Some TMNT stuff was always meant for grownups.
Nearly every issue begins with a character (ordinarily a Turtle) giving a brief monologue, then saying "Let me tell you a story".
Although only seven issues of Volume 1 of Tales were published, it provided an opportunity to expand the TMNT character roster to include such characters as Nobody, Leatherhead, The Ray King, Complete Carnage, and Radical - most of which went on to feature in the main title. Tales is also notable for borrowing a unique tradition that originated in Creepy magazine: an opening splash page would feature an introduction by a TMNT character and conclude with the ominous line, "Let me tell you a story." This page also served as a showcase of sorts for a variety of guest artists. The title ceased publication in 1989 when the TMNT became a licensed property. Jim Lawson moved to Mirage's ongoing TMNT series while Ryan Brown shifted toward art and design work for TMNT licensees, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures title from Archie Comics.
Sixteen years later, under the direction of Stephen Murphy, a relaunch of the series began publication in January 2004. The new Tales of the TMNT (as the covers read) focused on events that occur throughout the Turtles' lives, including some of the "lost" fifteen years occurring between TMNT Volumes 2 and 4. Issue #25 featured the return of the original Tales creative team of Brown and Lawson. This revived title maintained the tradition of including a "Let me tell you a story" splash page at the beginning of every issue, in homage to its 1980s predecessor. In May 2010, the second volume ended its run with a total of 70 issues, ten times as many as its predecessor.
The original series' entire run has been collected twice as trade paperbacks, first in 1989 and again in 2007. Each version of the trade features new story contents, with the 1989 edition featuring a new 10 page back-up story at the end written & drawn by Jim Lawson. The 2007 edition features a new 27-page story by Lawson entitled "Spinal Tapped" with this story taking place after issue #7 and a 4-page epilogue by Murphy & Lawson. The 2007 edition does not collect the new back-up story from the 1989 edition. Additionally, the 2007 edition also features new opening splash pages, omitting the original opening splash pages completely.
Six volumes of the Tales of the TMNT Volume 2 series have been collected, selecting random issues, or based on linked themes/characters. Volume 1:
- The Collected Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1 (Dec. 1989)
- Tales of the TMNT: Original Vol. 1 Series Treasury Edition (ISBN 0-9787029-9-9) (Nov. 2007)
- Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1 (Dec. 2012)
- Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 (ISBN 978-1-61377-624-7) (April. 2013)
- Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Vol. I -reprints Tales of the TMNT Volume II #1, 10, 16, 18 & 26 (Oct. 2006)
- Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Vol. II -reprints Tales of the TMNT Volume II #5 and all four issues of "Tales of Leonardo: Blind Sight" (Jan. 2007)
- Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Vol. III -reprints Tales of the TMNT Volume II #6, 20, 24, 27 and 28 (June, 2007)
- Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Vol. IV -reprints Tales of the TMNT Volume II #3, 4, 13, 14 and 33 (Sept. 2007)
- Tales of the TMNT Collected Books Volume V -reprints Tales of the TMNT Volume II #2, 9, 15, 17 and 25 (Feb. 2008)
- Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 3 -reprints Tales of the TMNT Volume II #1, 2, 3, 4 (Oct 2013)