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Peter Laird Interview

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

KW: For those people out there who've had their head tucked inside their shell all their lives, tell us a bit about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Peter: They're four turtles, like the ones you'd buy in a pet store, who mutated into giant turtles after coming into contact with a strange substance. They were found in the sewer by a rat, who was also affected by the substance. He raised them and trained them to be ninjas. I know that sounds ludicrous but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

KW: That's really weird. How did you come up with an idea like that?
Peter: My writing partner, Kevin Eastman, and I used to watch all kinds of stupid movies, stupid television shows and read stupid comics. We were sitting around one night when Kevin drew this turtle with a mask and nunchucks strapped to its wrist. It was the silliest and goofiest thing I'd ever seen. I drew my own version of the turtle and we ended up with four sketches. We wondered what we should call them and we eventually came up with the name Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We knew we wanted to turn it into a comic, so we came up with the story later.

KW: When did you first become interested in comics?
Peter: I've always been interested in comics. I remember, as a young kid, reading comics like Casper the Friendly Ghost and Little Dot. I later got into Superman, Batman and especially Green Lantern. There was this great used bookstore near my house where you could buy comics for five cents a piece. That's where I got introduced to Marvel Comics and stuff like The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four and other stuff by Jack Kirby. Kirby became a huge influence for me. I eventually got to the point where I decided, I've got to do this. I've got to become a comic book artist.

KW: What's the deal with the Turtles being named after great artists?
Peter: It's really kind of stupid. We had this story about how the turtles were being trained by this rat who had come from Japan and was a ninja master. We thought about giving the turtles Japanese names but we couldn't think of authentic-sounding Japanese names. So, we decided why not name them after Renaissance artists? We picked the artists we were most familiar with and went with it.

To read more about Peter Laird and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, click here.

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