Greetings, folks. Ambush Bug here with another interview I conducted at the San Diego Comic Con. Special thanks to AICN’s unsung hero, Muldoon, for transcribing all of these back and forthings. Expect a ton of interviews to be released daily until my interview well is dry (and believe me, it’s going to be a while after this con). Here is part too of my turtle-centric interviews with the writers of IDW’s new TEENAGE MUTANT TURTLE relaunch. Tom Waltz is teaming up with TNMT creator Kevin Eastman to bring a whole new version of Turtles for all to enjoy. Here’s part one of this interview with Kevin from yesterday. And here’s what Tom had to say…
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): I’m at IDW with Tom Waltz and you’ve got some really amazing projects coming up. What’s going on with you?
TOM WALTZ (TW): Wow, there’s a lot. Probably the biggest thing going on with me is I am co-writing the new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ongoing with Kevin Eastman, Dan Duncan illustrating…we are basically starting from scratch and holding an ongoing with the Turtles. It’s in the spirit of the original Turtles with all of the best elements from the 80’s and 90’s cartoons. Their most recent one had four kids and basically what we are doing is we are creating what I like to call “Turtles Ultimates” where it’s a reimagining of the turtle origins, reimagining of some of back stories, but all in the core spirit of Turtles and what made them popular, most notably in the Mirage years. So you are going to get gritty, in the streets Turtles, but with all of the fantastic villains they fought over the years and a lot of new faces and old faces that are presented in new ways. So that’s probably the biggest thing I have going on right now.
BUG: So you are saying it’s kind of a throwback to those original heroes?
TW: Absolutely. Like I said, we are throwing back and we are also throwing forward, so what you are going to get is a new take, but on some old themes and with Kevin on board, one of the original creators, that original spirit is there and the nice thing is that Kevin is so rejuvenated by this; he’s really into it. He’s very passionate about it. He could have mailed it in if he wanted to with his name, but he hasn’t. Not only is he helping me co-plot…we co-plot, I script, and then Kevin even does all of the layouts for all of the issues, which artist Dan Duncan then finalizes. So Kevin’s in hardcore. As a matter of fact he’s doing a lot of our covers too, so this is a true Turtles project and we are excited. I’m honored to be a part of it and probably the most nervous thing I’ve been involved with, because you just never know when you reinvent something, what’s going to happen.
BUG: Were you a fan of the series when it first came out?
TW: Yeah, you know it’s funny, because the way I was introduced to Turtles was I was in the marines in the late 80’s and I had a buddy that was really big into role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and all of those kinds of things, and he hands some…I don’t know what the name of the catalog was, but he had a catalog that advertised role playing games and I think at the time there was a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES role playing game, so I’m looking through this guy’s catalog in the barracks and I see the ad. I remember saying to him like it was yesterday, “who the heck would name something TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES? Does anybody buy this?” He goes, “Dude, it’s really popular.” I go, “Are you kidding?” Then I looked at the artwork and I had to admit I said, “It does look kind of cool.” That’s what hooked me in, so then of course he was a big comic book guy too, he had some of the stuff and from there I just became a fan and you know I have three kids and they grew up watching the show, so you watch what your kids are watching, so you just kind of stay involved and I personally was a big fan of the CGI movie they did in 2007. I really liked that a lot, I liked that style, and you know it’s just one of those things where when TURTLES came about at IDW I was one of the original editors really pushing for us to do this and you know all of the pieces fell in place. Lo and behold the next thing I knew they were saying, “hey, we want you to help co-write it, too” and of course I jumped at that.
BUG: Definitely. So every time I even mention TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES everybody knows what it is. That’s got to be a little intimidating…
TW: (laughs) Not a little, a lot.
Bug: So I think I also heard that they are going to be re-releasing the originals, is that correct?
TW: Yeah, that’s another exciting thing and nobody does reprints like IDW, so these are going to be quality books. All of the old Turtle stuff, all of the original Turtle stuff throughout the years is all going to be reprinted and recollected, reissued…they are going to be beautiful hardcover books and what the folks are putting together in our trades group is awesome. I can’t wait for people to see them.
