Peter Laird's Palblog
Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a lot of ways defines my childhood, just not the "Eastman and Laird" part. Now as an adult, finding Peter Laird's blog Palblog is forcing me to look back at why I liked the Turtles, and what defined them to me. I read the Archie comics not the original series, watched the cartoons and movies, and bought all the dumb stuff, particularly the toys.
Going to a toy store and grabbing a figure you hadn't seen before meant more than that one single new toy, it meant ten new toys. Flipping over the packaging always meant new mutants and Shred-Heads to be discovered, sometimes from the comic series but sometimes something created just for the toy line. Even before seeing the toys in person, I would imagine them while I played and even have big build up scenarios leading up to their arrival, saving my allowance just waiting for Triceraton to terrorize my room.
Small details like the bugs crawling all over the figure "Scumbug" changed the way that I drew and the way I played. Growing older I wanted to see the more "adult" version of these characters, and began collecting the original TMNT series comics but actually found them to be dull. The universe portrayed in the Archie comics seemed full. There was an entire world of other monsters who weren't so monstrous, and not every story revolved around the Turtles. The world the figures lived in still seemed more interesting to me than the city the Eastman and Laird Turtles fought in.
Peter Laird's Palblog makes me think he also got more into the world of the Archie mutants more than what he actually started. The world of the Turtles grew and grew, so he had to populate it. Seeing his sketches for toys that were released adds almost a metaphysical feeling to the figures you owned, filling you with a non-ironic kind of nostalgia that sends you onto eBay willing to spend any amount for a Panda Kahn figure.
The little boy in me sees the figures that weren't produced and can only think of what I would've done if I had them as a child. It's almost unfair some of these will never see the light of day, drawn with notes on how they'd work and more often than not pictures of the accessories.
Laird is open and it seems like one day all of his sketch books will be documented on his site, from TMNT anatomy studies to pictures of Luke and Chewbacca fighting storm troopers. His honesty about his career is stunning in an industry where artists hide the fact they once illustrated Barbie picture books, talking about how much he was paid for newspaper illustrations and how much control he actually had over the Turtles.
The only thing I can compare Palblog to is finding an old sketch book from childhood and discovering all of your super hero drawings. The imagination of who you were when you were 7 is something that once lost can't be regained, but Laird's blog brings that feeling back. It puts me into my mother's back yard digging holes and sitting on the basement steps thinking of new animals to become mutants, it simply gives you glimpses of a world you lost.