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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History Review

There’s no denying the cultural impact that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had since their original black-and-white book hit comic stands in 1984. Just in time for TMNT’s 30-year anniversary, Insight Editions has released “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History”, a fascinating, incredibly comprehensive book that explores every facet of the history of one of pop culture’s most iconic franchises. Written by Andrew Farago, “The Ultimate Visual History” documents TMNT’s rise from a small indie comic to one of the most successful and fan-beloved franchises ever created.

It all began with Kevin Eastman finding one of Peter Laird’s comics on a bus ride home from his job at a pizza shop. Eastman desperately wanted to be a fantasy artist, and so he looked up Laird and the two quickly became good friends. The pair formed Mirage Studios — named for fact that it wasn’t really a studio at all, but just the two of them in their tiny apartment. One night while joking around and watching TV, Eastman drew up the first concept of what would become the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After refining the idea a bit more, they decided that they had to come up with a story for how these intriguing characters came to be. Soon after, they created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, obtained a loan and printed 3000 copies. By the third issue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was selling more than The Avengers.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History” is packed to the brim with interesting trivia, all-new interviews, and behind-the-scenes info and photographs. If you’ve ever wondered how the original cartoon was animated, how the Turtle suits from the movies were created, what Turtle toys never made it to market, or which comics influenced the creators, this book is for you. It’s amazingly detailed, chronicling not only the prouder moments from the Turtles’ history such as the great success of the first film, animated series and Playmates toy line, but also stuff that even the creators would rather forget, such as the awful “Coming Out Of Their Shells Tour” in 1990 and the live-action TV series featuring a fifth, female Turtle, Venus de Milo.

There’s a staggering amount of material to be found within the 192 oversized pages of “The Ultimate Visual History”. Reprints and replicas of classic Turtles memorabilia are used as inserts, such as script pages for the cartoons and films, the welcome letter for the TMNT fan club, previously unreleased artwork, the first-ever Mirage Studios press release, and much, much more. There’s even a giant fold-out poster of the cover art, featuring Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo in various incarnations throughout the years — not to mention the awesome inclusion of a full reprint of TMNT #1!

There’s a conversation with Vanilla Ice regarding his involvement in the second film, Secrets of the Ooze,  as well as interviews with the actors who wore the 60-pound Turtle costumes in the films, the sculptors of the toys at Playmates, the voice actors from the cartoon, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, and some of the actors from the upcoming Jonathan Liebesman-directed Ninja Turtles movie. The only aspect of the Turtles’ history that this book doesn’t cover in-depth is the videogames, sadly. I just recently reviewed Paramount’s Turtle Power documentary, and although there’s obviously some overlap, this book is a great companion piece to it, delving much further into many of the given topics.

If you count yourself as a Ninja Turtles fan, there’s no question about it: you simply have to own this book. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History” recounts the franchise’s rich and incredibly interesting past in a vibrant, well-written book that is impossible to put down.

  • + Extremely detailed
  • + Fascinating interviews
  • + A ton of interesting trivia
  • + Full reprint of TMNT #1!

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