WANT: the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing, auctioned TODAY! (UPDATED)

11 May

by Mike Hansen

TMNT original drawing 1983

The drawing that changed the world.

UPDATE: It sold for $71,700. Congrats to the lucky winner, and to the Hero Initiative for being able to put this money to a good cause.

ICV2 ran this story about this historic event:

…the original drawing of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that was created in Dover, New Hampshire in November of 1983 will be auctioned off this week by Heritage Auctions.  Online bidding has been going on this week with bids topping $50,000.

USA Today has more:

The first-ever illustration by TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird— drawn and inked one night in Dover, N.H., in November 1983, before the quartet of anthropomorphic shelled reptiles became a pop-culture phenomenon — will be up for auction this week by Heritage Auctions. Online bidding is going on now and will conclude with a live auction in Dallas on Friday. (Watch a live video feed at HA.com/Live.)

“It’s time to let go of a lot of really cool, awesome Turtle memories,” says Eastman, who was 21 and trying to break into comics when he took pencil to that 8½-by-11 sheet of paper.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward The Hero Initiative, an organization Eastman works with that helps comic creators who are without benefits pay medical bills, rent and other necessities.

…Vintage comic books at auction can go for millions of dollars — an Action Comics No. 1, featuring 1938’s first appearance of Superman, was sold for $2.1 million in December. Though the TMNTpiece is far younger, it’s one of a kind.”It is pretty unusual for the first art of any major character to come around,” says Barry Sandoval, director of operations for Heritage Auctions.

TMNT First Comics vol. 1

If you grew up in the ’80s, you either owned this or knew somebody who did.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a huge, huge deal for me as a kid. I discovered the black-and-white comics just before the cartoon and toys became a phenomenon, and while I thought the merchandising stuff was alright, the original comics were a massive inspiration for me: you mean, comics don’t have to be in color or published by Marvel or DC to be cool? A ton of my classmates at school had copies of the classic First Comics-published color TMNT volumes – they weren’t even seen as “comic books” so much as cool books like the Calvin & Hobbes strip collections.

The first 21 or so issues of TMNT (plus Tales of the TMNT, Turtle Soup, etc.) were a huge breath of fresh air for me, and for the comics industry. The “anything-goes” approach – They’re fighting ninjas! They’re in space drinking space beer! etc. – was the first brush I’d had with the Do-It-Yourself, punk approach to art and publishing. I’d already been reading non-superhero comics (ironically, thanks to Marvel, which published Groo the Wanderer and Elfquest in the mid-’80s), but TMNT opened me up (and, I think, a lot of comics readers) to trying all kinds of new comics. Thanks to TMNT, I was more likely to try something new from an indie publisher (Aliens, Predator, Terminator, Gnatrat, Cerebus, Flaming Carrot, Mage, Grendel, Beanworld, Nexus, American Flagg!, Love and Rockets, and so on) than another Marvel or DC superhero title.

I’d say that my continued love of comics as an artform really started with TMNT. I and my career owe a huge debt of gratitude to Eastman & Laird, and I’m looking forward to sharing my own work with the world soon (sooner than you may think, dear readers!).

If you can afford this TMNT drawing, please consider giving it to me! Yeah, don’t I wish…

But in all seriousness, even if you can’t afford this high-priced auction, please consider donating to the Hero Initiative. In this troubled economy, with our problematic health-care system, comics creators need your help more than ever. Check out the Initiative’s eBay auctions, too – there are some fantastic and rare items available, and the money from those sales benefit creators as well!


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Volume 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Volume 3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1: Change is Constant Deluxe Edition

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2: Enemies Old, Enemies New

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Volume 1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro Series Volume 1

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