Thursday, June 19, 2014

Teenagers at 25: Turgid Turtles from the Twentieth Century!

Here is the original art of two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I created in 1989 and 1991. The first, "Teen Techno Turtle Trio Plus One," appeared in the trade paperback anthology Shell Shock, and the second, "Tales of Alternate Turtles on the Moon," parts 1 and 2, appeared in Turtle Soup vol. 2 no. 2, both from Mirage Studios, the originators of TMNT under creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Both cartoonists were fans of my early Megaton Man from Kitchen Sink Press, but Kevin especially patronized me for convention sketches in the summer of 1985 (much of the cash I made that year came from overcharging him for sketched of "Megaton Turtle" and the like), and he even did me the honor of creating a Megaton Man costume for Halloween that year and wearing it.

In any case I was invited to contribute to these anthologies, which were various creators' takes on TMNT. However, since I didn't really get the appeal of the Turtles at all (I never got the appeal of the late-'70s X-Men revival, either), I substituted my own group of snapper turtles led by a Jerry Lewis-like Nutty Professor mouse. The first story is noteworthy for introducing Pteranoman, my paleolithic take on Batman, who would soon thereafter get his own one-shot from Kitchen Sink, and later figure prominently in Bizarre Heroes.

It is also features some pretty nice cave babes which likewise prefigure The Phantom Jungle Girl, who also made her debut in Pteranoman #1. It also features some inside jokes, such as Proffy's catch-phrase from Larry Marder's Tales of the Beanworld. The "real" TMNT and their rat guru appear at the tail (no pun intended) end.

The second story appeared in color, and is a fairly generic pirate tale, with a very inside reference to Will Eisner and Wally Wood's Outer Space Spirit. It is noteworthy if only because I would later draw a "real" TMNT story for the Archie series featuring pirates.

The copyright status of this material, as far as I am concerned, somewhat unclear. I will have to check my archives, but I honestly don't believe I ever signed a work-for-hire contract, or indeed any contract, for these stories (although I was well paid for the time). As the writer-artist, the Teen Techno Turtle Trio, or Alternate Turtles, if you will, belong to me, and I would probably be free to reprint or collect them, although I would no doubt have to obtain permission to reproduce the panels in which TMNT and Splinter appear, and since the property is no longer controlled by Eastman and Laird, how I would go about that is unclear. More likely I would have to alter those panels in some way.

For some critical appraisal on the first and second story, see TMNT Entity blog.

The original artwork, in any case, remains in my possession, and as complete vintage stories, might be attractive to some collector.

1 comment:

  1. IDW Publishing currently has the license to make TMNT comics, so you could talk to them about reprinting these stories. They (and Nickelodeon/Viacom, who outright own the TMNT now) might make you sign away the rights to these stories, though. I know they were about to get permission to reprint a few other TMNT comics with creator-owned guest characters (like Rick Arthur's Lucinda), and (usually) credit the creators in the legal indicia, so you would still own Pteranoman and the Cave Babes.