Mirage Vol. 1

Volume 1: 1984 – 1993

The first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was advertised in issues #1 and #2 of Eastman and Laird’s 1984 comic, Gobbledygook, in addition to the Comics Buyer’s Guide, issue 547. The full page advertisement in CBG helped them gain the attention of retailers and jump-started their early sales. Because of the CBG’s newspaper format, many were disposed of, making it a highly sought after collector’s item today. The book premiered in May 1984 at a comic book convention in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was printed in an oversized magazine-style format using black and white artwork on cheap newsprint and had a print run of only 3,000 copies. It was a period of intense speculation in comic book investment, with especially strong interest in black and white comics from independent companies. The first printings of the original TMNT comics had small print runs that made them instant collector items. Within months, the books were trading at prices over 50 times their cover price.

The success also led to a black and white comics boom in the mid-1980s, where other small publishers put out animal-based parody books hoping to make a quick profit. Among them, the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, the Cold-Blooded Chameleon Commandos, the Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu KangaroosKarate Kreatures, and Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants were obvious parodies of TMNT. Most of them sold to comic shops in large numbers, but failed to catch on with comics readers. This speculation led to financial problems with both comic shops and distributors, contributing to a sales collapse in 1986-7.

The “Return to New York” story arc concluded in the spring of 1989, and by this time the Ninja Turtles phenomenon was well established in other media. Eastman and Laird now found themselves administrating an international merchandising juggernaut, overseeing a wide array of licensing deals. This prevented the two creators from participating in the day-to-day work of writing and illustrating a monthly comic book. For this reason, many guest artists were invited to showcase their unique talents in the TMNT universe. The breadth of diversity found in the various short stories had the adverse effect of disrupting some continuity and gave the series a disjointed, anthology-like feel. Some of these artists, including Michael Dooney, Eric Talbot, A.C. Farley, Ryan Brown, Steve Lavigne, Steve Murphy, and Jim Lawson, continued to work with Mirage Studios for years to come.

Issue #45 kicked off a major turning point, as Mirage made a concerted effort to return the series to continuity. A 13-part story arc entitled “City at War” began with issue #50, which was the first issue to be completely written and illustrated by both Eastman and Laird since issue #11. “City at War,” and Volume 1 itself, concluded with the publication of issue #62 in August, 1993.

Mirage Volume 1 Comic Book Feed

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