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).
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.
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):
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:
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.
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).
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.