Although everyone is used to The Turtles having different colored headbands, in the comics they were originally black and white, and once color was added, they only had red bandanas and their weapons were the only things to differentiate them from one another as far as appearance.
The first idea was actually just a sketch and both Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman drew one. The original drawings are what would become Michelangelo (my personal favorite). After the initial sketches, they decided to use this idea for a one issue parody. These initial sketches and first comic has now inspired 30 years of comics, television shows, movies, toys and almost anything else you could slap a Ninja Turtle face on. Eastman’s Turtle is on the left and Laird’s Turtle is on the right.
The run of the four volume series was mostly published by Eastman and Laird’s own Mirage Studios, but Volume 3 was published by Image Comics and is widely considered as one of the worst versions of the Turtles (I enjoy them all, although this one is rather odd). In this version, Splinter became a Bat, Leonardo lost a hand, Donatello became a cyborg, and Raphael has his face burned and actually became the Shredder. Thankfully Mikey at least is able to get out of this series still intact and fairly normal.
Once Volume 4 started, the series went back to Mirage Studios and completely omitted the Image Comics run. This series actually picked up fifteen years after Volume 2 and was simply titled TMNT although “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was still written under that title. This series has never officially had an ending. There was an issue released this year, four years after the last issue, which was an official #32. It is still not official whether that story is over.
Up until the Volume 4, Michelangelo’s name was spelled Michealangelo and was corrected in the last volume of this original run to match his artist inspiration’s name Michelangelo Buonarroti. Even the comical cartoon version of Michelangelo decided to start reading the books when this changed happened.
With the Turtles outstanding success, especially among independent comics, they had many crossovers with other independent characters. A couple of these included Flaming Carrot (who also had the introduction of the Mystery Men who would later be included in the film of the same name) Usagi Yojimbo (who also has been in all but the most recent animated series) and Savage Dragon during their Image Comics run.
The comic has very close details connecting it to Daredevil from Marvel Comics and it even has been stated this was the intention as it was a parody issue at first. The ooze that created The Turtles and the toxic waste that blinded Matt Murdock are supposed to be the same thing along with the foot clan mimicking The Hand, and Splinter being a parody of Daredevil’s mentor The Stick.
This series technically ran from 1984 to 2010 making the whole series last 26 years in length. Only if you count the issue that was released this year makes the series run “30 years.” After Image Comic’s 1996-1999 run, Volume 4 at Mirage started back up in 2001, and ran for 9 years.
The first issues of the series had such small print runs, at about 3000 copies an issue, that they became instant collector items among all comic collectors. Within a couple months the comics escalated in price so much they were selling upwards of 50 times the original price. They continue to be some of the biggest collectors items among a lot of comic fans reaching prices over $5,000. The picture above shows an issue displayed at Denver Comic Con in a case with a ton of $100 bills.
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird both worked on the series only up to issue #11 together. They worked again multiple times in the future, but their complete creative control did not last long when looking at the complete 30-year history of the franchise.
The Turtles may have had color on their covers for a while, but the whole comic did not get color until Volume 2 started in 1993. This volume did not last long, as it only went 13 issues with a two year run, but it finally gave us a better idea of the setting and characters by adding color.
Kevin Eastman sold his rights to the project to Peter Laird in 2000 and then Peter Laird sold the franchise to Nickelodeon in 2009. The Mirage Comics run would end the next year and Nickelodeon would start work on rebooting the franchise in TV, comics, and film. Both Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman continue to work with The Turtles to this day. Eastman is a main contributor to the IDW published comics running now.
A classic way of publishing TMNT is to have one main series and one off shoot series. The original series started with a one off issue of each Turtle, as well as Fugitoid, a Casey Jones mini series, a crossover with Flaming Carrot, and many others. This tradition carries on today with the IDW series. With this we have gotten some great background to the main stories any fan would enjoy. It also makes the universe much larger!
Images belong to Mirage Comics and all other owner entities.
Get ready to explore every type of turtle (of the ninja variety) that you can handle as we look back at thirty years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history. What a better way to start than the 80’s and 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Animated Series? Ultimately, I feel the Animated Series Turtles in particular are the ones who will always be the distinct Pop Culture reference for the masses. Whether or not the new Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film (out last weekend) or any other incarnation of the four brothers suits you, there are so many Turtle universes out there to enjoy, it is nearly impossible to say that you don’t like the Ninja Turtles. If you don’t like the franchise, it’s like saying you don’t like pizza, which is a personal insult to my four Ninja friends and to me. Without further ado, here are 13 things you didn’t know about the animated series.
