Marcus Williams is de artiest achter het kunstwerk op de verpakking van de 6 inch Classified Zarana, die gisteren tijdens Fan First Tuesday live ging als pre-order. Eerder had ik nog niet van deze artiest gehoord, en dat is precies waarom ik de verpakkingen van de Classified Series zo tof vind: Steeds weer ga ik op onderzoek uit naar de artiesten die kunstwerken leveren voor deze speelgoedlijn. Steeds weer een ontdekkingsreis naar kunstenaars die meer G.I. Joe werk op hun naam hebben staan.
En zo liep ik gisteren tegen Marcus Williams aan, die een comic/cartoon/anime-achtige illustratie maakte van Zarana. Enorm tof werk als je het mij vraagt. In deze stijl zou ik wel een comic willen lezen of een cartoon willen kijken! Dit ziet er toch geweldig uit?
Maar zoals gezegd begint bij zo'n illustratie mijn digitale reis pas... Dit bracht me direct naar zijn website MarcusTheVisual.com. Hierop zag ik niet direct iets van G.I. Joe. Maar als liefhebber van cartoons uit de jaren '80 en van grafische kunstuitingen, kon ik het niet laten om op een toffe illustratie te klikken van TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). De naam van het project: Old Ninjas.
Verder vond ik geen G.I. Joe werk van zijn hand, maar deze 3 illustraties legitimeren op zich al 3 aparte artikelen, zo tof! Maar in mijn zoektocht kwam ik de 2 TMNT afbeeldingen, die hierboven staan, ook tegen op een Old Ninjas Facebook pagina. Het bleek dat er een heel verhaal achter de oude Turtles schuil gaat, fan fiction, wat zeer leuk was om te lezen. En die illustraties... pfff, echt prachtig. Een gouden combi! 🔥😎
Om de context van deze 2 illustraties voor jullie goed weer te geven en voor het nageslacht vast te leggen in ons archief, heb ik besloten de illustraties met verhalen in chronologische volgorde integraal over te nemen, zodat dit fantastische project onder jullie aandacht komt. Echt zo ontzettend tof dit! En mocht jij het dus ook zo tof vinden, dan kun je hier je posters bestellen. 👌🏽
Mocht je op de hoogte willen blijven van het werk van Marcus Williams, dan wil ik je wijzen op zijn Facebook, Twitter en Tumblr pagina's. Ik heb zijn werk grondig doorgespit en wat een genot was dat zeg! Of je nu van Marvel of Star Wars houdt, van schetsen met pen of kleurrijke digitale illustraties, hij levert het allemaal en het is allemaal geweldig goed, hoe ver je ook terug gaat op zijn tijdlijn. Ook projecten als Super Natural of Tuskegee Heirs, hij heeft er een fan bij! ❤️🙏🏼
Voor nu, enjoy en...
Yo Joe!!! 👊🏽
Old Ninjas - Marcus Williams (2021)
The first ninja brother to focus on for my Old Ninjas Fan Fiction is Raphael.
Something broke inside of Raphael the night he watched his father die in front of him, and it was more than just his heart. It was something deeper that shattered as he cried out silently with tear-filled eyes towards the horrors of reality. With both Leo and Mikey critically injured by vicious blows from Shredder the night they attempted to rescue Donnie from brutal torture, Raphael had to process Master Splinter's death in a heartbeat. He was the only one left able-bodied to carry his broken family members to safety after Shredder retreated from the fight. With Leo ordering him to take Splinter's body home first, the silence that accompanied him along the way sent ripples of grief throughout his being.
Years of trying to vent the hurt through his fists by way of crime fighting only compounded the frustration that he couldn't find a remedy for what was broken. His youngest brother's attempts at redirecting his energy through moonlighting vigilante efforts worked occasionally, but the results were fleeting. After nearly ten years of trying and failing to reset his soul, he finally decided he needed to get away from it all. Throw away everything that reminded him of his old life as a Ninja, and start fresh. He would always check in on Mikey and Donnie from time to time, but this new plan had to work since nothing else would.
