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TMNT Artisan Edition–Finally!

I’ve been looking forward to the TMNT Artisan Edition for a number of months now! I was looking forward to it, and thought I might’ve missed it, back in March or April, and then thought it was due out around the end of April, and it kept not being on the week’s shipping list, and on and on til now.

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I’d eventually ended up pre-ordering it via Amazon, just to make certain I wouldn’t miss out on it, and was quite surprised recently when I got a notification that my order had been "upgraded" to get the book day-of-release, August 8th. Of course, given that it seems like most of the time anymore, Amazon gets "access" to stuff a week or two AFTER comic shops, and this is from IDW, I just "assumed" then that I’d be able to get this from a shop mid-late July, but it wasn’t.

Then this week, I find out it WILL BE in shops…this week. But my copy, from Amazon, has already arrived.

This is a huge book, and quite the attractive volume! It contains original layouts and notes and such on the original first TMNT comic, as well as the finished version, and some extra art and such (a couple original ads for the first issue and sketches and such). Not a huge quantity of material, but enough to pad this out and make it highly worthwhile, at least to me.

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As said, this is a huge book…it’s even larger than the TMNT Ultimate Collection volumes IDW put out a few years ago, and this book will not fit on the shelf with these–it’s too tall! So it’ll perhaps get some special display spot, be relegated to laying on its side on top of the books on the shelf, or perhaps I’ll move all the TMNT stuff to a shelf with a bit more space when I next reconfigure my ‘library’.

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Here’s one of my favorite double-page spreads, and (to me at least) one of the most iconic images of the issue! Interesting how recognizable it is even in the sketch/layout stage…

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…and yet how much more detailed the finished version is! (pardon the compressed/curve in the photo, the pages didn’t want to stay quite as open).

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Here’s the rough layout of the origin/introduction of the turtles…

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…and the finished.

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Shredder’s introduction in rough…

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And flipped for the final version in more detail.

I still really dig that this original issue was only ever intended as a one-shot thing, and that Shredder–the real, actual, not-a-clone/etc Shredder–had his first and last appearance in present-day here.

At the same time, I have come to really dig the IDW Shredder across a 50-issue run and appreciate that sort of longevity to that version of the character. But that’s a post for another time.

tmnt_artisan_edition_book_and_tmnt73

Here’s the book next to the latest issue of IDW‘s run. Fitting…a version of the original issue, with what is now the highest-numbered-ever TMNT issue. 1984 – 2017 and still going!

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TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures (Mini-Series) #3

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventuresmini003Heroes in a Half-Shell!

Written and Pencilled by: Michael Dooney
Adapted from the Scripts by: David Wise and Patti Howeth
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Steve Lavigne
Color by: Barry Grossman
Cover by: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Steve Lavigne
Published by: Mirage/Archie
Cover Price: $1.00
Cover Date: December 1988

This issue picks up with the rock soldiers interacting with Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. Krang freaks out upon learning Neutrinos are loose on Earth. Meanwhile, the turtles have just about found the technodrome when they’re buzzed by flying cars and opt to chase these instead. The rock soldiers show up and rather than put up a fight, launch a weather-making device (which our heroes promptly ignore), and everyone meets back in the technodrome (where Donatello instantly figures out the alien controls, opens the portal, and the rock soldiers are thrown back through to Dimension X and the Neutrinos voluntarily follow, to continue the fight against Krang (but without ever dealing with Krang in the technodrome). Shredder and his forces leave rather than confront the turtles here in the heart of the technodrome, and the turtles simply leave rather than even trying to find and deal with Shredder or Krang.

The next day, the Shredder re-baits the turtles, who wind up fighting Bebop and Rocksteady again. The turtles and Splinter split up to deal with different facets of the current threat. Krang gets put into the stomach of an android body and electrocuted (er…the body is activated). Shredder then sends Foot robots after the turtles as a diversion until Krang wakes. After having the turtles on the run while growing to a gigantic size, Krang simply turns and punches his way to the surface so the turtles can follow him, rather than dealing with them where they were. Donatello shows up with a blimp he’s been working on, and turns it loose with the others while he and Leo enter the android body to shrink it down. Krang calls Shredder for help, Shredder abandons his imminent victory over Splinter and shows up to point his retromutagen ray at the turtles, Splinter shows up as well and destroys it, then the story shifts back to the technodrome where the Donatello finishes some complicated thing with the portal, and everyone gets out as the whole thing is sucked into Dimension X. We see Shredder and Krang bicker, the turtles chill at home…and the story (mercifully) concludes.

Much as with the previous issue, this is ultra-compressed with an extremely fast-pace and abbreviated scenes such that the characters–from simply reading this–seem interchangeable and inconsequential. As noted also with the previous issue, this is not so much a fault of the writing of the comic as it is a shared problem between the writing of the episodes this issue is based on and trying to cram the contents of more than one episode into a single issue.

