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Old 08-17-2018, 12:51 PM   #1
neatoman
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Is it a mistake to make the Turtles look cute?

So recently, I read Bodycount for the first time. Simon Bisley is an interesting artist to say the least, he pretty much drew Raph the same way he draws Lobo. Gigantic muscles, popping veins, bulging eyes, etc. It's a fairly grotesque design.
Spoiler:


And as extreme as it is, I can't help but think Bisley was on to something, shouldn't the Turtles be kind of ugly? After all, they didn't look all that cute originally:
Spoiler:

And the the original has changed his style, but I'd hardly say his more recent work makes them out to be any more attractive.
Spoiler:


Which makes sense, why should they be appealing to look at? A major aspect is that they hide from society, so making them look freaky helps enforce that idea. Most of the freakier designs can trace back to the orignal one. Large defined muscles, gritting teeth, blank eyes etc. It just really works here.

And while there isn't exactly a shortage of artists who draw them with such features, I've noticed that some artists seems to prefer making them look more cute. Most notably the Fred Wolf Cartoon, Back to the Sewers, the First Nickelodeon cartoon etc. Which is understable, they're kids' cartoons, you don't want to scare away kids. It's just that whenever I look at the Nick Turtles, I can't help but feel these wide eyed, straight teethed, cankle footed, freckled and round faced creatures are simply too adorable to be rejected by humans. They look like Teddy Bears!
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So, anybody agreeing with me?
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Turtles is basically the red-headed stepchild of Nick.
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Old 08-17-2018, 12:55 PM   #2
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Absolutely. I hate cute Ninja Turtles. Hate it so much.

Hell, even IDW went cute for the most part.
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Old 08-17-2018, 12:57 PM   #3
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Suppose it depends on the tone.
As for Nicks, I wouldn't say Teddy Bears, they looked the part in battle, you know white eyed, mean expression. I liked that switch, but yes they have a cuteness. I loved those designs but then I wouldn't expect to see that in a life action movie, just not too hideous either.

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Old 08-17-2018, 01:02 PM   #4
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I feel like mileage of "cute" varies, but when the characters are meant to be in the 15-year-old range, so long as they don't look like they're 30 year old bodybuilders, I'm good.



But I mean...it's not like they've gone full anime bishie. When they do appear as looking cute, especially by Campbell and Santolouco designs...they just look their age to me.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:08 PM   #5
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Nah, sorry, can't say I agree all that much. I like that they are a property given to variety in the art style, even if I don't find all designs appealing. Not every version needs to be cute, but I think those that are less so work better for comics than other media.

Personally, I think a little bit of cuteness works for them, it's part of their charm. Although I'm not saying go overboard with it. I don't want to see it stick with the Nick style of cute forever. I prefer a look that is a mix of kinda cute in a way AND badass. The Mirage and the third image are good examples. Though even the first really isn't that bad... there has been far less appealing designs. As far as cartoons go, 2003 is a good mix of it imo.

Not being cute might be a better visual cue that these guys aren't to be trifled with, but I like that some level of cuteness actually makes them a bit deceptive. Someone might not think these little guys are much in the way of asskickers...until they get a big surprise when they get said ass handed to them by these ninjas. Offers a pretty good message to, something like not judging a book by its cover.


Although... in deeper terms, some of it may be personal bias though as a female fan. Probably just normal that, yeah, I'd rather that male characters I'm a fan of be cuties to some degree.

Edit: Being stuck and stereotyped as a "kids" thing is probably what just hurts them most about being made too cute, as it presumably makes it harder for them to be taken more seriously and get those older series and whatnot many would love to see. But they're underdogs and I think someday someone will have the guts to take them more seriously like that, cute or not.

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Old 08-17-2018, 01:15 PM   #6
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I don't really care about the turtle's attractiveness so much as I do how well the linework flows.

These guys aren't attractive, but the linework really works for me.

Spoiler:


I just prefer a more streamlined aesthetic.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:50 PM   #7
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This also reminds me of the time John Kricfalusi took a mean swat at the 87 designs, without any constructive criticism. Or how Alopex got a lot cuter at the time she switched sides.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:03 PM   #8
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This also reminds me of the time John Kricfalusi took a mean swat at the 87 designs, without any constructive criticism. Or how Alopex got a lot cuter at the time she switched sides.
Where did he say that? I know he has said everyone making cartoons in the 80's hated their job, but I've never heard him bring up anything specific.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:45 PM   #9
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I don't know if "mistake" is the right word. "Misguided" is more appropriate? There is nothing about their genesis or source material that denotes any kind of inherent cuteness.

Now, I don't have a problem with artists getting "cutesy" in their designs. I am just concerned about adults who get off on "cute" teenage boys (yes, even ninja turtle ones) and clamor left and right to see more material like the "Half Shell Heroes" as if they are starving for it.

