Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 #13 MISPRINT / Error Edition

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crossover – Creed”

Published: October, 1995
Print run: 10,000 copies
Destroyed in recall: ?????
Estimated remaining: 1000’s
Total on CGC census: 2
Recent sale: $187.99 CGC 9.2

The misprinted batch of TMNT v2 #13 hit the stands with the back cover art used for the front cover, and vice versa. If you were to hold a copy in your hands today, you might think you were looking at something called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crossover – Creed.” But there is no issue number nor price anywhere to be found. The cover reads, “Rising star, Trent Kaniuga, fulfills his burning desire to work on the TMNT by creating a TMNT/Creed crossover adventure for Lightning Comics. Coming April 1996!”

If you have a book in your collection matching this description, flip it over, and you’ll see that what you’re really looking at is one of the misprint / error edition copies of TMNT volume 2, #13.

TMNT #13 Error CGC Graded Copy

CGC denotes the misprint variant of volume 2, #13, with “Error Edition” at the left of the label just to the right of the grade. The label notes at the right side read, “Manufactured with front & back covers printed in reverse.”


TMNT #13 Misprint Back Cover

The cover art intended for the front cover of #13 ended up on the back cover of the #13 error edition.


After the final page of the story a letter from Mirage says: “You now have in your hands the final, at least for now, Mirage issue of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” And the letter to fans on the inside cover says, “this is the last Mirage Publishing issue of the TMNT for the foreseeable future.” That honor of last Mirage TMNT book now resides with the 2009 “Color Special” printing of issue #1, but back in 1995 this issue would wrap up volume 2, and Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen would be publishing a new monthly TMNT book at Image.

Nineteen years later, the goal of this blog entry is to collect the known information about the misprint variant of this book. As a starting point, here is what Dan Berger of Mirage says:


It is a printing error – unfortunately we don’t have any records on what occurred, so I don’t know for sure if the misprints got into the retail system and were recalled, but I suspect that this is what happened since most of the comics shipped directly from the printer to the distributor. Typically on recalls, comic retailers can return bad copies for good copies, but many opt to only send in a portion of the bad copies so they can keep them in hopes that they’ll become sought-after collectibles.

If that’s what did happen, there are potentially as many error copies as there are good copies out there, and for the last issue of volume two, I suspect that would mean around 10,000, so it’s probably not a rare item.

Cheers!
Dan

There are a few pieces of very useful information here. For one, there is no indication of any record that Mirage pulped any copies. This is in contrast for example to the #4 misprint where Mirage revealed they pulped 59,000 of the 60,000 misprinted copies:

TMNT #4 Misprint 59,000 Copies Pulped

The publisher, Mirage, revealed that they had pulped 59,000 recalled copies of the #4 misprint, out of the 60,000 printed.


Another key piece of information here is the print run recalled by Dan, at 10,000 copies. This is important because it is the upper end starting point from which any copies destroyed in the recall would be subtracted. Even if some savvy retailers held onto their misprints in the hope that they would later have value, some retailers are always going to comply with a recall. So we can safely assume the total number of copies out there is some amount short of the 10,000, therefore, somewhere in the four figures on the upper end.

For purposes of comparing and contrasting the various comics I have posted about on this blog, here is the known print run information for various early TMNT books (as published in Turtlemania) with the comics highlighted in this blog presented in bold for contrast:

TMNT #1 (first printing) – 3,000
TMNT #1 (second printing) – 6,000
TMNT #1 (third printing) – 35,000
TMNT #1 (fourth printing) – 60,000
TMNT #1 Color Special Misprint – 1,000
TMNT #2 (first printing) – 15,000
TMNT #2 (second printing) – 30,000
TMNT #3 (NYCC convention edition) – 500
TMNT #3 – 50,000
TMNT #4 – 60,000
TMNT #4 Misprint – 60,000 (59,000 pulped)
TMNT #5 – 60,000
TMNT #6 – 65,000
TMNT #7 – 95,000
TMNT v2 #13 Misprint – 10,000

