Yesterday, while sorting through some of my TMNT comics, I came across a bit of an anomaly that, due to the sheer size of my collection, I never noticed before. It’s presented me with enough of a conundrum that I want to document this here to see if anyone can help me sort this out.
First off, let me set the stage a bit. In my database I list every TMNT comic that I know exists, regardless of whether I own it or not. I do this to ensure my database is as comprehensive as possible. There are very few that I don’t actually possess but there are still some that have eluded me (which makes this such an interesting hobby :-). For those issues that I don’t currently own, I try to at least find pictures of them so I know what I’m looking for. If I’m able to find a picture I link it to the listing in the database and mark it as a “WANT.”
I didn’t start seriously collecting TMNT comics until about 1987. Because of this there were many early back-issue TMNT comics that I didn’t have. It was such a rush to look through the comic bins for those few issues that, at that time, I had never even seen. I spent countless hours sifting through thousands of comic books at comic book shops, conventions, and book stores. As I would flip through each of the comics in the boxes labeled “T” I would look for those few TMNT issues that I didn’t already own. Since I’d never seen the covers to some of them before they were easy to spot and so I always went through the box at a rather brisk pace.
But there was one issue that, even though I already owned, always stopped my search cold. It was TMNT Vol. I #13 (February, 1988). There was just something about this cover that spoke to me and I just had to pause and take a closer look. Many times I’d pick it up and study the cover and just…admire. After about a minute I’d place it back in the box (in the exact spot where I’d found it) and diligently resume my search.
Back in the early 1990s Mirage Studios began publishing a daily comic strip in newspapers all over the U.S. For years I clipped and saved every one that was published in my local paper (minus just a few I missed). Monday-Friday was the small black & white strip and then Sunday there was a full-color larger strip with either fan art or puzzles. I’ve kept them all in photo albums ever since.
Some of the most treasured items in my TMNT collection came very early in my collecting days. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider that I was collecting TMNT at the time I acquired some of these things. Many of these items would likely be worth very little on the open market. However, there’s just something about them.
The subtitle appearing at the bottom of the cover to TMNT Vol. I #48 is “Shades of Grey Part One of Two” (June, 1992). The subtitle appearing at the bottom of the cover to TMNT Vol. I #49 is “Shades of Gray Part Two of Two” (July, 1992). Similar yet different. Pretty interesting.
The official TMNT website (http://www.ninjaturtles.com/) lists both issues as “Shades of Gray.” When you see these two issues in a guide or a list you’ll find that when #48 is listed as “Shades of Gray” then #49 is also listed as the same (and vice versa).
So, as if it weren’t enough that Gobbledygook #1 & #2 are at the center of the debate about the first appearance of the TMNT, there’s still a second debate that just adds to their mystique. This debate is all about the authenticity of these comics.
There are so many rare and unique TMNT comics to choose from but it seems fitting to just start with the infamous Gobbledygook #1 & #2. These two Eastman & Laird hand-made comic books are among the rarest comic books in existence and to this day they still create quite a buzz in the comics industry. They’ve been called the holy grail of TMNT collecting and their place in TMNT history continues to be hotly debated. It’s this debate that still makes these such a great part of my collection.
So, what’s the debate? Well, there are actually two separate debates; both are equally interesting. The first debate centers around the “first appearance” of the TMNT and when (or where) that was. While determining the first appearance might seem like an easy concept, it isn’t always that simple. What causes the debate in the industry (and not just for the TMNT) is how one defines “first appearance.” I think it was originally designed to be the first time a character appeared in the story line of a comic book. If that’s the definition, then Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is the first appearance of the TMNT. That is the first comic book in which the TMNT appear within the confines of a story line. However, if you define “first appearance” as the first time a character appears in a comic book period, then Gobbledygook #1 is the first appearance of the TMNT. That is the first comic book in which the TMNT appear. Their appearance is on the back cover of the comic in an ad for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.Laird hand-made comic books are among the rarest comic books in existence and to this day they still create quite a buzz in the comics industry. They’ve been called the holy grail of TMNT collecting and their place in TMNT history continues to be hotly debated. It’s this debate that still makes these such a great part of my collection.
Hello and welcome to my TMNT blog!Given that the TMNT are now celebrating 25 years of existence, I’m excited to finally be sharing 20+ years of my TMNT collecting with the rest of the world.
This blog is just a precursor to the launch of my website TMNT-ninjaturtles.com which will showcase my entire TMNT collection in grand style. I’m hoping for a launch here in the next few months.
My TMNT collection is extensive and consists of both rare and unique items. Ever since I started my TMNT collection back in the mid 80’s, my interest was primarily for comic books and action figures. However, I do have other items in my collection, including many 80’s collectibles. I pretty much just stick with the comics now (and occasional action figures) as that’s where I get most of my enjoyment.
TMNT Vol. V #116 from IDW. Original IDW solicitation details below. Available April 14, 2021. Cover A (Sophie Campbell) – regular cover A Cover B (Kevin Eastman) – regular cover B Cover RI (Juni Ba) – 10 copy (1:10) Retailer Incentive (RI) cover