Ciaramella Guides "TMNT's" Old Hob on a New Path

The first time readers saw IDW Publishing's version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in action, they were taking on a mean-spirited mutated cat with one eye named Old Hob. Since the debut of the TMNT's new continuity almost 2 years ago, Old Hob has been uncomfortable in his position as lead lackey of Baxter Stockman, who in turn works for the inter-dimensional being, Krang.

While the anger-fueled cat has cut many shells in his young career, he's also been betrayed by his masters and even escaped death. Now, breaking out on his own and poised to start carving his own destiny, Old Hob was last seen with fellow mutate Slash, dodging his former employers.

Writer Jason Ciaramella and artist Dave Watcher usher in the new-look Old Hob in this week's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series" #3. Ciaramella spoke with CBR about his "Old Hob" issue and the future of this mighty mutant animal.

CBR News: Jason, Old Hob is introduced in the very first issue of IDW's "Ninja Turtles" continuity as a primary villain -- how has he grown from that initial appearance to where he is in your story?

Jason Ciaramella: I think he's figured things out. He knows the landscape and he's putting together the pieces to build a bigger picture. Early on he was more reactionary, unsure.

What can you tell us about Old Hob's life before being mutated by the ooze?

Well, the scene I wrote showing Hob as a fluffy little kitty is brief, but it made my kids cry so I think I nailed that one.

Old Hob used to be a lackey, but now he wants to branch out on his own -- what's his motivation for this choice?

He wants to be part of something, and since he's had a string of bad (awful) encounters with humans, he's deciding to make that something on his own.

It sounds like Old Hob is making a case for his own team of mutant animals. Do other ooze creations make an appearance in your story?

I'll just say Hob has a pal in this one-shot. A very big, pokey, scary pal. The Turtles make an appearance, too.

Were there specific scenes or character moments from previous issues you targeted to build on in the one-shot?

Pretty much everything that's happened to Hob in the series is on display in the one-shot. We're answering some questions while raising quite a few more. Fans of the character and ongoing series are in for some treats.

Given Old Hob is an IDW-continuity creation, were you given a longer leash in writing him when compared to more rooted TMNT Universe characters?

No! There's a plan for Hob, and the guidelines were pretty tight. It was a learning experience, and I learned a ton. Thankfully I had an editor like Bobby Curnow on my side to help push through the tougher scenes. Having him there to guide me and soften some of the blows from Nickelodeon was crucial to how the book came out. I can't thank him enough -- thanks, Bobby!

What was it like working with artist Dave Watcher?

I didn't have a lot of communication with Dave during the process, but when I finally got to proof the issue, I was blown away. He consistently drew scenes that looked like they were pulled right out of my imagination. I'd love to work on something else with him in the future.

On your personal blog, you list your top 55 comics of all-time. Can you expand on the "TMNT" story clocking in at #20.

Ah, yes, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" #24-26 -- "The River" storyline. The leech character, Bloodsucker, creeped me the F out, man. To this day, I get the willies when I think about a few choice panels from that story. I tried to use him in one of my pitches, but I think there's some legal stuff going on with him.

What was your first -- or most impacting -- introduction to the Ninja Turtles?

Kevin Eastman was/is my childhood hero, so I have a ton of stories relating to the Turtles. My favorite: the comic book shop I grew up near in Brockton, Massachusetts wouldn't sell me "TMNT" because I wasn't old enough. I was 9 or 10 at the time, and I still have no idea how old was "old enough." Anyway, I would have to wait outside the shop and give money to older kids to buy new issues for me. I grew up in a pretty bad part of town, so there was always the chance that whoever took my money was just gonna put it in his pocket and leave, but thankfully that never happened. 25 years later, I got to sit and sign next to Kevin at the IDW booth during WonderCon. Talk about full circle!

Beyond this one-shot, what else is on the horizon for you in comics?

I'm writing IDW's "Magic: The Gathering Ongoing" launching in October, and my adaptation of Joe Hill's short story "Thumbprint" with artist Vic Malhotra launched just last week. The "MtG" gig is another dream-come-true job, and it's been tough keeping it under wraps!

Jason Ciaramella and Dave Watcher's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Villains Micro-Series" #3 starring Old Hob is available now from IDW Publishing

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