The art continues to be good–it’s a welcome visual style that as I’ve said before, holds its own without mimicking the art of the animated series. Yet, the characters are all recognizeable and nothing’s so far off as to seem otherwise (except the coloring can be kinda iffy…especially on a comic that’s got slightly yellowed pages and carries a cover date from nearly 26 years ago).

The cover would make for a decent poster, and the image alone promises something a lot more dramatic than what I read inside.

While in recent years I’ve found the “classic” TMNT animated series rather hokey and have been rather put-off by it, revisiting this miniseries and the episodes themselves has admittedly made me rather nostalgic, and rekindled my interest in the old series. I may not binge-watch the entire thing or even finish tracking down all the seasons…but I’ve been reminded of how much my younger self loved this stuff, and failed to notice the level of hokiness my present-day adult self sees.

From looking at this simply as a comic series, it’s nothing special for the content by itself. What makes this special is that it’s a color series starring the turtles, designed and aimed at the audience of the 1980s cartoon, and is a #1 issue I can actually afford (and have a duplicate or two somewhere, too).

Though I missed this mini-series when it was originally published, it was still something I was able to track down relatively easily a number of years ago, far moreso than ever the original Mirage #1, which I content myself to this day with reprint editions of that.

I can’t imagine something like this mini-series–or this issue–being published today; but it’s certainly a product of its time, and quite worthwhile to get as a fan of the TMNT in general, and the Archie-published stuff in particular.

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures (Mini-Series) #2

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventuresmini002Heroes in a Half-Shell!

Written and Pencilled by: Michael Dooney
Adapted from the Scripts by: David Wise and Patti Howeth
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Steve Lavigne
Color by: Barry Grossman
Cover by: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Steve Lavigne
Published by: Mirage/Archie
Cover Price: $1.00
Cover Date: October 1988

As noted in my post about the first issue, this mini is based on the first 5-episode mini-series/season of the animated TMNT cartoon. However, where that was 5 episodes, the comics adaptation is a mere 3 issues…leading to a couple weird issue-breaks that do not match up with the episode-breaks in the cartoon.

This issue picks up with the turtles facing some random/weird robots. After dispatching these, they deal with another deathtrap, and then find Splinter…and meet Bebop and Rocksteady. Escaping to the surface, the turtles are followed, but quickly trap Bebop and Rocksteady, and that’s that.

Continuing on, Shredder has a new scheme, and coopts bumbling scientist Baxter Stockman’s “mouser” invention. He sends some after Splinter, but the turtles rescue their master with no problem. However, Shredder’s built hundreds more and they do prove to be a problem. Michelangelo “volunteers” to infiltrate the mansion Shredder’s commandeered, but is captured the the villain…though set free behind his back by Krang. The Mousers are stopped, no one’s dead, and again, that seems to be that. Shredder still won’t give Krang a body, and initiates yet another scheme: opening a portal to Dimension X he lets a flying car into the Technodrome (which promptly blasts a hole and skidaddles), followed by a flying tank of sorts with rock soldiers…and that’s the end of the issue.

The art for this issue is consistent with the first…much of my thinking on the first issue applies here as well (cool to see the Mirage team on the issue, etc). While the visuals are stylistically their own thing, they are clearly based on the cartoon and fit well without seeming particularly “off.” Essentially they’re simply comic versions structurally, but based on the cartoon elements.

The story is where most of my problems lie…particularly where the cartoon itself seems choppy and just runs from points ‘A’ to ‘B’ to ‘C’ and following that so closely, the comic seems super-compressed, well beyond any preference I’d have to avoid “decompression.”

And therein I find the issue–it’s not so much the writing of this comic that’s the problem as much as it’s the source material. I’m consciously aware that this issue’s story is itself based on another story, and the writing keeps faithfully TO said source material. The faults come from the ludicrous, goofy, weird stuff that (in remaining faithful) had to be translated into this adaptation.

While the first episode of the cartoon–and therefore, the bulk of the first issue–was charming enough in its own way (and gave a roughly whole story without tying up plotlines and such), this is the middle chunk of the overall 5-episode arc and middle of this particular 3-issue series. Sadly, it’s really choppy and all over the place, and the only real fondness I find in it is the art as mentioned, and its “place” as an artifact of history.

Taken by itself, I had to force myself through the issue, and force myself not to just quickly eyeball the pages and move on.

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures (Mini-Series) #1

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventuresmini001Heroes in a Half-Shell!

Written and Pencilled by: Michael Dooney
Adapted from the Scripts by: David Wise and Patti Howeth
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Steve Lavigne
Color by: Barry Grossman
Cover by: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird
Published by: Mirage/Archie
Cover Price: $1.00
Cover Date: August 1988

It’s rather interesting to consider that this was–I  believe–the first color TMNT comic. Sure, First Publishing had colored the original black and white issues, but this issue began as a color production rather than the color being a conversion. And where the original Mirage TMNT comics were certainly of a more mature nature for violence and language, this is based on the animated series that was aimed fairly squarely at kids.