BUG: Sounds great. So what kind of stories are we going to be seeing? Can you talk about the first story line?
TW: Yeah, in the initial arc what you are going to get is the origin story, so again this is a new origin story, but with old flavor. I think there are going to be some surprises along the way and we are going to introduce some characters early on, like Casey Jones and April O’Neal in new ways, but again still the same spirit of those characters that have made them popular throughout the years. One thing Kevin and I have in common definitely when it comes to Turtles is we like the gritty stories. He loves Casey Jones. He loves Raphael. So in this first arch Raphael and Casey play a huge part in what’s happening. I won’t spoil how, but the Raphael story is very different than it was before and we are going to introduce some of the old villains. Baxter Stockman is in there, Krang in a whole new way, and we also have a new bad guy called Old Hob who is a mutated alley cat that is a sworn enemy of Splinter and we will find out why.
BUG: So cool. So who’s your favorite Turtle?
TW: My favorite Turtle? I can never answer that…you know, I probably would lean to Raphael, I kind of like his attitude and I always liked the anti-hero, but I always tell people that…being in the military, I always appreciate Leonardo for the discipline and I like that aspect to his personality and Donetello…it’s funny, there are little bits of me in all of them, because I used to work for a long time in IT on computers and I actually did a lot of computer work when I was in the Marines, so I like the techie side of him, but anybody who knows me probably says I’m goofy like Mikey, Michelangelo. So there’s a little bit of me in all of them, but probably Raphael. I really like Casey Jones. I’ve always thought he was an interesting character and so if there’s anything I’m truly, truly excited about it’s being able to explore that character and having Kevin alongside who also loves him. I think you are going to see a lot of Casey Jones in these books and in a whole new way.
BUG: Do you think with such a young generation knowing about TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, is this going to be too intense for them?
TW: No, and honestly we are going to tell mature stories, they are going to be violent. I don’t think they will be to the extreme as the early Mirage stories were for that reason. There were no Turtles fans when they started at Mirage and so they could do what they wanted. Now they’ve got this fanbase that just spans for generations and you have to respect that, because people are going to want to get in and if it’s too narrow and you don’t broaden the market for this thing, then nobody is going to want it, because it’s the kind of property that you want to share with your kids. Maybe it wasn’t originally, but now it is and your kid’s kids even, so what we are doing is we want to tell stories that grown ups will like and enjoy. They will have adult drama, but still have some of those fun elements of the Turtles…
BUG: Still, it’s talking turtles. (laughs)
TW: You’re right, that’s exactly right. I always say the same thing about Transformers, in the end it’s a bunch of space alien robots that turn into trucks, so yeah you’ve got to always keep that in mind and recognize that there is this massive audience. Now one of the nice things though, as a back up, the new series is coming out from Nickelodeon next year and when that show comes out we will be developing comics based on those TV characters too, so there will be one geared specifically for the younger audience eventually.
BUG: Do you think at that point things might get even a little darker?
TW: They may, you know, and again as we build the story and we plot it out and we start writing it kind of evolves that way and there are some ideas we have down the line that I think will take a darker turn. I’m also excited, we are going to start doing character one shots, so Brian Lynch has been brought on board to write a Raphael one shot and I read that script and he ties it in with what we are doing with Raphael in our book and it’s really exciting to kind of see something that I helped build and plot being taken in different directions by other people now, so it’s starting to feel real. It probably wont until that first issue is out there, but it’s really starting to feel real now.
BUG: Is this your first project writing? How did you get into it?
TW: Oh no, no actually I came to IDW as a writer. I wrote a graphic novel called CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE which was kind of a weird tale about a special forces unit that goes in to investigate a genocide in the middle east and finds out that the children that have been killed in the genocide have come back for revenge.
BUG: I think I remember that book. That was a couple of years ago?
