Webcomic reviews: TMNT Gaiden, by Obscure Zodiac

Webcomic reviews: TMNT Gaiden, by Obscure Zodiac
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In the world today, there are over 1000 different comics ranging from the Saturday morning strips of Fox Trot and Dilbert to the comic books of Spider-Man and Batman. These comics have also found there way to the online world. It is in this world where free-lancing artists and writers have written a new chapter in comic’s history. No longer limited to the confines of publishers these online creators have given online viewers an intimate look into their world.

Among these comics is a new story line for the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Simply titled, Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, this online comic, started in 2004, gives fans of the turtle franchise a darker and more serious look at the brothers. Taking place after events in the 2003 cartoon series, the turtles are broken as a family after a cursed weapon posses the turtles resulting in the death of Master Splinter. Each of them deals with Splinter’s passing in their own way from not seeing one another again for sixteen years. At that time a new turtle comes into existence and feelings of the past are re-ignited in brothers. Over time with help from Casey Jones, April O’Neal and Casey’s daughter, Shadow, old wounds between the brothers slowly heal, perhaps in time to face-off against old foes.

As an avid reader of the comic I thoroughly enjoy this direction of story line the author has taken. It is uncommon to find a writer who takes a great risk in bringing a more adult atmosphere to a franchise whose primary audience is children. A talented writer as well as an artist, he makes great use of background elements to convey a more impactful feeling of despair, anger, and frustration for each of the characters. His original turtle character, who’s named Renoir, adds a new dimension to the brother’s behavior as they try to help out the younger turtle. The character development is very impressive, giving us a more detailed look on how the turtles may have come out to be when they grow up.

Recently, the author of this comic, Hoang-Quan Pham, 23, granted me an interview about his work.

Aaron: How did you discover your love for drawing?

Pham: When I was four, my mother traced a picture of a smurf on a sheet of paper to show me how to draw. It fascinated me to the point where I would go to the library, borrow European comic books (mainly “The Smurfs”) and attempt to trace the drawings myself. I gradually stopped tracing and started drawing things on my own. The satisfaction of drawing something from scratch on my


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