Obviously, questions are flying furiously since yesterday's out-of-the-blue announcement that Peter Laird has sold the entirety of the TMNT property to Nickelodeon/Viacom. I've managed to track down a few answers that may help provide some insight on what's about to happen.
First, a few people have released public, personal statements on this transaction:
- Peter Laird - Co-creator of the TMNT, who allowed this sale to happen.
- Jim Lawson - Long-time and beloved TMNT comic book artist.
- Jake Black - Freelance Tales of the TMNT writer and source of inspiration for several fund raising efforts this year.
Some fans have noticed that certain parts of NinjaTurtles.com have disappeared, among them the catalog through which you could buy stuff directly from Mirage. Dan Berger reports, "We'll be starting a new web site soon where we're selling all the stuff we used to have posted."
Concerning the future of TMNT comic books, as Peter alludes to in his blog, some rights to publish comic books have been maintained. Dan was able to clarify that "Peter maintains the right to publish up to 18 TMNT comics per year that can be sold via the direct market and/or web site." To further clarify this, Dan states that Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2 will continue through to and conclude with issue #70, scheduled for next year. TMNT Vol. 4 will continue at a pace that only Peter Laird will be able to decide. Beyond that, they are (likely) allowed to do reprints, so long as they are between 32-48 pages, which rules out the publication of any trade paperbacks.
The inability to publish TBPs is why the "Mirage Universe" book, which had been scheduled for a December release, has now been canceled (as reported via Jake Black on Twitter and Facebook this morning).
When asked about "The Forever War" being published, Dan wasn't optimistic about its release, but added, "That's Murph's project." When asked, Steve Murphy's answer was, "I'm not sure."
While the TMNT have been sold lock, stock, and barrel to Nickelodeon/Viacom, Peter Laird stresses that he did not sell Mirage Studios. As Jim Lawson reported, Peter will continue to allow the artists to use their studio space, should they wish to. However, they would do so independently and not as Mirage Studios employees.
Dan states, "Mirage as an employer ends on December 31 of this year," then ads, "but the regular crew will be here at least 'til May as independent contractors." Dan himself forsees sticking around through at least the end of 2010.
Moving to the future as Nickelodeon has it planned, very little is known. There have been some unspecific reports that they already plan to head in a direction along the lines of the original 1980s cartoon. However, this has not been verified (and who knows if Nickelodeon is even 100% sure about which direction they'll be taking).
As for what happens with the current licensing deals already in place, a representative at Nickelodeon has stated to GamePro, "We plan on fulfilling all current obligations." This would apply to the current toy contract with Playmates Toys, as well as the video game contract with Ubisoft, among others.
The biggest unknown at the moment remains the fate of the planned movie. While a movie has been announced to be released in 2012, it is not known if this will be the same movie that had previously been on track for 2011 or if Nickelodeon will wipe the whole slate clean and begin anew. And if they do that, what direction will they take it? That is a question that remains unanswered for now.