The Bay-ification of The Ninja Turtles has hit movie theaters, noses and all. These characters have been realized in so many iterations across every medium but I still enjoy that such an oddball concept can continue to have such cultural currency. The impending release resulted in a little reminiscing with color artist Emilio Lopez and director Roy Burdine about our time working on the 4Kids' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series in the early 00s.
The series ran closer to the action roots of the comic book than the popular pizza eating version of the 80s. Aesthetically, the characters had an angular athleticism and the backgrounds were built around large swaths of black.
I wrote about the cinematic approach we had to color HERE but here are two more of my paintings, the first featuring one of my favorite places on the planet (the blue whale room of the Museum of Natural History in NYC).
By the end of the series, the Turtles visited dark alternate futures and went on an epic adventure tracing the origins of the original Shredder. There was the episode, Insane in the Membrane, that didn't originally air in America. Although it's notable for delving into Baxter Stockman's back story, his decomposing clone body gets his jaw kicked off by April O' Neil (!). And, another show had its plug pulled before we completed production because it featured the back alley surgery of conjoined infants who become two of the Turtles greatest enemies. Yeesh.
Going after a lighter tone, the network sent the team to the future and rebooted the show as Fast Forward in 2003.
A flatter, brighter palette accentuated the change and I had the opportunity to develop the color for the core cast and vehicles:
I mean, really bright. I originally colored the "Dark Turtles" skin tones in off shades of green before they landed on something closer to their corresponding bandanna colors.
And, with their future swank penthouse headquarters and training dojo, here are a few of the Fast Forward Turtle backgrounds I painted:
PART I HERE