TW: That was like 2006 when it came to IDW and it’s actually been reprinted and we actually colored it eventually, so we’ve had CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE book, I’ve done others at IDW, creator owned FINDING PEACE. I’m the SILENT HILL writer and so I’ve written SILENT HILL: SINNER’S REWARD and SILENT HILL: PAST LIFE which actually led to me co-writing the new SILENT HILL video game that’s coming out, SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR in October. Yeah, I’ve actually written quite a bit. Right now I have a few books on the shelves. I’m writing the DUKE NUKEM miniseries, DUKE NUKEM: GLORIOUS BASTARD, with Chris Ryall. I’m writing INFO STATION OUTBREAK. I’ve written 18 comics, so there’s a few with my name on them, but this by far is the biggest, probably most important license where I’m putting my name at the top, so it’s nice to have Kevin’s name next to me, so I have somebody to blame other than myself.
BUG: That’s good.
TW: And for the record, any fan who has ever met him or anybody in the industry, Kevin Eastman is probably the nicest guy to work with. I was freaking out when I had to take my version of the Turtles to him, one of the original creators, and say “by the way, you’re writing with us and this is what we are probably going to be doing” and he came onboard. He was ecstatic about what we were doing, he had some really good ideas to add to it and enhance things, you know change up a few things here and there and it’s just been a wonderful relationship. I love working with that guy. I don’t know how he does it, because he’s knocking out those layouts too.
BUG: That’s great, yeah, it sounds like both of you guys are really passionate about it too.
TW: It’s a lot of fun.
BUG: So when is it going to be available?
TW: The first comic, the first issue comes out in August, so I’m not sure…I think it’s early August. I wouldn’t quote me on that, but definitely in August, so that’s the first issue. It will be monthly after that and then I’m not sure when the first, the Brian Lynch Raphael book comes out, but I’m guessing probably late fall.
BUG: Great, well I look forward to reading all of it. I’m a big fan from way back, so I can’t wait to check it out.
TW: Thanks. You know I’ve actually got another one out right now too that is going to come out in October that I’m really excited about, I was invited by Capcom and IDW will be publishing this, we are doing a DEAD RISING comic and it’s called DEAD RISING: ROAD TO FORTUNE, so it’s based on the popular zombie survival game and what they have allowed me to do is I actually was able to go in and plot a story that is official DEAD RISING canon now and we are going to give DEAD RISING fans something that they have been asking for and they haven’t had. At the end of the first DEAD RISING game, anybody who is familiar knows that Frank West, the protagonist is being surrounded by zombies and it looks like he’s going to get killed and then they cut to this text saying “He escaped,” but nobody ever saw it. We are going to show it. We are finally going to show how Frank West gets out of Willamette and we are going to fill in the gaps between the original DEAD RISING game and DEAD RISING 2: CASE 0, so this DEAD RISING comic is official canon that counts. You’re not going to see this in games and Capcom is totally behind us and really excited about that too.
BUG: Very cool; and how about SILENT HILL? I’m a fan of the…I don’t play videogames that often, so I’m kind of out of the loop with that, but I’m a fan of the film. I like the first film. I think there’s a second film coming out, is that correct?
TW: Actually there’s a new movie coming out. I believe if it’s not this year, it’ll be 2012, it’s directed by Michael Bassett. I actually talk to Michael sometimes and he is really excited about what they are doing. It’s kind of loosely adapting the SILENT HILL 3 videogame, so the protagonist from that game, Heather Mason, will be the star of the movie. I can’t think of the actress’s name right now, but he’s really excited about that and then personally myself having co-written for Konami the SILENT HILL: DOWNPOUR video game, which comes out in October, again this is another thing I’m absolutely ecstatic and absolutely terrified about, because I can’t wait for the fans to see the game. The developer, Vatra, along with Konami, are putting together just some fantastic game play, fantastic in game elements and it’s just a matter of time until we find out if the fans are onboard for what we did, but I really feel like this is taking SILENT HILL back to the good old days of SILENT HILL 1 and 2. I think the fans will be really pleased.
BUG: Yeah, well sounds great. You’ve got so many project; it’s kind of hard to keep track of them all.
TW: I know…a lot of coffee…
BUG: Alright, well thanks for taking with me, I appreciate it.
TW: Thank you.
BUG: Look for TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #1 from IDW Publishing in August!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Mark is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and will be releasing FAMOUS MONSTERS first ever comic book miniseries LUNA in October (co-written by Martin Fisher with art by Tim Rees) Order Code: AUG111067! Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the covers to purchase)!
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