Friday, December 30, 2011

Turtles, Turtles, Turtles...A Life-Long Fanaticism

They're mean. They're green. They're fighting machines, as they used to say.

I've been an enormous fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since I was a wee lad munching on frozen, store-bought, TMNT marketing-labeled pizzas and watching the first live action film. I had every piece of TMNT merchandise my parents and finances would allow. Every Saturday morning I'd watch the cartoons, then I'd play with my action figures until mid-day. Occasionally, if I was lucky, I'd find old issues of the various Turtle's comics and read and reread them. I loved, and still to this day, love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Now, in the present, I find a new series of comics from publisher IDW. The Mirage books of a few years past are still accessible, but as far as I can tell Mirage is no longer printing new Turtles material. Peter Laird has stepped into the shadows and Kevin Eastman has stepped out to properly hand off the green dudes to a new creative team and a different publisher. A creative team that just so happens to be writing some of the best Turtles material in years!

As of the time of this writing IDW has released five issues from the Turtle's regular series and two Micro-Series books featuring Raphael and Michelangelo. The main series is wonderfully written and the artwork has an action to it that fits perfectly along with the characters. We're given a new kind of TMNT from the very beginning, but we are not forced to wade through issue upon issue of exposition. The characters are there, we're moved from the present to the past with well-planned flash backs, and even though it's new it instantly feels familiar and right. Up to the most recent issue we're given only hints and snippets of information that basically tell us that the Turtles and their mentor Splinter were not vagabond animals or lost pet shop critters. There's reason given to all the changes as they're presented, there's mystery without a lack of substantial storytelling, and each new issue gifts us with a neatly styled extra piece of an incredible puzzle. Even though we know the guys, Splinter, Casey Jones, and April we're still left with a single question. That question, not quite on par with the enormity of questions such as "Who killed Laura Palmer?" but still massive, is "Just where did Splinter, with his deep and ancient memory, and the four ready-for-action Turtles actually come from?"

Every issue is a must-have for me, not just because I'm a huge fan but because the guys at IDW are publishing good comics. It feels like the Turtles have been given a new home with creators who not only care about them, but want them to be at their best in the four-colored world of comics. Everything appears to have been given great detail and attention. It even appears that the creative team on the current book is looking to include and validate as much of the random Turtle-verse from over the years as possible. We've seen images of characters exclusive to the cartoon. We've been given reason for why each Turtle has their own color. Now we wait for the answer to the above question, and we're left to wonder about the now feudal Japanese Hamato Yoshi and his four sons.

So many questions. So much quality storytelling. I can't wait for the next issue. There's no reason why you, if you enjoy comics, should not be reading this series.

For the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles up to this date I give a five out of five. Pick it up when you can and enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cool Stuff - The Geek Goes Mad

Ever since I can remember I've collected things. There were items I'd hoard because my little mind was overjoyed at how awesome they were. Other things were pushed on me by adults who thought that a young boy should collect certain boyish collectibles (baseball cards and such). In the end my geekiness won out. The inner child is still at large today snatching up what time, money, and resources allow. Nothing pisses my wife off more.

Recently while Christmas shopping for my wife I accidentally discovered a relic of my geekdom, the finding of which I'd liken to the finding of the Excalibur in a pond somewhere in the Midlands of England. Inside a dusty display case at my local comic book shop sat a Madman Yo-Yo. There it was, the weapon of Frank Einstein, the creation of the ultra groovy Mike Allred (who along with his awesome wife Laura was kind enough to grant me an interview for my new book). I knew I had to have it.

So here I sit now attempting to distract myself from work on my current comic project. I already ordered a Madman mask from the sweet folk at Graphitti Designs. I just bought this incredible Yo-Yo, and I have a camera conveniently lying close by. The following photos are the product of when these things combine! (I'm sorry?)

Some Madman collectibles I've acquired over the last few years. I have the original action figures. They're off in a case somewhere.

Just for fun I decided to try it all out.

Here's a version I colored to match the skin tone of Frank. I did an incredibly sloppy job, but it was a lot of fun! (Also, a nice distraction from work)