Archie, Krang, Random House, VideoMedia

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures: VideoMedia and Archie

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures: VideoMedia (left), Random House (right).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures: VideoMedia (left), Random House (right).

Back covers: VideoMedia (left), Random House (right).

Back covers: VideoMedia (left), Random House (right).

In November of 2016, a reader brought to my attention the existence of TMNT Adventures comic books that were distributed along with cassette tapes in Canada, by VideoMedia.  These are counterpart to the US version distributed by Random House.

I’ve had my eyes peeled for VideoMedia copies ever since, and I finally got my hands on a copy of issue #1 which I found on eBay. In the 18 months since I started looking for these VideoMedia editions, I’ve seen a grand total of two copies of the VideoMedia edition of TMNTA #1 appear on eBay during that time: the copy I myself purchased, and, the below pictured copy. As we can see in the screenshot below, the seller has a copy of #1 as well as #2 also available, and describes them as “ULTRA RARE”:

Current TMNTA VideoMedia Listings on eBay, issues #1 and #2.

Current TMNTA VideoMedia Listings on eBay, issues #1 and #2.

For a TMNT comic book that is this difficult to find in the wild, a google search turns up precious little information, and I could not find anybody who has done a side-by-side comparison against the Random House version of TMNTA published by Archie and distributed along with cassette tapes in the USA. So with this post, I aim to fill that void!

I’m also using this post as an opportunity to share pictures with you of an incredible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic book collection that a reader shared with me (big thanks to that reader for taking the time to scan and email their collection, including example indicia pictures!), their collection being $1.50 “Type 1A cover price variants” published by Archie Comics. Below is the definition of a Type 1A cover price variant, by Jon McClure, as published in the Overstreet Price Guide:


[By the way, researching and writing about Type 1A variants have been my primary comic book hobby focus these past two years and I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity last year to collaborate with Jon McClure along with other fantastic collaborators who collectively published an online guide to Marvel and DC Type 1A cover price variants of the 1980’s — we published it all online, here for anyone interested in checking it out!] [October 2018 Update: we have just released our 2019 edition]

The hallmark of a Type 1A cover price variant is identical indicia and interior, in other words a comic book published simultaneously in the USA by the same publisher… but then carrying a different cover price versus its counterparts, corresponding to a different market. In this case with TMNT Adventures comics, that different market in question was Canada, which is a highly interesting situation for collectors who think about relative rarity: the relative market size comparing the two countries is extreme.

There was a United States Census in 1990, which showed a population back then of just about 249 million people. Canada, meanwhile, had a population of only about 28 million people in that year. That’s ~277 million people in total, as the North American market size for these TMNTA comic books, with Canada representing a 10% fraction of that total. Whenever we can find a comic book that was restricted in its distribution to Canada alone within the North American market, then as far as relative rarity is concerned, we’re dealing with a tenth of the combined market. Putting that in “modern variant terms” we’re talking about 1:10 — and then in some cases where the market was further divided between newsstand and direct edition, the rarity can be even more extreme. This is why I find Type 1A cover price variants so incredibly appealing to collect. Are the VideoMedia TMNTA comics Type 1A variants? Let’s find out!

TMNT Adventures: VideoMedia Edition

So let’s start our side-by-side comparison by first taking a look at the more-prevalent US counterpart to the VideoMedia edition of TMNTA #1: for the US counterpart I was actually able to find an unopened package, complete with cassette tape. [I haven’t been able to find an unopened VideoMedia package, or even a picture of one, but I presume it would look fairly similar to its US counterpart (11/15/2018 update: spotted a sealed VideoMedia pack — here are pictures)]. Here are front and back pictures of the Random House pack — the US version — that I was able to find:

As you can see, the package contains the comic at the bottom, and the cassette tape above it, with everything sealed in plastic. The package is priced “$5.95 US.” No Canadian price is listed on the package. Interestingly, this Random House / US version combines issues #1, #2, and #3 of the 1988 mini-series all together into one giant book, whereas VideoMedia published three separate issues! (I only acquired VideoMedia issue #1 so that’s the one I will be showing you).

Let’s now open both books up and take a side-by-side look!

VideoMedia vs Random House, side by side

VideoMedia vs Random House, side by side

Looking at the picture above, we’ve got the VideoMedia edition at the top, versus Random House at the bottom. Beyond the difference in page count between the comics, the first difference you might spot is the VideoMedia logo on the front cover versus the Random House logo, and then at the bottom of the front cover of the VideoMedia edition it says “#1 in a series of 3.”

Looking at the inside of the front cover, we can see that the VideoMedia edition has this page in full color, versus a black and white page for Random House. Now let’s take a closer look at the indicia page for each book. Below, I’ll first picture the full indicia page for each, and then I want to zoom in and point out a few things.

Full indicia page for VideoMedia edition:

VideoMedia Full Indicia Page

VideoMedia Full Indicia Page

And now the full indicia page for the Random House counterpart:

Random House Full Indicia

Random House Full Indicia

There are many differences we can observe. Here are a few in particular. Zooming in, notice that the VideoMedia edition says “Published and printed in Canada by…” whereas its US counterpart says “Published and printed in the United States of America by…” — so these two comics were not published in the same place:

Top: VideoMedia, Bottom: Random House

Top: VideoMedia, Bottom: Random House

And now finishing the “by…” sentence which wraps to the next line, we can see that the top book was published by “VideoMedia Systems Inc., Toronto, ON” versus the bottom book which was published by Archie Comic Publications Inc., Mamaroneck, NY. So the two books were not published in the same place, nor were they published by the same publisher:

Top: VideoMedia, Bottom: Random House

Top: VideoMedia, Bottom: Random House (also notice “6th Printing” at the bottom)

The indicia also goes on to spell out that these editions were both published as part of a cassette package, distributed in one case by VideoMedia, and in the other by Random House (“This edition printed in Canada and published exclusively as part of a three-book and three-cassette package series distributed by VideoMedia Systems Inc., 366 Adelaide St. West, Suite 707, Toronto, ON” vs. “This edition printed by Archie Comic Publications Inc., and published exclusively as part of a book and cassette package distributed by Random House, Inc., New York.”):

Top: VideoMedia, Bottom: Random House

Top: VideoMedia, Bottom: Random House

So it would certainly appear that these cassette-plus-comics products had different territory carved out: Random House distributed their version — which was published in the USA by Archie — to the United States market, while VideoMedia meanwhile published their version locally up in Canada and then distributed it to Canada.

After the indicia page, the interior comic book content is the same — in each case re-printing part 1 of the Archie 1988 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures mini-series which featured the first comic book appearances of Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady — and the content remains the same until we reach the end of issue #1:


At this point the Random House version keeps going (because it also combines issues #2 and #3), while the VideoMedia version comes to an end. Let’s take a closer look at the inside back cover of the VideoMedia edition:

The inside back cover of the VideoMedia edition contains pictures of VideoMedia issues #2 and #3, and then also states once again at the bottom right that the comic was made in Canada, and was manufactured and distributed by VideoMedia Systems Inc., Toronto.