The Animated Series started in December of 1987 as a five episode mini series, which is now thought of as Season 1 for the show. These episodes earned the entire first volume of the DVD’s with a couple episodes from season 10 tacked on.
The original miniseries was made due to a plan to produce toys for the franchise by the company Playmates Toys, because the company thought the toys would not sell based just on the comic alone. They asked Murakami Wolf Swenson (initially and after the first two seasons it changed to Fred Wolf Films.) to produce something for TV to base the toys off of. From this venture we gained two of the most popular parts of Ninja Turtles history with the expansive set of figures and the 10 season long television show.
In the Turtles Animated Series, the writers changed each Turtles look. They gave each turtle a different color headband, which were originally all red in the comics, so kids could differentiate between the four of them. Now they are known so well by their respective colors, it is hard to imagine them all having the red headband. In addition, the creators of the Animated Series added the first letter of their names on their belt buckles. The artists added lots of bright popping colors to the screen making for a richer environment, but one that was impossible to take seriously.
A larger change was modifying Splinter’s backstory. In the comics, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi’s pet rat, who mutated the same way the turtles did. He learned how to be a ninja by observing Hamato Yoshi. In the television cartoon, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi.
The dark nature of the comics was gone and this was not the kind of universe any turtle comic fan of the time, or even the creators wanted to see but they were marketing it towards children so of course they had to edit it down.
In the U.K. and other parts of the world the show was actually called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Michelangelo’s screen time was cut down due to his use of nun chucks, which are illegal in a large amount of the world.
Casey Jones who was actually not too far off from his comic version, he still was not exactly what you were expecting, but he had the same type of “I don’t give a crap” attitude and other than his Clint Eastwood like voice for the series.
The Ninja Turtles made P.S.A’s. I can tell you what got me this far with not drug problems was the Turtles telling me, say no to drugs and say yes to pizza. This may have caused a rise in type 2 diabetes in my generation, but many of us got through it drug free, which has always been the way to be.
Rocksteady and Bebop were created just for the Animated Series in order to produce more toys. The fan favorites are Shredder’s main thugs and bodyguards. These guys were pretty dumb but also pretty tough because Shredder used mutagen on them and the men they used to be mutated into a Rhino and a Warthog. Initially it seemed the bumbling idiots were not well liked. They may not have even been in the show if the creators had full control. However, over time they have became canon to the universe we all know.
April O’Neil was made into a reporter for the Animated Series. She was originally introduced in the comics as a computer programmer and assistant to Baxter Stockman. Knowing that her origin was not as a reporter proves how much the Animated Series changed what is considered to canon to most people.
Shredder wasn’t in the series for almost two seasons. The Technodrome (Shredder and Krang’s base of operation) was stuck at the earth’s core, Dimension X, and frozen in the Arctic. The Turtles finally banished Shredder and Krang forever by sending them to Dimension X and through a portal, destroying the engines and their portal technology. We don’t see them again until late in season 10.
The new bad guy during that time was an alien named Lord Dregg. This is a part of the series I admittedly do not remember from my childhood. After watching the series again, it is kind of cool to see the Turtles battle more than “normal: villains, just as they did in the controversial TMNT CGI film. Most people saw this change as negative because most people see Shredder as the most formidable villain. Even so, the show lasted longer than just about every single Saturday morning cartoon by this point. With this change they also incorporated more of the darkness from the films and even had footage from the first film in the beginning credits. With the villain and style change it was difficult to handle. Ultimately, the show was canceled after seasons 8-10 only had 8 episodes each.
Despite the huge success of this series, it took three times airing the first five-episode special for it to gain any kind of viewing audience. But thank Splinter it did because we got to have 10 seasons, which for a Saturday morning cartoon is insanely good. I mean Ninja Turtles had two more seasons than Dexter, four more seasons than Lost, and five more than Breaking Bad. The series came out to be just short of 200 episodes with a final count of 193.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties.
I need to put a few things out there before I begin my review. My second word was “Leonardo.” I had a yellow jumpsuit and a Polaroid camera that I wore almost everyday when I was 3 to the time I was 5. When I was 3, I got my hair cut like April O’Neil (specifically The Animated Series version). I wore out my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 VHS. Twice. I often wished I could find a lantern at a garage sale that would transport me back in time and, that I too, could meet a little boy named Yoshi. And at some point, all four Turtles have been my favorite Turtle. Why am I telling you this? I am in no means trying to be a braggart, but I am letting you know one thing: I am very biased when it comes to my beloved Ninja Turtles.