Connecting with long-time friends Casey Jones and April O'Neal, Raph drew up plans to fix up an abandoned building to craft something unique for his new life. He admitted to them that he no longer wanted to hide from the world, and that his new life would welcome anything and everything regardless of the complexities. In no time, the three successfully renovated the dilapidated space into a charming (partially dilapidated) antique and records shop in the heart of Brooklyn. He affectionately named the shop, "Splinter in a Haystack". On opening day, April brought out all the bells and whistles to do a shining highlight interview spot on the News to put Raph's shop on the map officially. He was the talk of the town for months.
Decades after truly giving up the life of a Ninja crime fighter, Raph found peace in collecting broken things that others either lost or discarded. Through mending other shattered things, he began to piece together an answer to his own trauma. All of his rage and fury as a teenager was an on-going longing for approval and acceptance from his father. His rivalry with his eldest brother for who was in fact more in line with their father's teaching was an extension of that longing, but was often processed as jealousy on the surface. Deep down, Raph knew that he would eventually straighten up and walk the path his father laid out for him. That once he came around, he would finally have the approval he had wished for. Unfortunately, that dream is what shattered that horrible night when his father died in his arms as he carried him home. With understanding, one can mitigate one's emotions over time, and this Old Ninja can finally release his grief to the universe while working quietly in his quaint little antique and records shop.
Next brother in line for my Old Ninjas, is a battle-weathered Leonardo. After Master Splinter's passing, Leo traveled to Japan to honor his masters wishes to be buried in his home country. Upon completing his mission, Leo found himself drawn to the world Splinter loved and often spoke about to him and his brothers. He decided to stay and travel Japan for a "little while".
Multiple decades later, Leonardo would find himself the Sensei and master of his own dojo for swordsmanship and ninjutsu. Not one to slouch on his training, Leo mastered not only his swords, but has sharpened his body to peak conditions. With students traveling from far and wide to enroll at his school, it was no surprise that a urban legend sprang forth that a "mythical beast" could teach you the ways of the sword like no other.
He has long shed the fear and anxiety of his appearance to humans, and has embraced the locals affinity and praise towards his honorable ways. He now understands why Splinter fell in love with this land. All but one of his brothers has come to visit him throughout the years, but that's another story. Peace ya'll.
Next brother in line for my Old Ninjas, is Donatello. Donnie took the events surrounding Master Splinter's death particularly hard. The Shredder had kidnapped him in an effort to reverse engineer some newfound alien technology, but had begun resorting to torture when Donnie refused. When the cavalry arrived, Splinter insisted on joining the rescue party to deal with Shredder personally for this offense.
To the teams' horror, when they finally located Donatello, he was crudely bound to a wall unconscious and near death without his arm. Splinter, overwhelmed with anger, charged forward with a deadly barrage of attacks toppling the small army of foot soldiers protecting The Shredder. Shredder responded ferociously, nearly mortally wounding two of the turtles. This sent Splinter over the edge with rage as he aimed to end this demon once and for all.
Unfortunately, this created openings for Shredder to strike a killing blow to the grief-ridden father.
It was in this very moment that Donnie regained consciousness, witnessing Splinter's body impaled by Shredders' blades. Having sustained crushing blows himself, Shredder reluctantly retreated from the fight leaving behind the alien device. After collecting their father and brother, the turtles mourned their loss, but Donatello blamed himself intimately for Splinter's death. His brothers tried and failed to convince him otherwise for decades.
It was during these years that Donnie dedicated his efforts to rebuilding his body using the very same alien technology he was tasked to reverse engineer. In his grief however, murderous vengeance festered deeply in his heart towards The Shredder. Obsessed with the idea of never allowing himself to be vulnerable again, Donnie emerged with a highly advanced exoskeleton suit on the bleeding edge of any known technology on earth.