So comparing these VideoMedia comics against their Random House/Archie counterparts, are these VideoMedia books Type 1A Variants? No. They are not: they were published by a different publisher, at a different time, in a different place. So while they are clearly “counterpart to one another” as cassette-packaged comics and based on the restricted distribution area the VideoMedia version should carry a 1:10 market-size-based rarity compared to their Random House/Archie counterparts, the VideoMedia version does not fall under Jon McClure’s Type 1A variant definition. I would call it a “Canadian Edition” — as a foreign-published U.S. reprint that was never intended for U.S. distribution — or I would alternatively call it “the VideoMedia Edition.”

This provides for juxtaposition to the $1.50 cover price variant collection I mentioned earlier, which I will share next… because those Archie comics are Type 1A variants. [Related article: “Canadian Edition” vs. “Canadian Cover Price Variant” ]

TMNT Adventures: Archie Type 1A Cover Price Variants

In this past post I shared a picture of the indicia of a $1.25 cover price Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, from the 1988 mini-series, and the owner of the regular-series Archie collection presented below has helpfully shared with me the below pictures of the indicia page of issue #58 as an example issue from the regular series — as we can see, these variants were indeed published by Archie Comic Publications, Mamaroneck, NY and were Printed in the USA, and indeed if you held one of these side-by-side against a US-cover-priced newsstand copy you will find they are 100% identical in every way to their US counterparts, except for the cover price. The cover price being the single feature that varies, it follows that these Archie books fall under Jon McClure’s Type 1A Cover Price Variant definition.

Before I present pictures from the reader’s collection, let’s quickly touch upon which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues published by Archie have Type 1A cover price variants. The 1988 mini-series has $1.25 cover price variant copies — where you can find both newsstand and direct edition single-price copies out there with $1.25 cover price — and then the 1989-onward regular series also starts out with $1.25 cover price Type 1A variants existing, also with both newsstand and direct edition copies carrying single prices.

Here are example pictures of issues #1-3 of the mini-series and regular-series (these particular ones pictured below happen to be direct editions — I asked the seller of these if they were the original owner and if so where they were purchased, and they indicated to me that they were the original owner and acquired them at the Silver Snail comics shop in Toronto):


Single-price direct editions and newsstand editions continue through issue #11, but then at issue #12 we can see that direct editions begin to carry both US and CAN pricing:


However, newsstand editions continue to carry a single price, so beginning at issue #12, our Type 1A cover price variants become a newsstand-exclusive phenomenon. As far as relative rarity is concerned, this is an important consideration: before, the full Canadian market was getting $1.25 cover price copies, whereas now at issue #12, only a portion of the Canadian market is getting $1.25 cover price copies (the newsstand portion), because the other portion of that market is taking home the very same direct editions sold in the USA. Here’s an example $1.25 cover price newsstand copy of issue #12:


At issue #19, Archie raises cover prices: the US price goes up from $1.00 to $1.25, and the CAN price goes up from $1.25 to $1.50, as we can see on the cover of direct editions which list both prices:


Here is an example $1.50 cover price variant for issue #19:

Issue #19 also happens to be interesting as a key, containing the first appearance of the Mighty Mutanimals as a team. Individual Mutanimals team members have first appearances in earlier issues — below is a list of issue notes courtesy of Doug Sulipa, from his Archie inventory page, for issues #1-19 (note the Mighty Mutanimal notes in green):


This cover price convention continues until we get to issue #59. At that point, Archie begins to charge $1.50 for the US and Canada:


But fast forward to issue #71 and Archie raises the cover price in Canada to $1.65. It stands to reason that issue #71 should have a $1.65 cover price variant in existence, because when we examine a direct edition we can see that both prices are listed: $1.50 US, $1.65 CAN:


But then if we find a newsstand copy of issue #71, we see that they are single price — I was only able to find a US priced copy to picture here (below), but as you can see it carries a cover price of $1.50.


Since we know from the direct edition we saw before that $1.65 was the price charged in Canada for this issue, and since that price does not appear on the above pictured newsstand copy in small print, it would follow that $1.65 cover priced newsstand copies do indeed exist out there too! [5/19/2018 UPDATE: Thanks Sal for sending in pictures of the variant for TMNT #71! Here it is below!]

The $1.65 variant for issue #72 is also confirmed to exist — Paul Clairmont of PNJ Comics has had one in stock in the past, here is a picture of it courtesy of Paul:

TMNT Adventures #72, $1.65 Cover Price Variant

TMNT Adventures #72, $1.65 Cover Price Variant

And as far as relative rarity, the fact that these final TMNTA cover price variants are newsstand exclusives means they only reached a subset of the Canadian market. And making them even more difficult to find, quoting Doug Sulipa’s notes once again, you can see that by issue #51 he is dubbing print runs as “Lower Print Run & Hard to Find” … turning into “LOW Print & VERY SCARCE” for issue #71, and “LOW print & RARE” for issue #72:


Clearly, finding the Type 1A cover price variants for these already-harder-to-find issue numbers is incredibly challenging, and so I am very grateful to the reader who scanned and shared their collection of TMNTA Type 1A variants, which I share with you now, below! Here’s their collection!

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Click any thumbnail below to enlarge:

Happy Collecting! 🙂


1st Appearance of Krang in Comics — Part II

[Author’s note: this is Part II, to follow up on my previous post (Part I) in order to share a new development.  It is recommended you read Part I first, if you have not already done so.]

Back in July 2016, I explored the question of the 1st appearance of Krang in comics.  There has just been a new development on this front that I need to share with you!  First, a few key facts to recap:

  • The villain we know as Krang (or Kraang as it was originally spelled), is a character created not by Eastman & Laird, but rather by David Wise, specifically for the TV cartoon.

    “While the comics were dark, gritty, and bloody, that’s not the type of TV series Wise wanted to make. The 1987 cartoon was going to be a kids show, so going full steam ahead with Japanese-style fighting wasn’t an option — which is why Wise opted to create the supervillain Krang as a way to alleviate the violence.”

  • There was a “precursor” to Krang in the Eastman & Laird comics, which inspired Wise when creating Krang, who ended up looking very similar (if not near-identical) visually, to the precursor — Mirage describes the relationship between the character Krang and the “precursor” alien creatures known as “Utroms” as follows:

    “At the hi-tech facilities, Splinter discovers that the humans that work there are actually small alien creatures that utilize humanoid robotic bodies to disguise themselves. These aliens, known as the Utroms, are the precursors to what would become Krang on the television cartoon.”

