Brian Lynch, the writer who launched IDW Publishing’s “Angel: After the Fall” and was responsible for many of that character’s ensuing stories, returns in November with tales of a different set of wildly popular misfit heroes. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-series” spotlights a different Turtle each month, beginning with Raphael in November and Michelangelo in December. The first issue also introduces an entirely new character designed by Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, who is currently co-writing the “TMNT” ongoing.
In the first three issues of IDW’s new “TMNT” series, mutated rat Master Splinter and his anthropomorphic turtle pupils Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo search desperately for their lost brother Raphael while constantly combatting the forces of Old Hob, a one-eyed cat with a grudge. The remaining three brothers are divided, though, as some do not believe that Raphael can possibly still be alive — or that he existed at all. The “Micro-series” gives each Turtle his own spotlight. CBR News spoke with Lynch about his plans for “TMNT: Micro-series” and each Turtle’s individual style.
CBR News: First, Brian, what’s the idea behind the “micro-series?” With the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” ongoing still new, is this a chance to re-introduce these characters, or maybe to better establish the IDW versions?
â€¨Brian Lynch: The main “TMNT” series is a big team book. Right now it’s dealing with the Turtles’ origins and relationship with each other. The micro-series is chance to spotlight each Turtle individually, away from their brothers. Each Turtle narrates his own story, so we really get into their heads and get to know them. Basically it’s an opportunity for every character to shine.
What is your history with “Turtles” as a fan?
â€¨The first “TMNT” book I ever read was the Donatello one-shot from Mirage way back when. From that point on, I bought everything and anything “TMNT” related. The regular series, the spin-offs, the role playing game (along with the pewter figures), the how-to-draw books, everything.
I wrote and drew a rip-off of the Turtles when I was twelve years-old, that my Dad printed at his office and I sold in Toymasters (Red Bank, New Jersey), the store I bought my “Turtles” comics from. It was called “MUTT” (Mercenary Underage Thermonuclear Terriers). I sold five copies, I think. Four of them were my parents. But that one mysterious copy, someone bought it. And I thank you, whoever took a chance on a Xerox comic book drawn by a pre-teen.
I love the shows, the movies, the figures. I still think the first live-action movie is one of the best comic adaptations of all time. And my friend played Donatello in the “Coming Out of Their Shells” live music tour. I envy him.
I co-wrote the movie “Hop” that came out earlier in the year, and there are Ninja Bunnies that are very much inspired by the Turtles. So they keep influencing my work. I co-wrote the story to the “Puss In Boots” movie — there are no Turtle references in it, but that would be a good fight.â€¨â€¨And now that I get to [do] the micro-series? I’m through the roof. The fact that my first “TMNT” book was a micro series one-shot, and I’m doing the modern day version? I’m just thrilled.
You’re beginning with Raphael, who has been established as the wayward brother in the first few issues of “TMNT.” What can you tell us about the story of his spotlight issue?
â€¨Raphael and Casey Jones discover that there’s another another mutant living in New York City. And since Raph is learning this information without his brothers nearby, he’s gotta make the tough decisions on his own. How to help, what to do, how open to be with this new mutant. He’s gotta let a new person into his life, which isn’t easy for him. Plus there is a lot of fighting, a great deal of action, and lots of high emotion.
The fact that Raphael narrates the story is really fun. It’s similar to writing Joss Whedon’s “Angel” books. Like Angel, Raphael is not the most open guy, and the narration means he shares feelings with the reader that he’s not sharing with people in the room.
The other mutant you mention, I believe, is Alopex, a new character designed by Kevin Eastman. What can you tell us about this character and her predicament?
Alopex is a lost mutant. Her origins are similar to the Turtles’, but her current lifestyle is very different. She’s an Arctic Fox, very smart but very scared and doesn’t trust anyone. So the fact that Raphael has to convince her to trust him? There’s some fun to be had there.
And a note to readers, when you see Alopex’s origin, check out the panels verrrry closely. There are many set-ups/shout-outs to fans.
Alopex was always in the outline, and the script, and when we needed to figure out her look, I asked if we could see if Kevin had time to try. He not only had time, he knocked it out of the park. Mr. Eastman’s designs for Alopex actually made me rethink certain stuff about her, as now the character had to live up to his designs. Kevin Eastman designed a character I created for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” universe. How amazing is that?
You’re reuniting with “Angel: After the Fall” artist Franco Urru for the Raphael story, then Chris Madden is coming on for Michelangelo. What makes these two artists’ styles a good fit for their respective stories?
Franco and I did dozens and dozens of “Angel” and “Spike” issues together. He’s my favorite. He’s my pal, my creative partner, and he makes everything I do seem 200% better. I’ve seen a huge chunk of “Raphael” pages and I can say that Franco draws Turtles and Arctic Foxes even better than he does vampires.
We’re still early on “Michelangelo,” but Madden is nothing short of amazing either. Franco excels at dark stuff, Madden’s work is very bright and vibrant, which is what we were gunning for.
The tone of each Turtle book will be reflective of the individual Turtles’ personalities. Raph’s is a little darker, Mikey’s is fun and big. When we get to Donatello, his will be more sci-fi oriented, and Leo’s all action and big adventure. And each micro-series reflects the original mirco-series in subtle, cool ways.
Speaking of the Michelangelo issue, that one is set during the holidays. What does this backdrop allow you to do with the character?
Mike’s personality is 180 degrees from Raphael, and his issue is insanely different than Raph’s. The holiday season allows for warmth and celebration — but it’s also the loneliest time of the year, and we see Mikey dealing with that a bit.
What is Mike after in his spotlight issue? Who or what stands in his way?
â€¨Mike is looking to have a very… human experience. He wants to meet new people, and winds up meeting a bunch of people he shouldn’t. It’s a big, fun adventure with lots of danger and action, but at it’s heart it’s about Mike seeking out a human connection.
It’s also really funny — not so much the situation, that’s pretty dire and dangerous. But Mike’s reaction to what’s going on is lots of fun to write. I’d go so far as to say that Mike’s dialog and narration is the most fun I’ve had as a writer in years.
What can you tell us about the remaining two issues focusing on Donatello and Leonardo?
â€¨Donatello’s will be more sci-fi oriented. Not space aliens or anything like that, but it won’t be as gritty as Raph’s story. Leonardo’s will be a big butt-kicking adventure. Getting into his head will be really fun.
Your stories in the “Angel” universe drew on a large ensemble cast. How does the “TMNT” crew’s dynamic differ from the team you were working with in Angel and Spike?
â€¨It’s different personalities, to be sure. The tone is different but the goal remains the same: to tell big action/adventure stories that are driven by character. When I was writing “Raphael” I was struck that he was kind of a cool combo of Angel and Spike: he’s a loner, like Angel — and not the most verbose guy in the room. But he’s also got a huge heart that he masks with cynical remarks, like Spike.
“TMNT: Micro-series – Raphael” is in stores now.