Why not start with the good parts of the movie? What you may read or have read on Rotten Tomatoes or MetaCritic may mar every aspect of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, but I am here to tell you, there are some good parts. In fact, I wouldn’t say the film was necessarily bad, as you can judge from the grade I gave it, but it wasn’t great either.
The mesmerizing parts of Ninja Turtles were the fight scenes. Let’s face it, when we see a film with Michael Bay’s name attached to it, we don’t exactly go for the plot. However, the action sequences are awesome. They are fast-paced, and all the martial arts tricks are gripping to watch. There were many scenes where the Turtles are bounding around and I thought it was beautiful. In one particular scene, they jump from a building and a full moon is in the upshot of the camera angle. It seemed very much like a scene out of the comics. Added to the visuals, the look of each Turtle wasn’t bad. Many fans seemed angry about their look, saying they looked scary. Their facial features were different from each other and they were huge. Notably, Mikey was smaller than his brothers, which seemed like a good touch. All animals have different features from each other, and so do the Turtles. I really liked the animation of the Turtles, personally. I also liked all their accessories, from Michelangelo’s sea-shell necklace, to Donnie’s science gear, to Raph’s full head bandana, to Leonardo’s NYC pin. I also liked the Pimp My Ride style Party Wagon. The best part of all of the animation was the beginning credits. The motion-comic style animation, based off the original artwork of the comics, with the splashes of color was really captivating. I truly feel that if someone wanted to pick that up, it could be a highly lucrative straight-to-DVD venture for Nickelodeon, similar to what DC Comics does.
In case you were wondering, the story is changed. I won’t give you spoilers, but there was one story that I was not disappointed with, and that was April O’Neil’s. Given the other changes in the story, I felt that April’s made the most sense for why she feels such a connection with the Turtles. Because this is a Ninja Turtles origin story, you have to expect there is a Subway scene. Personally, I thought this scene was one of the best of the film. There was enough of a change that I didn’t feel like I was watching the same thing I’ve seen before, but it was still reminiscent of the original story.
There were plenty of funny scenes, most of which involved either Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett), who is April’s cameraman, or Donatello. Both characters had plenty of good lines and were a-dork-able. Enough so I that I walked away feeling like this was the first film that gave Donatello more play than normal, but I would like to have seen more. Even so, Raphael was able to sneak in one piece of comedy in a heartfelt speech, which is one of the most memorable moments. Other moments that made me think, “Hey, that’s cool!” were seeing Donnie’s computer lab which was quite impressive, an intense scene where Leonardo improvises by using his Katanas as ski poles, and once we are in the Turtles lair, a sign can be seen in the background that reads “POWER.” However, the best scene in the film is when all four Turtles are in an elevator awaiting epic battle and they start a hip-hop beat. I was smiling the entire time this scene went on because I felt like those were my Turtles and they would so obviously break out a beat before fighting a foe.
I’ll be honest; there are a lot of things I could nit-pick at because the logical consistencies of many aspects are…illogical. For instance, in a moment of being airborne through the city, because that always happens, April O’Neil (Megan Fox) catches herself with one arm on a steel beam. One arm! I am a female, and I can attest that the average female CANNOT do that. While I’m on the topic, I want to say that Megan Fox doesn’t do a horrible job in the role, but she still is no April. Another inconsistency was that Splinter learned the art of Ninjutsu from a book he found in the sewer. I only wish I could pick up things I read about so quickly. He then passed on the knowledge to his sons. The Foot Clan were not overly scary except for their quick draw on some machine guns. But they didn’t really use their resources to their advantage of being thugs. Also, Karai, their leader, wasn’t well explored. Her role in other TMNT franchises is more significant.