So by contrast, the #13 print run at 10,000 is in between the numbers for the second printing of issue #1 and the first printing of issue #2. The #4 misprint had 6x the print run, but subtracting the copies reported pulped by Mirage the starting point becomes 1000. So in order of lowest to highest number of copies created, less the known number destroyed, here are how the comics featured in this blog compare:

TMNT #3 (NYCC) – 500
TMNT #4 Misprint – 1,000
TMNT #1 Color Special – 1,000
TMNT #1 First Printing – 3,000
TMNT v2 #13 Misprint – 10,000

That comparison would suggest the #13 misprint is less rare than the others by an order of magnitude. But print run is only one piece of the puzzle. Another comparison is to look at how easy or difficult it is to actually find copies for sale. Today’s date is just one random snapshot in time but I still think it is a useful exercise to look at how many sellers are currently offering copies on this date. So as of this writing, here is a comparison of how many eBay sellers are offering each of the above books for sale:

TMNT #3 NYCC – 1 seller
TMNT #4 Misprint – 1 seller
TMNT #1 Color Special – 1 seller
TMNT #1 First Printing – 5 sellers
TMNT v2 #13 Misprint – 6 sellers

The pattern here seems to correlate, where the higher print run for #13 means it is easier to find a greater number of sellers of the book on eBay, versus the other books. And it is worth noting as well that one of those 6 sellers has three copies of the #13 misprint available, and another has two copies available. So the bottom line is that the #13 misprint is easier to find versus these other books, by a wide margin.

Despite the apparent prevalence of the #13 misprint on eBay, a common claim in the listing description among copies currently held for sale on eBay is that there exist only about 100 copies:


It is estimated about 100 copies were produced and sold this way.


Ultra rare backwards cover misprint of the final issue of the mirage series. Less than 100 copies of this book made it into circulation.

These claims do not seem to jive with what we know about the print run, and what we can observe about the prevalence of eBay sellers of the book; but one seller’s description includes the following remark, which may shed some light on the claims eBay sellers have made:


The number of error copies resold in secondary markets could be higher.

While it is impossible to know the number of copies sold on the stands to retail customers before the recall notice was issued, and could very well be on the order of a hundred for all we know, that number is hardly relevant if those retailers then took the recalled copies off the shelves and sold them through other channels. This is why the initial print run is such an important piece of information. The only numbers I can find that do point in the direction of extreme rarity are the CGC census numbers. As of this writing, here are how the various issues compare:

TMNT #3 NYCC – 60 copies on census
TMNT #4 Misprint – 85 copies on census
TMNT #1 Color Special – 48 copies on census
TMNT #1 First Printing – 486 copies on census
TMNT v2 #13 Misprint – 2 copies on census

So strictly on the census numbers, the TMNT #13 misprint would appear to be the most rare at just two copies as of this writing, followed by the #1 color special misprint coming in at 48 copies, then the #3 NYCC variant at 60 copies, the #4 misprint at 85 copies, and finally the first printing of #1 with 486 copies on census. But I think the low census count for the #13 misprint can be explained by lack of awareness of this misprint among collectors. There were zero copies on census before the issue was featured on RecalledComics.com, who writes:


This error variant was produced with the front cover of the comic on the back!

As the back and front covers are printed as one single overall cover that is then folded, this is a pre-printing error where the back and front covers have been put together in the wrong order prior to printing with the front cover to the left (making it the back cover) and the back cover to the right (making it the front cover).

The back cover advert does look vaguely like a comic cover so maybe this was an easy mistake to make but there is no date, number or price on the back cover so this error has been missed during any quality control / proof checks that the comic may have been through.

There have been a few of these error variants available on auction sites such as ebay so they are reasonably easy to get hold of implying there was at least a small initial print run of erroneous copies that made it out to the public. At the time of writing CGC did not appear to have any copies graded in their census (only a single issue is graded and no mention of the error).


