10/06/2010

Back in the eighties, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge, and I'm not talking about the lame kiddie show. I'm talking about the original comic books. The independent comic book that inspired a media franchise was a runaway hit the likes of which the industry hadn't seen in decades. Like every success, there was also a mountain of imitators. These comics positioned themselves as parodies of TMNT, but since the Turtles were themselves parodies of martial arts and superhero comics, they didn't come off too well. In fact, the independent black-and-white comic industry was so flooded with martial arts furry animals that it caused a collapse. To honor those long-forgotten wanna-bees, here are the top ten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle parodies. As you read these, remember...these were real comic books.

Part of the problem with writing this article is that I read almost none of them. Another problem is that the entire TMNT black-and-white flood is considered a running joke in the comic industry. In other words, type in "Cold-Blooded Chameleon Commandos" into Google and you get a lot of articles that include the sentence, "TMNT inspired a lot of knock-offs such as Cold-Blooded Chameleon Commandos" or "This comic is so bad it makes the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils look like Shakespeare." But the web is short of real information on them. So let's correct that, starting at the best of the worst...

5. Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils - In 1986, Tony Basilicato wrote and drew this three-issue comic series. Published by Planet-X Productions, this comic told the tale of four elderly gerbils with old man names (Geezer, Zeke, Duffer, and Codger) mutated by a mad scientist named Dr. Meltdown, sent to stop a man-made god. The second issue has a brief introduction where Basilicato expresses what we're all thinking: the whole parody of a parody of a parody thing wasn't working. He wanted to re-title it Geriatric Gerbils, but the series didn't last long enough. Thankfully. It really wasn't funny.


Power Pachyderms, Edition# 1 4. Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants - Written by Roger Sterns, this comic told the tale of some circus elephants that were driven through a gamma bomb test, and gave birth to humanoid elephants who turned into superheroes. This title sort of made it to the big-time by eventually being published by Marvel in 1989. However, by then the TMNT craze had died down, and the comic was a one-shot re-titled Power Pachyderms, mainly a direct parody of the X-Men.



PRE-TEEN DIRTY GENE KUNG FU KANGAROOS #'s 1-3 Complete story3. Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos - This one was another short-lived (three issues) mini-series written by Lee Mars, one of the leading female underground comic writers. Published by Blackthorne in 1986, the series chronicled five human Australian exchange students caught in an explosion at the Presto Bio-Genetics labs that turns them into the titular heroes. Though it was brief, I think this had the best title of all the knock-offs. Because it rhymes.



 
2. Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters - This was the first of what would end up being a flood of parodies of the TMNT. Written by Don Chin and illustrated by Patrick Parsons, the original comic tells the story of four hamsters sent by NASA into deep space to stop extraterrestrial Jello (seriously) that mutates them and causes their spaceship to crash land in a monastery, where they are raised as martial artists. Of course. This was actually a very popular series (relatively speaking), and ran for nine issues. The ARBBH were revived as a new mini-series in 2008.


Ex-Mutants1. Ex-Mutant Teenage Samurai Humans - In 1986, David Lawrence and artist Ron Lim created a comic series about a post-apocalyptic world where a nuclear war has turned everyone into a hideous mutant. A mad scientist (are there any other kind in comics) managed to change four female mutants and one male mutant back into humans again. The five of them journey across the shattered landscape, using their samurai skills to fight evil. This was the most successful of the TMNT knock-offs, mainly because they didn't let on that it was ever a knock-off. The comic series ran under the title Ex-Mutants, but was originally intended to be Ex-Mutant Teenage Samurai Humans. Thankfully, they changed their mind. The Ex-Mutants ran until 1994 under four different publishers. It was even adapted into a videogame for the Sega Genesis.

Honorable Mentions: Mildly-Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Gophers, Adolescent-Maniacal Samurai Hares, Naive Inter-Dimensional Commando Koalas, Samurai Penguin, The Post-Atomic Cyborg Gerbils, Komodo and the Defiants, and The Hard Rockin’ Rabbits.
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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What, no Green-Gray Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles?

monkeymigraine said...

Somehow we missed that one...hard to keep track of them all

David "Ex-Mutants" Lawrence said...

Thanks for the kind words...because we WEREN'T really a knock off...and even now I'm proud of that work!

Nigel Mitchell said...

I'm glad you liked it. That was a very well-written comic, and set its own tone instead of just riding on TMNT's coattails like the others. That's why it's number one on the list.

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