  • Created by Wise for the television cartoon, and appearing for the first time on TV, the specific character we know as Krang would therefore logically first appear in comics in the comic book adaptation of the television cartoon — which happened in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (in 1988, published by Archie Comics), where we see Krang for the first time in issue #1 of that mini-series.
  • At the time of my previous post, from an examination of the CGC Key Comments notes for every early Mirage comic — including the ones where we knew Utroms to appear — we observed that a 1st appearance credit for Krang was nowhere to be found (at that time).

And now for the update: a 1st appearance of Krang credit now exists at CGC, as of this week!

I’m pleased to report that CGC has reviewed the Krang 1st appearance credits situation, to consider whether a Key Comments change was warranted, and that they decided to change their previously-blank label note for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1.  I looked it up on their census today and discovered their change has indeed been made there.  And in fact, the credit they added covers Bebop and Rocksteady as well. Here’s how the issue now looks on a census lookup (note the Key Comments field):

Key Comments:

Key Comments: “1st comic book appearance of Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady.”

And just to double-verify, here below is the output of a certification lookup of the very same example copy I had screen-captured back in my July post (recall that at that time, there was no key comments field present):


As you can see, a Key Comments note now appears for the example copy previously examined back in July.

Indeed, a key comments note appears (matching what we saw on the online census lookup), where it previously was absent for this example graded copy.  So as you can see, Krang’s 1st comic book appearance (along with Bebop & Rocksteady) is now recognized by CGC.

Let’s see that Krang appearance!

Inside the pages of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (8/1988)…
Shredder: “WHAT NOW?”


Shredder: “WELL, WHAT IS IT?”
Krang: “HA!”







Indicia Page of $1.25 Cover Price Variant

As touched upon in my Part I post, there exists a $1.25 variant cover price out there for copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1, with likely rarity on the order of 1:10, and CGC denotes copies with this higher cover price as “Canadian Edition” on their census, because $1.25 was the price charged for the issue in Canada. In case anyone might get a false impression by this variant naming convention that the variant was published in Canada, below is a picture of the indicia page of my $1.25 variant copy, to show you that it was indeed published in the USA:

Indicia reads as follows:

Indicia reads as follows: “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ADVENTURES – by Mirage Studios. PO Box 417, Haydenville, MA 01039. Book 1 of 3 issues. August 1988. Published and printed in the United States of America by Archie Comics Publications, Inc. 325 Fayette Avenue, Mamaroneck, NY 10543. All contents copyright 1988 by Mirage Studios unless otherwise noted. Any similarities between characters, name, persons, an/or institutions in this book any any living, dead or fictional characters, names, persons, and/or institutions is not intended and if it exists, it is purely coincidental. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES including Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Splinter, Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Foot Soldier, and April O’Neil are registered trademarks of Mirage Studios USA. All rights reserved. Used with Permission. Based upon characters and comic books created by Kevin B. Eastman and Peter A. Laird.

As you can see (and here’s a zoomed in look), the indicia of $1.25 copies reads “Published and printed in the United States of America by Archie Comics Publications” and in fact, beyond the cover price difference these copies are identical on the inside to the rest of the print run. In other words, you could snip out the $1.25 price from a variant and render it completely indistinguishable from a regular copy.  The US birthplace and identical interior of the variants makes them true Type 1A Price Variants under the definition put forward by Jon McClure (of 35 cent variant fame).

I find this to be an exciting (and highly collectible) situation: The now-CGC-credited first comic book appearances of Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady, with the existence of a US-published first print cover price variant, with likely rarity of 1:10 based on population disparity of the geographical area where they were sold!

Happy Collecting! 🙂


1st Appearance of Krang in Comics

This picture is of the 2nd print variant of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #7. Ask any TMNT fan which character is shown and they'll all give you the same answer: Krang.

This picture is of the 2nd print variant of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #7. Ask any TMNT fan which character is shown and they’ll all give you the same answer: Krang.

This will be a long post but bear with me, I promise to try and make it interesting! 🙂

First thing’s first:  Show any TMNT fan this picture (at right) and ask them: “which character is this?”  You’ll invariably get one answer:  Krang.  (Or some fans might decide to spell it Kraang with the extra ‘a’ as it was originally spelled, but they’re referring to the same character).  The comic pictured is the second print variant of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #7.  And indeed, when you see collectors talk about this comic book you’ll hear them refer to the “Krang variant” or “Krang cover,” and when you see it listed for sale on eBay you’ll find “Krang” in the listing titles — for example here below is a screenshot I just took:


Two current eBay listings for the Krang cover / 2nd print variant of TMNT #7.

This pictured comic is actually the second printing of TMNT #7, from January of 1989… the first print of TMNT #7 was from 1986 and has different cover artwork (as you’ll see in a moment).  For context here, Mirage had put out a later string of second print TMNT comics, with some excellent variations of original covers.  Note that there is a manufacturing-error-version of the second printing of issue #4 which famously got misprinted with the wrong cover artwork…  But the “correct” artwork for the 2nd printing of issue #4 is a nice full-color variation of the original:

Left: the original TMNT #4 (first print); Right: the second print.

Left: the original TMNT #4 (first print); Right: the second print (a take on the original).

Left: first print of TMNT #6; Right: second print.

Left: first print of TMNT #6; Right: the second print (a take on the original).

Much like the “correct” artwork for the second printing of TMNT #4 was a “new take” on the original, the second printing of #6 is a variation of the original Triceraton cover. You might see where I’m going with this — if these second printings are featuring takes on original covers, and if the 2nd printing of issue #7 features a cover any TMNT fan would identify as “Krang” then what did the first printing of #7 look like?  Take a look:


Who is that there that I've circled?

The first printing of TMNT #7, from 1986.  Who is that there that I’ve circled?

I think any observer would look at this situation and draw the logical conclusion that the character circled above is the basis for the second printing’s “take” on the original cover… i.e. zeroing in on one particular part of that original cover and making it much more detailed and interesting for the second printing variant version:


The 2nd print variation of TMNT #7 is a more interesting and detailed take on an important component of the original cover…

With this background having been laid down, let’s proceed:

Exploring The Question: 1st Appearance of Krang in Comics

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 (Mini-Series, Archie Comics, 1988) is the comic credited by the following sources as containing the first appearance of Krang. [Sharp eyed readers may notice that the cover price on this copy is $1.25 instead of the expected $1.00... I will get to that later in the post]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 (Mini-Series, Archie Comics, 1988) is widely credited with the first appearance of Krang. [Sharp eyed readers may notice that the cover price on this pictured copy is $1.25 instead of the expected $1.00… more later…]

So now, having made this “lead-in” to the post, I can start to tackle the original topic this post is meant to answer:  Krang’s first appearance in comics.  Because if any TMNT fan will look at the 2nd print variant of TMNT #7 and confidently say: “that’s Krang” and if the 2nd print is a variation on the 1st print… and if the first print is from 1986…  Then why, when you search for information on Krang’s first appearance in comics, does everybody seem to point to a comic published two years later in 1988?  What’s going on here?!  And that’s the subject of this post! 🙂

The 1988 comic that the Internet credits with Krang’s first appearance — despite being published two years after the artwork you just saw — is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 (mini-series) published by Archie Comics, pictured at right.  Here’s a few sources that make this first appearance credit (and note that these sources are all the first ones to come up if you were to search Google for “1st appearance of Krang in comics” so anybody looking for information about the true first appearance of Krang is going to see these as their primary source of information):

(1) Turtlepedia:

“Krang is a character debuting in the 1987 animated series as the disembodied brain of an evil alien warlord from another dimension and an antagonist of the Ninja Turtles. He retains this backstory for most early incarnations, although in later incarnations he is presented as an Utrom. Krang is a supervillain appearing in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV shows and most frequently in the 1987 cartoon and its associated media, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic book and most of the classic TMNT video games. Krang’s first comics appearance was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures vol. 1, #1, published by Archie Comics in August 1988.”

