And now, a little history lesson on none other than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a winning example of how spontaneous parody ideas can go on to create entertainment empires.
Here’s what the old Wikipedia has to say about the genesis of TMNT:
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originated in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984. The concept arose from a humorous drawing sketched out by Kevin Eastman during a casual evening of brainstorming with his friend Peter Laird. Using money from a tax refund together with a loan from Eastman’s uncle, the young artists self-published a single issue comic intended to parody four of the most popular comics of the early 1980s: Marvel Comics’ Daredevil and New Mutants, Dave Sim’s Cerebus and Frank Miller’s Ronin.
I guess they just left out the part where Eastman and Laird procured and then consumed a tree branch of ganja, and had a contest to see who could come up with the most bizarre ideas. There’s no mention of Adolescent Retarded Boxing Kangaroos, or Thirty-Something Dyslexic Home-Owning Stalinists. I’m posting this because a new live-action movie version is in the works. Here are some of the forms into which the original concept has been adapted. I realize there are many more, like toys and skateboards. This is just a short list.
Actual Turtles (Elevendy Billion B.C.)
This is a picture of the type of turtles that supposedly inspired the original version. It’s called a Red Eared Slider. If you look for more pictures, you will find lots of them with two heads. This might have inspired the term mutant.
Original Comic Book (1984)
It was a parody. And now, I’m sure it’s worth a ton of money and only the six richest kings of England own copies.
TV series (1987) The original cartoon began in 1987 as a five-part Saturday morning miniseries. If I remember correctly, and I always do, it was the most radical thing on the entire planet.
Breakfast Cereal (80’s)
One of the most genius things that advertizing people ever did was realize that kids could not tell the difference between a cartoon and a cereal. Worked on me then. Still works on my now. If Entourage made a cereal, I would eat it.
Well, I guess if you are going to have kid tooth-rotting sugar cereal, you might as well make a toothpaste. It’s the 1980’s version of corporate social responsibility.
PEZ dispensers (1990’s)
Everything has been turned into a Pez dispenser. You have been turned into a Pez dispenser. You just didn’t know it.
Feature Film (1990) I totally saw this on the opening night by myself because my Dad refused to go. I remember that everyone in the theatre must have loved it as much as I did and that it was a cinematic achievement. Whatever, you can tell that from the trailer. There were three more live action movies after this one.
Concert Tour (Also 1990) Wow, those are some pretty hard riffs for a children’s show.
Live-action series: The Next Mutation (1997-1998) I was too old to ever see this. It basically looks the same as the movie.
Animated Feature (2007)
I’m sure that the original creators took their cars made out of 100 dollar bills to the premier. They both have drivers so they can sit in the back seat of said cars and just laugh.
Live Action Hybrid Movie (2010?)
Apparently the dudes are in talks. MTV has the droppings.