One great thing about writing for this blog (other than not having to care about grammar or spelling) is sometimes people reach out to you and give you free stuff in exchange for a review. I call those people suckers…I mean valued readers!
In all seriousness, the other month I was sent a copy of ‘Raise Some Shell. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ by Richard Rosenbaum to be reviewed. I thought, cool, it’s a book about Ninja Turtles, it should be okay. Boy was I wrong. It wasn’t okay, it was AWESOME! And that’s saying something for a book about the world of comics, cartoons and movies that contains zero pictures.
Rosenbaum tackles in detail all things turtles from its start as a gritty independent comic to the more kid-friendly cartoon and into each movie that was created. He leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the turtles and even touches base on probably the greatest moment in TMNT history: That time Vanilla Ice sang “Ninja Rap” in ‘Secret of the ooze’.
Rosenbaum’s writing is very witty and casual, similar to reading something by Chuck Klosterman, which makes the read fun and easy almost like you are just geeking out with an old buddy. When reading books like this sometimes the author can come off as a bit of a “know it all” but this is not the case with Rosenbaum. That said, he does seem to know it all, but doesn’t hit you over the head with it or come across as condescending, although at the end of the day we are talking Ninja Turtles so who even knows if you can come off as condescending.
What really impressed me about this book were the parallels that Rosenbaum drew throughout it. Some were more obvious like the parallels between the writing styles of the Ninja Turtles comics by Eastman and Laird and the styles of fellow comic writer Frank Miller. However, Rosenbaum made just as convincing parallels between the Turtles and complex themes such as finding ones identity, struggling with feelings of alienation and the struggles of being a teenager. Oh yeah, we are talking some next level stuff here folks.
Without a doubt my favourite part of this book is the non-stop ride of Nostalgia as well as the countless times I learned facts that completely blew my mind (including my shared opinion with Rosenbaum that Donatello is the best Turtle) . One such fact, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the most successful independent comic of all time. Who knew?
I close by saying I considered myself about an 8 out of 10 when it came to knowing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but after reading this book I realize I am a 6 out of 10 (or perhaps a 5) when it comes to knowledge of the Turtles. But that is the best part about this book! It makes you realize how much more there is to the Ninja Turtles and gets you excited to re-live some of the classics you know and branch out to some of the gems you might have missed out on. The series finale to the 2003 Turtles series (which I missed completely) sounds like one of the greatest moments in TV history.
Overall, I give this book 3 Donatellos, 1 Raphael, 2 Splinters and a Bebop and Rocksteady (That’s an accurate form of measurement right?).
And now, every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opening I could find on YouTube!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987-1996)
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997-1998)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003-2009))
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turltles (2012-Present)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie
*Raise Some Shell is available on Amazon (.ca and .com) and in bookstores. You can also buy the book directly from ecwpress.com.