Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This article is about the franchise. For entries in the franchise, see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (disambiguation).
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (often shortened to TMNT or Ninja Turtles) are four fictional teenaged anthropomorphic turtles named after Italian artists of the Renaissance. They were trained by their anthropomorphic rat sensei in the art of ninjutsu. From their home in the sewers of New York City, they battle petty criminals, evil overlords, mutated creatures, and alien invaders while attempting to remain hidden from society. They were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Kevin Eastman’s art).jpg
Art by Kevin Eastman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984)
Manhattan, New York City
The characters originated in comic books published by Mirage Studios and expanded into cartoon series, films, video games, toys, and other merchandise. During the peak of the franchise’s popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it gained worldwide success and fame.
Cover of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first appeared in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984 in Dover, New Hampshire. The concept arose from a humorous drawing sketched out by Eastman during a casual evening of brainstorming and bad television with 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. The TMNT comic book series has been published in various incarnations by various comic book companies since 1984.
The Turtles started their rise to mainstream success when a licensing agent, Mark Freedman, sought out Eastman and Laird to propose wider merchandising opportunities for the franchise. In 1986, Dark Horse Miniatures produced a set of 15-mm (approximately 0.6 inch) lead figurines. In January 1987, Eastman and Laird visited the offices of Playmates Toys, a small California toy company that wanted to expand into the action-figure market. Development was undertaken by a creative team of companies and individuals: Jerry Sachs, advertising agent of Sachs-Finley Agency, brought together the animators at Murakami-Wolf-Swenson headed by Fred Wolf. Wolf and his team combined concepts and ideas with the Playmates marketing crew, headed by Karl Aaronian, vice president (VP) of sales Richard Sallis, and VP of Playmates Bill Carlson.
Aaronian brought on several designers and concepteur and writer John C. Schulte, and worked out the simple backstory that would live on toy packaging for the entire run of the product and show. Sachs called the high concept pitch “Green Against Brick”. The sense of humor was honed with the collaboration of the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson animation firm’s writers. Playmates and their team essentially served as associate producers and contributing writers to the miniseries that was first launched to sell-in the toy action figures. Phrases like “Heroes in a half shell” and many of the comical catch phrases and battle cries (“Turtle power!”) came from the writing and conceptualization of this creative team. As the series developed, veteran writer Jack Mendelsohn came on board as both a story editor and scriptwriter. David Wise, Michael Charles Hill, and Michael Reaves wrote most of the scripts.