Tales of TMNT Guests #3

Since early on in my TMNT fandom, it has always been my dream to meet the people who’ve worked on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Somehow I’ve managed to meet a lot of those amazing people through the years, from actors, directors, creators, artists and more.  Dreams have been coming true for me, and one of the things I feel is very important is sharing how these dreams have come true so others may take the same road if they so choose.  Here, I’m sharing how I met some of the TMNT guests that have come into my life.

In 1992, I got to go to Turtle Con.  The only official convention ever held by Mirage Studios and most of the Mirage artists were there.   One artist, Ryan Brown, took interest in my dad as my dad was wearing a t-shirt of “The Ghoul Show”, which was a TV show my dad use to work on.  To our surprise Ryan is a fan of “The Ghoul”.  It was really cool to know that one of my favorite artists, was a fan of my dad.  While I did not get to talk to Ryan much at Turtle Con, in 1996 I went to Mid-Ohio Con where Ryan was a guest.  I brought him a sculpt my dad made for him of a character from The Ghoul Show my dad use to have to make all the time for the show.

It was great getting to see Ryan at Mid-Ohio Con and this was where I really got to talk to him.  At this time, I got my hands on a few original artwork pages for the Archie Comics.  Ryan was nice enough to sign them.  He took time to talk with each of the Turtle fans in the group that was there with me.  It was great to get to know him.  I did not see him again until 2007, 11 years had passed and my biggest surprise of all was that he remembered me.  It’s not often to find Ryan at a con or event.  Though he is totally worth meeting and talking to.

Video of Ryan Brown meeting my dad can be found in this episode of Cowabunga Corner.

Greg Abbey has gone by handful of names.  Most Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans got to know him first as Frank Frankson,  the voice of Raphael in the 4Kids series.  Throughout the seasons his name changed, though it was always the same actor, one that us fans found very hard to meet.  Though in 2007, to our surprise, Greg was a last minute guest added to the list of voice actors at AnimeNext, A Convention I was already at when the news was given.  He was only going to be there for only one panel and one autograph session.

I was so excited.   I did not have everything that I would have had if I knew I was meeting Greg, but I did have a handful of important items he could sign.  So we got our seats.  I sat up two tripods, one for the video camera and one for the digital camera.  The panel that was going on was how to make music videos, very cool and interesting panel, though I realized I made a mistake!  A part of my tripod was not with me.  The part that connects the camera to the tripod was missing, so I had to walk back to the hotel room.  I had my friends Crittle and Jade hold our seats in the panel room in the front row.   I videotaped the walk from the convention center to the hotel, then on the way back I noticed Wayne Grayson, Mike Pollock, and Ed Paul at the top of the steps.  So I stopped and said hi, as Wayne introduced me to Greg, under the name John Campbell at that time.

I was so shocked that I got to meet him before the panel.  And he's so nice!  Though at the same time I can see him as a Raphael type.  I'm totally honored to get the chance to meet him in person.  I said hi for a few minutes, but I wanted to get back to the AMV panel and they were heading elsewhere so I got in and sat down setting up the tripods the rest of the way.  The AMV panel ended, next was a drawing panel which we stayed for and the TMNT panel followed soon after .

The panel started and each of them got to introduce themselves, John was asked to go first but he asked Mike Pollock to start off the other side of the table so he can see how it's done.   So it went in this order, Mike Pollock, Ed Paul, Michael Sinterniklaas, Wayne Grayson, and John Campbell.  It was great having the three turtles sitting together.  I was sitting next to some friends from TMNT-L: Blue, Ninjaplease, Kaz, R2, and Sango.   On the other side front row was Crittle, Mystic, and OMG.   Sitting behind them was Jade.  Oh and sitting a few rows behind me was Shredder.  So, there was a good handful of TMNT-L members here.  Always great to meet up with so many friends.

I started off the panel by getting John to do Toddler Raphael's voice for us, which was a request I did to all the other 4Kids Turtles in the past.  It was GREAT! Wayne warned him that I was going to ask for that during the panel and we all laughed.  Wayne was like "I should of bet money on that".   The questions went from there.  I don't think I could go into everything, though we all had a lot of great laughs and the questions were really good.   Many of the questions I had never heard before; like what do the actors do during the downtime between having to say their lines.   I heard throwing pencils is one of the things.   They also admit that TMNT has spoiled them, they do prefer to record together, over the dubbing of anime.  As they put it, it's a lot more fun.

After the panel, we left the room.  The voice actors came out onto the front steps and hung out a little bit with us and we got some group pictures which was really cool.   Crittle, Shredder, Mystic and I went to start the line for the 5pm Autograph session with John Campbell.   I got started talking with another anime fan there and the time passed.  I also put the photos that I took during the TMNT panel onto my laptop during this time and played the slide show for Mystic and Crittle.  Once the line started up I wanted to go fast since there was a panel that already started which we wanted to be at.   So I went up and got them to sign stuff, John signed my autograph shirt!  There was a limit of two items per a person so it was hard to pick and choose since I don't know when I'll next see John.  I hope to see him again.

This is video from the TMNT panel at Anime Next 2007

Nick Palma was Michaelangelo’s stunt double from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II.  I remember growing up reading all sorts of behind the scenes information on the movie, though never seeing an interview with Nick.  I did find him mentioned in one interview with Larry Lam from Black Belt Magazine which reads “They had a harder time finding Michaelangelo, because he had to be even shorter than the rest of us, and they were glad when they found Nick Palma.”  I never dreamed that I’d get to meet Nick, though in Summer 2011 that chance came about.

That summer, I went out west for San Diego Comic Con International.  Knowing it’s not easy to get out west, I took this trip as a chance to set up interviews for “Cowabunga Corner”.  One of the friends that I met up with while out west for an Interview was Michelan Sisti.  He told me of Nick and how they are still good friends.  He gave me Nick’s phone number.  I was surprised to learn from Nick that he was going to be at San Diego Comic Con.  At the convention, I made sure to swing by his booth to meet him.  Nick’s booth was really neat as he had a life size cutout of him in his Michaelangelo costume with the head off.  Nick and I realized the convention was no place for an interview.

Nick agreed to meet up elsewhere for an interview.   We set that up shortly after the convention and met up.  Nick was so kind.  He really enjoyed working on the TMNT movies and had a lot to share, including showing some original movie props that he was allowed to keep.  After sharing the stories, we had to leave for that day.  It was great getting the chance to meet Nick, and I can not wait to share this interview on Cowabunga Corner.

Each of these guests that I shared a story about was at public events, far from where I live, and not easy to get close to.  Though somehow I managed to talk to them, make friends with them and some of which I am still in touch with to this day.  Friends that I hope to never lose.  The memories of our meetings, of those first conversations, of just how friendly all of the men and women behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really are, this is one of the reasons I will keep working to keep this franchise alive.

Anyone can meet them, anyone can do the things that I’ve done.  All you need to do is believe in yourself and find the goal that you really want.  I have never stopped traveling, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet many many more people who’ve worked on Ninja Turtles.  Though I am not rich, I live paycheck to paycheck, I am not treated any different than any other attendee by the event workers.  I just go and see what happens, sometimes it could become that which dreams are made out of.

Do you have a story of meeting a Ninja Turtle guest that you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear your stories.  Or do you have questions about meeting guests?  Feel free to share and ask questions in the comment section below.  All email addresses are kept private.

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