EXCLUSIVE: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Co-Creator Peter Laird Shells Out His Opinions

EXCLUSIVE: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Co-Creator Peter Laird Shells Out His Opinions

<font color= red>EXCLUSIVE:</font> TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Co-Creator Peter Laird Shells Out His Opinions

Peter Laird gives his candid take on all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He touches on the controversial female fifth turtle, alien turtles, and a potentially iconoclastic re-drafting of the origin.



Kevin Eastman recently reached out to the TMNT community and asked if there was anything from the long-running animated series that they would like to see in the new movie.

Peter, you weren't a huge fan of the 80's animated series, but if you had to take a few elements from that show and apply it to a new live-action film, which would they be?"

If you are talking about elements of that show AS THEY WERE USED IN THE SHOW, I would say "nothing."


If you had control on a live-action Turtles' film, who would be your choice to direct?
Steve Barron… though I am sure there are any number of directors who could do it justice. Actually, I think Lloyd Goldfine (from the 4Kids TMNT series) might be a good choice.


Bleeding Cool is reporting a rumor that the working title of the new film is "Ninja Turtles." Does that irk you since, you are the one that added "Teenage Mutant" to the title?
Not at all. It does slightly bemuse me, though.


Another rumor from Variety is that the teenage angle will be much more prevalent, joking of a Twilight-like quality. What is your opinion on that, if true?
I am not surprised.


Do you ever wonder if TMNT would've been just as successful if it had been published by Marvel or DC Comics?
Yes… but I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Actually, I should qualify that "yes" -- if you are asking "would TMNT have been just as successful if it had been published by Marvel or DC Comics as one of their solely-owned properties", I would say yes. If you are asking "would TMNT have been just as successful if it had been published by Marvel or DC Comics as a creator-owned property", I would say "maybe".

Actually, I should qualify ALL of those answers and say "I really don't know"… because it is quite possible that if we HAD been published by Marvel or DC, we might have had some restrictions on what we could do or how we did it… and that could have had an effect on how the book was perceived both by readers and also potential licensing people.


Director Jonathan Liebesman has hinted that he'd like the new live-action Turtles to be created using the same blend of CGI and motion capture technology used in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Do you like this approach or would you rather they stick with a human being in a costume?
As good as those CGI apes were in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", they still often had that odd pastel quality in their colors which is a problem with a lot of CGI creations. If it were up to me, I would prefer to see a combination of people in costumes with some CGI facial replacement effects, and maybe some full-body CGI for some of the more intense and/or dangerous action stuff.


Knowing that Kevin Eastman is working with Michael Bay and Jonathan Liebesman on the live-action film, does that make you more comfortable?
Not really. Given that one of the last things Kevin did when we were still partners was to push hard for the inclusion of "Venus de Milo", the wretched "girl Turtle" in the live-action TV series "TMNT: The Next Mutation." It's safe to say that he and I have different views on what should and shouldn't be done with the Turtles. That being said, his point of view on these things may have changed in the last twelve years. I don't really know. I guess you could say it doesn't make me more OR less comfortable.


Did you have an itch to contact him and see which direction the film is taking?
Not really, though if he wants to tell me about it, I'd be happy to listen. But I do hope that whatever he is doing for the movie -- and I have little to no idea what that is -- is fun for him and he gets paid well for it.




You were very involved with the 2003 TMNT series on 4Kids TV and Volume 4 of the TMNT comics. In those two properties, we finally saw the Turtles really mature. It was a breath of fresh air. Do you fear that all of your hard work that went into updating the turtles will be stripped away for something more kid friendly like the 80's animated series?
Not at all. I had a great time working on the seven years of that show, especially the first four seasons, and the "Turtles Forever" special, and feel like I got the TMNT TV show that we -- or at least I, since I probably shouldn't speak for Kevin -- really wanted. Part of the process of selling the TMNT property was getting myself to a point where I could say goodbye to it and not have regrets about things not done… and working with Lloyd Goldfine and the crew at 4Kids on that show really went a long way towards satisfying that need.


Some have speculated that Michael Bay's comments were used just to create buzz around the project. Do you think that is possible?
What, people in Hollywood lie, say stupid crap, or purposely mislead the public to promote their projects?! I'm shocked. And appalled.


