Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise in 1984. The pair's drawings started as a joke but evolved into a comic book story that Eastman and Laird printed using their tax refund money and a $1,000 loan from a relative.
Both Eastman and Laird are art history fans and wanted unusual names for their creations, so they decided to name each turtle after a famous Renaissance artist. A copy of the first issue of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is worth about $20,000 as of 2015.
The first pitch the creators received for a movie based on the comic books was in the 1980s from Roger Corman's New World Pictures. The pitch consisted of hiring four popular comedians – Gallagher, Sam Kinison, Bobcat Goldthwait and Billy Crystal – to play the lead roles. That pitch failed, as did several others; the first live action movie finally came out in 1990.
Various complainants took Eastman and Laird to court over the franchise. Buffalo Bob from "The Howdy Doody Show" sued the creators over the use of his famous catchphrase "Cowabunga!" The animation studio that created the first cartoon series sued for half of the royalties, claiming it was responsible for the characters' popularity.