Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were a couple of buddies making black and white comics like Fugitoid. They would draw their comics sitting in the living room, drawing on TV trays (which I do, but not to try being Just Like Them) and passing the pages back and forth. One day, while mulling over Frank Miller, the duo concocted a parody that was played pretty straight. The Hand became The Foot, for example. They pitched their parody, starring a quartet of anthro turtles led by an anthro rat, as a parody and printed up a couple of thousand copies. They knew they were onto Something Big when, at a comic show, dealers were buying the issues from their table. They marked up the issues to hilarious amounts, and they were still selling.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had arrived.
I have a near complete run of the original Mirage line. TMNT was one of my favorite series. Eastman and Laird let other people play in their sandbox with near free reign. Michael Zulli came up with a nightmare of mysticism. Hedden and McWeeney went for laughs. Matt Wagner did a dream sequence. You never knew what you would get, but it would be something you hadn't seen before. This liberty with the source material continued with the original animated series, which further pushed Turtlemania and thanks to its quirky humor, was a riot. Then it died out. 4Kids, the folks that brought Pokemon to the US, picked up the license, and revived it again. Eastman and Laird are rich beyond their wildest dreams (Laird loves to give back -- he started the Xeric Foundation, which gives a tax free $5,000 grant to self-publishers).
Today, they just got richer.
Nickelodeon, part of MTV, just bought the license to TMNT. It wasn't up for renewal, they paid 4Kids $10 mil to give up the license, then another $50 mil to Mirage and 4Kids. Paramount has another TMNT movie coming up in 2012, and a CGI animated series to go with it.
Good going, Eastman and Laird. I'm insanely jealous, but still happy for them. From two guys barely covering the cost of printing (there is NO WAY they'd ever be able to launch the series in the current comic book world environment) and drawing on TV trays to laughing all the way to the bank.
Hello, MTV? Interested in a series about a little girl who is friends with a mermaid? Think of all the song crosspromotion you can do with them....
Hey, I may rip on MTV, but better them than the Hannah Montana factory!