Please be sure to read the previous articles in this series.
After discovering that The TMNT #1 Production Negatives were responsible for the creation of the 2nd printing, the next logical step was to then compare the negatives with the pages from a 1st printing; to do the same as I had with the 2nd and 3rd printings – overlay the negatives on every page. With my 1st printing copy of TMNT #1 encapsulated in plastic, I was stuck. To prove my assumptions, I needed to gain access to a 1st printing that I could inspect; an ungraded “raw” copy – no easy task. Not only is TMNT #1 1st printing the most sought-after Copper Age comic book, it’s also worth thousands of dollars – even copies in rough condition. I know a lot of collectors with a TMNT #1 1st printing in their collection but most of those are graded and slabbed – the inside pages inaccessible. Still, I don’t know anyone that would hand over their most prized possession to be rifled through for a research project, myself included. Even getting high-resolution and accurately-sized scans of every 1st printing page was a no-go. That would require fully opening the book and pressing every page against a scanner – a task much too perilous for such a valuable comic book. I wouldn’t do this with my own book and I’d never ask another collector to do such a thing.
Ultimately, procuring a physical raw copy of TMNT #1 1st printing (or even page scans) proved too difficult and risky. I had to accept that I would not be able to physically compare the pages of a 1st printing against The TMNT #1 Production Negatives. And, without the ability to use page image sizes as my validation for the 1st printing, I was again stuck. In order to prove my suspicions that these negatives also produced the 1st printing, I had to find an alternate approach.
After some careful contemplation, I came up with an idea; a three-step process where I’d still need to find someone with a raw 1st printing, but only if part one and two yielded information of value. Part three would simply require pictures of specific pages from a 1st printing – a less-involved procedure that could be done with a mobile phone and, more importantly, without causing any harm to the book itself. Even so, it was still a far-fetched proposal that I honestly didn’t believe would provide meaningful results; but it was the only thing I could think of – it was all I had.
Step one of the plan entailed comparing every page in the 2nd printing with the same page in the 3rd printing; all in an effort to possibly identify something unique about the 2nd printing pages (other than page image size) that didn’t exist in (or was different from) the 3rd printing pages. Peculiar markings, printing anomalies, missing / added details – anything that was an obvious distinction between the 2nd and 3rd printing page images.
Should step one identify anything promising, then step two of the plan would be utilized. This would involve comparing the page(s) from the 2nd printing identified in part one to the corresponding page negative(s), looking to see if the negative(s) also contained those same distinguishing components. The existence of unique characteristics on the negative(s) matching those of the 2nd printing page(s) would then further prove that the 2nd printing came from The TMNT #1 Production Negatives. It was this evidence I was hoping could also be used to prove the same was true for the 1st printing.
As mentioned previously, only if the two previous steps provided meaningful data would step three even be required. Although even just a single page with a possible clue would be beneficial, it would be invaluable to have multiple pages for comparison – but, of course that all relied on what could be identified in steps one and two. Step three was a simple premise – find someone with a raw TMNT #1 1st printing and attempt to acquire images from specific pages that, in the 2nd printing, held unique characteristics and clues. Then, compare the 1st printing page images with the 2nd printing pages and see if the same distinctions existed. If the same traits did exist, that would be the visual evidence I sought; confirmation that the 1st printing was also produced by The TMNT #1 Production Negatives. Although finding a raw 1st printing to use for this step could be a formidable task, I was really hoping such a challenge would be necessary.
My path forward was now set and it was time to compare. With my 2nd & 3rd printings opened to the same pages (and starting with Page 01), I carefully examined (even studied) every square inch of the page images, scouring them for the existence of differences or even anomalies between the two. I went panel-by-panel, scanning for anything that set the two pages apart. It was a laborious task but one that almost immediately yielded results; a key distinction was found – right from the onset. As I continued through the entire book – all forty pages – the evidence began to mount.
Using the pages identified from step one, I began the page-to-negative (or negative page-set) comparison, searching the negative for indications of the same distinguishing component(s) that existed on the 2nd printing page. Every unique item, difference, or anomaly present on the 2nd printing pages was found to be present on the corresponding negative! One by one, every negative solidified what I had already known to be true based solely on the sizing of the page images.
Steps one and two proved to be a major success. This process I had hoped might produce just a single clue had actually identified many. In all, nine key pages in the 2nd printing were identified to have crucial deviations from their 3rd printing page partners. Nearly a quarter of the pages from TMNT #1 had spoken to reveal their secrets – every one of them hidden for years in plain sight. But I still had work to do; one last thing to conquer; the critical piece needed for proving my assumptions – finding a raw TMNT #1 1st printing.
With a bit of good fortune, that task turned out to be quite painless – all thanks to the extensive collection of a very gracious fellow TMNT collector – The Collection of Mat Allen. At my request, Mat provided me high quality images (photos) of the key pages from his raw TMNT #1 1st printing; images that would now prove or disprove everything I’d hypothesized.* This was the critical moment; one I had originally doubted would even be needed but now was a reality – staring me in the face. Upon opening that very first image of the 1st printing from Mat, I was hit with the realization that my theory had likely just been validated. I then quickly opened each additional image from Mat and now there was no longer any question – TMNT #1 1st printing was, without a doubt, also created from The TMNT #1 Production Negatives!
I now had indisputable proof that revealed precisely what The TMNT #1 Production Negatives were used for. The strategy I had thought might just be a futile exercise actually lead to the discovery of far more proof than I could have ever imaged; indisputable evidence that I’d likely never have identified via the negative-to-page image size comparisons.
And now, it’s your opportunity to view this same evidence, directly from nine pivotal pages and negatives of TMNT #1; revealed page-by-page, just the way it was discovered. A journey into TMNT #1; proof from the pages themselves that, once revealed, will further solidify the authenticity of The TMNT #1 Production Negatives!
* All TMNT #1 1st printing page images are courtesy of The Collection of Mat Allen and are used with permission.
Sources: - The Collection of Mat Allen - TMNT #1 1st printing page images <em>(used with permission)</em>
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