Finally able to exact his revenge, he started down a burdened path of brutal vigilante justice on his quest to kill the Shredder. His brothers were pushed away over the years as they tried to speak sense into him. Turning down his eldest brother's invitation to visit Japan to pay his respects to Splinter's grave, Donatello is single-handedly tearing down crime organizations one by one on his war path to find closure and finally rid the world of Oroku Saki. More to come, peace ya'll
And the last turtle brother in line for my Old Ninjas, is Michelangelo.
With all the trauma that Mikey and his brothers were accustomed to over the large majority of his young life, he wasn't practiced in the ways of actual mourning. He strived daily to redirect the energy of his brothers in an effort to get things back to the way they were before Splinter was killed by the Shredder. It was a losing battle to say the least.
With Leo leaving to live in Japan, and Donnie pushing himself deeper into solitude and depression, Mikey had only his brother Raph to turn to. To his delight, there were a handful of years the two brothers fought side by side as a dynamic duo of sorts, but this too wouldn't last. For reasons that Mikey couldn't understand, Raph's desire to fight crime continued to dissipate with each passing year the anniversary of their father's death came around. Raph finally decided it was time he found his own life path for once, and moved out of the sewers. And just like that, Mikey was alone.
For the next few decades, Mikey would carry the torch of what his family had instilled within him all by himself. Continuing to patrol the city streets of New York as a stalwart vigilante protector, he would often have imaginary arguments with his absent brothers to fill the void (sometimes even during battle... to the confusion of his enemies). Time however, can eventually strain the endurance of even the most upbeat spirits. On a particularly lonely night, Mikey debated long and hard on giving up the fight, when he stumbled on what appeared to be a woman running from a group of muggers.
Springing into action, Mikey made an elaborate entrance into the fray, but quickly realized that the situation was quite the opposite. The woman was in fact a very capable private investigator, and needed no assistance whatsoever as she thrashed the group of men around Mikey (Mikey would say he helped a little). After the dust settled, she introduced herself as Lacey Lachapelle and commended Mikey on his willingness to help, but questioned if he preferred to remain in the shadows forever. She had heard of his exploits over the years by dozens of eyewitness accounts, but never believed for a second that the stories were true. Why not become a Private investigator and team up together to really make an impact throughout the city, she questioned. Starry eyed and overjoyed by the possibility of being a "teammate" again, it didn't take long for Mikey to make his decision.
With some clever dancing around the red tape of it all (and Lacey's internal contacts), the city of New York had its first licensed Mutant Turtle Private Investigator. For the next decade, the two would make a strong legend for themselves as a "get the job done" crime-stopping duo. More to come. Peace ya'll.
An old rickety shop doorbell chimes as a man quietly walks into an antique & record shop in the heart of Brooklyn and pauses before speaking.
Stranger: I'm looking for the owner of this store.
Raphael: Aw dang. Yo, I forgot to turn off the open light my guy. We're closed.
Stranger: I'm not here to purchase your wares.
I was sent to find a Ninja named Raphael.
Raphael: I swear on everything man! I can't believe people are still finding that whack commercial! Sigh. I only did that crap to help Market the place.
Raphael: Take a hike man. This ain't no friggin circus sideshow.
I should've never let Mikey talk me into doing that mess.
Stranger: He mentioned that you would likely need incentive.
Raphael: Is that right? And who might this "He" be?
Stranger: Hamato Yoshi.
Raphael: And now you have about five seconds to get out of my shop with your legs intact!
My father is dead you jackass.
Strider Hiryū: No, Rafael. He is not.
My name is Sutoraidā Hiryū. I am a Strider, and here is your incentive.
Raphael: That's Splinter's walking stick. H-How did you...?
The list of friends of my Old Ninjas start with an individual that has probably seen far too much of the bizarre for one lifetime, Casey Jones.
For a man that's been called crazy, unstable, and just plain odd over the years, the turtles will forever consider Casey Jones one of the most trusted humans they know. He's been there for the turtles through thick and thin, and has been a reliable figure in their lives well beyond all the insane battles. When the Shredder murdered their father in cold blood, he was there for them as well.
