I'm a huge sucker for these historical retrospectives on comic book characters. I read "Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics" as a kid and have always loved lavishly illustrated coffee table volumes covering the history of comics ever since, from Les Daniels Complete History books on Superman and Batman to IDW's retrospectives on great artists like Wally Wood and John Buscema.
I haven't had a chance to read this just yet, it arrived only an hour ago -- but man alive, just looking at it, it's a thing of beauty. There's tons and tons of rarely seen art and photos on every page of this beauty. This is a volume that deserves a place besides the TMNT Artobiography and IDW's gorgeous Ultimate Collections (or The Works for those that need color).
It looks like every major era of the Turtles' history is covered here, from the creation of the Turtles to the upcoming live action film reboot. The chapters include:
Chapter 1: Origin Story
Covers the formation of the Eastman/Laird partnership
Chapter 2: Up From the Sewers
Details the creation of the TMNT; very cool early sketches and concept art of the Turtles
Chapter 3: Mirage Becomes Reality
Looks back at the early success of the original comic series and some of the first merchandise available, such as the Palladium RPB and Dark Horse figurines, with loads of rarely seen promotional art
Chapter 4: The Green Team
Describes how the efforts to license the Ninja Turtles led to the deal with Playmates
Chapter 5: Heroes in a Half Shell
Covers the development of the 1987 animated series and action figure line; lots of nice shots of figure sculpts and animation cells
Chapter 6: Turtles Tracks
A look at the production and launch of the 1987 animated series
Chapter 7: Turtles, Turtles, Everywhere
Reviewing at the mainstream success of the Turtles property and the Archie comics all-ages comic
Chapter 8: I Love Being a Turtle!
A look back at the original live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie -- loads of wonderful set photos and behind-the-scenes shots of the puppet studios making the suits
Chapter 9: Greenbacks
Covers the cash cow that the TMNT became during the 90s, with lots of wonderful photos of merchandise us 80s/90s kids look back on fondly, such as the TMNT cereal, Nintendo game, Pizza Hut album, etc.
Chapter 10: Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!
Looking back on the second live-action TMNT movie; while it's Kevin Eastman's least favorite TMNT flick, it's still remembered fondly by us who were kids when it hit theaters. My friends and I absolutely loved it.
Chapter 11: It's Not Easy Being Green
Covering the third live-action TMNT film and the decline of the Turtles franchise in the mid-90s.
Chapter 12: Image is Everything
This shows how in-depth this book is -- it even covers the Image Comics series by Erik Larsen, Gary Carlson and Frank Fosco! They attempted to bring the Turtles back to their gritty Frank Miller-inspired roots but may have went too far by turning Donatello in a cyborg.
Chapter 13: Radical Mutations
A look at the Next Mutation live-action TV show that introduced Venus de Milo
Chapter 14: Turtles Count It Off
The dissolving of the Eastman/Laird partnership and the launch of the 4Kids animated series that revitalized the franchise in the mainstream
Chapter 15: Family Matters
A look at the Imagi Studios CGI animated TMNT movie
Chapter 16: Turtles Forever
Covering the truly excellent Turtles Forever animated movie and the re-launch of the TMNT comicbook
Chapter 17: Change is Constant
Detailing the acquisition of the Ninja Turtles property by Nickelodeon
Chapter 18: Can't Stop These Radical Dudes
A look at the development and launch of the Nickelodeon computer-animated TV series
Chapter 19: Big Screen Ninjas
A short look at the upcoming live-action film, with a brief script excerpt and concept art
And there it is! As you can see, this book provides a pretty thorough and detailed look through the history of the TMNT -- but the real star is all the amazing photos and artwork you get. This thing is basically a TMNT time capsule for the past 30 years.
If I were to have a minor criticism, it's that the book is chock full of these little inserts that are glued in, blocking the imagery underneath them -- this would be a concern if you're worried about pulling them out and losing them. But even then, the book's got a massive envelope on the back cover for you to safely deposit these bits, so it seems like they've thought of everything. And in that envelope is a gorgeous replica of the first Ninja Turtles comic book ever produced.
This one is a no-brainer, folks -- this book is perfect for any nostalgia-seeking 80s kid (like me -- the first TMNT 'toon came out when I was 7 and I've loved them ever since) or as a gift for a child in your life that can't get enough Ninja Turtles. Highly recommended!