Sunday, August 3, 2014

Why Shredder?

Because movie...
Oh, God, burn it with fire!
OK, despite my feelings about Michael Bay leaving flaming bags of dog doo on my childhood's doorstep, you cannot deny the impact the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had on the comics landscape and on popular culture in general.
That's better...
Keep in mind that the Turtles hit the industry when comics were serious business. The direct market and local comic shops were developing, Frank Miller was tearing it up on Daredevil and Ronin, and Dave Sim was championing the independent small press and creating Comics by-gosh Literature. Maybe comics were taking themselves too seriously...
The Original.
Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman were a welcome shot of fun the arm of comics needed, and they skewered all of the above like a katana through a pizza box. The isotope that gave Matt Murdock his radar sense and blinded him, was the same one that mutated the turtles. Though they referred to themselves as ninjas, they acted more like sewer samurais. Though the cartoon was far goofier than the semiserious comic, the honor and heroism were TMNT's constants.

And their archenemy was evil to the core.
Shredder, 1984
Eastman has said the inspiration for Shredder was a cheese grater, and Laird had no desire to use him beyond the first story arc. Oroku Saki became a member of the ninja Foot clan to avenge the death of his brother, and rose through their ranks to create an empire built on smuggling and assassination.  Brutal, ridiculously intelligent, and completely without honor, he would cheat death again and again.
In the cartoons, he gains access to alien technology supplied by Krang, creating robot ninjas (cool) and henchmen Rocksteady and Bebop (not cool). The cartoon actually fills an important piece of back story: Saki defeated a tengu demon called a Shredder, but at his brother's death, succumbed to its evil. It also hints that he is the source of his own failures; in one future timeline, he becomes the emperor of New York, but the responsibilities of his conquest overwhelm him, and surrenders to the Turtles first chance he gets.
I have the po...oh, sorry, wrong cartoon...
In a departure from previous films, where Shredder is portrayed as a Japanese Fagin recruiting gang teens to the Foot to commit crimes because Evil, Michael Bay's Shredder (portrayed by William Fichtner) is an isolationist domestic terrorist. Gone are the swords in favor of guns...but maybe that's OK. Maybe, 30 years after his creation, Shredder has come full circle, and is once again, like Eastman and Laird intended...
Shredder, 2014. vicious villain.


  1. The Shredder - Lessons - Callum Ford

    (Note: This takes place in the 2012 Nickledoon Animated Universe)

    Panel 1

    We are in the Japanese living quarters of the Shredder. He stands in the doorway watching Karai, aged nine, playing with a small kitten who is a little too close to her face. He is dressed in his iconic armour.

    Panel 2

    Close up of Karai's Cheek. In its playfulness the Kitten has scratched Karai and has left four little lines of red on her cheek.

    Panel 3

    The Kitten plays with itself on the floor while Karai holds her face. She looks up to the Shredder who casts a shadow over her.

    Shedder: Karai, your cheek...

    Karai: It is nothing Father, just a small scratch.

    Shedder: Scratches still bleed...

    Panel 4

    The Shredder has the Kitten held up to his face. The Kitten, still playful, paws at the Shredder's faceplate with its claws.

    Shedder: The world will continue to scratch you if you allow it.

    Panel 5

    Shredder holds the Kitten down and presses his thumb on the Kitten's wrist, forcing the claws to pop out. The Kitten struggles, clearly uncomfortable in the position.

    Karai: Please Father, it didn't meant to.

    Shedder: This is an important lesson Karai.

    Panel 6

    Karai watches as off panel the Shredder proceeds to rip out the kittens claws one by one. We do not directly see this, but can see the shadows cast on the wall behind Karai.

    Shredder: The world must be shown the consequences of its actions.

    Shredder: Let the world know that you will not tolerate attack and you'll find the world will not scratch you as often.

    Panel 7

    The Shedder walks Karai out of the room, looking down on her as as she looks up to him. In the foreground the Kitten is licking its bloodly paws, tears coming from its eyes.

    Shedder: Do you understand?

    Karai: Yes father

  2. Howdy, Callum, nice to see you round these parts.

    I'm not overly familiar with the 2012 animated series, but you've come up with a script that is approachable in spite of its basis. I really like the imagery you build here of the kitten's softness versus Shredder's harshness. It works well visually and the language you employ develops and supports it well.

    I would suggest perhaps working the dialogue in a few places to make what you already have even stronger (Shredder's initial "Karia, your cheek..." seems almost too caring and I feel like he should be definite in his conclusion ["The world will not scratch you" or some such]).

    As well, the script also seems a little full for a single page, and either cutting it down or spreading it out could increase its impact, but I do recognize our one-page restriction may be playing a role there.

    Regardless, I was quite impressed and hope to see more down the line.


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