In my ongoing pedantry I’ve been stuck on the idea (since I learned of it, probably from Elliot S. Maggin’s Superman novel Miracle Monday, I think) that the word “fan” meant “fanatic”, which meant there was a distinct difference between “I like this” and “I am a fan”.
So while I’ve certainly watched most of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon shows, and a high percentage of the episodes I can definitely tell you that I am not a fan, as I never watched all of them. I really really like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s a great concept and it sprung from a comic book back in the early 1980s and from there it because three live action films from New Line, a cartoon from Fred Wolf Films that was both UHF syndicated and aired on CBS in later seasons simultaneously, a FOX children’s cartoon show made with non-union voice actors whose primary jobs were dubbing Japanese anime released in this country, a FOX Kids live-action television series made by the producers of the Power Rangers, a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip, a comic book series from Archie Comics spinning off of the 1980s cartoon series, an anime, a comic book series from IDW, a CGI-animated film, a straight-to-television animated film, prose novels for children, a Nickelodeon-owned CGI-animated cartoon series, a ton of action figure sets, each released for a different children’s cartoon series, and that does not include all of the licensed merchandise like lunch boxes, mugs, t-shirts, tooth brushes, underpants, etc. Knowing that sounds like obsession. Sadly remembering that information off the top of my head is how my brain works. It collects and retains knowledge of useless stuff I learned decades ago with amazing retention of detail. I think it’s a learning disorder because I’ve been meeting people lately and I swear that despite the familiarity they show I don’t even remember their faces (it’s probably less rude to be honest and ask how we last met rather than lie to them even convincingly).
Now because I like TMNT, a lot, but am not an actual honest to goodness fan, I only read TMNT Entity on occasion. Mark Pellegrini is a fan, as in fanatic, and I will not fault him for it. (And why should I fault him for it? I’m a fan of Spider-Man and Batman, and certain eras of Star Wars and Transformers). The man seems to have taste and his knowledge of the subject seems immense. He is also extremely well-read in terms of the given material, as well as enough other things that we don’t have to worry about him not knowing if something is based off of something else.
I’m holding back a little, in part because there’s something else of his I want to praise later and give that more time.
As it is while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a franchise is certainly well-known among cable-watching children today, and adults who were children in the eighties and nineties, with a viewing audience that sadly dwarfs the reading audiences of major comic book series, it is all still based on an series of comic books that were published by Mirage Comics. They were created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, at first as a spoof of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and then as an action adventure series with a side of comedy. The average intended output was six issues a year and whose average actual output was four issues a year. I’m fairly certain that as it was an independent comic book with that distinct flavor it sold less than Superman and X-Men and perhaps the people that were readers of only the Big Two back in the early eighties did not know it existed. Or maybe they did. I was born in 1981, what do I remember?
From the Mirage Comic was licensed a cartoon series and spun from that cartoon series was a comic book series published by Archie Comics, licensed from Mirage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. So an independent comic with an erratic output beget a daily cartoon show beget a monthly comic book. I’m fairly certain that the audiences for the two comics were such that it was not an actual competitive product, any more than the Super Friends comic was a competitor of the Justice League of America.
The Mirage Universe version of the Turtles made many many canonical appearances not simply in their own regular comic book (of which there were three volumes, or four depending on who you ask), but in various anthologies and Micro-Series one-shots, as well as numerous back-up stories. In fact whenever Mirage published a reprinting of one of their issues they made certain that new material was included, usually back-up stories which fit into the overall continuity.
This makes recognizing/establishing a continuity of these characters a formidable task at best. But the writer of TMNT Entity did it, right here. Now as fascinating as I find the whole story, both of how the comic was made, how the company worked, and the events of the characters themselves, I still am not a fan of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, or any of the franchise as a whole.
But I liked it a lot. I watched every episode I could as a kid. I thought the action figures were cool. And so the TMNT burnt into my brain.