Reading back through the issue, it has–for this fan of 26+ years–a lot of familiarity, both from the cartoon as well as the visual style of the art. Which ultimately makes sense, given Dooney‘s involvement with the Mirage stuff in particular. The character designs are obviously those of the cartoon, though.

Being such an old comic–at least a quarter-century–it’s immediately clear some differences from modern comics physically; and my copy in particular isn’t a particularly clean copy…it definitely is a bit yellowed from age and all that, as the paper is classic newsprint, one can see the dots to the coloring, and so on.

As a whole, the art’s not bad in and of itself, though the style is a bit “interesting” having gotten used to more “modern” renditions of these characters. I rather like the realization that even though this was published by Archie, it was created by the Mirage folks…thus lending a certain authenticity to this as a Ninja Turtles thing, rather than just being some thrown-together adaptation of a kids’ cartoon.

Story-wise, this suffers the same as the cartoon itself does in my mind…overly-simplistic and full of glaring plot-holes and such, requiring a lot more suspension of disbelief than most comics I’m used to. There’s also something rather wonky about the pacing, with this first issue covering maybe an episode and a half of the cartoon, rather than just one episode. In that way it’s a rather “compressed” storytelling that (especially looking at it now) really needs a lot more room to breathe. And as a comic, it misses so much potential in terms of “enhancing” the cartoon with narration or thought balloons or such that just wouldn’t fit the cartoon but would a comic.

Other than some abbreviated dialogue and missing the show’s music, this is absolutely a straight up adaptation and it doesn’t begin to even try to be anything else–different or additional. In and of itself, unfortunately, I can say with honesty I find this issue rather hokey, choppy, and other than the art “working” it’s nothing particularly stand-out or impressive to me.

At the same time, this goes back to the very beginning of the TMNT in tv and “popular” comics, so it has a huge bit of historical significance and is in itself quite the “artifact” of its time. This is the first issue of 3, a mini-series, which adapts the entire first “season” or 5-episode mini-series of the TMNT cartoon. At a time when home media (VHS) was still relatively rare (especially compared to our contemporary age of everything being on DVD and so readily available to purchase and watch whenever we want) this was the closest I personally would get to “owning” the episodes to consume whenever I chose. Back in the late-’80s/early-’90s, though, I’d acquired a rather thick comic that came with an audiocassette, which actually collected all 3 issues into a singular volume…but was not itself a bookshelf volume or graphic novel…it was more an 80-page Giant or such.

Publish this as-is today and I’d be rather disappointed. But looking at it as a singular piece, and in context of its time, it’s not bad, and makes for a fairly interesting sort of read.

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures #1

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Full Post at TMNT Revisited

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1

My replacement TMNT Ultimate Collection vol. 3 has arrived

tmntultcollectionvol3A few weeks ago, I ordered the TMNT Ultimate Collection vol. 3. While it arrived quickly, I was highly disappointed to find that the spine was crushed at the top and bottom–nothing huge, but it looked weird with that damage when compared to the first two volumes side-by-side.

Thankfully, Amazon allows returns/exchanges, and will even provide a mailing label for you to ship damaged goods back to them.

My replacement copy of the book arrived tonight, and I’m quite satisfied with this copy…and really looking forward to the next two volumes in this series, as they’ll be collecting the entire City at War story.

These volumes have been very impressive. When I found out about them last year, I figured they’d be the same size as Marvel‘s oversized hardcovers, but these are bigger. They definitely dwarf regular-sized comics:

tmntultcollectionsize

The oversized format makes the art significantly larger, and the double-page spreads make me much gladder that I missed out on the Mirage-published paperback a few years ago…the spine would have been destroyed trying to take in the full scope of the pages. Plus, this series is already past the issues in that volume and sounds like it’ll be 5 books total, reprinting the original Eastman/Laird material, what I consider the “core” TMNT continuity.

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The volumes look great together…these are certainly a highlight of my collection.

tmntultcollection3vols

TMNT: The Exception, My Weakness

tmntidw001leoMy “origin story” with comics involves the Letter People, and Superman. And while Superman (and Batman, and a stack of silver-age DCs from my grandpa) were my first real introduction to comics; the first comics I ever owned were Superman/Batman…

I’ve been “into” the TMNT slightly longer.

First it was the classic cartoon. Some of my friends were into it, so I wound up “having to” see some of it (the original 5-episode mini-series/1st season). And things went from there. The toys. The films. The Archie comics. The original Mirage comics. teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw001Eventually I gave up the toys for the comics, and then eventually the comics went away, too. My freshman year of college I discovered the Image series, but to this day only have a scant handful of issues.

Then in 2001 I discovered that Peter Laird had launched a new series. I spotted #2 on the shelf, and the comic shop had one last copy of #1…which the owner graciously sold to me at cover price. I’ve been “up” on the comics since. I loved the debut of the 2003 animated series, though that eventually fell away due to scheduling and reruns and life getting in the way.

But…the TMNT have been there longer than comics have been in my life.

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