Casey traveled by boat with Leonardo to Japan to help bury Master Splinter under the guise that Leo had a terminal illness (with a disguise complete with full head to toe bandage wraps to conceal Leo's appearance) to ensure there was no meddling from noisy ship captains and crew along the way. When they arrived, he rented a hotel, hired a proper mortician (one that could handle the shock of seeing a giant mutant rat), and paid for the funeral procedures. He counseled Leo through the depths of his guilt and mourning, all while making this virtually impossible trip for a man-sized mutant turtle possible.
With an attendance of three (the graveyard help counted), they buried Splinter in the middle of a tranquil forest meadow clearing, at the base of a beautiful cherry blossom tree. When Leo tried and failed to say his respects, it was Casey who continued the send off.
The two stayed at the grave until well after sunset and began reminiscing over all the ridiculous things their father never caught Leo and his brothers doing while crimefighting. The laughter sobered Leonardo, and enabled him to to make his choice to remain in Japan to build a proper shrine to honor his father's legacy. The two friends shook hands at first, but quickly hugged, knowing this could be the last time they saw one another.
Casey returned home to New York the next day, and reassured Leo's brothers that he was going to be alright. Decades later, this old man has found solace in the arms of the open waters as a fisherman. While he has found a measure of success at this new trade, old habits die hard. Wake up early enough, and you just might see him whacking his morning catch with his hockey stick after reeling it in.
These long-time enemies of my Old Ninjas have remained consistently troublesome for the Ninja Turtles over the years, but Rocksteady and Bebop have most recently managed to learn some new tricks.
After countless failures over multiple decades against the turtles throughout their henchmen careers, these mutants were nearly terminated by their own master. Whilst begging for their lives, Rocksteady blurted out 'that if only their brains would work right, they could kill those pesky turtles in no time.' Hearing this made Shredder pause his blade and ponder the simplicity of such a concept. He of course agreed, and quickly summoned his resident scientist to crunch the possibilities of it all.
It was mere luck that their fates were saved by way of a recent experimental scientific trial involving advanced brain-enhancing implant technology. Once implanted, the artificial intelligence powering the devices could literally bypass the minds of the two mutants, hijack their bodies and carry out programmed directives with near flawless results. By taking advantage of their raw mutant strength and negating their fumbling minds from the equation, this technology would in essence turn them into actual killing machines. Shredder ordered the procedure immediately.
After receiving the implants by a skilled surgeon based in Fukuoka Japan, Rocksteady and Bebop were ordered to be fully tested before returning to New York. It was during these years that the two mutants' string of successful and brutal missions created a terrifying reputation throughout the region. When not activated, these two were their old annoying selves, but when controlled by the implants, they were cold, calculating and merciless. Their victories subsequently led to them becoming wealthy, powerful, and feared by local crime factions. For Rocksteady and Bebop, it was like waking up from multiple dreams, but for each time they woke, they were treated with more and more respect over time. Needless to say, they quickly began to love their new lives in Japan.
Shredder was more than pleased with their progress and results, but had one last local mission for the two now that they could be trusted. Oddly enough, it involved a mortician in Japan.
Another tried and true friend of my Old Ninjas, is the critically acclaimed, Pulitzer prize winning reporter, April O'Neal.
When no one else could reach Donatello after Master Splinter was killed, April never gave up trying. During the day, she would put on her famous face for the daily news as New York's most famous news anchor. After work, she would bring her long-time friend dinner each night, knowing he was too wrapped up in his search for the Shredder to eat regularly.
There were times when she would have small breakthroughs with Donnie and make him laugh, or explain the elaborate details of the alien tech throughout his gear. These moments never lasted though, and it wasn't long before Donnie was back to hitting the streets to uncover more clues to find his next target. Being the clever-minded person she was, April eventually convinced Donnie to let her help in his efforts by tapping into her massive list of resources she's accrued over the years as a reporter. Before long, they began spending longer nights together, connecting the dots and following the informational bread crumbs that led to new breakthroughs. Of course, this was all apart of her larger plan.