It would appear that one or two collectors, after reading the above, sent their error copies in to CGC. Because as of this date, in addition to the one regular copy, two copies now appear on the census with the variant designation of “error edition,” graded 9.2 and 9.6.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13 Error Edition CGC Census Info

The CGC census information for the #13 Error Edition variant, as of this writing, showing two graded copies at 9.2 and 9.6.


The 9.2 copy recently appeared on eBay, and shows up in the completed listings as having sold for $187.99 as a “Buy It Now” listing, screencaptured below for posterity. Below that is an ungraded copy advertised as being in mint condition, showing as “Best offer accepted” with $100 shown with a strikethrough indicating that was the asking price.

TMNT #13 Misprint Completed Listings

The completed listings on eBay show the CGC 9.2 copy sold at $187.99 as a “Buy It Now” listing.


Collecting this Comic Book

Given the comparable abundance of this misprint as outlined above based upon print run and availability on eBay, it should not be too difficult to get your hands on a copy. What appears to be a bit more difficult is finding one in a grade advertised higher than VF, or finding a CGC graded copy where there is certainty about the grade. For a collector looking for a high grade CGC copy, the best bet given the low census numbers at this point in time may be to collect a raw copy that looks to be in top condition, and send it in to CGC for grading.

A great find would be to come across an ungraded copy for sale where the seller does not realize that their copy is actually TMNT v2 #13 and believes it to be “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crossover – Creed.” The cover art does in fact resemble that of Creed #1 so in a yardsale situation or a liquidation listing, it is not hard to imagine picking up a copy for cover price or under.

Creed #1 cover

The cover art for Creed #1 looks very similar.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13 Misprint/Error Edition — Value

As of this writing, the ComicsPriceGuide values this comic in the various grades, ungraded versus graded, as follows:

teenage mutant ninja turtles #13 misprint/error edition value

TMNT #13 Guide Value, at ComicsPriceGuide.com

RecalledComics lists a $40 value in near mint condition. The asking price on eBay in lower VF range as of this writing is in the $15-30 range, one seller asks $100 for a “high grade” copy, and a copy advertised as “mint” has a $75 “Buy It Now” price. The only known sale of a CGC graded copy at the time of this writing is the 9.2 copy shown earlier at $187.99 “Buy it Now.”

Sources & Resources

RecalledComics TMNT #13 page: recalledcomics.com/TMNTv2-13CoverError.php
Mirage’s v2 #13 page: miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume02/13/13.html
Mirage’s #4 page: miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume01/04/04.html
Early TMNT print run information: miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/turtlemania/turtlemania.html
ComicsDB TMNT #13 page: comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=290427

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1 MISPRINT / Error Edition

Mirage Gives Collectors a Final Gift

One Last Amazing Misprint to Collect

Published: November, 2009
AKA: TMNT #1 Full Color One Shot
Print run: 1,000 copies
Destroyed in recall: ?????
Estimated remaining: 100’s
Total on CGC census: 48
Recent sale: $137.50 CGC 9.8

In November of 2009, Mirage Studios was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That year also marked the sale of the TMNT to Nickelodeon, and the wind-down of Mirage Studios. As a ”last hurrah” of sorts, Mirage decided to do one last re-print of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, but with a twist: full color. The original #1 issue was printed completely in black-and-white (other than red ink on the cover), and had never before been released in full color.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1 Recall Notice

The recall notice issued from Diamond Comics asked retailers to Please Destroy all copies.

So Mirage invited long-time colorist Steve Lavigne to return and add his ”blazing hues” to this classic. This would have been collectible enough for collectors as it was. But Mirage gave us one final gift, a misprint variant to collect.

The initial print run of 1000 copies came back from the printer with a strange hatch pattern on some interior pages, as well as some font problems which made the inside front cover copy hard to read, prompting a swift ”please destroy” recall notice [''TMNT 1 Full Color One Shot Misprint Advisory'']. It is not known how many copies survived the recall, but estimates are in the 100’s.