(Note the part about Krang being presented as an Utrom — this is important as we’ll get to in a bit).

(2) Wikipedia:

“Krang (also spelled Kraang) is a supervillain appearing in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV shows and most frequently in the 1987 cartoon and its associated media, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic book and most of the classic TMNT video games. Krang’s first comics appearance was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures vol. 1, #1, published by Archie Comics in August 1988.

(3) Comicvine:

“Krang was originally created for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated television series, first broadcast in 1987. He was created by David Wise and Patti Howeth. He made his first appearance in comics in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1, written and illustrated by Michael Dooney.”

So all three of the sources above credit the 1988 Archie publication, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1, with the 1st appearance of Krang.  Yet, some of our go-to sources for comic book information do not seem to share the same view  (or at least not at this time)…  For example, here’s the entry for this issue.  In the key comments field we might expect to see “first appearance of Krang” listed but instead we just see “Adapts TV cartoon / Not by Eastman-Laird“: makes no mention of this issue containing Krang's first appearance, and values the comic at just four dollars. makes no mention of this issue containing Krang’s first appearance, and values the comic at just four dollars.

Similarly, on Atomic Avenue (which taps into the Comic Base system) the key notes field just says “PSA Message From Archie comics on Heath Education” (and nothing about Krang):


Similarly, Comic Base via Atomic Avenue shows no note about Krang.

Finally, how about CGC?  Here’s a recently graded CGC copy (you can tell it is recent because of the new label design).  The key comments section says… nothing.


Recently graded CGC copy has an empty key comments field… nothing about the first appearance of Krang mentioned.

And just to double-verify, let’s use the CGC verification tool to look up this very copy above and see if anything about Krang’s first appearance shows up online:


Nope: Nothing about Krang’s 1st appearance here either. Any 1st app. would be mentioned by CGC (but that’s not to say they can’t change their mind about 1st appearance credits at a future date).

Nope!  Nothing about Krang!

Utroms and Krang: The Connection

And now it is time to circle back to that Turtlepedia remark about Krang being presented as an Utrom in later incarnations, because that Utrom connection is the crux of what’s going on here.   The Mirage page about TMNT #3 says the following:

“At the hi-tech facilities, Splinter discovers that the humans that work there are actually small alien creatures that utilize humanoid robotic bodies to disguise themselves. These aliens, known as the Utroms, are the precursors to what would become Krang on the television cartoon.”

And there you have it: the Utroms from the Mirage comic books were the basis for Krang — Krang was derived from these little aliens with their humanoid robotic bodies.  This panel below from TMNT #3 is presented by Mirage on their web page with the caption “Meet The Utroms” (they are not wearing name tags but if you had to peg one of them as the most likely Krang precursor I’d suggest that one in the front):


Meet The Utroms! Described by Mirage as the “precursors to what would become Krang on the television cartoon”, none of these pictured is wearing a name tag but the resemblance to Krang is obvious… complete with the humanoid robotic body.

Is there meant to be a “stand-out” individual among these aliens?  Let’s fast-forward to issue #7, the one we saw earlier with the “Krang cover” artwork.  Quoting Mirage again (my emphasis in bold on the “lone Utrom”):

“As Leo questions the aliens’ motives, a lone Utrom walks in and explains how they came to Earth. Twenty years ago their ship had crash landed and killed one third of their crew. The survivors managed to integrate themselves into American society thanks to their high tech android disguises. The crew took jobs and quickly amassed enough wealth to buy the building that would become their headquarters. The Utroms salvaged what material they could in effort to build their Translocation Device – the Transmat. Unfortunately while working on their machine, the visitors had an accident 15 1/2 years earlier. The Utroms were bringing the last load of supplies from their crashed ship to their abode when a blind man walked in front of their truck, causing them to swerve out of the way. This violent action dislodged a canister filled with alien ooze and it flew into the street, striking a young man in the head. The container continued to bounce down the street until it hit an aquarium full of turtles that a boy was holding, shattering it. The turtles and the canister fell into the sewers, where the reptiles were bathed in the strange glowing ooze. It was then that Splinter found them… and the rest is history.”

It is only natural for collectors to desire a specific Utrom to point to and say “that one — that’s the precursor to Krang”… and this “lone Utrom” telling the story of the aquarium of turtles and the glowing ooze makes for as good a candidate as any, wouldn’t you say?  Might this “lone Utrom” be the very one featured/pictured in the cover artwork?

Maybe, maybe not.  Clearly this is a first appearance that falls under the category of “it’s complicated.” I’m reminded very much of the character Savage Dragon, who first appeared in Savage Dragon Limited Series #1 (note the existence of a 1-in-100-rarity newsstand edition)… But there was an earlier incarnation as “The Dragon” in the Megaton series years earlier, which for decades the industry had given the key first appearance credit — until one day someone realized that “The Dragon” had actually appeared before that, in yet another earlier incarnation, in issue #1 of the Graphic Fantasy Fanzines (Ajax Comics).

Krang the TV cartoon character.

Krang the TV cartoon character, complete with humanoid robotic body.

Krang seems like a similar “it’s complicated” situation…  because the version of this alien we saw in the cartoon TV series was not the original incarnation, but rather was “adapted” from what we see in the earlier comic books.  And then the Archie comic book series simply adapted the cartoon back over to comics — so quite arguably the cartoon character named “Krang”/”Kraang” did first appear “as Krang” (i.e. as that specific named character) in the 1988 Archie comic for the first time.

A good explanation for why the character Krang was adapted from the Utroms appears in this article with the heading “Reason For Creation” and quoted below:

“While the comics were dark, gritty, and bloody, that’s not the type of TV series Wise wanted to make. The 1987 cartoon was going to be a kids show, so going full steam ahead with Japanese-style fighting wasn’t an option — which is why Wise opted to create the supervillain Krang as a way to alleviate the violence.”