One night, after helping to plan an elaborate shakedown of a local crime boss, April decided to secretly follow Donnie to the location. She knew he would be too focused to notice her. When the fighting broke out, April watched as Donnie tore through the gang hideout and waited for just the right time to jump in. Sure enough, Donnie was starting to become overwhelmed, and April sprung into action with a baseball bat in hand. With her interruption catching everyone off guard, Donnie made quick work of the remaining goons before erupting at April for her lack of judgment. The two argued the entire way home, but were no closer to a resolution when they finally arrived. April declared that she would start following her own leads solo unless Donnie trained her to fight so she could be of more help to him. After being turned down repeatedly, she finally protested that she wanted to avenge Splinter's death just as much as he did, and wouldn't take no for an answer. And just like that, Donnie's hands were tied.
For the next two decades, April became a student of the bo staff under the watchful tutelage of her new Master and friend, Donatello. Throughout her training years, she learned the ways of the ninja, as well as a handful of martial arts. Though it was hard, April's master plan to reach Donnie's heart was a resounding success. He would often lose himself (smiling all the while) in quoting his father's teaching to April. Their training began to bring Donnie back from the depths of depression, and it created someone he could finally start confiding in. To protect her from harm, Donnie crafted April a similar body armor using the alien tech within his armor. To hide her identity while on missions, April started wearing a purple wig to conceal her red hair. To Donnie's surprise, they were a force to be reckoned with.
April often had to find clever ways to cover up her battle scars from the previous night before heading to work, but no one at the station ever noticed.
The next ally to my Old Ninjas is extra-dimensional samurai legend, Usagi (This piece was drawn by the talented Mr. Shannon Sapenter and colored by me).
Miyamoto Usagi had left this reality long ago after many years of fighting alongside the Turtles. As a testament to the friendship they forged as comrades, Donatello managed to create an interdimensional beacon and gateway device (using advanced tech salvaged from their interactions with the Evil overlord being, Krang) should they ever need his help. He has used it only a handful of times when their world was truly in danger, but overall Usagi has been able to live a full and fruitful life in his own dimension.
On a peaceful night's walk by the babbling river that snaked through his quiet village, the beacon nestled within his headband began to sound. Usagi knew the next steps of preparation all to well and began to grab his essentials before activating the device, and traveling through the gateway. When he arrived, it was in front of the Japanese homestead of Leonardo, who greeted him with somber eyes after respectfully bowing to his old friend. The two locked forearms in a firm shake before hugging, laughing, and searching each others faces to examine the effects of time.
After the pleasantries however, Usagi looked confused while scanning the landscape for trouble. He asked why he was summoned from his world, and who was the villain they must defeat this time. Leo's eyes fell to his palms to examine the handful of long incense he rolled between his fingers as he scoffed and replied that the villain this time was heartache. He had not told Usagi of Master Splinter's death many years ago, and wanted to offer the opportunity to pay his respects in honor of recognizing their nations "year of the rat." Leo apologized for his selfishness, and offered only tear-filled eyes as compensation.
Usagi placed his hand on Leo's shoulder firmly and confirmed without a word after sensing the hurt in his friends voice. The two set off towards the forest with all the proper respects in stow, while they took turns unraveling the many adventures they have experienced over the years apart.
More to come.
Old Ninjas: Continued
As Leo and Usagi neared Master Splinter's shrine, their laughter was cut short by a painfully disturbing sight. Where Splinter's shrine should be, now lies a gaping hole in the ground, with the destroyed remains of stone rubble scattered throughout the area. The shock petrified Leo as he stood shaking with anger and confusion.
Just as the questions began to mutter forth from his lips, Usagi was shot from behind with an electrified shuriken. The razor sharp blade sizzled with crackling lines of residual electricity as it protruded from the back of his neck.
