So, yeah, as it says in the title, this is my first go at drawing the Turtles as they appear in the new TV series. It's by no stretch perfect, but I feel it's a healthy start. Raphael is the weakest overall, IMO. I tried a few new (to me) methods in colouring this, in that there isn't a surface within it that I didn't use some kind of texture effect, be that a water colour texture on the background, brick and concrete for the buildings, or freckles on the skin. Like I say, that's all quite new to me, but I think it turned out okay. It helps to give them a very slight 3D/CG effect, which befits this series in particular.
The entire composition is a very loose homage to the first shot of the Turtles from the opening credits to the 1987 cartoon show.
I’ve always been a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Here in the UK when I was a kid the only TMNT comics we got was a bi-weekly magazine which ran (what I would later learn to be) reprints of Archie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic. And that comic introduced me to the character that would become my most enduring favourite outside of the four brothers themselves; Ninjara.
Maybe it’s because she was Raphael’s girlfriend, and Raph was my favourite. Maybe it’s because for most of that comic’s life she was treated as an equal member of the team. Maybe it’s because she was a bad-ass chick with genuine skills in theft and assassination and was easily capable of holding her own against villains the four TMNT had had to tag team in the past. Whatever, I have a lot of love for her to this day.
But she’s not a regular re-do in the way that Casey Jones, The Rat King, Leatherhead, and even Usagi Yojimbo were. We didn’t meet her again every single time the series rebooted. She never even got a toy.
When Nickelodeon’s current series began airing, it rekindled my love for all things TMNT. I always made a point of checking out new Turtles material, but somewhere along the way my interest had lessened to mere fondness. but this new show really kicked me up my fanboi.
And so, one day in a moment of boredom, I began doodling Ninjara as she might look if they ever brought her back. I was pleased with that initial doodle and it quickly became a little bit of a project, until other responsibilities sidelined it. I just now stumbled upon a couple of the original sketches, remembered I had other things on my hard-drive, and figured I’d share them here.
I wanted to skew her younger, as the series itself did with the Turtles. I wanted to make her a loner, orphan-like, rebellious and with a style and attitude all her own. Since I saw her as someone who was making her way in life alone, I tried to emphasize the ‘thief’ over the ‘assassin’, and as such she lost the katana and I switched her primary tool for some Kunai, since they’re more multipurpose in general. You could look upon the assassin aspect as still being there, only now she’s all stealth and skill, and doesn’t need anything more to get the job done.
I must say, I never quite achieved what I would consider an acceptable final design… maybe I can get back to this someday. She’s one of those characters that I would consider a life’s goal to do something decent with…
I had semi-speculated that Kurai would be mutated into Ninjara until they turned her into that weird transforming three-headed snake.
Based on stuff I've read since then, I think Ninjara is owned by her creator, which is why we've never seen her again associated with TMNT (she's had her own comic published by a small indi company). Jagwar and Dreadmon may fall into a similar issue. It'd explain why we never got toys of these three, ever.
Ninjara does seem to be in rights limbo, sadly. It seems clear after these last few years that Alopex has become her defacto replacement, a former villain turned hero with a bit of a thing going with Raph over in IDW, and having become a traditional red fox in purple ninja garb for Nickelodeon, and even making Raph jab with the comment "she's no Mona Lisa".
Jagwar and Dreadmon have both reappeared in IDW recently, though. Jagwar is now a female demigod, and Dreadmon is an escapee from a military compound experimenting with mutates. Doesn't seem to have super speed either.