That same article also points to the 1988 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic as the first appearance of the Krang character in comic book format:

“The Mirage-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics was in its third year when David Wise adapted the series for the small screen. The cult-favorite Ninja Turtles were a foreign concept to television audiences, so when Wise’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon debuted in December 1987, he wanted to create something that would appeal to both fans of the comics as well as new viewers. That is why he borrowed one supervillain from the comics — the Shredder — while also creating one of his own — Krang. Since Krang was Wise’s creation, the alien warlord first appeared in the second episode of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, “Enter the Shredder,” which led to him becoming one of the most iconic and recognizable Ninja Turtles villains. After a massive popularity boom, Krang made the jump from the small screen to the comic page in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, though, along with Bebop and Rocksteady, he was phased out early on and only reappeared during stories involving alien threats.”

So the situation here seems to be: Eastman and Laird created Utroms which we meet for the first time in that TMNT #3 panel, then in TMNT #7 (1986) a “lone Utrom” — clearly important although not wearing a Krang name tag — is singled out not only to appear on the cover of that issue, but to be individually featured in the story as the one telling the tale of the canister of ooze.  Then in 1987, Eastman & Laird’s alien-brain-creation (complete with robotic humanoid) is the basis for the villain by the name of Krang in the cartoon. The cartoon was adapted from the Mirage comics but then that cartoon gets adapted back to comics in the 1988 Archie mini-series… where the character that TV viewers have come to know as “Krang” appears for the first time as Krang.

But if CGC doesn’t credit the Archie book with Krang’s first appearance, which book carries that credit?  I can’t find one!  I don’t even see a label note where Utroms are mentioned!  The current CGC key comments notes for each early Mirage TMNT issue are as follows:

  1. “Origin & 1st app. of the Teenage Mutant Ninja, Turtles, Splinter & Shredder.”
  2. “First appearance of April O’Neil & the Mousers.”
  3. “Pin-up by Matt Howarth.  Wraparound cover.”
  4. “Pin-up by Jason Sklaver. Wraparound cover.”
  5. “Wraparound cover.”
  6. “Wraparound cover.”
  7. “1st color Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in 4 page story by Kevin Eastman and, Richard Corben.”

Also: Raphael from 1985 gets the label note: “1st Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spin-off.  1st appearance of Casey Jones.”  Fugitoid gets the label note: “Story continued in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5, Wraparound cover. Pin-up by Peter Laird.”  Michaelangelo gets the note “Wraparound cover,” and Donatello gets the label note “Pin-up by Stan Sakai, Wraparound cover” and that covers all the early TMNT Mirage issues!

So as you can see, nothing about Utroms or Krang, even in the issues where we know those aliens appear.  Also note that for issue #7 the 2nd printing (featuring that awesome “Krang cover” that I pictured at the very beginning), the CGC key comment section mentions only “Wraparound cover” but it is worth noting (and CGC may want to consider adding to that key comments note area) that second print copies of issue #7 are black & white inside (which is important because the 1st printing has that “1st color TMNT” credit).

The “True” First Krang Appearance?

So, what’s the “true” first “Krang” appearance here, the earliest incarnation of the character?  Every collector is going to have to make their own call, but I don’t think there’s any reason to pick just one important Krang comic to collect when we can pick several of them. I haven’t met the collector yet who owns just one comic book, after all! 🙂 So why limit ourselves?  Think of all the other situations similar to this one:  With the first appearance of Savage Dragon we want to collect not just the Limited Series #1 but the earlier Dragon incarnations too; with Spawn, we want to collect not just Spawn #1 (preferably the newsstand edition), but we also want to own Rust #1 too (preferably the special limited edition) with the black & white McFarlane pin-up containing the earlier prototype version of the Spawn logo.

And so with Krang I’d say let’s collect them all! TMNT #3 where we “meet the Utroms” (and where the NYCC variant is the most rare version to collect), TMNT #7 where an Utrom is “singled out” to be featured on the cover and also as a “lone Utrom” in the story (and there, the 2nd printing looks to be the more desirable version of TMNT #7 to collect as I’ll go into in a moment), and then let’s also go after issue #1 of the 1988 Archie Mini-Series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (where there’s a more rare cover price variant we want as our preference, which I’ll get to in a bit).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #7 — Collect The First or Second Print (Which is More Rare)?

One of the two eBay listings I pictured earlier for the 2nd printing of TMNT #7 had “Super Rare” in the title — that should catch our attention and cause us to want to investigate further.  I clicked through and here’s what the listing description itself says (not really any further information, unfortunately, just repeating again that it is “super hard to find”):

TMNT #7 eBay listing description.

TMNT #7 eBay listing description.

My eyebrow always goes up skeptically when I see the phrase “super rare” applied to a comic when I find it listed among several other copies that my search turned up (because if it is so super rare, why am I able to find a whole bunch of available copies to choose from?).  But take out the word “super” from that phrase and then I’d have to say I agree — because from my own experience, it turns out that at least on a relative basis to the first printing, copies of the 2nd printing of TMNT #7 are markedly more difficult to find out there, especially in the highest grades.   For example, the first thing I did in looking for one was to search eBay for CGC graded copies of TMNT #7.  Out of 14 results, 3 were irrelevant (i.e. not the issue in question), 10 were the 1st printing of TMNT #7, and just 1 was the 2nd printing.  [Pictured below is a screen-capture of my search result for posterity].  One out of 11 listings for TMNT #7, as a reference point, is 9% observed rarity for the second print…

Out of 14 listings, just one 2nd print copy with the detailed Krang cover.

Out of 14 results, there was just one CGC graded 2nd print copy with the Krang cover.

I then searched for raw/ungraded 2nd print copies.  I found only these four listings:

I found just these four listings for ungraded second print copies of TMNT #7.

I found just these four listings for ungraded second print copies of TMNT #7.

Meanwhile, I found that eBay was flooded with first print copies to choose from, with over 80 results (I’ll just picture the first few otherwise this post would scroll down forever):


Meanwhile, I found that 1st print copies were abundant, with over 80 listings, including ones with multiple copies available.

So once again, looking at the observed relative rarity from actual available raw/ungraded copies for sale, we observe that a single digit percentage of the total TMNT #7 copies found out there on eBay are the 2nd printing.

And then there’s the CGC census data.  I looked up issue #7 and found that CGC has graded 231 first print copies, but just 24 second print copies.  That adds up to 255 total copies — 24 out of 255 = about 9%.  So in my experience, as documented here, the “observed rarity” out there for TMNT #7 in the marketplace argues that second print copies — with the “Krang Cover” — are markedly more difficult to find relative to the first print copies, by an order of magnitude.  Here’s the CGC census data as of this writing for these two printings starting with the first:


Screen-shot of the current CGC census data for 1st print copies of TMNT #7.