Something is going on there.
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Old 08-17-2018, 05:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew NDB View Post
Now, I don't have a problem with artists getting "cutesy" in their designs. I am just concerned about adults who get off on "cute" teenage boys (yes, even ninja turtle ones) and clamor left and right to see more material like the "Half Shell Heroes" as if they are starving for it.

Something is going on there.
Spoiler:

To the OP:

No, there isn't anything particularly wrong with making the turtles cute (or at least, slightly adorable).
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:08 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by miru View Post
This also reminds me of the time John Kricfalusi took a mean swat at the 87 designs, without any constructive criticism. Or how Alopex got a lot cuter at the time she switched sides.
Here's what miru is talking about, FYI guys:

In this post on John K.'s blog, he included an image from the 87 series among various images of bland-looking 80s cartoons.

And in the comments section this other post, the following conversation occurred:

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Originally Posted by PowerRangerYELLOW
I grew up on teenage mutant ninja turtles and because of it i taught myself how to draw because of it.

I'm still learning how to draw since i don't think i'm ready to learn construction just yet.

Every time i attempt construction i get frustrated and give up after a few failed attempts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John K.
That's your problem. Those turtle-men didn't have any construction...or line of action, or silhouettes or any number of drawing principles.


They are just hobbled together out of random ill-designed bits of detail that don't hang together.
Make of John K.'s comments what you will....Please? (I'd like to hear any counter arguments).

But back on the topic...

..I don't think it's necessary a mistake to make the Turtles look cute.

I'd go as far to say the early Mirage TMNT were cute in a somewhat perverse way.

During the Outer Space arc, they looked quite cute at times:
Spoiler:


And Mark Martin's TMNT art, particularly in TMNT #16, always looked like a cuter variation on the early Eastman/Laird designs:

Spoiler:


EDIT: I generally think the Ugly Cute trope applies heavily to the Turtles (and many other characters in the franchise as a whole)
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It was definitely not a kid's book.
That was the thing that always mystified me about the turn the franchise took when Eastman and Laird licensed the cartoon and the parallel comic book published by the same outfit that gave us Archie. The turtles' original origin story? The whole thing hinges on a for-Christ's-sake rape-murder!!!!
from here.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:27 AM   #12
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It just depends on the tone of the show/movie/comic/toys. Itís not a mistake or wrong to portray them cuter in certain things though.

I think itís a mistake to think they must always look really aggressive. A combination of cute/appealing/tough is the best imo.

Some characters are tough looking but just have a natural cuteness to them that you really can not remove unless you purposely made them grotesque.

The Sonic characters are very much this and other video game characters. I think the TMNT fit into that too. Which is perfectly fine imo.
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Old 08-22-2018, 06:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
It just depends on the tone of the show/movie/comic/toys. Itís not a mistake or wrong to portray them cuter in certain things though.

I think itís a mistake to think they must always look really aggressive. A combination of cute/appealing/tough is the best imo.

Some characters are tough looking but just have a natural cuteness to them that you really can not remove unless you purposely made them grotesque.

The Sonic characters are very much this and other video game characters. I think the TMNT fit into that too. Which is perfectly fine imo.
I think the Turtles have always been cute. Not sure why the authors drew them as 4-5 feet tall. Lawson especially made them cute in early Mirage.
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Old 08-22-2018, 06:57 PM   #14
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The best turtle designs are those that can do both. A great example being Henson's.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:38 PM   #15
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Like it or not, people are attracted to attractive looking things. Having the TMNT look grotesque probably wouldn't work.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:50 PM   #16
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There's a difference between not ugly and little kiddie cute. I think little kiddie cute is a huge mistake.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:09 PM   #17
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What do we want to call A.C. Farley's designs? Yeah. That. If it's a middle ground, it's perfect.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:31 PM   #18
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What do we want to call A.C. Farley's designs?
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:40 AM   #19
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There's a difference between not ugly and little kiddie cute. I think little kiddie cute is a huge mistake.
Well, obviously unless you're doing a version for kids. I say they should also throw us adults a bone and do direct to Blu-ray animated movies with a more adult feel pretty much like what DC/WB does. There's no sense catering just to one demographic which is idiotic.

And yes, I think Farley's style would be a perfect blend.

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Old 08-23-2018, 09:44 AM   #20
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Well, obviously unless you're doing a version for kids. I say they should also throw us adults a bone and do direct to Blu-ray animated movies with a more adult feel pretty much like what DC/WB does. There's no sense catering just to one demographic which is idiotic.

And yes, I think Farley's style would be a perfect blend.
Kids loved serious cartoons when I was growing up not terribly long ago. Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Batman The Animated Series, TMNT 4Kids, The Batman... some iterations of Scooby Doo.

Kids don't need it to be all JigglyPuff and goo-goo eyes to like it.
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