WYZE: As always with my interviews, let's start off with some background information please...
A.C.:A.C.Farley (Craig) began the freelance phase of his professional life in the F&SF community producing artwork for publication in hardcover/paperbacks and role-playing games. Prior to this, he was a soldier in the U. S. Army Intelligence Agency where his assignment required a Top Secret/SI clearance to perform his work as an illustrator. From there, he worked for 12 years in the defense industry for Sanders/Lockheed Defensive Systems Division where he rendered detailed paintings and technical drawings of military equipment to be developed and used in the field. Since 1987, he has made his living full-time as a freelance illustrator. He has done numerous paintings for Doubleday, TSR, Game Designers Workshop, West End Games, Asimov's Magazine, Analog, TOR, Baen Books and special first edition SF books for Easton Press. Most of his work in the past few years has been with Mirage Studios, the people responsible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The work at Mirage includes painting covers, drawing comics, some sculpting, designing and publishing TMNT Licensing Style Guides (CD Rom and print versions) and some computer animation. Beyond that, production of a few other multimedia CD Rom productions and computer 3D modeling and animation for various concerns and companies doing business as Altered Earth Arts.
Craig's own creation is Bioneers®. Bioneers is SF adventure and features a lot of high tech robots, equipment, and heroics. A CDRom game demo is in progress. Craig is very, very involved in multimedia and computer animation and design. Altered Earth Arts and it's website are his multimedia babies. Want to communicate with A.C.? E-mail him at email@example.com.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've seen more of your Ninja Turtle-related artwork on fan sites than just about anyone else's Turtle work, Eastman and Laird material included. How does it feel to have so much of your work displayed on sites besides Altered Earth?
I wasn't aware that my work was used by fans so much! If that is true then I am certainly flattered of course! After all, I don't do this stuff simply for my own enjoyment. Well, to a large degree I guess I do. All the same, I sure do want others to enjoy it when it's finished. I am always gratified to hear positive remarks about my efforts. Today is a good day.
As an artist, you have to interpret the characters' personalities and moods effectively, which I'd imagine involves an understanding of the characters' personalities. How do you view the Turtles' characters (as well as that of the supporting cast)?
The TMNT are a family. The boys are brothers, if not by blood, then brothers in arms. They stick together. Even though they have the occasional heated argument, they know they can depend on one another when it counts the most. We all want to belong to such a group. They have a solid father figure. He instills them with love, a sense of honor, discipline and respect.
Sadly, I always wonder about the quality of their lives. I know that they like the same things we all do. Movies, TV, books, video games, toys and all. That stuff is all fine and good. The thing is, they can never live among the rest of us. They are a kind of monster, after all, and people would be afraid of them. So that is why they have few human acquaintances. I imagine that April, like a big sister, is the one with the most sympathy for them. Rough and ready, Casey, is likewise a fill in for a big brother, is helpful since he has a talent for hiding his emotions like the TMNT.
Let's face it, the TMNT will never marry and have children. Venus, (you know, from the Fox TV show?) nor any other female turtle, will ever be seen or mentioned in the Mirage comics, as far as I can tell. Do the math. The boys are well past puberty. So, heterosexually speaking, (which, in light of their brotherly relationship, is probably the only way to speak of it) they have no choice but to embrace a monk's lifestyle and find peace in their own way. However lonesome that might be, I believe they could have happy lives.
Even so, they are the end of their line. No little TMNT offspring will be birthed to carry on the tradition. The most poignant thought is of that last remaining brother. Old and alone, it all ends with him. The last of his kind. How can this scenario fail to grab your heart and wring it?
So, you see, the TMNT can be so much more than they are allowed to be in the movies and TV that you are presented with. And these thoughts of mine don't scratch the surface of the possibilities. They have stories that will never be told. Because, as goofy as they have been portrayed, they can also be too REAL.
Who are you influenced by, as far as work is concerned?
I will name a few artist's, but I am sure that I have been influenced by all of the art I have ever seen. The names are in no certain order...
• Norman Rockwell
• Howard Pyle
• Neal Adams
• Curt Swan
• George Klein
• Murphy Anderson
• John Buscema
• Will Eisner
• Frank Kelly Freas
• Howard Pyle
• N.C. Wyeth
• Pablo Picasso
• Maxfield Parrish
• J.C. Leyendecker
• Robert Peak
• and a whole lot more
I've been struck by the sheer amount of emotion and intensity your work seems to exude. Does that come naturally, or does it take a lot of work?
Wow. Once again I am flattered by this compliment. I do try to feel whatever emotion a character is experiencing at the moment in the story and translate it to the art and thereby, hopefully, to a viewer.
As the last artist to work on the original Mirage Studios Turtles series, what do you think about the current Image Comics TMNT series? Any thoughts on the now-defunct "The Next Mutation" show?
Well, I was only one of the last. Jim Lawson was there with that comic until the last pencil mark of the last panel was drawn. Jim is an amazing artist and he excels as the ultimately disciplined comics creator. If I had half as much focus as this guy I'd have 10 times the output I now have to date.
The Image comic won't live to see the year 2000. I can't feel too badly about it since I have always thought it should have been much better. Yep, I have to say I can't think of anything much to say about the Image TMNT comic, except that it was better than no TMNT comic at all.
As for the Fox TV show, if they hadn't goofed on the TMNT (ala Power Rangers) so much it could have been very cool. I offer as 'exhibit 1', Simon Bonesteel. He could've been a worthy adversary for the TMNT if he weren't so goofy. Finally I'll add this, any effort that makes the TMNT a joke instead of making them TELL jokes will flop, in my opinion.
What do you do when the dreaded "Creative Block" sets in?
Something other than creative stuff, I guess. I really don't suffer this problem. I always feel like there's not enough time to do all of the projects I want to do.
What's the scoop on "Bioneers", the game project you're working on?
A:That's my ongoing effort. I will get some game company to run with it one day. I will be putting animations and other samples of my Bioneers® proof of concept materials on my website eventually. www.alteredearth.com I had an offer for the game from a company called Westwood, but it wasn't the right offer and I haven't pitched it again since. I have been working on more samples for the game and I will begin to offer it again soon.
Any future projects you'd like to discuss, if any?
As unrealistic as it is these days, I daydream of working on more Bioneers comics. Who knows? For the time being I plan on working on Bioneers computer animation with a hope of a small film growing from it. Speaking of film I have a nutty idea that there may be something there for me creatively. So I am working on a few short films to see where that takes me. I will eventually put this stuff in the Altered Earth Arts website.
And finally, what was (or is) it like working with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the two men responsible for one of the biggest surprise hits of the past two decades?
They are both great guys. I marvel at the way they share their good fortune with the artists they work with. I am good friends with Peter Laird and we have a LOT of fun with all the other guys at Mirage. It's as if I were a member of 'The Monkees'. Really! That's the way it seems sometimes. You know, like we were in some real life version of 'A Hard Days Night'. Besides Pete and Kev, the studio is still home to Michael Dooney, Stephen Murphy, Jim Lawson, Dan Berger and Eric Talbot. And now as I will to the end of my days, I smile when I think of them. I love these guys.
Thanks for your time, A.C.
Thank You, Wyze
17 Mar 99
-- A.C. Farley Altered Earth Arts mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org FX: (413) 594-2568 --------------------------- Please visit Altered Earth at http://www.alteredearth.com
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