The second season of Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kicked off on Saturday. And while kids across the country were watching Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael get into wild new adventures, the creators of the show were in New York to meet fans and talk about the show at New York Comic Con.
At Comic Con, Sports Illustrated Kids spoke with Greg Cipes — who is the voice of Michelangelo — and executive producer CiroNieli about one of the Turtles’ favorite activities: Skateboarding. Greg and Ciro talked about how much of the skating is based on real life (a lot of it!), why they think the Turtles skate (it’s the ninja sport!), and what kids show know if they want to shred like the Turtles (wear pads!).
Check out this clip of the Turtles skating around New York, then read the interview with Greg and Ciro. Cowabunga, dudes!
Q: How much of the skateboarding action in the show is just cartoony, and how much of it is based on real moves?
Greg Cipes: Well, you’re talking to two skateboarders, but specifically Ciero who draws it all, animates it, is a way better skateboarder than I am. So it’s all legitimate moves. It’s real, technical skateboarding.
Ciro Nieli: We’re really specific about the skateboarding. We’ve had the conversation, if all the the Turtles skated, how do they skate? And with Mikey, who’s the one that we really kind of focus on, it’s about street skating. Not even skatepark, obstacle stuff. Just more about his city becoming his park. Lots of grinding, a lot of rail slides.
Q: Why is skateboarding so important to the turtles?
Ciro: I don’t know. Honestly, to me… I was a fan of the original comic, and skateboarding wasn’t a part of it. And I’m not sure when or why skateboarding came into the original cartoon. That happened around 1988. I think it was just because it’s on TV now and it has to be kid relatable, right? You fast forward so many years, and skateboarding has become so accepted and it’s appeal is much broader than it was. Now it’s just kind of a sports thing. Now it makes more sense to do it in terms of this urban landscape as an obstacle course.
Greg: And transportation.
Ciro: And being a ninja. Pulling some amazing moves on a board, and getting somewhere, getting from point A to B efficiently is just part of, like, “Why wouldn’t a Ninja Turtle who’s also really good at parkouring or leaping and all these kinds of things, skateboard?”
Greg: Well, it’s the ninja sport. It’s the only sport they really do, other than martial arts.
Q: What do you mean when you say skateboarding is the ninja sport?
Greg: Well, I feel like, to be a ninja, you gotta be flexible, you gotta be agile, you gotta be fast. And all of those things, you have to have them to be a good skateboarder. Tuned in. A ninja’s tuned in, a skateboarder’s tuned in. And it’s also an individual sport. As a martial artist it’s just you. And skateboarding, it’s you. It’s you and your habitat, it’s you and your environment, really. It’s very meditative.
Ciro: I was skating nonstop up until I was about 27, every day. You carry that [board] like it’s your turtle shell. It becomes part of who you are. You’re so intimate holding that skateboard. Every piece of dirt on it, every nick in a wheel, you’re so familiar with it that it becomes this extension of your body. It is this superpower. You do feel like you’re a ninja. You are more skillful, and you are one step ahead of everyone else with your board. You can zip around, it’s crazy. And fly off of things.
Greg: And getting new trucks and newer boards and faster wheels and all of these different things, it’s like getting new belts, like a red belt, black belt, orange belt. You go through the ranks as you get better boards and stuff. It’s all stuff that kids can do that the Turtles do. It’s all relatability. It’s like, “Yeah, I could skateboard like the Ninja Turtles! I can take karate classes like the Ninja Turtles!”
Ciro: Helping kids get inspired to be active is I think really important. It’s hard now, I get it. There are so many devices and things. You have a laptop, you have an iPhone, you have an iPod. You don’t know what to do any more. Kids I think are over saturated. To actually go out and see kids playing… If Turtles helps do that, I’m all for it.
Q: Right. So, kids watching this show, they say, “I want to go skating like the Turtles.” You guys are skaters — what things should they know in terms of safety and… Obviously, don’t skate on roofs.
Ciro: Don’t skate on rooftops! Make sure you’re trucks aren’t loose. I think that’s the first thing where things can go wrong. Tie your shoelaces, that was always a big thing. Make sure your ankles have support.
Greg: Eat right. You’ll skate better.
Ciro: Yeah, eat healthy foods, definitely. Stay away from fried foods and sugar.
Greg: Eat as many raw veggies and drink as many green juices as you can. You’ll skate better.
Ciro: It’s so much more accessible now, skating, that you can just… Finding a local skate park, a local street course, that would be the best.
Greg: Yeah, and wear pads. Don’t be afraid to wear pads and helmets so you can try new things. That’s really how you get better at skateboarding, trying new things. Before I could ollie, I would sit there and try to ollie a thousand times before all of a sudden you get a half inch off the ground and you’re like “Yeah!” And all of a sudden you’re ollying off of curbs. It’s such great exercise, it’s so much fun just to do it, just to get out there and start skateboarding.
Interview edited and condensed for space and content.
Photos and video courtesy Nickelodeon