not teaching comics: adventures in fan publishing

For those of you collectors out there who are looking for Chris Pearce’s first professionally published artwork (ha), you need dip into back issue bins no further that Archie Comics’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #29.The Archie TMNT series was a odd breed in the whole Ninja Turtle hierarchy- someone sensibly realized during the massive Ninja Turtles fad that kids would want to read comics featuring the Heroes in a Half Shell, but the original Eastman and Laird Mirage series was deemed (appropriately) far too intense for young readers. This book was the compromise.

The series operated in a weird grey area- it was nowhere near as gritty as the Mirage series, but neither did it kowtow directly to the animated series continuity. For example, Shredder and Krang, the main baddies on the animated series, didn’t make a whole lot of appearances in the Archie series after the first couple of issues. Instead, the Archie books mined their own continuity, which could be pretty rich at times… the book went out of its way to beef up the roles of some characters who were never seen on the animated series but had been immortalized in action figure form, including Wingnut the Bat and Manta Ray. Most of these toys were so cool, and so little backstory was to be had about the characters, that it was a welcome part of the comics. In fact, the Archie series did get a bit heavy at times- this issue here reveals that the Ninja Turtles’ rat sensei/mentor Splinter was present at the bombing of Hiroshima. Yikes. One of my favorite comic commentary blogs, Not Blog X, does a tremendous job giving a summary of the comic here.

All that’s pretty far afield from why I’m talking about an old Ninja Turtle comic… bring on the art!

Mondo Gecko was my favorite ancillary character in the TMNT universe- a be-mulleted skateboarding gecko. Another one of the TMNT characters to become a kick-ass action figure but never actually get any airtime on the cartoon, I owned Mondo Gecko far before Archie Comics imbued him with a personality… so I was free to kind of make up my own outrageous Mondo Gecko persona while playing with my Ninja Turtle action figures.

Easily the best part about getting this printed was the HYPER professional coloring job that Archie did on my 10 year old black and white scrawlings- check OUT the highlights on that mullet!

In hindsight, I’m even more impressed that my drawing was printed in this comic’s Fantastic Fan Art section today than I was when I first saw it. I have no circulation figures, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures must have been putting out HUGE numbers due to the popularity of the Turtles at the time when I sent my drawing in… and the editors must have been deluged with submissions. I had actually forgotten all about this fan art’s existence until a few years ago, trolling a gigantic flea market’s wares, I came across this gem. Now it’s for all to enjoy.

HOWEVER… if you care not for fantastic fan art and are looking for my first published piece of writing, well my friends, you must go all the way back to 1989 and try and find a copy of

ALF #21, which featured a fan letter to the editior penned by me.

I was a huge ALF fan, as I think many twenty-somethings were when the show first came out. ALF was the first TV show for which I was allowed to stay up past 8 o’clock to watch, which says much about both my exposure to television when I was a child and how strict my mother was about bedtimes.

The misadventures of a wisecracking puppet alien and the nuclear family he lives with, ALF had that wise ass personality that I loved as a child… you can draw a direct line through my childhood interests to my sense of humor today; Bugs Bunny to ALF to MAD Magazine and finally Peter Venkman in “Ghostbusters” cemented my smartass sense of humor.

You’ll laugh, but I love ALF Comics. LOVE them. Like TMNT Adventures, ALF Comics took advantage of the medium to do things that the TV show ALF could never do… like SHOW ALF’S FEET! OMG!

The book did a lot of digging into ALF’s background on his home planet Melmac every other issue, but by far my favorite part of ALF Comics were the parodies, which were something like MAD Magazine Lite, skewering areas of pop culture that an 8 year old kid wouldn’t normally be interested in, but God I thought it was great.

For example, this issue features an appearance from the MelMarx Brothers, Chippo, Oucho, and Burpo (it seems that Zeppo didn’t rate an ALF stand-in character). Issue 22 of ALF was the best of the lot, featuring a story about the X-MelMen, a team of ALF-related X-Men characters from the Claremont/Byrne hayday fighting a steak-and-poultry manipulating character called MagMEAT-O. It was that kind of comic. You can see a tiny ad for next months issue here in the somewhat disgustingly named letter column, Melmac Mail Sack:

Now, onto the letter:

Clearly written by an someone who hasn’t lost all his baby teeth yet, this letter addresses EVERYTHING that an 8 year old ALF fan could possibly want to know about the furry brown muppet.

The WOTIF simulator, by the way,  was another comic book only contrivance in the ALF universe- briefly explained, it was a machine on ALF’s crashed spaceship that when used, projected “What If” scenarios… like “What if ALF had crash landed in the Tanner’s annoying next-door neighbor’s house instead?” To this day I love “What If?” stories in comic books.

The cat allergy thing was true until a few years ago- after 12 months of living with my best friend’s cat Creature, I’m pretty well over my allergies… to the point where I bought on myself. The answer to my question about ALF’s other favorite foods lead to an interesting response though- the editors provide a list of things that ALF enjoys noshing on, including platypus eggs.

A few months after this issue, some pissed-off environmentalist wrote into Melmac Mail Sack, specifically referencing my letter and deriding ALF, who was clearly a role model, for eating the eggs of the platypus, which as everyone knows is a highly endangered species. For my part, I was just excited to see my name in print again, although I have yet to refind that issue of ALF comics in my back issue bin diving

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8 Responses to “not teaching comics: adventures in fan publishing”

  1. […] fan art for Sara and Marcus… which might be the first time I’ve done that since I drew Mondo Gecko for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. You can find that here, if you’re so inclined. […]

  2. […] for taste when you’re five years old. I owned the stuffed animal. I watched the cartoons. I had a letter printed in the ALF comic book. You may also be able to surmise by my wistful tone, I owned this book as child and was a little […]

  3. […] The first notable thing about Archie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie adaptation is the artwork. Archie’s usual TMNT output was sourced the animated series as inspiration. Big eyes, colorful costumes, and a fondness for far out concepts marked the 70 odd issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures… and hey, you should know up front: I was a fan of that comic growing up. I even had one of my drawings featured in an issue! […]

  4. […] 1963: The Tomorrow Syndicate are both written by Alan Moore, so they obviously rated a purchase. I’ve talked about my love for Archie Comics’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures before, so again, no-brainer. The Disney Afternoon comic was a bust; I bought it because I thought […]

  5. […] This week, we’re going to be looking at one of my all time favorite comic book series ever made. No, I’m not kidding! […]

  6. Emma J Sutherland Says:

    Doing research and came across this article. I have this issue of ALF and was wondering how many comic books featuring ALF are out there. Grew up watching the show, sad that not many know who he is/was. Great post, thanks.

    • Christopher Pearce Says:

      Emma, there were 50 regular issues of the ALF series, as well as a handful of Annuals and Specials. That’s about as far as my knowledge of the series goes. Sorry I couldn’t be more help but your research sounds right up my alley:)

  7. i have that issue lol.

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