Collecting this Comic Book

Recognizing a Misprint Copy

There are only 48 CGC graded copies of the error edition on census, so that suggests you’re probably not going to easily find a graded copy for sale… but graded and ungraded copies do exist. Mirage had some for sale at one point, and they have come up on eBay as well.

Mirage Studios TMNT Volume 1 For Sale Page

Mirage Studios had some misprints for sale at one point on their website.


A great find would be to come across an ungraded copy for sale somewhere, where the seller does not realize that their copy is in fact a misprint / error variant. The front cover is identical, with the differences only in the interior pages — so at a glance, someone may not actually realize their copy is a misprint. There are two primary differences between the misprint, and the regular edition. The first of these differences is more subtle — the font is different on the interior front cover:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1 Regular/Normal Copy Vs. Misprint/Error Edition Variant

At left, the front interior cover of a regular/normal copy; at right, a misprint/error edition variant.

 

That font difference (above) may be too subtle to rely upon…. Luckily, the other difference is much more stark and easy to spot. Many of the interior pages of the misprint edition have a ”hatch pattern” going diagonally across the pages. The center pages, 20-21 have this problem, so a good strategy would be to ask a seller for a picture of the centerfold so that you can examine the condition of the staples — but really, you’re looking for the hatch pattern. Here’s what that will look like in the error variant:

Error Edition Misprint Pages 20-21

Centerfold of error edition misprint

And here’s what those same pages look like in the regular / normal edition:

TMNT Color Special #1 Pages 20-21

Regular edition centerfold pages.

 

Finding a Copy

If a CGC graded copy, or an ungraded copy come up for sale on eBay, it may not be available at the particular moment you’re looking for one, so your best bet is to set up an eBay alert

[click this hyperlink to search eBay for ''turtles 1 misprint'' and then click ''save search'' at the top of the results list]

…or you could also set up a wantlist on Comic Link in the hopes that one may come up for sale there.

Here’s what an example graded copy looks like, which was posted in a thread on the Comics Price Guide Missing Issues Forum:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Error Edition CGC 9.8

An example graded copy in CGC 9.8

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Color Special — Misprint Value

The extremely low print run of 1,000 copies — a third of the print run of the original 1984 first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 — and unknown count of surviving copies, makes this misprint hard to find. As of March 2014 [I am editing my original post of 7/21/2011 on 3/3/2014 to update the link to Mirage's eBay page as their username has since changed from 'tmnt_toys' to 'mirage-studios', and am also updating the CGC census number while I'm making this edit, which was only 3 copies at the time of the original post] CGC had graded a total of just 48 of them. An example of a public sale of a graded copy was recorded at auction for $137.50 (in CGC 9.8). As of this writing, the ComicsPriceGuide values this comic in the various grades, ungraded versus graded, as follows:

TMNT 1 Error / Misprint Value in Various Grades

Values given to this issue in various grades by ComicsPriceGuide as of this writing

TMNT #1 Color Special — Sources & Resources

Comic Book Database TMNT #1 Misprint Page: www.comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=223038
CGC Census Page: www.cgccomics.com/census/index.asp
Comics Price Guide Forum: www.comicspriceguide.com/boards/132299/Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-Full-Color-One-Shot-1B-Misprint
Mirage’s Online Store (lots of great turtles comics): www.miragelicensing.com/paypal/mirage.html
Mirage’s eBay Page: ebay.com/usr/mirage-studios
Mirage’s TMNT #1 Page: www.miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume01/01/01.html

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 Second Printing MISPRINT / Manufacturing Error Edition

Mirage Gives Collectors a Gift

An Amazing Misprint to Collect

Published: May, 1987
Print run: 60,000 copies
Reported destroyed: 59,000
Estimated remaining: 1,000
Total on CGC census: 85
Recent sale: $360 CGC 9.6
The three covers in play in the TMNT #4 misprint.

The three covers in play, in the misprinting of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4

In May of 1987, Mirage Studios sent two comic book issues to the printer at the same time. The “Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1″ and a second printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4.

