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: 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

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 ERROR / MISPRINT 1987

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

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC EDITION 1985

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

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 1984

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.

Another warning note: there have now been known cases of grading company error, where the label atop the slab failed to indicate “third printing” when it should have – in other words, from the label alone the copy presented as a true first print copy (and was marketed that way at auction) when in fact it was not.  And the way collectors were able to spot this error was by looking for slight coloration differences that make 3rd print copies discernible from 1st and 2nd print copies.  The quickest way to spot this difference is to zero in on the second ‘T’ in the word TURTLES in the title at the top:

third-print-difference-T

A slight difference makes third print copies discernible from first and second print copies, just from a look at the front cover. However, there is no way to tell first and second print copies apart.

There remains a problem in that first and second print copies are indistinguishable from the outside, so once encapsulated one really doesn’t know for certain if the grading company has made an error.

And if you are feeling discouraged with all these warnings, I’m sorry to say that I have one more:  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.  Two more unlucky collectors have been duped.

So collectors seeking a first print copy of TMNT #1 face danger at every turn:  On the one hand 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.  On the other hand, there are now known examples of grading company error with third print copies coming back with a first print label, raising the question: over the many years that copies have been sent in for grading, has the error ever occurred where a second print copy has come back with a first print label in error?  Could you win a copy at auction that has a first print label, but really there is a second print copy inside due to a failure of quality control at the grading company leading to a simple labeling error?  Opening the book to check for the Gobbledygook ad on the inside back cover or whether “second print” appears on the inside front cover is the only way to know for sure, but once encapsulated, you cannot open the book anymore to check!

At least with CGC graded copies, they have been checked and verified by the professionals at CGC against restoration and forgery.  And collectors can at least perform a visual check of the second ‘T’ in the title to rule out the possibility of grading company error where you are seeing a first print label atop a third print copy.

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

If you have reached this far, it must mean you enjoyed this post…  If that is the case, thank you for reading and you may enjoy other posts I have made about comic book collecting; click the following link for a recent post with ideas for more Rare Comics To Collect.

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

Collectors interested in TMNT #1 should also know about the Graphic Fantasy Fanzines, another independent comic (Ajax Comics) featuring the first appearance of one of the IGN top 100 superheroes, and yet, it is so unknown and rare that most readers of this sentence will never have heard of or seen a copy!

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