There are a number of strong similarities between the first TMNT comics, and the Graphic Fantasy fanzines:
Independent & Self Published
- TMNT #1 was self-published by TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, under Mirage Studios
- The Graphic Fantasy fanzines were self-published by Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen, under Ajax Comics
Low Print Run
- Just 3,000 copies of TMNT #1 were printed
- Just 300 copies of Graphic Fantasy #1 were printed
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their first appearance in TMNT #1
- The Dragon (original incarnation of Savage Dragon) made his first appearance in Graphic Fantasy #1
For readers of this TMNT-focused blog, the Graphic Fantasy fanzines may therefore be of great interest on account of these strong similarities. Below are front and back pictures of Graphic Fantasy #1 (first appearance of The Dragon, the one below is signed and numbered out of 200 although some sources indicate they ultimately decided to go up to 300), Graphic Fantasy #2 (second appearance of The Dragon, signed and numbered out of 450), Graphic Fantasy #3 (signed and numbered out of 500), and then Prism #1 (not signed / numbered, although the copy I found online was signed on an interior page by Erik Larsen, possibly at a later date).
Graphic Fantasy #1 was published in June of 1982. Graphic Fantasy #2 has a publication year of 1982 but no month specified, a phenomenon which may explain why many sources cite issue #2 as the first appearance of The Dragon instead of issue #1 — without a month, the database in some sites appears to default to January, which would appear to put issue #2 chronologically before issue #1 by publication date. But clearly, it is #2, and #1 would therefore have come before it. The publication date for Graphic Fantasy #3 is 5/1983. Although some sources imply there is a Graphic Fantasy #4, I could not verify its existence; it might be the case that Prism #1 is being grouped in as the 4th pre-pro-work comic book published by Erik Larsen under Ajax Comics. The publication date for Prism #1 is 9/1985.
Front and Back Covers
An introduction to Graphic Fantasy #1 and print run analysis to compare publication rarity to that of other modern superheroes. A more detailed piece about the first appearance of Savage Dragon compared to other first appearances, and an analysis of Graphic Fantasy #1’s value in different condition grades.
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Hungry for even more? Check out more Rare Comics to Look For, like Type 1A Price Variants, and see Lists of Key Comic Books by Year (including important comics of the 1970’s, the 1980’s, the 1990’s, and the 2000’s). And also, you don’t want to miss: Newsstand Variants, $3.99 Newsstand Editions, and The Doc Collection
Also see: the hobby’s very first online comic book price guide for Type 1A 1980’s newsstand cover price variants from Marvel & DC: