Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blast from the Past #59 repost: "The Unknown"

(Note -- alert palblog readers [really, are there any other kind?!) will notice that I am skipping a reposting of the original BftP #58. This was the one about the Will Vinton "Claymation" Turtles, something I accidentally duplicated already in one of my early palblog posts. -- PL)

I did these sketches back in -- I think -- 1988 or 1989. Playmates was looking for ideas to expand the TMNT action figure line, and I thought this guy -- who I was calling "The Unknown" -- would make a cool villain. Basically, the idea was that he was the result of a failed experiment to combine two species in one mutant. Because the procedure only partly worked, The Unknown had to keep most of his internal organs inside a protective artificial shell. I thought it would be neat to have a toy with guts and eyeballs and stuff that would be floating around inside a clear helmet. Playmates actually made a spiffy figure based on this idea, and I think they ended up calling him "Mutagen Man". (The top drawing is my first version, the bottom my second.)

As for which two types of creatures were used in the creation of this miserable mutant, I'm pretty sure I intended his left side to be some kind of primate like a gorilla or orangutan, but his right side... hmm... looks like a giant insect of some type. I guess that must have come from some other nefarious experiment with the mutagen. -- PL

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blast from the Past #132: Donatello riding creature

For the life of me, I can't recall exactly why I drew this piece. But it looks like I had fun with it! -- PL

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blast from the Past #56 repost: Kirbyship

Some years ago I had the idea of bringing together the Mirage black and white turtles with the Archie color version of the TMNT, and I was going to use the concept (introduced in the Mirage DONATELLO one-issue "micro-series") of the artist Kirby (based on the late great Jack "King" Kirby) and his "warp crystal". The character of Kirby would use the cosmic powers of the warp crystal to bridge the gap between the two universes (Mirage and Archie), and we would see the color turtles interacting with the black and white ones (literally -- I planned to do the art in color to represent whatever was in the Archie TMNT universe, and black and white with grey tones to represent the Mirage TMNT universe, sometimes mixing the styles on the same page). I intended to work with my pal Ken Mitchroney, who had penciled many of the Archie TMNT books -- he would handle the pencils on the color TMNT elements, whereas I would do the black and white TMNT stuff. I had written out a rough plot, and done the sketch below (of the ship Kirby creates to travel back and forth between universes), but the project never got off the ground, for a variety of reasons. -- PL

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blast from the Past #131: Foot Tech Ninja design

Back in 2001, when I was working with Lloyd Goldfine and the 4Kids crew on the first year of the new TMNT tv show, one of the new concepts we came up with was the "Foot Tech Ninja" -- basically, Foot ninja with technological enhancements. (In retrospect, this wasn't a completely new idea, I guess -- you could see it as an offshoot of the original idea that Kevin and I came up with when we did the "City at War" story arc in the Volume 1 comics, with the Foot Clan splintered into several factions, one of which was tech-based.)

In an attempt to settle on a design for the Foot Tech Ninja, I dug out a sketch which had been done during the conceptual process for the Rainbow Studios TMNT CGI project which never materialized. I can't recall who did the sketch, but I always thought it was a nice one, and I tweaked it a bit to show Lloyd what I thought might be a good look for these guys. I think the final result was pretty close to this. -- PL

Blast from the Past #55 repost: Donatello in new costume color study

Believe it or not, Kevin was going to throw this one away! I’m glad I was there back in 1985 to stop him and beg him to give this drawing to me, which he graciously did.

To this day I can’t understand why he didn’t like it -- I think it’s a very cool high-contrast ink drawing with a nifty experimental color effect (not to mention it shows Donatello in an alternate costume design we were thinking about using). -- PL

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blast from the Past #130: design for the "Battle Nexus" arena

Back in 2003, when I was working with Lloyd Goldfine and the 4Kids crew on the first of the "Battle Nexus" episodes, I had some ideas for how I thought the arena in which the fighters would clash could work. Basically, it was a multi-tiered area with each tier being a different shape, and divided into discreet segments. Reflecting the "elimination" aspect of the competitions, each successive tier would have half the number of segments of the tier below it, culminating in the single segment in the top tier wherein the final battle to determine the Battle Nexus champion would take place.