My list of annoyingly bad things includes voices. Namely, Megan Fox’s shrill scream that made me jump in my seat, and Tony Shalhoub’s voice does not translate to a Japanese Sensei sewer rat. The over advertising of Pizza Hut was also annoying, but expected in a movie that Michael Bay produced. Shredder was annoying because he looked ridiculous. I’m going to give you an assignment. Go to your utility drawer, pull out your Swiss Knife, pull out all the pieces of it, and slash wildly at the air. Did you feel badass, or just goofy? That’s what I thought. Mikey’s character was more of a characterization of himself; he was over done as the “stoner”. I love Mikey, I really do. And I did thoroughly enjoy him in this incarnation, but it would have been nice if he did as much martial arts as he did talking. And as much as I love Raphael, there was a great deal of him, and not enough of why he is so angry or why he isn’t the leader. We have seen the story of Raph saving his brothers; this film attempted to re-tell the story, and it failed.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ writers didn’t take into account the intelligence of the public, either. Sure, the average American may not be very sharp (other people’s quotes, not mine), but we don’t need to be force-fed either. There was so much about this film that was told and not shown: Splinter’s relationship with the Turtles, the Turtles rivalry with the Shredder, the Foot Clan being bad, Eric Sacks being a bad guy, and the list goes on. Even a child who loved this film, could look back in 20 years and say, “Nope, I got this all the first time” because even children can understand intangible things if they are portrayed properly. That intangible “thing” was the idea of family. It was a concept referred to several times in the movie, but I never really felt that Splinter and the Turtles were ALL a family. There really was no connection to Splinter, which felt odd and wrong.
The worst part of “The Bad” is the overall grand plan by the main villain, Eric Sacks. Yeah the Shredder has those hands, but he wasn’t really the nemesis, which I’m not sure was on purpose. Anyhow, (SPOILERS AHEAD!) Eric Sacks is an evil scientist who plans to take out New York City and then cure it with the same mutagen that made the turtles into Turtles and make lots-o-money. But for so many reasons this is a bad plan! Why is money a bad plan? Oh, because if he takes out all of NYC, won’t he, the Shredder, and the Foot Clan all be dead, too? Also, the dude is already loaded. He has a frickin’ gated mansion. His grand plan is all because he doesn’t have enough money? He doesn’t want, say the other thing all evil genius’ want, power? Nope. Just more money. I find major fault that this was never questioned by anyone.
Beyond all my complaints listed above, there is the ugly. There were parts of this movie that made me cringe. Shredder’s backstory and relationship to the Turtles was not explained AT ALL. Like not even a little bit. There is no reason for them to despise each other. None. Oh, and for the first 15 minutes of the movie, there are no Turtles. Nowhere in sight. Now I know they are ninjas, but it wasn’t because they are sneaky, it’s because the writers didn’t do a good job at writing. I did not intend to go see a movie about April O’Neil, and God knows I love her. Except that Megan Fox isn’t a good actress. She’s just not. This movie should have been entitled April O’Neil and her Pets. If you had known the entire story revolved around her, would you have gone? Well, I still might have, but at least I wouldn’t have felt lied to. But my biggest gripe is that there was not a story for Leonardo. Leonardo. LEONARDO! He is the leader of the group! He should have led! And I’m not mad at him, because he is just an innocent Turtle, I am mad at the writers. It came off as if Raph was the leader, but that is not the case. How could they cut someone’s story so much? They cut Splinter’s story, they cut Shredder’s story, but to cut one of the actual Ninja Turtles’ stories makes me want to raise my hands and say “Damn. Damn! DAMN!”
I have tried to be careful of comparing the 2014 film to the 1990 film because I know I am biased. I could write a book on why the 1990 film is better. I will spare you from that (for now), but I feel there was so much that could have been done to improve the current film. When I went to the theater (and I went in the early evening), there were not many children there. You know who was? 20 somethings wearing shell backpacks and those felt bandanas. Millenials. Truthfully, the production company had to have known that it was my age group who would be spending their money on this movie. It would have been nice if they had respected us. Now I’m not saying that they had to re-create the 1990 film, but some nice nods to it would have been great. Maybe Danny Pennington is New York City’s police chief. Maybe Judith Hoag and Elias Koteas are seen arguing in the background. Maybe the baby Turtles say “Pizza! Pizza!” Maybe we see Raphael in a fit of anger toss aside an old Vanilla Ice CD he finds.
I must say that it was very tough for me to write this review because Ninja Turtles holds a large place in my heart. I found a lot of faults with the film, but I admit that I will watch it again. I admit that I have bought a lot of the action figures for the movie. And I admit that despite all its faults, it still made me smile, even if the movie wasn’t full of T-U-R-T-L-E Power. Until next time, Cowabunga, dudes!
all media belongs to Nickelodeon
What are your thoughts on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Let me know in the comments!