A Visual History of April O’Neil, Part 5: 2003 – 2010

mayo 12, 2014 at 11:34 am (Animation, Comic Books, Film, TMNT, Videogames & Vidcons) (, , , , , , , , )

Cute!

The stars aligned in 2002, and production began on a second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.  Two things stood about about this effort at the time: 1) it would actually come to fruition,  and 2) unlike the first cartoon, it planned to take many of its characters and storytelling beats directly from the Mirage comic books.

If there ever was an opportunity for April to appear with something resembling the look she sported through most of Mirage Volume 1–or as a Woman of Color, period–this was it.  While the producers seemed to  feel no particular need to adhere to characters’ comic book looks–as best seen in the Shredder, who now sports a full suit of armor–they also seemed to feel a certain commitment to racial diversity in the show, if the reversal of Baxter Stockman’s whitewashing and the various original characters of color introduced in that first season are any indication.  If, like other people in the past, the showrunners saw Mirage April as a woman of color,  it seems it seems reasonable to surmise that they would have at  least been amenable to at least discussing the idea of depicting their version of our favorite gal-pal in a similar manner.  The fact that the primary audience for this show would likely not be familiar with April from the original cartoon meant they could have done so with a minimum of  uproar.

And yet, this didn’t happen, and there are several possible reasons why.   It may be that, like many people, the producers at 4Kids never interpreted April as being anything other than a white woman.  It might be that Peter Laird, who definitively sees April as a white woman, and who had something akin to a veto power when it came to the show, stepped in and insisted that the TV version follow suit–which frankly, I’m kind of  okay with, being as he helped create her and all.  It might be that the decision was made by people outside the creative circle.  Or, in what seems to me the most unlikely possibility, given the show’s output, they might have interpreted Mirage April as a woman of color and consciously decided to whitewash her without requiring any additional input.  I’ve asked Laird for context, but, unfortunately, he turned out to be less than forthcoming.  Still, no matter the details, in the end, another generation grew up knowing that April O’Neil is white, making future interpretations where she isn’t even less likely.

Buoyed by the new interest in the turtles brought about by the cartoon and its merchandising tie-ins, Mirage decided to publish a second iteration of Tales of the TMNT as a companion to the Laird / Lawson TMNT Vol. 4.  The second book, an anthology title featuring the work of several creators, hearkened back to the guest creator era, as various people put their stamp on the turtles, including some new faces like Tristan Huw Jones, who attempted to weave together several disparate plot strands into his own mini-universe within the universe.  It was also the first time since 1992 that we’d see how Mirage April looked under different artists.

Hollywood loves a remake, and eventually a fourth TMNT film, titled simply TMNT and serving as a pseudo-sequel to the first three, was produced and released.  Done entirely in CGI, it featured an April that was less Lois Lane and more Lara Croft, and was voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar.  While a success in some respects, it was not successful enough to merit follow-ups.  It did, however, influence the larger turtles-verse, as various other incarnations would begin to draw from its visuals.

In 2009, Peter Laird, by then sole owner of the franchise, decided to sell the turtles to Viacom, and specifically, Nickelodeon.  A new era was set to begin.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

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A Visual History of April O’Neil, Part 3: 1992 – 1996

abril 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm (Animation, Comic Books, Film, Hollywood's Privilege-driven -isms, Race, TMNT) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

April O'Neil #1 Cover (Jan. 1993)

The year 1992 marked the end of the Mirage TMNT‘s guest creator era: after three years of mostly non-canonical stories by a bevy of creators, Mirage staffers once again took reins of the book, with a new focus on featuring a more stable tone and in moving their characters forward.  This latest phase in the book culminated with “City at War”, a thirteen-part mega arc which featured the return of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird to active creative duties and ended on the book’s last issue.  It also gave April some much-needed focus, as the writers had her decide to move to California in order to recenter herself.

Perhaps not coincidentally, this era of greater focus on April also saw the beginning of the end of depictions of her based on her issue #4 redesign, as the physical features she had sported since then–by no means limited to skin color–began disappearing.  What one may draw from this is unclear, and the fact that there’s only one artist drawing the character for the duration of the era doesn’t help.

The years from 1993 to 1996 saw waning interest in the Ninja Turtles. The third film received a tepid reception.  Mirage’s second volume of TMNT, which debuted shortly after the end of the first one,would prove short-lived,  its final issue hitting stores on October 1995. The Archie series, TMNT Adventures, ended that same year. After seven seasons of sausage-making, Fred Wolf retooled the original cartoon for its eighth season in order to deal with a shifting children’s television landscape; old characters were written out, new characters were written in, and the series’ aesthetic got a face lift, but none of these changes were enough to stop the series from ending, after ten seasons and 193 episodes, in 1996.  By January 1997, the flow new material featuring the TMNT had slowed down to a trickle, and existed mostly in the form of a comic series published by Image, continuing the adventures of the Mirage versions of the characters…but that’s something for another entry.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Note the first: While I’ve tried to be comprehensive as possible here, any help obtaining any relevant images I might have missed is much appreciated.

Note the second: Despite not having much in the way of comments, I still plan on moderating any discussion with a heavy hand, should it become necessary.

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A Visual History of April O’Neil, Part 2: 1988 – 1991

abril 15, 2014 at 2:07 am (Animation, Comic Books, Film, Hollywood's Privilege-driven -isms, Race, Racism, TMNT) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The year 1987 brought us our second ever incarnation of April, one that, while visually faithful to the character as originally depicted, was at odds with what had become the norm.  As the new franchise’s popularity continued to expand, two more new incarnations were introduced: April as seen in the films, who like most things in the movie was conceived as an amalgam of her comic book and cartoon incarnations; and April as seen in the Archie comic books, who was ostensibly the cartoon version, but like most things in the book quickly became her own distinct character.  While the people over at Mirage were still depicting their version of the character as a Woman of Color, by 1990, it was White April who had become the norm.

Part 1.

Note the first: While I’ve tried to be comprehensive as possible here, I have not been able to obtain several relevant images, most notably, images of film adaptations after the first one, and of the colored reprints of the Mirage books released during this time period.  Any assistance in obtaining them is appreciated.

Note the second: Unlike the first time around, I will be allowing comments here.  That said, as always, please keep common courtesy in mind, and note that I will moderate with a heavy hand, should it become necessary.

ETA: I*just* realized that I hadn’t actually enabled comments.  Fixed.

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