The Robot/Mutant Divide: Caleb Goellner And Chad Thomas On ‘TMNT Amazing Adventures: Robotanimals’
The Mutanimals, that teams of misfit mutants from the TMNT animated universe is getting a new three-issue miniseries from writer Caleb Goellner and artist Chad Thomas, but they're not quite feeling themselves, it seems. That's because Baxter Stockman – the TMNT world's resident evil scientist – has turned them into robots!
To mark the book's announcement, we had a quick chat with Goellner and Thomas about the Mutanimals, the differences between mutants and robots, and why Dr. Stockman would think this is a good idea.
ComicsAlliance: For readers who may know the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise but haven’t necessarily kept up with everything, can you give us a quick intro to the Mutanimals? What should we already know about them at the beginning of this series?
Caleb Goellner: At this point in the story the Mutanimals consist of Slash, Leatherhead, Pigeon Pete, Dr. Tyler Rockwell, Mondo Gecko, plus the duo of Muckman and Joe Eyeball. Unlike the TMNT, the Mutanimals weren't "born" into a family. They each became mutants under different circumstances, but through their individual experiences with the TMNT, they've got this deeper bond --- they're inspired to do good (and also survive regular confrontations with evil forces). At the beginning of this story the team is finally fully established and settling into their newest digs. Like any roommates, though, they have a few kinks to work out as they get settled.
Chad Thomas: I think it's good to know that even though the Mutanimals and the Turtles are all buddies at this point, every single one of them (with the exception of Pigeon Pete) has had some conflict with one our all of the brothers at some point in time. They're friends but not quite family, and I think some of that wariness and distrust probably still lingers a bit. Both sides think they know better and that arrogance can lead to some infighting.
CA: Obvious question: How do you turn someone into a robot? Is it a transferal-of-consciousness situation, or more of a transmogrification?
CG: Hm, I don't want to spoil anything, so let's just say it's a real Baxter Stockman-y™ solution. If you know Baxter's MO, you'll see his methods and nod your head when the time comes.
CA: And even if you can turn someone into a robot, why do you want to? Can you give us a sense of what Baxter Stockman is after in this story?
CG: Baxter's always seeking control. Right now he's having a bit of an identity crisis and he feels like he needs to take control of his life, which for a guy like him means subjugating others. His background is in robotics, but he winds up kind of blossoming into Earth's foremost mutant biologist during the course of the show, which would be a huge accomplishment if he weren't an evil jerk. Unlike robots, mutants are practically impossible to control for long, however. Stockman's tried using a serum and parasitic worms to get mutants to obey, but it never works. In this story he does some bad guy algebra and pulls a solution out that addresses his internal and external control issues.
CA: When you’re creating new character concepts for a book like this, whether it’s all-new mutants or robot versions of existing characters, do you think at all about how cool they’d look as action figures?
CG: Haha. Yes. I've been piling action figure reference on poor Chad pretty much the whole time I've been writing. What he's come up with is solar systems beyond what I could ever have suggested, though. My not-at-all-secret hope is that the customizer crowd makes Chad's designs into toys. Holy smokes, they're so fun. They fit in perfectly with the show and pop on the page. I'm so stoked for everybody to see them on full display.
CT: The minute I read the synopsis for the mini I had a good idea where Caleb would want to take these designs and thought that seeing as how they're Baxter creations they'd be a lot more refined than Metalhead. Caleb sent me some fun reference of some mech action figures to work from and I just took it from there. Probably the best part for me is seeing someone else draw these designs. Billy Martin is doing variants for the series and just bowled me over with his rendition of one of the mechs on issue two. It's really cool!
Here's the official info from IDW:
Baxter Stockman is looking to become the new major villain on the
streets! His first step to world domination? Turn the Mutanimals into
FC • 32 pages • $3.99
Expected in-store date: 6/21/17
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Amazing Adventures: Robotanimals #1 is out June 21 and features variant covers by Billy Martin and Ryan Jampole.