This design wasn't used as is -- I think it was deemed too complicated -- but elements of it ended up in the final look of the arena as it appeared in those episodes. I used one of my favorite 3D programs, Bryce, to rough out the design I had in mind. -- PL

Blast from the Past #54 repost: "Space Leonardo" pencils

I can't remember exactly why I drew these two view of Leonardo in a space suit.

It might have been as a possible toy design for Playmates, or as a sketch study for the cover I did for one of the Palladium Books TMNT role-playing games which showed all four Turtles in space. Whatever the reason, I kinda like it! -- PL

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blast from the Past #53 repost: Unused Pages From TMNT #1, Vol. 4

Back in 2001, Jim Lawson had penciled eight pages of the first issue of the new TMNT comic, and I had started inking them, when he decided that he wasn't happy with the way he had drawn them, and wanted to start all over again. So he did! Some of the pages I had almost finished inking, although I hadn't done anything on page one (unless you want to count inking the panel border).

In my opinion, there was nothing wrong with any of these pages. (If it had been me who'd drawn them, I would have been happy to keep them as is.) But Jim felt he could do better, and redrew them. Pretty amazing. -- PL

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blast from the Past #52 repost: "Bad Guy" vehicle designs

Here are two more unused designs from the late 1980s.

The "Sewer Scraper" was one of my designs for the second year of the Playmates TMNT toy line, and I was disappointed that it was never made. I thought it was cool, and I would have enjoyed playing with it! I think it would also have been fun to use in the TV show.

The "One-Mutant Assault Helicopter" was intended for use by the Shredder's mutant henchcreatures -- I think that may be Rocksteady in the cockpit. This design was also never made into a toy. -- PL

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blast from the Past #129: Motorcycle designs for "Return of the Justice Force"

Back in 2003, Jim Lawson did these cool motorcycle designs for the "Return of the Justice Force" episode of the 4Kids TMNT show. This episode adapted issue #15 of the original TMNT Volume 1 comic book, an issue I wrote and penciled and which was inked by... Jim Lawson!

The motorcycles were used in the episode to get Casey and the Turtles from New York City up to Northampton, MA, where they encountered "Stainless" Steve Steel, Metalhead and the rest of the Justice Force. (I love the fact that Jim put knobby tires on some of these big road bikes!) -- PL

Blast from the Past #51 repost: Bulldog Mutant

As previously glimpsed in Blast#49 piloting the Exoskeleton, this is the bulldog mutant (who was never given a name, as far as I can recall) which Kevin and I worked up for Playmates when they were looking for ideas for animal mutants to be the Shredder's minions in the first year of the toy line.

I know I penciled the top drawing, and I'm pretty sure I penciled the bottom one too, which Kevin inked. It's too bad this character never made it to the toy shelves -- I think he would have been very cool! -- PL

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blast from the Past #50 repost: TMNT as drawn by Jack Kirby!

For this special fiftieth "Blast From The Past", I thought I would choose one of my favorite and most unique pieces, and one that I have Kevin to thank for. I don't know the exact process by which it came to be, but my understanding is that some time in the late 1980's or early 1990's, Jack Kirby did this 10 inch by 15 inch pencil drawing -- his interpretation of the TMNT -- at Kevin's request, and some years later, Kevin (who knew I loved this piece) graciously gave it to me.

As far as I know, this is the only time "The King" ever drew the TMNT... and it's SO Kirby. I love it! -- PL

P.S. This next bit of text was run along with the above when I first posted this "Blast from the Past" entry on the website some years ago. It's obviously dated now, but it contains a few interesting things, so I thought I would include it here.

As Dan Berger has already indicated on the official TMNT website (, the first issue of the new TMNT comic book is at the printer, and just two days ago we approved the proof, and they are going ahead and printing it. We have been told that it could be shipping on December 11th, so we'll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. Mike Dooney's cover came out great (at least in the proof), and I can't wait to see the finished product.

I messed up big time with a technical aspect of this first new TMNT issue. A bit of background -- when Jim Lawson and I worked on PLANET RACERS, I did all of the lettering on my Mac in QuarkXpress. However, instead of sending the books to the printer as all-digital files, I printed out all of the interior pages as 11 by 17 prints and sent all of those to the printer for them to shoot from (the cover I sent on disk). I did this because I was paranoid about fonts changing, balloons disappearing, art pages changing places, etc. -- all nightmares I had heard from other people who have done their pre-press stuff digitally. But with this new TMNT book, I decided to follow the example of Dan Berger (GUTWALLOW) and Jim Lawson (PALEO) and send the entire thing as a digital file. Unfortunately, I should have checked with Dan on what exact size I should make the pages in Quark -- I didn't, and I ended up having to resize the entire book, page by page, balloon by balloon, text block by text block. It put the delivery of the file to the printer back by at least a day. And now I have to do the same thing with the second issue, which I had also started lettering at the wrong size! Oh well... live and learn.

