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”:
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!
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:
And now the full indicia page for the Random House counterpart:
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:
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:
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.”):
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:
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!
Click any thumbnail below to enlarge:
Happy Collecting! 🙂