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SDCC 2014: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Panel

Kevin Eastman and others reflect on the franchise's journey.

It's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 30th anniversary and they've been making a huge comeback. They're still going strong in comic books, television and merchandise, and now another live-action movie is on the way. To top it off, a documentary about the franchise's journey has been created and it'll go on sale next month. To make sure it's on every fan's radar, a panel was held to give us a good look at some of the footage and hear why it's something we should consider checking out. TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, writer/director Randall Lobb, and executive producers Isaac Elliott-Fisher, Mark Hussey, and Galen Walker gathered on a stage to talk all about it.

  • Eastman says he never thought he and Peter Laird would sell a copy of the first TMNT issue to anyone except for friends and family.
  • The toys first drew Elliott-Fisher to the franchise.
  • Documentary was worked on for 5.5 years.
  • Shown footage of the documentary. Ranged from chatting with Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman about the first sketches to chatting with the original voice actors to traveling to the Jim Henson company. Not just sticking to the facts -- laced with humor. Even went as far as showing footage from TMNT's presence at last year's SDCC. Ends with Laird and Eastman reflecting on the earliest days and then shows a preview of the rest of the documentary (primarily highlights of when they blew up in late '80s/early '90s).
  • Elliott-Fisher received a box of all of the original toy designs after conducting interviews with Playmates. Says there were A LOT of weird but cool designs (e.g. there was a talking wall).
  • Lobb says the biggest surprise while making the documentary is that everyone they interviewed was nice. Could have sworn there'd be at least a few unpleasant people, but everyone was nice.
  • Hussey's favorite piece of TMNT merch is a shirt that has the first issue cover. Not even sure if it's official but he loves it.
  • Eastman's favorite piece of merch are the original issues. Says the second issue means the most because that's when they (he and Laird) realized they could write and draw comics for a living.
  • Walker's favorite is a TMNT comic that Laird autographed for him. But it wasn't just an autograph, it was also Laird saying he wants to make the 2007 animated movie with him!
  • Elliott-Fisher joked his favorite is his TMNT wallet.
  • Lobb's favorite is at the end of the documentary-- says it's touching.
  • Hussey says the documentary exists to show why the franchise has grown so much.
  • Panel emphasized it's a passion project for them and -- just like how TMNT was created -- it was "just for fun."
  • Favorite Turtle? Hussey: Donatello. Walker: Leonardo. Elliott-Fisher: Leonardo. Lobb: Raphael. Eastman: "Donatardo." Says he's partial to Michelangelo since he's the first one ever drawn, but says he loves them all because each of their distinct personalities can generate different stories.
  • Lobb says the documentary has a lot of crazy footage discussing the '90s movie, but due to expenses, they couldn't include all of it. That's the toughest part of the movie for him.
  • Eastman says they wanted Casey Jones to be a vigilante because he watches too much bad TV instead of having a tragic backstory. There was an establishing shot of his home in the '90s movie -- based on the scene in his first appearance -- but it was cut.
  • Question for Eastman: if you're responsible for a new TMNT movie, would you reinvent them? Answer: says it would be hard to pick since there's so many Turtle stories to tell but he hopes he'll be allowed to pick one at some point.
  • Question: what's your favorite incarnation of the Turtles? Answer: Eastman says the '90 movie. Lobb says original movie. Says the new ones are awesome, too. Elliott-Fisher answers Playmates. Walker also says the '90s movie. Hussey states '90s film and says new ones are also cool.
  • Question: any plans to make a cool TMNT board game? Answer: Eastman hopes so and thinks it would be fantastic.
  • Question: any concern over Marvel seeing similarities in TMNT #1? Answer:on top of Daredevil, there's so many other parodies in the comic and they got away with as much as they could. Says it was fun stuff and was all came from a good place.
  • Question: what order should I read TMNT comics in? Answer: Eastman says the first 15 issues is a great place to start.
  • Question: who are the voices you hear when you think of the Turtles? Answer: Eastman says Greg Cipes -- the voice of Mikey in Nick's TMNT -- is perfect and is seriously a living version of Michelangelo.

Turtle Power:The Definitive History of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goes on sale August 12.

11 Comments Refresh
Posted by longbowhunter

I'm a documentary fiend. It doesn't even have to be about something I like. But when it is, it's even better. I can't wait to watch this.

Edited by ArtisticNeedham

I'm gonna get this! Wish it was already out. :/

Posted by AllStarSuperman

When I read Mikey, I hear the 2003 voice, not the 2012. But thats kinda off topic. On topic this looks pretty cool.

Posted by NICKXH
Posted by Mechapod

As a kid I saw the original movie 5 times in the theater, and I still love it. It will be fun to watch this doc when it comes out.

Posted by ReverendHunt

This has been in production for a long, long time. Like before the Viacom buyout even.

I had a chance to contribute to it. Like the fool I am, I turned it down :|

Posted by dotwilson

everyone needs turtles in their lives.

Posted by AllStarSuperman
Posted by NICKXH
Posted by ScrappyDont27

Sounds like a good panel

Posted by D9000

The Turtle Power documentary is actually on Netflix (Canada) right now. It was really really great and a lot of fun. A perfect flashback to the 80s and 90s. I'm completely amazed at how one person randomly leaving a comic on a bus started one of the biggest franchises in history. I wonder if that person even knows they had a part in it?

It also made me realize how much I love the original, live action movie. And knowing how close it came to never happening makes it all the more satisfying to watch. This is my favorite line from the 90s movie, but there are tons of awesome lines.

"Splinter: Raphael, come sit by me.

Raphael: Couldn't this wait 'til morning?

Splinter: You will listen now. My Master Yoshi's first rule was "Possess the right thinking." Only then can one recieve the gifts of strength, knowledge, and peace. I have tried to channel your anger, Raphael, but more remains. Anger clouds the mind. Turned inward it is an unconquerable enemy. You are unique among your brothers, for you choose to face this enemy alone. But as you face it, do not forget them, and do not forget me. I am here, my son."