That’s the 1st print CGC census data.  And below is the data for the 2nd print, where amazingly, there are only four copies in 9.8 on census as of today of the 2nd print, versus 89 in 9.8 of the first print.  That adds up to 93 copies in 9.8 for TMNT #7 across both printings — and 4 out of 93 = about 4.3% census rarity in 9.8 for 2nd print copies.


Screen-shot of the current CGC census result for 2nd print copies of TMNT #7.

So between the observed relative rarity in the marketplace, and the relative rarity of CGC graded copies we see on the online census, I’d have to agree with that eBay seller that the 2nd printing of TMNT #7 is, at least, relatively quite rare compared to the 1st printing.  I still don’t know if I’d go as far as to say “super” rare but I’m open to being convinced if anyone has print run or other rarity data that you’d like to leave as a comment at the bottom of this post! 🙂  But clearly, between the two printings for issue #7, the 2nd printing seems much more desirable to me.  The 2nd printing of this issue reminds me in a way of Spawn #1 Black & White Edition, because A) it was printed later in time chronologically, B) it is black and white inside instead of full color, and C) it is harder to find out there than the original.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (Archie, 8/1988) — Rare Cover Price Variant

At issue #3 there was just one price of $1.50 on the cover, but at issue #4 they began to include a higher Canadian dollar price in smaller type underneath. That practice continued and #7 is the same way.

At issue #3 there was just one price of $1.50 on the cover, but at issue #4 they began to include a higher Canadian dollar price in smaller type underneath. That practice continued and as you can see issue #7 is the same way.

With Mirage Comics, collectors may or may not have noticed that by issue #4 they were selling to Canada and including an alternate price for buyers paying in Canadian dollars (in the 1980’s the currency exchange rate took a real jump and publishers started demanding that Canadians pay a higher price when paying in Canadian currency, so that they could still make a profit when that currency was exchanged back into US dollars). By including a separate Canadian price in small type at the bottom, Mirage was able to print one batch of copies to cover all of North America.

Why am I telling you this? Because in this section of the post I’m covering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 which was published by Archie. And instead of including both prices on all copies like Mirage did, check out what Archie did instead:


That’s right folks, we have a TMNT cover price variant here, at $1.25 (at left).

Collectors familiar with 75 cent variants at Marvel (and D.C.) will already understand why this $1.25 version is very interesting as far as rarity… but not many collectors actually know about that “class” of cover price variants so, readers, how about 35 cent variants — anyone heard of those?  Of course you have:  Iron Fist #14… Star Wars #1… the 35 cent cover price variant copies of those issues are worth a fortune compared to their regularly priced counter-parts, on account of the fact that the higher cover price copies are much more rare.

And as you may have guessed:  The $1.25 copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 are much more rare too.  Here’s why:  Remember, this was a currency exchange rate phenomenon, i.e. the higher priced copies were printed out for the Canadian market.  And the Canadian market was actually a pretty tiny fraction of the total North American market… with a smaller population than California for some contrast, at 26.9 million people.


Canada’s population in 1988 was smaller than California.

Meanwhile, the population of the United States in 1988 by contrast was 244.5 million people.  That adds up to a combined North American market for comic books of 271.4 million people.  But Archie was selling $1.25 cover price copies only to the Canadian portion of that market, working out to 9.9% of the market size by population (26.9 / 271.4 = 9.9%).  Therefore logic would dictate that only about 9.9% of the total copies produced were those $1.25 cover price copies.  So that effectively makes $1.25 cover price variant copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 “one-in-ten” variants.  That’s clearly the more rare and therefore preferable version for collectors to go after when seeking this issue, and all you have to look for to spot them is the higher cover price at $1.25.

And then two other side notes here about this: (1) Both “direct edition” and “newsstand” copies exist for each cover price (so collectors may decide they prefer copies out of one distribution channel over the other), and (2)  The TMNT “regular series” at Archie (which came after the mini-series and started 3/1989) also has these cover price variants, for example here is issue #1:


A $1.25 cover price copy of issue #1 of the 1989 TMNT series published by Archie.

So There You Have It!

And that concludes my foray into the 1st appearance of Krang in comics!   If you’ve read this far then hopefully you found this post interesting and helpful, and you got some comic collecting ideas out of reading it. Check out my Rare Comics blog for posts on rare comics to look for beyond the topic of the TMNT, especially if you found yourself intrigued about cover price variants (which I talk about quite a bit)! 🙂

Happy Collecting! 🙂

[4/5/2017 UPDATE: there has been a new development!
Read about it here in “Part II”]

Lightning Comics

Creed / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Blue/Bronze Subscriber Only Edition (Lightning Comics, 1996)

Here is another blog entry on a non-Mirage TMNT comic book driven by reader interest in the comic. This time the publisher is Lightning Comics, the year is 1996, and the comic is Creed / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.

Creed / TMNT Variants

From left to right, the Blue/Bronze Subscriber-Only Edition (500 produced), the Gold Edition (1200 produced), the Platinum Edition (2000 produced), and the Signed/Numbered Edition (700 copies from the Direct Edition signed each with a COA).

Unlike the other comics featured in this blog which are rarities and misprints that occurred “naturally,” there are a number of “artificially rare” variants of Creed / TMNT #1. I say “artificially” because the publisher decided to limit the print run. They published 2000 Platinum copies, 1200 Gold copies, 700 Signed and Numbered copies, and 500 Subscriber Exclusive Blue/Bronze copies. I’ll touch upon all of these, but this last one limited to 500 is the specific comic readers of this blog have been most interested in, and the one that will be the focus of this blog entry.

Creed / TMNT Wantlist

Interestingly, MyComicShop has no image for the Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition, which might be an indication they’ve never actually had one in stock. As of this date, 22 of their customers want one, 4 having added the variant to their want list in the last six months. This is an indication of the strong collector interest in this variant (and the low supply of available copies)

The intentional rarity aspect is an important distinction worthy of discussion: Lightning Comics set the rarity when these variants were produced, and they included a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) with each copy, specifically spelling out the number of copies produced. For example, below is the COA that Lightning included with the Blue/Bronze subscriber edition:

Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition COA for Creed/TMNT #1 (1996) from Lightning Comics

This is the Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition Certificate of Authenticity (COA), indicating the 500 copy print run.

A collector seeing this originally with the book, was immediately educated on the fact that they held a rare variant in their hands, in the case of the subscriber edition, a variant limited to just 500 copies. Lets consider the contrast here, to the NYCC variant of TMNT #3, which has the same 500 number of copies originally produced. Eastman and Laird printed off 500 advance copies of TMNT #3 to bring with them to the 1985 New York Comic Con. But collectors would not learn until later when the rest of the print run was produced, that these 500 advance copies had a slight coloration difference on the cover, making them discernible from the remainder of the print run. Everything else about the two versions was identical, and the color scheme on the variant cover is so similar that if you haven’t learned about it, you might not even notice. This slight coloration difference was unintentional. Had the rest of the print run ended up looking exactly the same, those advance 500 copies would just be a nice souvenir comic con attendees took home. And when they got home from the con originally, that’s probably how people thought about the comic back in 1985. But by contrast, anyone handed a copy of the limited print run variants of Creed / TMNT #1 saw right away that this was a limited print run collectible, different from the other copies. In fact, many of the copies you’ll find out there are still sealed in the original polybag, literally untouched. To my way of thinking, there are two completely different dynamics at play here: in one scenario the rare collectible arose out of a “natural” occurrence, one that was unintentional and wasn’t predicted in advance, making it unknown and unknowable to original collectors, while in the other scenario the manufacturer decided in advance to produce a rare collectible by controlling the print run, and collectors knew all the facts immediately.