Unfortunately for Mirage, but fortunately for collectors, the printer accidentally used the cover art for the Tales of the TMNT on the second printing of TMNT #4. They ran off 60,000 copies, and some of them made it into the distribution chain before the comics were recalled.

Mirage later revealed that approximately 59,000 of the misprinted copies were recalled and pulped, leaving an estimated 1,000 that made it out into the public — that number of copies would represent a third of the print run of the original 1984 first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.


Collecting this Comic Book

Graded and ungraded copies to come up on eBay from time to time throughout the year, and if you come across an ungraded copy where the seller provides an actual scan, it is hard to be mistaken about whether the book is the misprint edition — the cover gives that fact away immediately. Often, these ungraded copies will be obtainable at a good price versus buying a CGC graded copy.

If you are looking for a high grade copy and come across an ungraded one claiming to be high grade, good advice is to ask for high resolution scans to help you ascertain the condition of the copy you are looking at. This comic was printed with very cheap quality newsprint paper, and they have aged very poorly if not kept in plastic. Also the cover is very ”busy” and therefore bends and creases can easily go unnoticed in a low resolution scan or a photo shot from a distance.

CGC graded copies are more expensive but give you certainty about the grade. Graded copies of this comic do come up for sale occasionally during the course of any given year, but there may not be one available at the particular moment you’re looking for one, so your best bet is to set up an eBay alert

[click this hyperlink to search eBay for ''turtles 4 misprint'' and then click ''save search'' at the top of the results list]

…or a wantlist on Comic Link.

Here’s what an example graded copy looks like:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 Error / Misprint Edition

An example CGC graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 Error / Misprint Edition.

TMNT #4 Misprint Value

The extremely low estimated count of surviving copies, the cheap interior newprint paper, and passage of time has caused high grade copies of this comic book to be extremely hard to come by. As of this writing, CGC had graded a total of just 85 of them, with a mere 21 copies graded at 9.4 or higher.

As of this writing, a recent sale of a CGC 9.6 graded copy was $360. That’s much higher than the value attributed to this comic in this grade, by the most popular online price guide.  A few factors are likely in play: (1) the price guide probably has a harder time identifying sales of this comic on account of its rarity, versus some more common comics that sell in large volume, and may be under-valuing the comic; (2) collectors who want it have a very hard time finding this issue, and may be willing to pay a premium to own it. As of this writing, the ComicsPriceGuide values this comic in the various grades, ungraded versus graded, as follows:

TMNT #4 Error / Misprint Variant Edition Values

Values given to this issue in various grades by ComicsPriceGuide as of this writing

Sources & Resources

Mirage’s eBay Page (if any copies remain in Peter Laird’s personal collection, this is where they would be sold): www.ebay.com/usr/mirage-studios
Mirage’s TMNT #4 Page: www.miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume01/04/04.html
Recalled Comics TMNT #4 Page: www.recalledcomics.com/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles4Error.php
Comic Book Database TMNT #4 Misprint Page: www.comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=124670
CGC Census Page: www.cgccomics.com/census/index.asp

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC “Laird’s Photo” Variant

Making a Splash at the 1985 NY Comic Con

Published: 1985
Print run: 500 copies
Total on CGC census: 60
Recent sale: $1,150 CGC 9.6
TMNT #3 Lairds Photo Variant Versus Regular Edition

Note the difference in the Laird's Photo sign between the variant and regular editions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3

Heading up to the 1985 New York Comic Con, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird printed 500 ”advance copies” of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 to sell in New York at the convention. This initial print run was identical to the later ”regular” edition except for one important contrast which makes it stand apart as its own unique variant: some of the blue coloration was left out of the cover, leaving it looking a brighter white overall as compared to the regular edition.

One specific noticeable characteristic is the ”Laird’s Photo” sign on the shop in the background, where ”Laird” appears white in the variant edition, but light blue in the regular edition. Being recognizable as its own unique variant with a known limited print run 1/6th that of the original 1984 first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, vaulted this comic to the status of being one of the most collectible turtles comics of all time. This variant is sometimes referred to as the ”Laird’s Photo Variant” or the ”NYCC Variant.”

