Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: creator interview with Eastman and Laird (video).
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird share tales about making TMNT with Ed and Jim. Cowabunga, dudes! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been kicking butt and taking names for nearly four decades, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Created by comic book artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the TMNT franchise began as a parody of popular superhero comics in the mid-80s. But little did they know, their four anthropomorphic turtle brothers named after Italian Renaissance artists would become a cultural phenomenon.
The turtles, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, were trained in ninjutsu by their rat sensei Splinter and fight crime in the streets of New York City. Alongside their human friends April O’Neil and Casey Jones, the turtles take down their enemies, including Baxter Stockman, Krang, and their archenemy, the Shredder.
But it wasn’t just their ninja skills that captured the hearts of fans. Playmates Toys developed a line of Turtles action figures in 1987, selling over $1.1 billion in toys between 1988 and 1992. That’s right, these turtle boys were the third-bestselling toy figures ever at the time.
Eastman and Laird’s inspiration for the characters came from a sketch Eastman drew of a masked turtle standing on its hind legs armed with nunchucks. Laird added the words “teenage mutant,” and the concept was born. The turtles were almost given Japanese names, but the creators decided to name them after Italian Renaissance artists instead, which Laird said “felt just quirky enough to fit the concept.”
The TMNT franchise has continued to evolve over the years, spawning countless TV shows, movies, and even video games. But no matter the format, these turtles have remained a beloved pop culture icon. And as they continue to inspire new generations of fans, we can only hope that they keep shouting “cowabunga” and kicking shell for many years to come.