Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Many Ninja Turtles Do We Need?

Why am I geekily musing on the history of the TMNT francise? Well, because Nickelodeon has bought up all the rights, and will be releasing a CGI series in summer, 2012.

Additionally, IDW Comics and Nickelodeon are introducing a new comic series, which came out this month and sold out like mad before I could get my hands on it. -_- The problem with my local comic shop is, if you have to work all day, the stuff you want is sold out by the afternoon. Not cool. (Update: I now have a subscription box. Life is good.)

Considering the fact that this series began during the 1980s black and white comic explosion as a self-published parody of Daredevil, the phenomenon that is TMNT is pretty fascinating. What is it about four teenage turtles fighting crime that keeps drawing in new generations? (My personal opinion as to the answer is way down at the bottom of this post.)

TMNT was born when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird (Laird has since come in and out of the franchise as an active participant - at least that's my understanding and remembrance, but Wikipedia says Eastman's the one who sold out; yet Eastman is the writer behind the new series @_@) used a bit of money and a tax refund to publish the first one-shot about a group of mutant turtles saving NYC from baddies called the Foot using the ninja skills taught to them by a giant rat. Yeah. WTH?

I was six years old when the 1987 TMNT series began. It ran until 1996, and I was a fan for a LOT of those years. My high points were third and fourth grade (the '89-'92 time period), coinciding with the first two live action films. This was some classic cinema, guys, teaching young children important life lessons like the many uses of the surfing term "Cowabunga" and the fact that pizza is a viable meal options any time of the day or night.

Image from

The series was based on the original Eastman and Laird comics (which I bought in trades when I was about ten years old...all bloody and violent!), VERY cartoonized to be appropriate for kids. Not that I cared. I loved this show. I loved the characters, I loved the corny storylines, I loved the swag. I know I had loads of the action figures, along with four hard-as-stone plushes, bags, t-shirts, and an adored sleeping bag. This was the show that taught me about being an obsessed fan.

...Me and all the boys. Yeeeah. No girls geeking out with me in the third grade!

Then there were the live action movies. The first of these was based closely on the fourth graphic novel (my favorite storyline along with one involving leeches which I read once, long ago, but have never found since and so can only dimly recall it), and I distinctly remember that they used the word "damn" a lot. I was scandalized. Raphael standing on a roof yelling, "DAAAAAAMN!" Egads! It was also one of two movies I've seen twice in the theaters.

No, I don't have the BluRay. YES I do have the first two on DVD. I remember they had a lot of trouble finding someone short enough to replace the original Michelangelo, but you wouldn't know it from this picture.

The second movie was a bit lighter, and the third movie was nonsense. Well! It was!

There was also an ill fated live action series. I was already in high school by that point, but I remember watching an episode out of curiosity. It looked a lot like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but I know that my kid self would've watched it just for a chick turtle. I always wanted one when I was a wee little dweeb. It barely survived a season.

I am confused as to why the chick turtle had to be skinny and have boobs. Hmm. Isn't she...a turtle? Anyway, she was erased from everything TMNT related when Eastman left the franchise. Word is, Laird detested her. If she'd existed when I was a little nerd, I'd've been thrilled.

The second animated series (2003-2009) started over and, thanks to series like The Real Ghostbusters and Gargoyles, was more adult in tone. I watched a few of these in college and would like to give the first couple of seasons a try; it looked intriguing.

I do question, however, why an adult, professional female like April had to walk around with her midriff hanging out all day.

Image also from

Then there was TMNT which, due to being craptastic appearing CGI, I have not seen. The story is supposed to be within the world of the first three movies. I'll have to try it some day.


All in all, that's the comics (which have also had multiple incarnations), two cartoon series, one action series, three live action movies, and a CGI movie. But is that enough?! Apparently, HECK NO as now we have the upcoming Nickelodeon series.

So why is TMNT coming back yet again? I'm sure we could explore loads of deep, meaningful reasons. But here's my opinion: Geeks, nerds, and dweebs. Yes. Once they were children, watching My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, The Smurfs, and TMNT. Now, they're 30-somethings in the entertainment industry. Therefore, all the awesomeness of the 80s must be brought back to life!

Is this a bad thing? Who knows, we'll have to see. At least the Turtles won't have to go on intense diets to become skinny and huge-noggined like Strawberry and the Ponies. They're men, after all.

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