Who’s Who. The List presents a guide to the dramatis personae ot
teenage mutant pizza scotting.
I Michelangelo isthc ‘party turtle'. always cracking weak jokes and demanding pizza. irritating as hell. a kind of Eddie Large in a half-shell.
I Leonardo has slightly more gravitas than the rest. He‘s the one who grieves over the injured Raphael and gets seriously into all the Japanese hocus-pocus.
I Raphael is the brooding adolescent James Dean turtle. the guy who hitsthe mean streets alone and comes back with the girl. He also gets his shell kicked in fairly regularly. I Donatello is the fourth turtle. the guy who sort of makes up the numbers. joins in fights and helps in the pizza eating. A turtle extra.
I Splinter. A bedraggled four foot-high rat (he was on the same stuff as the turtles) who learnt all the ninja martial art tricks from his old Japanese master and passed them on to the guys. Boring and rheumy-eyed. he deserves all he gets.
I April O'Neill A sort of Kate Adic in a stretch mini-skirt. A sassy news reporter who lives upstairs from an antique shop. All the turtles have got the hots for April and her pizza-stacked fridge, but she prefers something vaguely more humanoid. viz:
I Casey Jones. A crazy. long-haired yobbo who specialises in beating up the bad guys with assorted sports implements. a trait that April eventually finds irresistible. For some reason no one ever says ‘steamin‘ and a-rollin". A bad joke opportunity sadly missed.
I The Shredder A nasty piece of work. who had earlier disposed of Splintcr‘s master Yoshi. and subsequently dresses in a suit of armour covered in Moulinex mixer accessories. He can dish it out a bit as well. and proves impervious to the turtles‘ blend ofninja fighting and crap jokes.
I The Foot. A gangof miscreant youths led by a bald psychopath. The Foot steal anything that isn‘t nailed down. and if they get lucky. are allowed to wear black body suits with tea strainers for eye holes. They get regularly pulped by the turtles. and eventually realise the error oftheir wavs.
he fir) wers appear on the earth. the time of the singing ()fbirds is come. and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land. Song Of Solomon 2:10.
Smart bloke that Solomon. but even he would have been hard pressed to have foreseen the sheer scale of the assault upon the world‘s cash registers ofTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtle merchandise. Walk down any high street. from Bangkok to Barrow-in-Furness, and every other window display is devoted to the ‘heroes in a half-shell”. From the relatively innocuous turtle soap or handkerchief. to the less obvious turtle telephone or filofax insert. few commodities seem to have escaped the imprint ofthe mutant amphibians. Forget the Batman and Dick Tracy hype. this is Marketing with a capital M.
For those few hermits with sensory deprivation who are still in a state of blissful ignorance about these creatures. the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started life as an inspired doodle (inspired by something rather more exotic than Nescafe I’d imagine) by American cartoonists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The tough-fighting. wise-cracking Donatello. Michaelangelo. Raphael and Leonardo (well. why not?) were developed into a cult comic-strip. a children‘s cartoon series. and. coming soon to a screen near you. Turtles: the M ()i'ie.
Comic-strips. cartoon series and movies are but a sideshow. however. to the serious business of flogging immeasurable quantities of turtle-endorsed merchandise. McCain‘s offer you turtle-shaped pizzas with green apple topping
12 The List 23 November— 6 December 1990
z y. "
Powahunga! Tom Lappin mocks Turtle madness.
(who eats these things?) Toy shops are still unable to cope with the demand for plastic turtle models, and are becoming inured to the armies of schoolchildren and bullied parents cramming into stores when new stocks come in. Pirates are rubbing their hands at the huge market for turtle tat. In Glasgow you can even buy Celtic and Rangers T-shirts emblazoned with a little green guy (Michaelangelo kicks with his left foot, apparently). As the copyright owners threaten to move in on the mock-turtle manufacturers. parents are writing heart-tending letters to the popular press pointing out that they can only afford the cheap imitations. (By the way, if anyone is thinking of a mutant turtle with crying Gazza T-shirt. forget it. I thought ofit first). Why these little green radiation victims have captured the public imagination to such an extent defies rational explanation. By some freak chance, they seem to have keyed in to some part of the collective cortex, that screams ‘buy, buy, buy!’ There are several disparate cultural elements at work here, from the streetwise, TV-inspired patter of Michaelangelo (‘It’s a Kodak moment’, he says at one point in the film). to the pompous arcane language ofJapanese . martial arts, employed as the guys hone their ninja skills. One idea definitely borrowed from Japanese cartoons and post-war films is that of radioactively-mutated super-creatures (although it doesn’t take much thought to realise that the Americans were probably the original inspiration for that one). We’ve come a long way from Walt
Disney when benign radioactivity is the source of