Tag Archives: Blood of the Apes

TMNT: Turtles in Dixie

I don’t usually talk about dead projects…most of the time my thoughts are that a project is never dead, simply delayed to be resurrected at some later date. Not long ago, though, I talked to Rich Handley, who was putting together a compendium of Planet of the Apes material, and as I had participated in playing in that world via the PoTA: Blood of the Apes mini-series I did with artists Darren Goodhart and Bruce McCorkindale, he wanted to talk to me not just about BoTA, but asked to see if I had any “unpublished” Apes stories.

I did, of course.

I hesitated to give them to him because, as I said, I don’t think a story idea is gone until…well, until it’s gone (no comments from you, Hank Kanalz!). In the back of my mind, I think I’ll simply revise it—change the apes to cats or some such, and viola! New story. I did tell him though, though, and you can check out the finished book here.

But that made me think of one project that is not likely to go anywhere at all, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story. Yep, TMNT!

Turtles in Dixie

Page of TMNT as drawn by Steven Butler. Original art is 11×17

The project happened because my artist buddy Ken Branch, who was primarily inking back…well, a few years back now, had a contact with the TMNT publishers. He pitched the idea for me to come up with a story, our pal Steven Butler to pencil it, and he’d ink it. A ready made creative team.

Well, y’all know that I like to be Southern-centric when I can, so I thought I’d bring the Turtles to the South. The story opens with boys on a paddle-boat chugging along the Mississippi River. They’re on a vacation and find themselves in Vicksburg, Mississippi where they visit the Civil War battlefield and end up fighting some alligator mutants as well as some armadillo mutants. Not a complicated story, but one with some history and some humor. For you non-Southerners, ask a Reb you know how most of us ever see armadillos.

Well, I finished up the story synopsis and Steven did a page…and then the TMNT publishers stopped taking outside creators to work on it.

So it sat…for years.

Recently, when IDW began publishing TMNT material, I contacted Steven and asked if he still had any interest. He did…I resubmitted. But no go—seems the Turtles’ origin is no longer compatible with the story…and as the editor who responded didn’t open the door to revisions…well, it’s a dead project.

For your eyeball pleasure, though, here’s a good scan of Steven’s page with the boys facing off against Armadillo!

It would have been fun.



Filed under Projects

Dead projects

I’ve said before that writers should have a handful of projects going at the same time in order to avoid writer’s block (which I don’t believe in, of course), but after so many years, the “dead project” file begins to get thick.

I was recently reminded of a “dead project” when a writer emailed me to ask questions about it. Seems he was writing a book about Planet of the Apes and his work (Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: A Definitive Chronology) would include a section about comic books…and then about the comic projects that never made it to print. Part of my body of work includes a four issue mini-series entitled Planet of the Apes: Blood of the Apes (POTA:BOTA). Instead of setting the story in the tri-state area where the original movie was set, I brought the talking monkeys to the South and set my story in Memphis. Any of you who’ve read more than one of what I’ve written will realize that I attempt to tell my stories in the South, if possible.

Before I go on, let me add that as a result of his questions, I got to looking around at Ape stuff. I discovered that POTA:BOTA was included in an academic work: Planet of the Apes as American Myth: Race and Politics in the Films and Television Series by Eric Greene. It was published in 1996. I found out about it just a few months ago. Now, while POTA:BOTA only gets about a page and a half—the book is mostly devoted to dissecting the films—let me just say it was pretty cool to see something I’d written included in an academic work like this. I went on to find that on one Ape “fansite,” BOTA was listed as the #3 favorite Ape comic among fans. Again, pretty cool.

So anyway, I got to thinking about the Apes projects that didn’t happen.

#1: POTA: Sky Gods. Humans land at on the planet at a different time to find man extinct, and apes back on the bottom of the chain. Who rules, then, you ask? Tigers! Yep, talking Tigers. Would’ve been fun!

#2: POTA: Henry the Ape. Aside from the word play on the title, this was less developed than Sky Gods (which had a full four-issue plot) but consisted of a spoiled rich prince (Henry) who runs away from the kingdom/responsibilities.

Another project that I really would like to have seen published is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle story that turtlesindixieI’ve written and that Steven Butler was going to pencil and then Ken Branch would ink. (sample page is Steven’s pencils) The working title was Turtles in Dixie. The story brings the turtles down to Vicksburg, Mississippi where they get to tour the Vicksburg Military park, and run afoul of such villains as Armadillo-man (pictured) and Alligator-man.

There is a point to all this, though. I saw this all to suggest that even if a project isn’t “published” or doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away, hang on to it. You never know what could happen in the future. All those extras notes and doodles can turn into something somewhere down the line!

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Filed under Projects, writing