to throw it.

    DON: Closer, Leo! I almost have it!

    Panel 3: Focus on DON as he throws the cable at the T-REX.

    DON: And…THERE!

    Panel 4: Close up on the T-REX’s legs as the cable wraps itself around them.

    Panel 5: LEO brings the TURTLE VAN to a screeching halt, which causes the T-REX to start to trip. It lets out a fearsome roar as it starts to fall forward. DON flies off the front of the TURTLE VAN as it stops.

    T-REX: Rrrr-AAUUURR!

    Panel 6: As DON flies through the sky over the T-REX, he pulls out his grappling hook and throws the line at the T-REX’s mouth.

    Panel 7: The grappling hook wraps around the T-REX mouth as the animal is about to crash to the ground, sealing the dinosaurs mouth shut.


    (When I was a little kid and TMNT was my favorite thing ever, even before I really knew much about Star Wars, I ended up doing at least a couple fan fiction stories involving my favorite ninja reptiles. Among them – and the one I remember the best – is one where they were sent back in time and had to fight some dinosaurs.

    Based on benjum’s suggestion, I’ve decided to use that memory of my childhood as the basis for my script.

    Yay, childhood!

  6. J.D.: That's a pretty cool script. I really dig the payoff in that final panel.

    I think I might have cheated a bit with my script this week. You guys will see when I post it in a couple of days.

  7. @J.D - I liked it. A simple start to a Noir-esque Turtles tale. My only gripe is the length of it, but love it none-the-less.

    @MK - Man, you caputured the Turtles perfectly! Loved this page!

  8. @JD: I love seeing the Turtles in a darker tone. It makes a nice change from the bright cheery cartoon. However, besides the length that Ben mentioned, I have one problem with the page: Are the first 8 panels all the same "shot"? If so, that would look terribly boring on a page. You should try and mix up the angles a bit to keep it interesting.

    @MK: I could totally picture that as a scene from the cartoon. Nice job.

  9. Kind of a tangent, but I thought you guys might enjoy these pics by the amazing Stjepan Sejic:

    Shredder & Krang:

  10. Oh yeah, and he also did a Bebop and Rocksteady:

  11. Thanks all for the mini-reviews!

    @Danial: The length and static shots are both, as stated, supposed to be evocative of Watchmen.

  12. So, Turtles...and I have ANOTHER!

    TMNT – In the Blood – By MK Stangeland Jr.

    (7 Panels)

    (Scene is set in one of the larger sections of the New York City sewer tunnels. RAPH and LEO are fighting an assassin who’s wearing a cyborg suit that gives their body a somewhat bulky appearance. Despite this, they have displayed a surprising level of speed and agility.)

    Panel 1: The ASSASSIN does a ‘limbo-jump’ backwards as they dodge a pair of ninja stars that LEO has thrown at them.

    Panel 2: The ASSASSIN lands from dodging LEO’s attack.

    Panel 3: RAPH, pretty angry at the moment and looking rather bruised up from the extent of the battle thus far, swipes his sais across the back of the neck on the ASSASSIN’s suit. It’s not enough to draw blood, but it is enough to cut through some of the important wiring the suit is using.

    RAPH: RAH!

    SFX: TizZZ!

    Panel 4: The ASSASSIN moves forward to get away from RAPH while trying to de-activate the visor on their helmet so that their vision isn’t impaired.

    Panel 5: This panel should be done as a silhouette. In it, LEO hits the ASSASSIN with a summersault kick that knocks the ASSASSIN’s helmet off and sends them to the ground.

    SFX: Wackwack!

    Panel 6: LEO stands over the ASSASSIN and aims his sword at the ASSASSIN’s neck, though he hasn’t quite gotten a good look at their face yet.

    Panel 7: Split double-panel that has a close-up on the faces of RAPH and LEO as they get a good look at the ASSASSIN’s face for the first time and react in surprise at what they see, which is to be revealed on the next page.

    (END PAGE)

  13. Great pick this week! I always thought Bebop and Rocksteady were the coolest, but felt it was a shame they were doomed to fail. So I figured I'd try to see if there was anything that could be done about that.

