TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
1. A team of 4 pizza-loving humanized turtle troubleshooters created by US artists Kevin Eastman (1962-) and Peter Laird (1954-) in a self-published black-and-white COMIC book from May 1984. Initially seen as a parody of martial-arts SUPERHERO team-ups, they became so enormously popular that their creators are reputed to have received about $600 million from merchandising rights alone, and a veritable tsunami of imitators was rushed into print, including Adolescent Radio-Active Black-Belt Hamsters and Naive Interdimensional Commando Koalas.TMNT waspublished bimonthly from 1985, and within 18 months sales had reached 100, 000 copies per issue. The original story concerned 4 turtles living in NewYork's sewers who become engulfed in radioactive mud which causes them to become humanized and very considerably enlarged. The characters' names are shared with artists of the Italian quattrocento: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michaelangelo (sic). In 1987 Archie Comics began publishinga children's version of the strip in colour, and four untitled GRAPHIC NOVELS (numbered I-IV) were published by First Publishing 1986-8. A hugelysuccessful US animated tv series was spun off from the comic in the late 1980s. RT 2. Film (1990). Golden Harvest. Dir Steve Barron, starringJudith Hoag, Elias Koteas. Screenplay Todd W. Langen, Bobby Herbeck. 93 mins. Colour.
   After the comic, the tv series and the marketing campaign came the film. This was the biggest independently made hit in film history, though in fact production had been planned before the success of the tv series. The surprise was that it was good. The splicing of live action with puppetry from the Jim Henson workshop - Henson (1936-1990) died just after the film's release - is seamless, the direction is clean and purposeful, the script is amusing and succinct. The 4 teenage outsider SUPERHEROES, the mutant turtles, are junk-food-eating vigilante good guysup against a Ninjutsu villain who plays a Japanese Fagin to the teenage pickpockets of New York. The martial-arts fights are excellent (their violence, subject of many parental complaints, is nominal and stylized); the affable turtles' shabby rat father-figure, Splinter, is as tatty a Zen master as ever seen on screen.The sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), dir Michael Pressman, played it much safer.Sales of Turtles were falling off, and the blandness of this movie, intended to reassure the family market, renders its story of the discovery by a villain of more mutant-creating radioactive ooze almost without interest. The second sequel was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1992), dir and written Stuart Gillard, 96 mins, which has the turtles time-travelling back to seventeenth-century Japan in a conflict involving Japanese samurai, innocent villagers and English pirates. While thecreators of the original comic, Estman and Laird, had more to do with this third film, which was touted in advance publicity as "more hard-edged" than no. 2, the critical consensus was that it was a mess, strictly for the younger children, and not hugely enjoyed by them.
   PN

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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