On November 19th, 1983 in what would later become Mirage studios (actually the living room of their home) in Dover, New Hampshire Co-Creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kevin Eastman, in an attempt to make Peter Laird laugh drew what he called a ‘Ninja Turtle’.
“Peter did laugh” Kevin recalls, sketching up his own version of a ninjutsu-trained turtle. Not to be outdone Kevin then drew four turtles each with their own weapons and handed it to Peter who wanted to ink it in, Laird also added ‘Teenage Mutant’ to the already placed Ninja Turtles sprawled on the image.
The next day the duo decided that the creation needed an origin story and went to work through the winter of 83′ doing just that. After securing a quote from a New England printer, they borrowed $1,000 from a relative and printed the first 2,500 – 3,000 run (depending on your source) black and white copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and debuted the book at a local Portsmouth comic convention on May 5th, 1984.
We were quite positive we wouldn’t sell a single copy of the first issue. We wrote it for no one else but ourselves. – Kevin Eastman
Ralph DiBernardo, the owner of Jetpack Comics, met the artists in the early ’80s when the two were regular customers of his at the flea market where he had a booth.
DiBernardo told New Hampshire magazine “At one point they came to me and begged me to buy more copies of their comics so they could pay back Kevin’s uncle in Manchester the $1,000 he staked then to get the comic book off the ground. They had done an initial 2,500 run, which they had printed in Somersworth. At one point I owned 500 of those original black-and-white comic books, but eventually gave most of them away or cut them up to use as decoration. I don’t own a single one.”
There’s currently a recorded sale of a 1st print Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic at $90,000 CGC graded at 9.8 in 2019.
The rest, as they say, is history. Neither of the artists had any idea of the mega-hit they had on their hands.
Do you have any fond memories of the TMNT, let us know in the comments below.