Book Review: Raise Some Shell, by Richard Rosenbaum

Hello Turtle Fans!

With all of the upcoming new TMNT movie chatter, and the popularity of the current Nickelodeon show and the comics, there is a renewed interest in learning more about the franchise and it’s history. There seems to be a number of mini-books popping up ‘analyzing’ tmnt and it’s history. Don’t fill your kindle just yet, though…

Here’s a lil info from the coverflap:

 ‘Raise Some Shell critically and cleverly examines the origins, evolution, and impact of the Ninja Turtles phenomenon — from its beginning as a self-published black-and-white comic book in 1984, through its transformation into a worldwide transmedia phenomenon by the middle of the 1990s, and up to the sale of the property to Nickelodeon in 2009 and relaunch of the Turtles with new comics, cartoons, and a big-budget Hollywood film. With the eye of contemporary cultural studies and the voice of a true lifelong Turtles fan, Rosenbaum argues that the Turtles’ continuing success isn’t mere nostalgia, but rather the result of characters, and a franchise, that mutated in a way that allowed them to survive and thrive in a modern world.’


This 150-page book is a nice resource of information, whether if you’re a newcomer to the TMNT fandom, or a fan looking for something a bit more analytical and NOT targeted to younger kids. Don’t worry, though… it’s not like the Exposed or Mind Control books that came out back in the early nineties. For those books, you can read Jester’s Analysis.

This book gives a history of the franchise and it’s relation to the history at the time of the publishing’s/showings. It also goes into what makes TMNT so popular – the family dynamic between Turtles and Splinter, the trials of being unaccepted by society, the awkward life transition of being a teenager, and the balance of life between survival and crime-fighting. Here’s an excerpt for you to chew on:

Mutantness is obviously the strongest conceptual force throughout the TMNT multi-verse. A mutant is something that has been changed from its original or natural form it’s no longer one thing, but also not yet quite another. Mutation symbolizes Otherness in all kinds of postmodern literature as aforementioned, Kafka and Rushdie have used the trope to great effect. In superhero comics, mutants typically represent the conundrum of newness the potential and danger that accompanies progression, gaining freedom from old ideas and prejudices coupled with the threat of losing the stability and meaningful traditions of the past. Marvel comics’ biggest stars, especially, are mutants. The Marvel Universe’s mutants are often described as being the “next step in human evolution,” even given the designation of their own subspecies of humanity, homo sapiens superior. In the 1960s, the earliest X-Men comics explained the emergence of mutants as a result of prenatal exposure to atomic radiation, and while later this was retconned into radiation only being the trigger for ancient genetic engineering, the association of mutantness with nuclear decay is significant: the dawn of the Atomic Age and of Postmodernity have both been tied to the first use of atomic weapons by the United States against Japan at the close of the Second World War. Those bombs were the end of the old order and the start of something new, something unprecedented and terrifying. It was the breakdown of what we thought we understood about the world, the first shot across the hull of what would become a baffling war of conflicting identities existing within the same body…

Overall, it’s an interesting read – more obsessed fans will already be familiar with most of the TMNT history. The comparisons of TMNT to other franchises, and the parallels to history and current events is good, though a bit long-winded. It’s a fairly easy read – I was able to read through it completely in one evening. If you like to dabble with literary analysis and learning interesting TMNT facts, you will enjoy this book. I kinda wish there had been more in-depth analysis of individual characters. THAT would have been a good addition to the beginning..

There were a couple things I didn’t care for in the book. Some minor swearing is scattered throughout, but not so much that it detracted from the subject. There are some harsh words regarding the early leaks and rumors of the current live action movie, which kinda dissolves into what basically reads like an angry fanboy rant. Having strong opinions about the upcoming movie I can understand… but the nearly page-long footnote plea to Viacom to be hired as a writer for the movie unfortunately made this book feel more like a curriculum vitae of “I know about this franchise more than anyone, you should hire ME!”.

With some of the other types of ‘analyses‘ being published, it looks like some publishers are pretty much publishing Wikipedia articles or fan-blogs as ‘pop studies’. Kinda like taking fan-fiction, changing the names and then calling it an original story… If that were the case, I’d be more published than my French ancestor.

Turtles are big, so the push to sell ANYTHING is big. So choose your books wisely…

It’s not out until April, but you can see some other longer excerpts to decide if you want to pre-order, so be sure to check it out.


~ Machias

Author: Hero_777

UK-Based, longterm TMNT enthusiast, proud parent and professional Santa Claus.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Raise Some Shell, by Richard Rosenbaum”

  1. Bobby Herbeck
    October 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I have a long history with the first TMNT film. I wrote the first script for the first movie. Wall papered Hollywood pitching the movie to get made. Rosenbaum leap frogs the whole story and long drawn out process to making the film … from approaching Peter & Kevin and convincing them Golden Harvest was the company to bring it to the screen … not New Line as Rosenbaum states … no mention of GH. Nor the writers … nor the back story of getting it to the screen … how our timing was perfect … and so many other things he failed to mention or misrepresented. Including the cost of making the film and the final b.o. figures. Rosenbaum needs to do his homework before asking people to shell (pun intended) out their hard earned money to read his fiction.

    Bobby Herbeck

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