Book review: ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Are they still Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after all these years? Never mind. Andrew Farago’s visual history, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History” is a fun look at a cultural phenomena which made the names of four great artists more famous than thousands of art history books.

Do you think Michelangelo, Leonardo (da Vinci and not DiCaprio), Donatello and Raphael are spinning in their respective graves or laughing? It probably doesn’t matter since the copyrights on their names expired long before Kevin Eastman and his friend Peter Laird self-published the first edition of this comic book in 1984.

Eastman and Laird’s story is the dream that every comic book artist sitting long hours at various comic conventions are built on. With a heavy dose humor, these turtles became mainstream “heroes on the half-shell” promoting “Turtle Power” and the surfer dude phrase Cowabunga.By 1987, the TMNT were a TV series. In 1990, a live-action feature film was released. Two other films were released: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the ooze” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.”

As with so many things, the TMNT are set to re-boot. The new feature film was supposed to be released on 25 December 2013, but was postponed and will be released on 8 August 2014.

The book focuses on the appreciation of green as a comic book over the movies. You do get to see models and scenes from the first movie as well as the upcoming feature. Yet more time is devoted to the rise of this humble concept.Author Andrew Farago interviewed Eastman and Laird and other key players.

The book features 19 chapters plus an forward, a preface and a conclusion. This isn’t the kind of book you want to leave out on your coffee table, not with the cover which has raised silver letting and raised images of the titular turtles. There is no cover jacket to protect them. You also won’t want to lose some of the attachments–pieces of paper that reproduce the original announcements for sales of the first comic books, character sketches and club membership letters.

All those photos on heavy glossy papers should never be touched by the grimy hands of some careless kid or clutzy friend. This book is something to be treasured.

According to the press notes, some of these photos of behind-the-scenes action, merchandise and art work have never been published before. That makes this a special history that TMNT will want to have, no matter how the Michael Bay production turns out.


  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Insight Editions; Har/Pap/Ps edition (June 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608871851
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608871858
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.5 x 1.2 inches
  • List price: $50
  • Amazon price: $36.41



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