The TMNT #1 Production Negatives: Part 20 – The TMNT #1 Counterfeit

Please be sure to read the previous articles in this series.

TMNT #1 Counterfeit – Pages 02 & 03

Every page of TMNT #1 with evidence about the origin and use of The TMNT #1 Production Negatives has now been revealed.  From all the evidence now documented, it’s clear that these forty negatives are authentic – rare and treasured comic book artifacts responsible for producing the first 9,275 copies of TMNT #1 – the first TMNT comics ever!  Along the way, the method used for authentication of the negatives also provided something unexpected; “little hints” or clues about the possible origin of a piece of TMNT comic book history that has long-perplexed collectors – The TMNT #1 1st printing Full Counterfeit.

Over the past 35 years, many different variations of TMNT #1 “counterfeit” have surfaced but only one of those is truly a counterfeit – a full reproduction of the original.  Given the similarity of the first three printings of TMNT #1, most TMNT #1 “counterfeits” are actually just 2nd or 3rd printings that had their printing designation on the inside front cover erased or bleached out, all in an effort to pass them off as 1st printings to unsuspecting buyers.  These aren’t really counterfeits though – they are simply modified (vandalized) 2nd & 3rd printings.  By definition, a counterfeit is a forgery – a copy of the original – and a nearly perfect forgery of TMNT #1 1st printing exists.  This reproduction of TMNT #1 was done so well (and with newsprint pages) that it is widely believed to have come from a professional printing shop (which is almost certainly TRUE) and that the source of the counterfeits was The TMNT #1 Production Negatives (which could be TRUE).

As it turns out, the same evidence that proves The TMNT #1 Production Negatives produced the 1st and 2nd printings ALSO provides clues about the possible origins of the true full counterfeits of TMNT #1.  Although it’s difficult to know for sure, it is possible that the full counterfeits of TMNT #1 came from The TMNT #1 Production NegativesThere is a piece of evidence that could support this theory.  However, there’s also evidence that the full counterfeits of TMNT #1 came from duplication of a 1st printing copy of TMNT #1.  Ultimately, the existence of clues that support either hypothesis means that there’s no clear indication for which of the theories are actually true.  I’ll simply list the clues I’ve found and let the conclusion be yours.

TMNT #1 Page 29 – 1st & Counterfeit

TMNT #1 Page 38 – 1st & Counterfeit

Had The TMNT #1 Production Negatives been used to produce the TMNT #1 full counterfeits, then all the pages of the 1st & 2nd printings should identically match the pages of the counterfeits (barring any additional printing anomalies found only in the counterfeits).  While this is true for many pages, it is not true for every page – specifically the key pages outlined below.  The following items appear to support the theory that the TMNT #1 full counterfeit came from duplication of a TMNT #1 1st printing.  Also note that the best argument from these “little hints” comes from these clues as a whole (i.e., corroborating evidence) and not any single clue individually.

  1. Pages 29 & 38 – together, Pages 29 & 38 provide solid evidence that duplication of a TMNT #1 1st printing was used to create the TMNT #1 full counterfeits.  As previously stated, had The TMNT #1 Production Negatives been used to produce the TMNT #1 full counterfeits, all the pages should be rendered EXACTLY like the negatives – which is not the case for Page 38.
  2. TMNT #1 Page 37 – 1st & Counterfeit

    Page 37the clue on Page 37 is the one that, to me, really tips the scales in favor of the 1st printing duplication theory.  Again, had The TMNT #1 Production Negatives been used to produce the TMNT #1 full counterfeits, all the pages should be rendered EXACTLY like the negatives – which is also not the case for Page 37.  There’s a slight anomaly that exists in the bottom left line of Page 37 from the 1st printing.  It falls into the same classification of printing error / anomaly as those found on Pages 29 & 38.  The 2nd & 3rd printings don’t have this and neither does the negative – but the counterfeit TMNT #1 has it, in the exact same position as it is in the 1st printing.  Just like with Page 38, this is a printing defect unique only to the 1st printing.  Can its existence in the TMNT #1 full counterfeit be explained outside of having been copied from the 1st printing?