Collecting this Comic Book

If you happened to stumble upon a copy of TMNT #3, where the seller didn’t realize they had the variant and didn’t advertise it as such (but you could tell it was the variant from the cover picture) that would be a tremendous find, but it would also be highly unlikely. Be skeptical: you might be looking at a stock photo of the cover; ask for an actual cover scan. CGC graded copies come up for sale only rarely during the course of any given year, so your best bet is to set up an eBay alert or a wantlist on Comic Link. Here’s what an example graded copy looks like:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC Lairds Photo Variant

An example CGC graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC / Lairds Photo Variant.

TMNT #3 NYCC Variant Value

The extremely low print run, cheap interior newprint paper, and passage of time has caused high grade copies of this comic book to be extremely hard to come by. As of this writing, CGC had graded a total of just 60 of them, with a mere 23 copies graded at 9.4 or higher.

As of this writing, a recent sale of a CGC 9.6 graded copy was $1,150. That’s way higher than the value attributed to this comic in this grade, by the most popular online price guide.  A few factors are likely in play: (1) the price guide probably has a very hard time identifying sales of this comic since it is so rare, and may be under-valuing the comic (2) collectors who want it have a very hard time finding this issue, and may be willing to pay a premium to own it. As of this writing, the ComicsPriceGuide values this comic in the various grades, ungraded versus graded, as follows:

Price guide values for TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 NYCC Variant

Values given to this issue in various grades by ComicsPriceGuide as of this writing

Sources & Resources

Mirage’s eBay Page (if any copies remain in Peter Laird’s personal collection, this is where they would be sold): www.ebay.com/usr/mirage-studios
Mirage’s TMNT #3 Page: www.miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume01/03/03.html
Comic Book Database TMNT #3 NYCC Page: www.comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=124669
CGC Census Page: www.cgccomics.com/census/index.asp

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 First Print May 1984

The First Comic Book from Mirage Studios

Published: May, 1984
Print run: 3000 copies
Total on CGC census: 486
Recent sale: $6,600 CGC 9.6
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Cover

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

The one that started it all: the May, 1984 original first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.  The renowned pair of artists came together sharing a mutual inspiration from legends Jack Kirby and Frank Miller.  The idea for the TMNT was sparked by the comedic concept of a turtle dressed in a mask and nunchakus which Eastman sketched during a brainstorming session.  They then elaborated that first concept drawing into a team of four, and the TMNT were born.  The pair were so excited by their concept, and convinced of its potential, that they used a $500 tax refund plus a $700 loan from Eastman’s uncle (who is thanked in the top left corner of the interior cover), to self-publish their first-ever comic book.

Original concept sketch by Kevin Eastman that ultimately led to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Original concept sketch by Kevin Eastman that ultimately led to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

To print it, $1200 in hand, they turned to the publisher of their local TV schedule giveaway magazine, who ended up printing it at the same oversized 7 3/8” x 10 7/8” size as the magazine.  That’s why there’s all that extra black space in the margins of the first issue… it’s the difference in size over a standard comic book (the next few issues would continue to be printed at this larger-than-normal size, with cover art that made use of the entire space).  Other than the red color used in the cover, the entire book was black-and-white; and the paper used for the interior pages was cheap newsprint — those choices helped to keep the cost down. The initial print run of the first issue was a mere 3,000 copies.  The interior back cover of the first printing has an ad for ”Gobbledygook” while the interior back cover of the second and third printings have an advertisement for t-shirt iron-ons.

Gobbledygook #1 1984 — Not a Comic Book

Gobbledygook #1, 1984 - not a comic book

Gobbledygook #1, 1984, was thought for years to be an actual comic book, but was actually just xerox photocopies on legal-size paper folded in half and stapled by hand.

