Nostalgic to a T: Cowabunga!

The desire to wear my past infected me too.

Retro style t-shirts likely proliferated because some designer wanted a theme party night (‘70s, ‘80s, 90s…). The style choked the world in nostalgia until creativity became stagnant.

And yet there I was, packing for vacation when I realized I had at least five such shirts. Like so many people my age, I hadn’t escaped the thrall of childhood icons. Was this realization so bad? These images reflected who I was, am, and will be. My interests evolved over time, but they needed to start somewhere.

Eastman & Laird's TMNT started an obsession.
Eastman & Laird’s TMNT started an obsession.

Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original iteration wasn’t my first encounter with their talking, fighting heroes-in-a-half-shell creations. I’d discover who these two creators were much later in life. Still, their characters led to my fascination with a certain genre and medium.

I discovered Archie Comics’ cartoon-adjacent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures in a local grocery store. Staring up at the spinner rack, the Laird-drawn cover fascinated me by how it showed Donatello’s transformation.

My parents noticed my fascination. “Do you wan–”

“YES!” I grabbed the issue. Within the hour I was home reading and hooked for life.

I don’t remember the plot for that specific issue, but I know I kept reading. I remember discovering other cultures, time travel, WWII, and outer space. I remember being introduced to science fiction tropes (if you meet a future version of yourself, he or she always has a patch or scar to easily differentiate themselves from you). I remember following an epic serialized story. And I remember slowly getting more comics from that spinner rack on a weekly basis before learning about comic book stores. Twenty-two years later, I still track down new comics on a weekly basis. My tastes may have changed along the way, but my love of the medium hasn’t waned.

All of this indirectly started because of an Eastman and Laird creation. At some point the summer (depending on my ever-growing to-read list), I’ll finally read the stories that inspired my comics obsession.

Published by

Patrick Ridings

Patrick Ridings attempts to remain creative by writing whenever possible. His first published work appeared in Philly Beer Scene's June/July 2012 issue. Mr. Ridings believes all writer bios read like Stan Lee's Dr. Doom dialogue from 1962.

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