Why Does TMNT Have Such a Corny Name if the Original Comics Were Dark?

The Blind Eternities forum

Posted on Feb. 13, 2020, 8:31 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

Many fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (especially those who were introduced to the franchise via the 80's/90's animated series, as was I) may be surprised to know that the original comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were dark and edgy.

That was certainly not the first or only time that a dark and edgy comic was adapted into a lighthearted animated series, but this instance is peculiar because the original media had a ridiculously corny name, as if the creators chose several words at random and put them together.

I am certain that, if someone who was unfamiliar with the franchise heard the name "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," they would likely imagine something corny and campy, as was the first animated series, rather than some dark and edgy.

Therefore, I am wondering: why did the creators of the franchise give such a corny name to a dark and edgy work? Was that the entire point, to contrast a ridiculous name with a series story? What does everyone else say about this?

Ize19 says... #2

It was dark, but it was also a parody, mainly of Frank Miller's Daredevil.

They were mutated by the same ooze that heightened Daredevil's senses, their ninja sensei was Splinter instead of Stick, and their ninja enemies were The Foot instead of the Hand.

And yes, part of the joke was that they were telling very dark stories about very goofy characters, it was very much the opposite of what the name and look primed you to expect.

February 14, 2020 1:09 a.m.

LittleBlueHero says... #3

Yep spot on Ize19

The creation of the turtles was an accident more or less. Eastman and Laird thought it was a goofy enough concept to sell a few books and turned what was originally just a sketch (of a much goofier looking turtle) into a story and what they believed was a one shot comic. They didn't originally plan a follow up issue which is why the Shredder is actually killed in the very first issue. They had no idea what they had.

Parody is probably the right word but the artists both LOVED Miller. The original book was as much a love letter to Miller as it was a parody of his work.

Since then the Turtles have become synonymous with change. From Dark and gritty to animated and corny to live action. We've seen tons of different iterations of the turtles with all kinds of variations in story and character. Laird himself has said that the longevity of the turtles lies primarily in their ability to change, be written for different people/periods a still feel like the turtles. There simply isn't one true version.

Ive been a Turtle fan since 89. Like many I started with the cartoon and original movie trilogy, but I stuck around for the 2003 cartoon and started buying the original comics. I was skeptical when it got rebooted by nickelodeon but that ended up being one of my favorite versions of them by the end. The current run of comics at IDW though has easily become my overwhelming favorite though. I love how they pay respect to ALL the turtles lore that came before in comics, shows moves and even toys and video games. Its reverent while still being completely its own version of the Turtles.

February 14, 2020 9:45 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #4

One aspect of the 80's/90's series that I liked was how Splinter was Hamato Yoshi, since that made much more sense than him simply being an ordinary rat who was mutated; how else could it be explained that he was older and wiser than the turtles if he mutated at the same time that they did?

February 20, 2020 8:23 p.m.

LittleBlueHero says... #5

Well it doesn't make the wiser part make sense but rats lifespans are way shorter than turtles usually. So theoretically Splinter (the rat) could just have been in his twilight years even though he would have been only a few years older than the turtles.

But I agree, having him transform from Hamato Yoshi made way more sense. I also like how the new IDW comic run handles it introducing reincarnation and mysticism.

February 21, 2020 9:25 a.m.

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