More about Gobbledygook:  If you had sent in a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 to CGC Comics for grading prior to 2004, you might have been surprised when you received the book back to find that it was not credited with the first appearance of the turtles on the label. That’s because prior to 2004, Gobbledygook #1 was credited industry-wide (both at CGC and in the various price guides) as containing that key first appearance. Yet, CGC had never been sent any original copies for grading, and throughout the industry people would swear they had never even seen one or only seen a photocopy. But Mirage cleared up the confusion, explaining that Gobbledygook was not actually a printed comic book — instead, it was made on a xerox copier and stapled together by hand. That’s not to say that original copies aren’t very highly collectible… but they are still just (literally) xerox copies, not an actual comic book with a printing date. That means anybody with an original copy, a photocopier, and some vintage 1984 paper could churn out forgeries today that would be indistinguishable from the original photocopies (given the frighteningly high level of forgeries of TMNT #1 as I will discuss further, collectors should likewise be extremely wary of shelling out big bucks for Gobbledygook; I don’t know how even a professional grader could realistically certify what is a true original copy). So in 2004, the industry changed over to recognizing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 as containing the first appearance of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Splinter, and Shredder. Trivia: Michelangelo’s name was originally misspelled Michaelangelo

Collecting this Comic Book

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Cover

TMNT #1

Comic Link said of this book: ”No other comic book from the past 25 years has had a greater overall impact on the hobby and on popular entertainment than this first issue from 1984. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spawned an entertainment and marketing machine that continues to this very day to churn out everything from blockbuster movies to breakfast cereal and action figures. This quirky little independent issue also changed the way that collectors and investors thought about the hobby of comic book collecting.”

A warning note to collectors about forgeries: the 2nd and 3rd printings had a note on the interior front cover just under where Quentin Eastman is thanked, indicating ”second printing” or ”third printing” but other than that line, the interior front covers are identical to that of the first printing. Some copies have surfaced where that extra line has been bleached out, making it look as if it is a first printing.

There are also known forgeries that look the same as a true first printing to the untrained eye, but do not use the original cheap newsprint for the interior pages. When I first composed this blog entry in July 2011, CGC had graded 6 counterfeit copies, showing up on the census as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – COUNTERFEIT” and I wrote, “one can imagine the sinking feeling six unlucky collectors felt when they got their graded book back, after being so happy to have won their copy at auction on eBay or someplace.” As I write today, updating this blog entry on March 3, 2014, another two counterfeit copies now appear on the census, bringing the total to 8. So, good advice to collectors shopping for this issue is to stick with CGC graded copies which have been checked and verified by the professionals at CGC. It is risky to invest the thousands of dollars the higher grade copies of this book go for, only to send it in to CGC and get back a label indicating it is a counterfeit copy, but if you must buy an ungraded copy, be extremely wary and cautious.

Here’s what an example graded copy looks like:

Example CGC Graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

Example CGC Graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

TMNT #1 First Print — Value

The low print run, black cover, cheap interior newsprint paper, and passage of time has caused high grade copies of this comic book to be extremely hard to come by. As of March, 2014, CGC had graded a total of 486 of them, and just 87 copies are graded a 9.4 or higher.

As of this writing, a recent sale of a CGC 9.6 graded copy was $6,600.  That also happens to be the exact value attributed to this comic in this grade, by the most popular online price guide.  As of this writing, the ComicsPriceGuide values this comic in the various grades, ungraded versus graded, as follows:

teenage mutant ninja turtles 1 first print may 1984 price guide value

Values given to this issue in various grades by ComicsPriceGuide as of this writing

Sources & Resources

Mirage’s eBay Page (if any copies remain in Peter Laird’s personal collection, this is where they would be sold):
ebay.com/usr/mirage-studios
Mirage’s Origin Story: www.ninjaturtles.com/origin/origin.htm
Mirage’s TMNT #1 Page: www.miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume01/01/01.html
Recalled Comics TMNT #1 Page: www.recalledcomics.com/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1.php
Comic Book Database TMNT #1 Page: www.comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=27751
CGC Census Page: www.cgccomics.com/census/index.asp

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