Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Team Breaks Down Initial Backlash to New Series

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is still a roaring good time and the iconic foursome are still having new adventures on TV. When the series was announced, the Internet definitely had some opinions about the new designs. The new series returned to 2D animation after the 3D animation style of its predecessor proved equally polarizing. The series creators saw all the fervor over the designs coming long before the episodes even aired.

ComicBook.com's Matthew Aguilar was at Comic-Con and later had the chance to ask Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles executive producers Andy Suriano and Ant Ward. Series creator Kevin Eastman and artist Ciro Neili are also in the house. Matt asked them about the initial reaction to such a dramatic stylistic departure from other versions of the characters. You can find the full interview up top.

Aguilar asked: Rise really changed up the designs in a big way. Changed the kind of mythos, everything is magic-based instead. I know some of the reactions, initially, to the news was like it was a little divisive. Because there are a lot of people that are like "Don't change my turtles!" and they like the way they were. There were obviously a small minority, but also very vocal. So there was a reaction and then as episodes started to roll out, like you see you've seen this migration of like "Oh hey this is actually really cool!" and more fans are digging it. Now that we have more episodes now, I feel like it is the other way. So, were you happy with the initial reactions or were you kind of how are you satisfied that the ball has swung the other way?

Ant Ward answered, "We think about all that. Well, I think we look back at the 35 years of the franchise, and the wonderful thing about it is that it's there are so many different iterations and so many different groups of fans that will all take something special with each iteration to heart. Nearly every iteration that has come out has started off with a very similar 'Not my turtles!' [response], especially because everyone has a personal attachment and everyone's childhood is special to them. We try to respect that."

The creative team asks Ciro Nieli if he got any online vitriol from his role in the show and he had a funny story about being in fan communities around the franchise. Nieli explained, "I think there was two or three days on the forums and I just left, and they all called me a troll. And then I never really came anymore."

Andy Suriano jumped in, "Ciro's 2012 series took a unique step as well but remained true to the roots of the turtles. I think that's all we're trying to do really, is bring that quintessential essence that had been created and bring all of those elements that really make the turtle so uniquely and universally relatable."

Series creator Kevin Eastman really put the cyclical nature of fan response into perspective. "What's interesting is, historically this thing is thirty-five years old this year, which is crazy and amazing, it is a blessing in you crazy and amazing blessing in every sense of the word. But, every iteration has had that same kind of initial response. Because we started with the Fred Wolff animated show. Very light and funny turtles in 1988. Even when we did the first movie they were like 'Oh my goodness, you've ruined it. You're ruining our childhood. We all fell in love with these animated turtles; why don't you just do them animated? You're doing this live-action stuff and its crazy,'" Eastman responded, "But every person, whether it be the 2012 or even the 2000 series, they said, 'Oh my God, CG turtles? You're crazy; you're ruining my childhood.' We saw what Ant and Andy were doing with Rise, and we fell in love with it as a concept. After thirty years, it is hard to find a new place to mine some wonderful stories. So they're immediately like 'Oh you're ruining my childhood.'"


Andy Suriano concluded, "We are all creators on this couch and we have a vision or point of view. We came to Rise with a story in mind and we couldn't let anything deter us. Otherwise, it just would be watered down, there would be no point of view. So, as traders as storytellers, you kind of have to stick to your guns no matter what. I think people get on board if they see that product and they see your true passion."

The passion has been rewarded, and now this iteration of the turtles has fan support. A brand new generation of fans has found "their turtles."

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