The 1980s produced some totally radical slang terms. If prompted, almost anyone in Generations X or Y can spout off their own concoction of half-surfer dude, half-valley girl lingo. (No duh! That’s gnarly! Psych!) Though these terms were rampant in PG-13 movies of the 1980s, they didn’t make an appearance in children’s books or standard preschool television fare such as Sesame Street or Reading Rainbow. My first exposure to this tubular way of talking was through four animated turtles named for famous Italian Renaissance artists.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or TMNT) made their world debut in a 1984 comic book, which was originally intended to parody the genre. But the illustrated adventures of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo soon gained quite a following, and a licensing agent realized the marketing opportunities ahead. In 1987, Playmates Toys, Inc. received the license to develop a line of action figures based on the sewer-dwelling comic book characters. In December of that same year, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated television series debuted.