Gaze upon (and possibly own) 1st Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles art ever

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 17, 2012

There's been a decent amount of chatter lately about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, what with the remake's producer Michael Bay being very vocal about changing the origins of the characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, but this piece of art—now up for auction—takes us back to where it all started.

Here is the origin story for this image, and the entire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise, according to Eastman:

"Late in November 1983, Peter Laird and I were sharing a studio (our living room) in Dover, New Hampshire. One work night, in an effort to make Peter laugh, I drew a sketch of this character I called a 'Ninja Turtle' and threw it onto Peter's desk. He did laugh, and did a version of his own—to which I needed to take it one step further, and did a pencil sketch of four different Turtles, each holding a different weapon—and gave it to Peter, who wanted to ink it in—and when he did, he added 'Teenage Mutant' to the 'Ninja Turtle' part of the logo, and we both fell off our chairs! "The next day, we both looked at the drawing, and decided that we really needed to come up with a story about how these characters came to be—and began to hammer out the story details. Deciding to make it an homage/parody to some of our heroes and inspirations (and dedicating it to them) we worked through the winter of 1983-84 and, after finding a local New England printer, we borrowed money from my Uncle Quentin and we printed the first 3 ,000 copies—premiering the book at a local Portsmouth comic convention May 5th, 1984.

"From that day forward, and for the next 30 years, the TMNTs became a worldwide phenomenon (cartoons, toys, and movies) that even to this day we still try to completely understand—and it all started with this drawing. ..."

If you want to own this piece of pop-culture arcana—and creator-owned comics history—it'll cost you a pretty penny: At press time, it was going for $6,000, but the bidding is young. Have at it, if you're interested.