thrift store finds: teenage mutant ninja turtles- the movie adaptation

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

This week’s TSF is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie adaptaiton, published by Archie Comics in the summer of 1990.

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!

Archie eschewed the poppier cartoon art in their adaptation of the TMNT movie… and it does make perfect sense. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie was an older skewing take on the “heroes on a halfshell,” based more on the original source material, as created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Eastman and Laird’s Ninja Turtles were far more violent than the cartoon… and although originally conceived as a parody of Marvel Comics’ line of books, TMNT was originally much more serious in tone than the animated series that it would spawn. This adaptation reflects that tone.

To wit: while the above cover is a pretty accurate representation of the artwork to be found in the comic, this is what Archie’s Turtles looked like most of the time.:

I suspect Mirage allowing Archie to reprint their adaptation was not only a great idea, but also like getting money for old rope for the company. A quick browse of the internet reveals two adaptations released at the same time by the same creative team:  layouts on this book come from Eastman with pencils from longtime TMNT artist Jim Lawson.

Just LOOK at that page. It’s jam-packed full of storytelling. Readers got a lot of value for their money with this book. Lawson’s pencils are in the scratchy vein of Eastman and Laird’s original take on the Ninja Turtles and fits the more mature film adaptation. You could tell TMNT: The Movie was meant for adults not only because of the violence, but because Raphael is allowed said “Damn” TWICE  in the movie. And lookie, he says it here too:

Haha! Damn!

The adaptation follows the plot of the movie. I won’t go into plot specifics here but know this: TMNT is a surprisingly watchable live action adaptation of a silly concept and the comic adaptation follows suit.  Lawson’s a capable artist and the book is dense with interesting character tics and clever references here and there:

Here for example, child deliquient Danny is here seen reading an issue of Cerebus! I doubt many of Archie’s readers would have been aware of Dave Sim’s aardvarkian magnum opus, much less Jaka’s Story, the specific storyline that Danny seems to be engrossed in reading.

I also liked this scene from earlier in the book, where Raphael takes in a movie.

While the marquee is conspicuously bare, I wouldn’t be surprised if Raph had been going to see 1989’s Batman, another Thrift Store Finds favorite.  I’m guessing Archie deleted the reference out of fear of a lawsuit or something? Who knows. I’d be interested to see the Mirage version of the book somewhere down the line, just to see if they used the reference there. I DO remember that in the actual movie, Raphael goes to see Critters in the theater.

Like I said, this is a good adaptation of the movie… and as with all good film adaptations, this one includes a scent that didn’t make the final cut!

Earlier in the movie/comic, April is shown doing some sketches of the Ninja Turtles. That bit is paid off in this end where she tries to sell a comic book company on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic. The concept is deemed too far-fetched to be plausible. I actually can’t argue with his logic, even in light of the tremendous success of the Turtles.

BONUS: TMNT comics were always chockablock with advertisements for Ninja Turtle merchandise.

I could probably do a whole TSF post on American Entertainment, the mail-order comic company who regularly advertised their wares in comic books of the 1990’s. Everything they sold was “HOT” and “MUST-HAVE” and surely overpriced… but for some reason I have a lot of fondness for these old ads.

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3 Responses to “thrift store finds: teenage mutant ninja turtles- the movie adaptation”

  1. Is the guy in the beard you?? You’re famous!

    • Christopher Pearce Says:

      Haha! I wish!

      In all seriousness though, that HAS to be a likeness of one of Jim Lawson’s friends, right? It’s too weirdly specific.

  2. […] thrift store finds: teenage mutant ninja turtles- the movie adaptation … This week's TSF is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Movie adaptaiton, published by Archie Comics in the summer of The first notable thing about Archie's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie adaptation is the artwork. […]

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