In 2008, Kevin Eastman wrote that he was looking to involve you and Steve Barron in the live-action reboot. Whatever happened with that? (Link)
First, when you say the Kevin was "looking to involve" me and Steve Barron in the live-action movie reboot which was being discussed in 2008, the obvious implication is that he -- Kevin -- was involved in that project. From all that I know about the project, that is not true. But if you read his comments carefully on the link you included, he doesn't really say that he was involved. Make of that what you will.

I don't recall all of what happened with that project, but I think we did have some initial discussions with Steve Barron about coming back as the director. That could have been a lot of fun. Maybe the new owners will get inspired and hire him.


In the original comics the turtles were below four feet in height, but in the films and the animated series they have been portrayed as being much taller. If they decided to make the Turtles CGI and not costume they could make the Turtles their original height. Do you think they should, or would that look silly?
It's hard to say whether they would look silly or not, but I think the Turtles in the first live-action film looked just about perfect... and audiences seemed to agree.


Let me play devil's advocate, let's say Bay's comments are accurate and he does want to turn the Turtles into aliens. Isn't it vital for a film to create a new spin on a story that has been redone as frequently as the Turtles have been?
In my opinion, no. What's vital is to figure out a good new story to tell. That's the REALLY hard part. Re-crafting the origin story is easy and ultimately pointless, to my way of thinking.


I know that you're not that into comics anymore, but is there a Marvel or DC title that you'd like write or illustrate for?
I think I've said this before, but I would love to work on a "Demon" story for DC or a "Thing" story for Marvel, or best of all, a crossover story featuring both of those great characters.


Is there a writer or an artist that you'd like to collaborate with?
I'd love to work with Stan Sakai on something, and I would also love to do something else with Jim Lawson -- maybe another "Planet Racers" book. I'm sure there are many other creators I'm just not thinking of right now who I would enjoy collaborating with.


Have you had a chance to check out Jim Lawson's illustrative reaction to Turtlegate? I'd love to know your reaction to his imagery. (Link)
Yes, I've seen them -- in fact, I left a comment about whether the "Shredulon Empire" had any motorcycles, as a way to maybe goad Jim into doing some of his great motorcycle artwork. Very funny and creative stuff!


Courtesy of Jim Lawson Illustration


When you realized such a young audience had become interested in your comic because of the success of the 1987 animated series did you feel pressure to tone down the violence and the grittiness?
No, because I always felt that Kevin and I, at least when we were working together, kept the violence at a non-gratuitous level. And we took the point of view that what we did in our own self-published comics was separate from the mass-market stuff. In point of fact, even at the height of the TMNT marketing craze, the print runs on the Mirage TMNT comics didn't skyrocket, so it didn't seem to me there was that much of a crossover audience.


Over the years there has been a ton of TMNT merchandise, which are you most proud of, and which is the most embarrassing?
There's so much stuff to choose from, and I suspect I am not remembering every cool product, but I think that the first year line of TMNT figures from Playmates were great, as were their "Star Trek" and "Universal Monsters" Turtles and their wonderful large cold-cast TMNT statues. I also thought the NECA Turtles were fantastic. As far as embarrassing goes, I can't think of anything in particular, though those ice cream treats with bubblegum eyes were not to my taste. Literally.


One of the central themes to the Turtles is that they were created by accident. Do you feel that aspect must be preserved?
I think it's a really important aspect of their origin, and should be preserved. Of course, that is totally out of my hands now. We'll have to wait and see… maybe it will dawn on the new "powers that be" that it's important. Or not. It might take some years for everyone to fairly evaluate if that part of the Turtle story really IS vital.


What did you think of Vanilla Ice's song "Ninja Rap?" Did you know he is trying to create a petition to bring it back for the new live-action film? (Link)
I did hear something about that, and I wish him luck. I confess to having some mixed emotions about the Ice Man's song in the second live-action movie -- on the one hand, it's a catchy tune with some dope rhymes, and he performs it with style… but on the other hand, I wish that movie had not been so silly that having "Ninja Rap" in it actually seemed somewhat fitting. -- PL




Special thanks to Peter Laird for being extremely generous with his time by giving us an exclusive interview.


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