Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview: Sophie Campbell

We here at LITC were pleasantly surprised by Sophie Campbell's art in the recent Turtles in Time #1, which depicted all of its prehistoric creatures with various feathery coverings (including, presciently enough, the ornithischians.) When it turned out that Sophie Campbell is active on Deviantart, well, that was too tempting an opportunity to resist. I reached out with a few questions, and she was kind of enough to reply.

So how did you end up on the Turtles in Time creative team? Did you have much input on the setting and on which dinosaurs were featured?

My editor Bobby asked if I wanted to draw Turtles in Time #1, I said "of course I do," and that was that! The writer, Paul Allor, and I talked a bit beforehand about the setting and which dinosaurs we were going to use. Paul picked the ones neccessary for his script, though, such as the Tyrannosaurus and the Triceratops, although for some of them it was more of a general type, like something that could fly. The specific species was left to me.

Since my mom saves everything, I pulled out a bunch of old dinosaur books I had as a kid and picked out the ones I liked and which fit the time period and setting. I picked all of the background dinosaurs myself, such as the Therizinosaurus and Pepperoni [the baby Protoceratops Raphael takes as a pet]. When I came on board, I was determined to give the Turtles an adorable dinosaur sidekick, and I wouldn't rest until I'd gotten her into the story! For the flying reptile we needed Mikey to ride, I decided on the Quetzalcoatlus, not just because of the time period but because it seemed the most rid-

Pepperoni is a great little side character. Do you have much of an interest in paleontology? Do you see yourself drawing them again in the future?

I don't have a big, active interest in it, other then that I like dinosaurs. I don't read up on the science or the new discoveries that often, but I still enjoy it. I especially love reading about the weird discoveries that shatter the popular image of what people think dinosaurs are. I used to draw dinosaurs a lot as a kid, and I'd love to draw them again in the future. I'm doing a Ninja-Turtles fan-comic right now that I post online, and some dinosaurs might show up in that.



What was the process you used to do the dinosaur character design? Was it something you had a lot of freedom with?

Paul and I were on the same page before we ever discussed it. I've always loved dinosaurs with feathers since I was a kid, so I knew that was what I was going to do. I wasn't sure how Paul or Nickelodeon would like it, although I was prepared to fight for it. I can get pretty stubborn. But luckily, Paul asked for feathered dinosaurs before I even said anything, so it worked out. Early on I had been planning on coloring the issue myself, so when I did dinosaur sketches I did color schemes for them too. Some of which eventual colorist Bill Crabtree used, like the colors for the Tyrannosaurus and Pepperoni. Nickelodeon didn't like my Triceratops colors, so we had to change that. It was a little too weird, I guess.

I love bright and weird colored dinosaurs, though. I get bored of everything always being shown in grey and brown and single solid colors. I wanted the dinosaurs in the background to be more colorful than they ended up being, but there was a bit of concern over my Valentine's Day/Easter-colored dinosaurs, so it was scaled back.

Another thing was that even though I wanted there to be some accuracy, like the feathers, I also wanted it to be cartoony and cute. I love Jurassic Park and all that, but I get a little tired of dinosaurs always being expected to be "badass" and fearsome and ugly all of the time. So I wanted to do something in the middle, which, to me anyway, makes them seem more believable within the world of the comic. And it just fit the tone better.

Was there any kind of dinosaur that you wanted to add but couldn't? 

I would have liked to have drawn some swimming dinosaurs, and it would have been fun to draw the Turtles dealing with something really big, like a Mamenchiasaurus. It would be fun to draw something at that scale.

Finally, what's your favorite prehistoric animal?

I love Glyptodon! And Deinonychus.

Thanks for the interview! OK, Pepperoni, play us out. 

Subsequent to the publication of this article, the artist came out as a trans woman. This post has been edited to reflect her name change.


  1. Heartening to learn that Paul wanted feathered dinosaurs from the beginning. And Pepporoni is just adorable.

  2. Marine reptiles aren't dinosaurs, silly Ross Campbell.

    Anyway, great artwork by him, it is very interesting to know that he was not even a big paleogeek, yet still choose to make them accurate, that is heartening.

  3. I understood "swimming dinosaurs" to simply mean dinosaurs that swam or were perhaps semi-aquatic (as some of them surely were) rather than marine reptiles such as plesiosaurs and mosasaurs. Ross Campbell refers to Quetzalcoatlus as a "flying reptile" (not dinosaur) and has depicted bristles on the back-end of Triceratops so I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt regarding "swimming dinosaurs". Happy to be corrected if it is otherwise.

    1. I think he probably meant marine reptiles, but it's an easy mistake to make in an off-the-cuff interview.

  4. thanks again for doing the interview! :D i appreciate the support and attention.

    @Mark: i actually wrote "flying dinosaur" in my original answer, but i'm guessing Asher helped me out and did a little editing. ;)

    i know pterosaurs and mosasaurs (i think?) and some of those other ones aren't classified as dinosaurs, but i tried to keep the interview simple, i know it's not accurate but i usually get bored with all the specifics, haha. i can't help but use "dinosaur" as a colloquial catch-all. i'm sorry, this probably isn't the page to say that on! ;)

    thanks again, you guys!

    1. I don't even remember editing it! It must have happened as I was retyping it for the blog. A Freudian correction.

  5. Thanks to you both for the clarification.

    Ross, you're forgiven. Just don't go calling those cats with the really long teeth or hairy elephants "dinosaurs"!


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