Stunned from the attack, Usagi collapsed to the ground while Leo frantically tried to pinpoint the source of the attack. With his teeth clenched in rage, Leo roared outward to the forest for the disrespectful coward to show himself. A rusty deep and raspy voice quietly responded from the shadows proclaiming that he only needed one thing from the mutant turtle. He wanted to know the whereabouts of Splinter's body. Leo's face became twisted with bewilderment at the question, but as he glared back at the uprooted burial site of his father, the request only enraged Leo that much more.
Grief-stricken and blinded by anger, his vision blurred with liquid hate, desperately scanning the negative spaces between each tree for the owner of this mysterious voice.
As he turned to circle his scan once more, Leo felt the cold stiffness of a blade against his throat. He could feel the familiar stinging sensation as the weapon effortlessly sliced through the top layers of his skin. The figure was adorned in white from head to toe with what appeared to be a red cobra symbol on his chest. His leathery voice repeated his question regarding the location of the corpse as he applied more pressure against Leo's neck. Leo confirmed that he laid his father's body in the ground personally years ago. He asked what kind of maniac would uproot a grave and pretend there was no body to be found.
The white ninja stood still after scanning the turtle's face for confirmation. He looked back at the hole and quietly declared that "they" must have retrieved the body long ago. Sheathing his katana from Leo's throat, he muttered that the Shredder will not be pleased to hear this news. Leo's eyes widened upon hearing the name, but couldn't wrap his head around the dozen swirling questions regarding Splinter's absence.
More to come.
Old Ninjas: part 2
Even with Storm Shadow's weapons sheathed, and the reveal that Master Splinter's body was apparently abducted from his grave, Leonardo's focus was squarely rooted in downing this assailant. He was weaponless against a foe that was visibly well armed for assassination, but with a quick scan of the area, Leo remembered a valuable truth regarding his situation. Miyamoto Usagi was returning to consciousness, and together they outnumbered their attacker. Now aware of this advantage, Leo needed to distract the white ninja to buy Usagi some time.
He pushed his emotions downward and began to engage the man with questions surrounding his fathers grave robbers to get the man talking. If he was hired by the Shredder, then what purpose could be served by obtaining his father's corpse. The answers given were cryptic to say the least as he danced around any direct information regarding his orders. It was enough time to give Usagi the opportunity to properly come to and silently confirm with Leo their intentions to overpower the ninja. With a sudden burst of movement, they both let fly a flurry of attacks aimed at incapacitating the man with extreme prejudice. To their amazement however, Storm Shadow was just as swift to dodge each attack with unnatural precision. All three warriors took nanoseconds to reflect and admire each other's skill in what felt like bullet-time movements between the barrage of attacks. This was no ordinary ninja.
With a brief opportunity to distance himself from the two, Storm Shadow catapulted himself away from the flurry of attacks, landing stylishly and slowly turning to lock eyes with the mutants. He announced that he had planned to let them live, but will gladly give them the death they ask for while dramatically unsheathing his weapons. The moonlight flickered and danced on the metal blades as a whistling wind gave life to the fallen leaves surrounding the destroyed shrine. The breeze wrapped the battlefield in a ballet of movement using the leaves, in what would normally be considered a beautiful display of nature. Leo and Usagi's eyes met only for a second as they tightened their battle stances once more to engage their target. Leo went high as Usagi went low, both taking care to avoid the flashes of blades streaming in front of their faces.
Using an especially clever technique taught to him by his father, Leo countered one of the blades causing a brief stutter in Storm Shadow's assault. Leo used this window to disarm the ninja while Usagi went in for a grapple maneuver. Usagi's body whipped around the white ninja in a flash, and with the abrupt sound of a loud crack, the battle was finally still. Usagi had broken the man's arm in three locations with his hold, and targeted a major artery for good measure. Now, at last the duo could mine for real answers.
More to come, peace ya'll.