  3. TMNT #1 Page 22 – 1st & Counterfeit

    Pages 22, 33, & 35 – although the evidence from Pages 29, 37, & 38 proves very substantial in the support of the duplication theory, Pages 22, 33, & 35 need to be addressed in a specific manner for them to also support this theory.  Pages 22, 33, & 35 contain very unique clues that, without careful examination, might actually seem to disprove the theory of 1st printing duplication as the source for the TMNT #1 full counterfeit.  This is because each of these pages in the counterfeit TMNT #1 are missing something that exists on that same page from the 1st printing.  I realize that might be a confusing statement but, while it may not make sense initially, I believe it does make sense if the focus is placed on “what” is missing from those pages (and not just that something is missing).  When focus is placed on what is missing, a realization materializes – every one of the Page 22, 33, & 35 omissions falls into the same category – missing printing anomalies / errors outside the page artwork boundaries.  It’s effectively like examining the omissions from Pages 22, 33, & 35 of the counterfeit through the lens of a counterfeiter.  If the counterfeit came from duplication of a 1st printing, it would stand to reason that the counterfeiter would have the ability to crop out imperfections on the page – thus removing errors and blemishes not part of the artwork in the process.  This holds much more weight when you consider that every one of the blemishes missing from Pages 22, 33, & 35 would have been easy targets to erase given that they appeared outside of the artwork borders and could simply be cropped out.  Even non-digital methods could have easily eliminated these imperfections.  So, when viewed through the eyes of a counterfeiter, I believe Pages 22, 33, & 35 support a couple of ideas – that the source of the counterfeit was a TMNT #1 1st printing and that whomever copied the book also cleaned up the scanned pages (either manually or digitally) to remove unwanted imperfections that existed outside of the page artwork.

    • TMNT #1 Page 22 – 1st, 2nd & Counterfeit

      Page 22 – the bottom of this page in both the 1st & 2nd printings has dark streaks, the cause of which is inconclusive but appears to be from a slight horizontal imperfection that can be seen at the bottom of the negative.  These marks are well below the bottom edge of the actual page artwork; imperfections that could be easily cropped out.  Page 22 from the full counterfeit TMNT #1 is pristine and very clean (as is the case with almost every page from the TMNT #1 full counterfeit); no signs of the dark streak.

    • TMNT #1 Page 33 – 1st, 2nd & Counterfeit

      Page 33 – the vertical blemish in the upper left corner just outside the bounding box is missing from the TMNT #1 full counterfeit but is present on both the 1st & 2nd printings.  As was detailed in Part 15, this imperfection clearly came from an unmasked error on the negative for Page 33.  Again, this blemish is one that occurs outside of the page artwork and could have been removed by the counterfeiter without impacting any of the page artwork.  Conversely, the omission of this printing anomaly from Page 33 of the TMNT #1 full counterfeit also provides a fairly solid argument in opposition of the theory that The TMNT #1 Production Negatives created the TMNT #1 full counterfeit.

    • TMNT #1 Page 35 – 1st, 2nd & Counterfeit

      Page 35 – the 1st & 2nd printings have two small streaks at the bottom of the page just below the bounding box line.  As was revealed in Part 16, these marks are caused by imperfections present on the negative.  Again, a solid argument against The TMNT #1 Production Negatives having been used for the TMNT #1 full counterfeit.  In regards to the 1st printing duplication theory, these missing marks from the TMNT #1 counterfeit are just like those missing from Pages 22 & 33 – easily cropped out since they occur outside of the page artwork.

Altogether, the pages detailed above provide very solid support in the argument for the TMNT #1 full counterfeit having been duplicated from a TMNT #1 1st printing.  However, one piece of evidence does exist that could indicate a connection between the TMNT #1 full counterfeit and The TMNT #1 Production Negatives; although that evidence more likely supports a connection to the 1st printing duplication theory.  A bit confusing for sure but read on for an explanation.

  1. TMNT #1 Page 33 – 1st, 2nd, 3rd & Counterfeit

    Page 33in the very bottom left corner of Page 33, Shredder’s closed fist extends over the boundary of the page box.  In each of the first three printings of TMNT #1 (1st, 2nd, & 3rd), the knuckle of Shredder’s little finger is sometimes cut off.  Only some copies of the first three printings render the full image of Shredder’s fist without at least a portion of that knuckle missing; this is likely due to slight shifting of the printing blanket over the course of the print runs.  On Page 33 of the TMNT #1 full counterfeit, Shredder’s full fist is visible without any of it missing or cut off.  Aside from a copy of TMNT #1 1st printing that has the full knuckle rendered, the only other place Shredder’s full knuckle is shown without being cut off is on the negative for Page 33.  If every copy of TMNT #1 1st printing was missing the knuckle on Shredder’s fist, this would pose a significant problem for the theory of the TMNT #1 full counterfeit being made from duplication of the 1st printing.  However, since we know that some copies of TMNT #1 1st printing do render the entire knuckle, a copy of that page with the full knuckle shown would obviously be able to produce the image of the full fist seen in the counterfeit.  When you combine that with the anomalies found to be present on Pages 37 & 38 that we know didn’t come from the negatives AND those both exist only in printed copies of the 1st printing (and the TMNT #1 full counterfeit), the evidence overwhelmingly supports that there was likely only one source for the TMNT #1 full counterfeit – duplication of a TMNT #1 1st printing.

Ultimately, whatever the source was for the TMNT #1 full counterfeit, it had Shredder’s full fist completely visible – that much is fact.  The provenance of the true TMNT #1 counterfeit (“full counterfeit”) has always been a mystery and, while we now know more about it than ever before, its true origin still can’t be fully explained.  It largely still remains an enigma – and likely always will.

- The Collection of Mat Allen - TMNT #1 1st printing page images (used with permission)

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