A couple of days ago, I finally accepted the fact that at the speed I am inking, this book will never come out on a reasonable schedule. Fortunately, Eric Talbot recently moved back to our area and is going to help me out with the inking, starting with issue #3. Thanks, Eric!

Several weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Steve Barron (director of the first TMNT movie) again for several days of meetings here in Northampton, meetings having to do with a potential TMNT project about which I can't really say anything right now. During one of our breaks, I was chatting with Steve about that first TMNT movie, and he mentioned that he had a videotape of his first rough assembly of the film, and he offered to send me a copy. True to his word, Steve got a copy of the tape to me last week, and I had a ball watching it. It is VERY rough, there are a few scenes missing (not many, though), there's no music, no finished sound or voices (curiously, in many of the turtle speaking scenes you can hear two voices - the actor in the turtle suit and the puppeteer -- speaking the same lines simultaneously!). What there IS, though, is some neat stuff that never made it into the final released cut of the film, including several fairly long scenes -- one of which is the comic publisher's office scene intended as the ending of the movie, from which I had only seen one still (I was never sure if the whole scene had been shot). There is also a wonderful extended training scene when the turtles are recuperating at the old farm, as well as many other character bits and pieces which got trimmed.

I asked Steve if he would be willing to work on a director's cut version of the film for a DVD release, and he said "Sure!" Whether or not the film still exists to use for a project like this, I don't know. But it sure would be cool! Maybe it's time to start bugging New Line...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blast from the Past #49 repost: Exoskeleton concept for bad guys

In my first year of trying to come up with toy designs for the Playmates TMNT toy line, I drew this sketch for a mechanical exoskeleton, one of several designs for vehicles to be used by villains in the TMNT universe. (I'm not sure why I started to ink it and then stopped.) In this case, it was to be used by one of the Shredder's animal mutants -- the bulldog mutant dude piloting this rig was one of several mutant animal characters we sketched up for Playmates (this guy never made it to toy shelves, though). I have a better drawing or two of him around someplace -- maybe I'll post those sometime.

Anyway, I really hoped Playmates would make this toy -- basically because I wanted to play with it! But as I recall, we were told it was to expensive to produce, and it was shelved. Ironically, several years later Playmates produced an extensive -- and very cool -- line of toys which were almost all exoskeleton vehicles, for a property called EXO-SQUAD. I guess timing IS everything. -- PL

P.S. What's the old saying -- "All things come to he who waits"? Playmates eventually produced some nifty "Turtleized" exoskeleton-type vehicles for the Turtles in 2005 -- the "M.E.C.H. Wrekkers" line. -- PL

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blast from the Past #48 repost: Fugitoid action figure concepts

Back in 1988 or 1989, I did these drawings of the Fugitoid in the hopes that Playmates would do an action figure version of him... which they eventually did, and it was nice, but not quite what I was hoping for. Note below the somewhat desperate hyping ("think of the play value!"), and the comment about vacuum metalizing. (This is the process by which plastic is given a metallic-looking coating... I'm not entirely sure if there is any real metal involved in this process, but the end result is a very cool shiny chrome effect.)

My pathetic pleading for vacuum metalizing of various TMNT figures (especially the Shredder) was kind of a running joke between me and my friend Karl Aaronian, when he was product manager of the original TMNT toyline at Playmates. When Playmates first did the TMNT toys, they had no idea how they would sell and were understandably cautious with expensive processes like vacuum metalizing... but I still bugged them to do the Shredder's armor in this shiny metallic technique, as opposed to the somewhat drab painted armor on the first Shredder figures. Eventually, they did, and it looked cool.

Anyway, my idea here was to enhance the "play value" (toymakers' jargon!) of a Fugitoid action figure by giving it a variety of removable/replaceable multi-function limbs. Cool, huh?

