Sunday, September 11, 2011

The World Trade Center as the TMNT Saw It



Ten years ago today, the skyline of New York City changed forever. As the Turtles have always called New York home, that lost skyline was often seen throughout all the mediums in which TMNT stories have been told. To reflect on the time before September 11, 2001, here's a look at some of the reminders we are left with of the World Trade Center, as seen through the eyes of a TMNT fan.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

The Twin Towers silently established the location of all three live-action TMNT movies.

TMNT 2: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (1993)









In the original TMNT cartoon, the Towers were seen several times as part of the background. Sometimes, the resemblance was unmistakable.

"Enter: The Fly"
"Enter: The Fly"












However, due to the nature of cartoons, sometimes the resemblance was a little more abstract. But there is no question as to what these unnamed buildings are intended to represent.

"Sky Turtles"
"Sky Turtles"












The episode "The Big Blow Out" featured the World Trade Center as a focal point of the plot. Shredder and Krang used the towers to project a giant dimensional portal into the sky, into which the Technodrome was eventually pulled.

"The Big Blow Out"
"The Big Blow Out"











"The Big Blow Out"
"The Big Blow Out"












Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation used a lot of different familiar New York sights as establishing shots, the World Trade Center buildings among them.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation












The Towers also had many appearances in the various TMNT comic book series. The next image was used as the inside cover for all three parts of the "Return to New York" storyline from the original TMNT comic book from Mirage Studios.

"Return to New York" - TMNT Vol. 1, #19-21


In 1992, this next eerie image was the title page used in the first issue of the 13-issue story arc, titled "City At War."

"City At War" - TMNT Vol. 1, #50


And in the Archie and Image comics series.

TMNT Adventures, #9
TMNT Vol. 3, #11















Later in the TMNT Adventures series from Archie comics, we were introduced to a New York City 100 years in the future. The city was decrepit, the streets had become rivers, and there really wasn't much good to be found in it. But, in some ways, this New York was more optimistic than reality would turn out to be. The Twin Towers still stood proud and tall.

TMNT Adventures, #62


Somewhat surreally, despite the show starting in 2003, the World Trade Center appeared in the 4Kids TMNT cartoon series. When this episode first aired, I was somewhat upset with this shot because it was just a lie. But the 4Kids studio was in New York, and I can't imagine this was an accident. Perhaps it was a show of defiance against what was taken from the city by some of the people most directly affected by that day.

"Darkness on the Edge of Town"

102 Minutes That Changed America is a documentary film by the History Channel that I highly recommend watching, as it shows the events of September 11, 2001, in real time through the eyes of witnesses who, by chance, had a video camera with them that day. Among the people interviewed, and whose video is used, is Sam Riegel, the voice of Donatello in the 4Kids TMNT cartoon.


Illustration by Michael Dooney, 2010

8 comments:

  1. What a cool idea! Very unique and touching tribute to 9/11. Thanks for posting this.

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  2. Great post, Rose. This was an information and respectful tribute to how we can appreciate history even in entertainment media. And I never even noticed that the Twin Towers made an appearance in the 4Kids show. Since it was the first season, is it possible that the backgrounds could have been completed prior to the events of 9-11... or else that the artists were just so used to drawing those buildings in NYC cityscapes that it just sneaked in out of habit? I'd like to think it was defiance, but I guess we'll never really know.

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  3. Sam Riegel's video account is now available on-line:
    http://www.history.com/interactives/witness-to-911#/gateway-plaza/

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  4. Strange in Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X it was called the Global Trade Center but in Enter: The Fly they used the real name.

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  5. Rose: Also, keep in mind the storyboards could have been completed in 2001 and long since forgotten about by 4Kids.. then animated later

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  6. Rose, really fantastic post. Thank you so much for all the work that went into this.

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  7. Great post. i didn´t notice the towers in the 2k3 series o.o

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  8. IIRC The boys battled Wingnut & Screwloose around the WTC after their Stump Wrestling gig.

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