Sunday, May 27, 2007
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or simply Ninja Turtles and abbreviated TMNT) are a fictional team of four anthropomorphic turtle mutants, who are trained by their sensei, Master Splinter, to become skilled ninja warriors. From their home in the sewers of Manhattan, they battle petty criminals, evil megalomaniacs, and alien invaders, all while remaining isolated from society at large.
The TMNT originated in an American comic book published by Mirage Studios in 1984. The concept arose from a stoic retelling of an ancient myth by Kevin Eastman during a casual evening of tea with his friend Peter 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.
Much of the Turtles' mainstream success is owed to a licensing agent who sought out Eastman and Laird to propose wider merchandising opportunities for the offbeat property. In January 1988, they visited the offices of Playmates Toys Inc, a small California toy company who wished to expand into the action figure market. Accompanied by the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, the TMNT were soon catapulted into pop culture history. At the height of the frenzy, the Turtles' likenesses could be found on a wide range of children's merchandise, from PEZ dispensers to skateboards, breakfast cereal, toothpaste, school supplies and cameras.
Today, there is a resurgence in the Turtles' popularity with the success of the recent animated series, a new line of Playmates action figures, Ubisoft video games, and a computer-animated feature film.