Fast-forwarding more than a decade later, Playmates did another Fugitoid figure to go along with the new Turtle toys based on the 4Kids TV show. This one was much closer in design to the original comic book character. (Note: The text in the image above was written in 2003 in reference to this new Fugitoid figure Playmates was developing, but the artwork was from the late 1980's.) Sadly, it was still not vacuum metalized. I guess you can't have everything. -- PL

Monday, December 8, 2008

Turtle in the sun

The chill of winter is beginning to tighten its grip on Massachusetts, so I thought it might be fun to look at a photo taken during a much warmer day back in June of this year.

This turtle (I'm not sure what variety it is) was sunning itself alongside the bike path in Pittsfield, MA, and I stopped to snap a few photos. -- PL

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blast from the Past #47 repost: "New Comic Day" pencils

This silly six page “dream” story, titled “New Comic Day”, was something I wrote and penciled -- back in the late 1980's or early 1990's, I think -- for one of the First Comics TMNT "graphic novels" (actually color reprints in trade paperback form of the early TMNT comics). Jim Lawson inked it. It was inspired by the ritual weekly trip the guys at Mirage would make to the comic book shop in the Mountain Farms Mall in Hadley, MA, on new comic day, which was on Wednesdays.

That ritual is, sadly, no more (as is that comic book store in Hadley). Now there are a couple of stores selling comics in Northampton that we go to. I usually get my comics-related stuff at "Modern Myths". -- PL

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blast from the Past #46 repost: Alien Snake Hunter

Here’s another piece from 1983, the early days of Mirage Studios, pre-Turtles. Kevin and I did a bunch of these together. He would take various black and white drawings I had done, make copies of them, mount the copies on foam-core board, and proceed to apply his marvelous colors to them, usually Dr. Martin's dyes. Actually, it was in large part because we both liked the results so much that we decided to form Mirage Studios. Below is my original black and white art, then below that is Kevin's color version. -- PL

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blast from the Past #123: More Splinter sketches

Here are a few more Splinter character sketches, done most likely in the late 1980's or early 1990's. -- PL

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blast from the Past #45 repost: Portsmouth Minicon poster

This is the 8.5 by 14 inch photocopied "poster" that Kevin and I put together to promote our very first public appearance on May 5, 1984 with issue #1 of the TMNT comic. It was a small show at the Holiday Inn, put on by Ralph DiBernardo, in Portsmouth, NH, and we had a blast... even sold some books! It's somewhat bizarre to think that next May it will be twenty-five years since we sat there with our stacks of TMNT #1 first printings and hopeful faces. (At that point, I don't think we even thought about it as a "first printing" -- for all we knew, it would turn out to be the ONLY printing!) -- PL

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blast from the Past #122: Leonardo with one sword

This is another pinup drawing I did, back in 1986. I like the inking of it.

Curiously, I drew Leonardo here without his usual accoutrements of dual scabbards, chest straps, and belt... not sure why. Maybe I was just feeling lazy. -- PL

Friday, November 28, 2008

Blast from the Past #121: "Rhino Mutant" rough sketch

I found this one in an old sketchbook. I can't say with absolute certainty, but I'm pretty sure this was probably done before the first animated series was produced, quite possibly during our first visit to Fred Wolf's offices.

Kevin and I each did a number of conceptual sketches to try to visually flesh out some of the ideas in the treatment for the new show that we were shown when we went out there. This proto-Rocksteady was likely one of them. -- PL

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blast from the Past #119: "Nano" designs

In the first season of the 4Kids TMNT tv show, we introduced what would become a recurring character -- "Nano", the sentient cloud of nanoscale robots. Jim Lawson helped us out with these cool designs for the three basic stages of Nano's development in his first appearance on the show.

And below are the final show-ready designs, adapted by the artists at 4Kids from Jim's drawings.-- PL

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blast from the Past #118: Design for evil mutant's vehicle -- "Hover Trike"

This is a toy design I proposed to Playmates back in the late 1980's, I believe.

Looking closely at it, it's interesting that I not only used Rocksteady as the pilot but garbed him in some kind of Samurai-type armor. -- PL

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blast from the Past #44 repost: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

This single drawing -- penciled by me in 1992 -- showing the turtles (along with Ray Fillet and Mondo Gecko) battling the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was actually split into three separate pieces for three separate covers for the Archie TMNT book... and it was brilliantly inked by my pal A.C. Farley. I remember having a lot of fun coming up with the designs for the Four Horsemen. -- PL