Does this “artificial” creation of a rare comic book impact how collectors should approach it? Lets go through the different variants and think through some of the considerations. First, we’ll consider the variant that is the main subject of this blog entry: the subscriber-only edition with the Blue/Bronze cover, limited to 500 copies printed. I think the “subscriber-only” aspect creates some added appeal to this variant, i.e. you had to be a Lightning Comics subscriber to get one. So in effect, there were two limiting factors to collecting this variant of the book, one being the print run of 500 copies (the lowest of the various variants of the book created), and the second being that you had to be a Lightning Comics subscriber to get one. Collectors are always going to prefer to rarest version of a given comic, so if offered the choice between Blue/Bronze, Signed/Numbered, Gold, and Platinum, most would choose the Blue/Bronze because that version is the most scarce. But the second limitation of having to be a subscriber meant that even if collectors wanted one, most could not get one simply because it was not available to non-subscribers.

CGC Census Result for the Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition

As of this writing, the CGC census shows a total of 3 copies of the Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition have been graded.

I have to imagine the vast majority of each of the 500 Blue/Bronze copies are still bagged and boarded in a box somewhere, carefully stored away by each of the collectors who received them originally. At the time of this writing, only three copies have ever been turned in to CGC for grading (as shown above). The CGC census information leads me to present another consideration about the various variants of this issue: physical manufacturing difference. With the Blue/Bronze edition (and also the Platinum and the Gold editions), the cover has a unique coloration that allows it to be told apart from the others. CGC can therefore track them independently on the census as variants. But what about the Signed and Numbered edition of 700?

Qualified Direct Edition Copy

The CGC census result for Creed / TMNT #1 (1996) shows a “Qualified” copy of the “regular” (direct edition) version. I suspect this copy is a member of the 700 Signed/Numbered edition.

These 700 have no physical manufacturing difference to the rest of the “direct market exclusive” edition copies. CGC does not accept COA’s with submissions. So from CGC’s perspective, a member of this group of 700 sent in for grading would just be a “regular” copy with a name written on the cover (any signature they did not witness themselves is treated as words written by “somebody”). That would be expected to be treated by CGC as a “Qualified” grade which essentially translates to: “this book would be in the stated grade except that somebody wrote a name on the cover.” The 700 special copies Trent Kaniuga signed in 1996 do not have a number written on the cover to match up with the COA, although they do have the year (’96) written below his name. A Qualified copy appears on the census grouped with the other “regular” direct edition copies, which I expect is very likely a member of the 700. To a collector, is such a “Qualified” copy any more or less desirable than, say, a CGC Signature Series copy of the same direct market edition, signed by Trent at a comic con in a later year? Especially after Trent Kaniuga tweeted that 2014 may have been his last comic con? Each collector may have their own answer to this question, but the fact that we are asking it illustrates the consideration that a physical manufacturing difference introduces to the question of rarity.

Trent Kaniuga Tweet - Possibly Last Comic Con

In 2014, a Tweet from Trent Kaniuga suggested that year’s Long Beach Comic Con may end up being his last :-(. (Hopefully that won’t be the case!)

Finally, there are the Platinum and Gold editions. At print runs of 2000 and 1200 these seem relatively rare in relation to some of the other comics I have featured in this blog. For example, the TMNT Color Special #1 misprint had a print run of 1000, and for the TMNT #4 misprint all but 1000 copies were reportedly pulped. But going back to my earlier point, the print run rarity of the Platinum and Gold editions by contrast is “artificial” because the manufacturer decided in advance to produce a rare collectible, and to make sure nobody missed that fact, they also printed matching COA’s to immediately educate collectors about the print run rarity. So, we have to assume that the vast majority of those collectors who originally received these variants, still have them stored away carefully in a box somewhere, likely still in their original polybags. This is in stark contrast to comics with rarity that is “unintentional” in nature and not known to collectors in advance. Knowing what the original collector was thinking when they acquired their copy originally is a key piece of the rarity (and desirability) puzzle: if at the time of their purchase collectors didn’t know they just took home a rare variant or misprint, their behavior when reading, keeping, and storing the comic is going to be much different. And this difference leads to a greater difficulty for collectors in later years to find a high grade copy.

My own conclusions: I can see why readers are interested in the Blue/Bronze “subscriber-only” edition limited to 500; of the various Creed / TMNT variants that’s the one I’d be most interested in as a collector. But I see no reason to seek out the Signed/Numbered edition or the Gold or the Platinum copies. If the Blue/Bronze variant didn’t exist, then the Gold variant might interest me (as the second most rare), and if neither the Blue/Bronze nor Gold variants existed then the Platinum might interest me. But given the full spectrum of available variants of this book, the most desirable is arguably the Blue/Bronze Subscriber edition because it is the only one that combines these attributes: (1) Physical manufacturing difference (cover has unique blue/bronze color scheme) making it discernible from the other versions printed, (2) Only Lightning Comics subscribers were able to get their hands on one originally, and (3) The print run is a nice low number, at 500 copies. Although there is no way I could ever see the Blue/Bronze variant rising to the level of desirability of those 500 TMNT #3’s from the 1985 NYCC, I can absolutely see why readers are interested in it, and my own interest was piqued enough to make this blog entry — I hope you have enjoyed reading it :-)!


p.s.  On the topic of “naturally rare” versus “artificially rare” variants, one of the most important pieces of information collectors of modern comic books should know, is that most publishers fed comics into two distinct distribution channels, (1) direct edition comics sold directly to comic shops on a non-returnable basis, and (2) newsstand sales where unsold comics could be returned for a refund.  The comics sent to newsstands were part of their own print run and distinguishable from their direct sold counterparts (they had to be distinguishable in order to know which copies were eligible for a refund and which were not).  What is particularly key for collectors to know, is that the distribution ratio (percentage direct sold versus percentage newsstand) has created some wonderful “natural” variants out there, some with astonishingly low print runs.  If this sounds fascinating, here are a few links to blog posts I have made on the topic: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The DifferenceSpawn Batman Newsstand EditionSpawn / The Savage Dragon #1.  Also, in addition to newsstand editions, see more “themes” for other Rare Comics To Look For.

