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TMNT Artist Jim Lawson Sketches Alien Ninja Turtles

There are many worrisome things that we now know about the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. For one thing, we’ve dropped the whole “Teenage Mutant” business and gone with the shorter, streamlined title Ninja Turtles. We also know that the fighting foursome is from an alien race — although what that precisely means is still a bit of a mystery. (We also know that one half of the original TMNT creative team is a-okay with whatever is going on at Turtle movie headquarters, so at least there’s that.) But are alienish Turtles inherently awful? TMNT comic artist Jim Lawson has been playing around with the idea of alien Ninja Turtles…and the results are pretty fun.Lawson drew the TMNT comics for more than 20 years, and he obviously has a great affection for the characters he’s spent so much time with. He’s been posting these faux-concept art pieces on his Facebook page as a bit of a goof, describing them as “Early design[s] for the new movie Turtles.” It’s a lark — obviously the movie Turtles won’t be fighting a xenomorph queen — but there’s such a simple sense of fun in these quick sketches. Perhaps this outs me as a Turtle non-purist, but I actually wouldn’t mind alien Turtles if it meant watching them drive that turtle-shaped spaceship. And it wouldn’t be the first time the Foot went through a species change; they were human in the original comics and movies, but more kid-friendly robots in the animated series and spinoff comics.

While Lawson’s sketches poke fun at Michael Bay’s announcement, for me they serve as a reminder that the Turtles, in whatever form, are as much fun as the people handling them allow them to be. I can only hope that Ninja Turtles director Jonathan Liebesman approaches his movie with a similar sense of fun.

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