    End up trying something slightly different this week. Lots of quick changes between panels. Maybe a little confusing the first time through, but please bear with me. Hopefully the ending will make everything clear. You'll have to let me know.

    SIDEBAR: Apparently my script is too long for the comments, so the last panel will be in the next post. Sorry about that! Might have gone a little hogwild with the panel descriptions.

    1 – Bebop and Rocksteady are sitting in a shabby room. They are in shabby chairs, on either side of a shabby table, along with a shabby bed visible in the shabby background. They are playing a game of cards.

    ROCKSTEADY: What “plan” are we supposed to be doing right now?

    2 – The two are suddenly sitting in a far larger and more luxurious room. There is a hearth in the background, with fire roaring strongly. Bebop and Rocksteady sit in big, wing tip chairs, wearing smoking jackets with tweed elbow patches (which are, of course, in the proper colour palette for each character). They each hold a book in one hand and a snifter of brandy in the other. The table between them has become an elegant end table, stacked with a few books. The spines combine to read “101 Ways to Prepare Turtle Dove Soup”.

    BEBOP: If memory serves, Shredder ultimately decided on OPERATION: Turtle Dove Soup.

    ROCKSTEADY: Ugh. Is he trying to come up with the worst codenames possible?

    3 – The two now sit at easels, in the process of painting partially complete pictures. They both wear stereotypical artist wardrobes, including berets, glasses, palettes, and brushes. Their clothing colour continues to mimic their regular colour scheme (as it will for the subsequent panels). Bebop's painting depicts a pizza with a big, red 'X' partially obscuring it, while Rocksteady's depicts some cartoony, yet clearly emaciated turtles.

    BEBOP (1): It's hard to say.

    BEBOP (2): Perhaps unsurprisingly, the plan is not much better than its questionable moniker.

    BEBOP (3): We're supposed to drive every pizzeria in the city out of business, “Robbing those turtles of their main source of food.”

    4 – The two now wear doctorly labcoats, along with stethoscopes and various medical minutiae. They look towards some x-rays posted on the wall behind them. The x-rays clearly depict some turtles encased in chocolate and some turtles lying on their backs. Both characters smile broadly, finding their current line of conversation rather amusing.

    ROCKSTEADY: *snort* That's almost as bad as the time he suggested that we cover them in chocolate, insisting that “it works so well for the candy!”

    BEBOP: *snicker* Don't forget the time he suggested we simply push them onto their backs. I cannot fathom why he did not believe that they would be able to right themselves!

    5 – The two continue to wear labcoats, but without the medical props. In their place are pairs of large protective goggles for either character and a variety of beakers, tubes, Bunsen burners, and other sciency items before them. Rocksteady throws his head back and laughs. Bebop has one hand on the table, doubled over from laughing.


    6 – The two are back in their initial shabby room, once again wearing their regular clothing. Both characters attempt to recover from their laughter. Rocksteady wipes a tear from his eye; Bebop has one hand on the table and one hand holding his stomach.

    BEBOP: Putting his plans into action would surely result in little more than a thorough beating for the two of us!

    ROCKSTEADY: I concur. He must be dreaming if he believes we would be foolish enough to ever put them into action!

  14. And here's the last panel.

    7 – Bebop and Rocksteady are asleep, dreaming. Thought bubbles emerge from their unconscious heads, moving towards the panels above. The gutter dividing this panel from the rest of the page is drawn as a thought balloon, illustrating that everything that came before is a dream shared between the two.

    The two are asleep in the bed seen in the background of panels 1 and 6. Like Ernie and Bert, before Sesame Street changed their policy, Bebop and Rocksteady are sleeping in the same bed. The lights are dim. Bebop wears a purple facemask instead of his usual sunglasses and Rocksteady wears an army green nightcap instead of his usual helmet and goggles. They both have large smiles, happy in their comforting dreamscape.

    No dialogue, though large sets of 'zzz's emanate from both characters.


Feedback is what every good writer wants and needs, so please provide it in the white box below
If you want to play along at home, feel free to put your scripts under the Why? post for the week.