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10 Things You Didn't Know About the TMNT Comics

A lot of people familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles know them from the popular animated series. A somewhat smaller group (who consider themselves cooler) know the TMNT from the comic books. But even that group may not know all the details. Here are ten things you probably didn't know about the kung-fu amphibians.

  1. The idea for the comic book series came from a doodle drawn by Kevin Eastman one night in 1983. It showed a lumpish turtle with two nunchucks. He and his partner Peter Laird thought the contrast of the supposedly slow turtle moving with the speed and grace of a ninja was hilarious.
  2. The title "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was a satirical reference to several trends popular in comic books at the time. "Teenage" was a reference to the eighties trend of making teen versions of superheroes like Marvel's New Mutants and DC's New Teen Titans. "Mutant" was a reference to the popularity of Marvel's mutant series like X-Men and X-Calibur. "Ninja" was a reference to the then cliche of ninjas flooding comics of the time, particularly Daredevil.
  3. The two formed their own independent comic company Mirage Studios with just $1200; a combination of a $500 tax refund and a loan from an uncle. The name was a reference to the fact that they didn't actually have a formal comic book company or even a real studio. They drew the comic on their kitchen tables.
  4. Eastman and Laird thought that giving the Turtles Japanese names would make them too foreign to American readers. They decided to give them European names, and drew from their art background by naming them after Renaissance painters. Leonardo (Da Vinci), Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi), Michelangelo (di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni), and Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino).
  5. Though one turtle was supposed to be named after the Renaissance painter Michelangelo, the turtle's name was misspelled as "Michaelangelo" since the very first issue. The spelling wasn't corrected until 2003.
  6. The original comic was heavily influenced by Daredevil, specifically the work of Frank Miller. In the original TMNT origin, the radioactive waste that spills on the turtles comes from a can that falls off a truck. The same waste also hits a teenage boy trying to push a blind man out of the truck's path. This is a direct reference to Daredevil's origin. Also the Turtles' archenemies the Foot Clan is a parody of Daredevil's Hand Clan of ninjas, and Splinter is a parody of Daredevil's mentor Stick.
  7. Shredder, the nemesis of the Turtles in every incarnation of the characters, was actually killed in the very first issue of the comic book in 1984. He didn't show up in the comic again until 1987.
  8. The blade-covered armor of Shredder was inspired by a cheese grater. Eastman originally thought of calling him "The Grater."
  9. The turtles' first licensing deal was for a set of lead figurines in 1988.
  10. By 1989, Eastman and Laird were so busy with the licensing deals from the TMNT that they no longer had time to write or draw the comic books. They were widely criticized among comic fans as being sell-outs.
The official TMNT Website

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