Solson Manufacturing Error

Solson TMNT Manufacturing Error: How To Draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The #1 question I’ve been asked by readers since I created this blog, is about Solson printing errors; specifically, people have contacted me inquiring about issue #2 of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Training Manual” series, and about issue #1 of “How To Draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”  I have gathered enough information about how grading companies treat the latter, to make this blog entry.

How To Draw Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 – Solson Publications, 1986 

Published in 1986 by Solson Publications, this comic book has a wraparound cover by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird, a cover price of 2.25 (3.25 in Canada), and two versions can be found with two different color schemes used on the cover.  The “intended” color scheme contains yellow ink, but a batch of these were apparently printed without the yellow ink.  Around the Internet you may see the alternate version referred to as the “White Cover Variant,” the “Error Edition,” the “Manufacturing Error” version, or the “Misprint” version, depending on who is writing about the book.  I believe these various descriptions are used for the following reasons:

“White Cover Variant”

As most TMNT collectors know, ahead of the 1985 New York Comic Con, Eastman and Laird printed 500 copies of TMNT #3 to take with them to the convention.  These would have been identical to the remainder of the print run except for the fact that some of the blue coloration was left out of the cover of these initial 500, leaving them looking a brighter white, and noticeable in particular when looking at the “Laird’s Photo” sign in the cover art.  This has caused the variant to often be referred to as the “Laird’s Photo Variant.”  In a similar manner, the variant copies of How To Draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 differ from the others only in that part of the coloration was left out of the cover.  The background color, especially noticeable at the upper right corner, is yellow for the “regular” edition, but white for the variant — hence, it was logical for collectors to come up with the name “White Cover Variant” to refer to these.  What does not appear to be part of any public record, however, is whether these white-background copies were part of an advance print run for a convention or other purposes like with TMNT #3 (if anyone has any information on whether this is actually the case, please contact me, but thus far I have seen nothing to indicate this was the case).

“Misprint Variant”

Instead of an advance printing, these copies appear to be a printing mistake — a misprint — and therefore it makes sense that many collectors refer to it using this term.  Although the TMNT #4 misprint is technically referred to by CGC with the phrase “MANUFACTURING ERROR” on the label, most collectors seem to refer to it by the term “misprint” because it too was a mistake.  Here, the mistake was printing a batch of copies without yellow ink; there, the mistake was printing the incorrect cover artwork entirely.

“Error Edition”

Two other TMNT books that I’ve covered in this blog, are denoted by CGC with “Error Edition” on the label, those being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 #13 Error Edition, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1 Error Edition.  Having been used as a descriptor in these two similar cases, it is logical that collectors would use “Error Edition” to refer to other error versions like it.  The grading company PGX has used this phrase on their label for the book, describing the cover as the “Error Edition Wraparound Cover” as seen in this copy pictured below (which is in the completed listings section on eBay as having sold for $116.99):


PGX uses the description “Error Edition Wraparound Cover” on their label, for How To Draw TMNT #1.

“Manufacturing Error”

Both CGC and CBCS graded copies use the term “manufacturing error” on their labels to describe the variant cover.  One example CGC copy I have come across is pictured below and says “MANUFACTURING ERROR” in allcaps and then further describes “Manufactured with incorrect color scheme” on the label as well.  CBCS also places the term “Manufacturing Error” on their label (located just below #1 in the title), and then further describes “Manufactured without yellow ink on cover” on the label as well.  Below are example CGC and CBCS copies:


CGC uses the description “MANUFACTURING ERROR” on their label for variant copies of How To Draw TMNT #1.


CBCS uses the description “MANUFACTURING ERROR” on their label for variant copies of How To Draw TMNT #1.

On eBay I have come across copies described in all of the above different ways as far as terminology, and I have also seen the comic sold as a “set” with one copy of the regular version bundled with one copy of the variant.  Below is a screenshot of one such set of both comics, described as “VF/NM” condition, sold for $25 for the pair.


This set of VF/NM copies of the regular and “Error Variant” of How To Draw TMNT #1 is shown in eBay’s completed listings section as having sold for $25.

Collecting This Comic Book

Based on the treatment by CGC of the graded copies I have seen such as the example shown earlier, it looks like there are a minimum of 7 variants on the CGC census (Qualified column in the picture below).  I say “a minimum” because I have also come across variant copies that were “missed” by CGC (i.e. there is no label mention of the manufacturing error, even though by the photo of the book it is clearly a variant, so such copies would be lumped into the Universal category).


The manufacturing error copies appear to show up on the CGC census under the Qualified column, which as of this writing totals 7 copies out of a total 31 graded.

Based upon these numbers, waiting for a graded copy to come up for sale might require patience.  Rather than wait for a graded copy, another strategy would be to buy an ungraded variant copy that looks to be in great condition, and then send it in to one of the grading companies yourself.  Buying an ungraded variant copy where the seller has identified it as such, will probably require on the order of $25 to purchase, based upon recent prices (like the example “set” pictured earlier).  But another strategy that might pay off is to set up an eBay alert for “How To Draw TMNT” and then review new listings yourself, scanning for white-background copies.  I have seen more than one copy come up that was not described as the variant anywhere in the title or listing description, yet included an actual photo that clearly pictured the variant.  I would encourage this last strategy, because part of the fun of collecting comics is “the hunt” and being rewarded with the great deal of paying “regular” price for a variant copy found through patience plus a bit of good luck :-)!


The other Solson book I’ve been asked about is pictured below.  The book has a black background cover, in white text at the top says “Martial Arts Authorized Training Manual” and then below that in yellow text says “Michaelangelo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.”  At the left is the cover price (2.25, 3.25 in Canada), at the right is “No. 2” and at the bottom right it says in white text “The Art of the Nunchaku.”   At the time of this writing, no copies of this book have ever been sent in to CGC for grading (the census only shows that a bunch of #1’s and two copies of #3 have been graded to date).  However, the copy below was printed without red ink, which seems to be a parallel situation to how the How To Draw TMNT variants were printed without yellow ink — same concept, different ink color left out.  Therefore, I would expect the grading companies would apply parallel treatment if anyone was to send a copy in for grading.


Another Solson TMNT comic book asked about by readers, copies of #2 (Michaelangelo) of the Training Manual series can be found similarly missing one of the colors from the cover. Although none have been sent in to CGC at the time of this post, they would likely receive the same “MANUFACTURING ERROR” treatment as variant copies of How To Draw TMNT #1.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #13 ERROR / MISPRINT 1995

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 would later reside 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.


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, 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

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:
Mirage’s v2 #13 page:
Mirage’s #4 page:
Early TMNT print run information:
ComicsDB TMNT #13 page:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Full Color #1 ERROR / MISPRINT 2009

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:
CGC Census Page:
Comics Price Guide Forum:
Mirage’s Online Store (lots of great turtles comics):
Mirage’s eBay Page:
Mirage’s TMNT #1 Page: