Saturday, September 9, 2023

Bade Biker and Orson #3


Publication date: March, 1987

Story and art: Jim Lawson

"The Demon Car from Hell"


The Turtles don't appear in the actual story portion of this issue. However, you will find an exclusive back-inside-cover pin-up of Raphael by Jim Lawson:

Don't judge Raphael's language too harshly. He's defending Japanese motorcycles, after all. I'm pretty sure he's being facetious (or just being Raph).

Turtle Tips:

*This is the only installment in the 4-issue Bade Biker & Orson miniseries to have exclusive TMNT content. 


Much like Prime Slime Tales #1, this is a Mirage comic that snuck in an exclusive piece of TMNT art, so it's worth hunting down for collectors. Though in all honesty, I think every issue in Mirage's catalogue is worth tracking down and that's been a casual project of mine for the past few years.

The history of Mirage is the history of Ninja Turtles and if all you've read are their Turtle books, you're only getting a piece of the puzzle. Every member of the Mirage crew worked on TMNT while also doing their own creator driven titles. So frequently in these non-TMNT comics, you'll see house ads that promote upcoming TMNT books, or there'll be opening letters and editorials from the creators teasing their TMNT work, or even the occasional pin-up you won't find anywhere else. If you're a crazy person and you read every Mirage publication in release order, from TMNT to Bade Biker to Gizmo to Rockola, including the second-third-fourth printings of older titles in the sequence they were published (as each printing had different editorials, letters and house ads), you'll get a COMPLETE chronology of the growth of the TMNT. It's at least worth charting through 1989 or so.

Think of it as a side quest. While Mirage TMNT back issues have skyrocketed in price in the last few years, non-TMNT Mirage books have held steady in the "just a couple of bucks" tier. So if you stumble upon them in the wild, they're easy to afford on a lark. Bade Biker #3 took me the longest time to find in the long boxes; I only just struck a copy this weekend at Arkansas Comic Con. It was marked up, though, because the seller knew it had a TMNT pin-up in it.

I also found a copy of Melting Pot #2, which I'd been needing to tie up that 4-issue miniseries, so it was a pretty good weekend for me. I know you can get most of these books easy and cheap on eBay, but it's more fun to hunt for them in back issue bins (their natural habitat).

And if nothing else, these Mirage titles are genuinely fun '80s indie stuff. Lots of wild ideas that are definitely not mainstream, but drip with the sincere enthusiasm of the people making them. GOD does Jim Lawson love himself some motorcycles. That affection is almost contagious when you read Bade Biker or Guzzi LeMans.

As for my Mirage non-TMNT collection, there are still some odds and ends I'm keeping an eye out for. Jim Lawson's Dino Island (2 issues) never pops up anywhere. And I need about half of their Usagi Yojimbo run (16 issues) and both of their Space Usagi runs (6 issues). And then there are those weird '90s experiments like Bioneers (1 issue), Xenotech (3 issues) and Stupid Heroes (3 issues). So there'll always be something for me to keep hunting for. Keeps me ticking!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

TMNT (Vol. 1) #8: Remastered Edition


Publication date: August 2023

Art Remaster: Sean Michael Robinson

Special Thanks: Matt Dow, Margaret Liss, Benjamin Hobbs, David Birdsong, Brian West, Joshua Even

Project coordination: Dave Sim


This is a special remastered edition of TMNT (Vol. 1) #8. This project was possible due to the nature of Dave Sim's contract with Mirage during the joint creation of TMNT #8. As that contract was upheld after the Viacom corporation's purchase of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles intellectual property in 2009, Sim retains reprint rights to this issue.

Turtle Tips:

*This publication was preceded by the three-issue Pieces of Turtles 8 miniseries and an Ashcan Preview Edition of this book.

*This comic was made available to preorder through Kickstarter in March 2023. Pieces of Turtles 8 #3 was made available and fulfilled simultaneously with this comic.

*This comic had a print run of 8,750 copies across 40 variants.

*Variant cover artists: Dave Sim, Simon Bisley, Michael Dooney, Jim Lawson, Steve Lavigne, Fero Pe, Brandon Graham, Ciro Nieli, Al Gofa, Kyle Hotz, Federico Mele, Samuel G. Wolfe, Brookes Morris, Sam Heimer, Benjamin Hobbs, Carson Grubaugh, and Sean Michael Robinson.

*Also included during the campaign were Visions of Turtles 8 (a collection of art inspired by this comic) and 75 More Sleeps (a collection of art used in the "T8" trading card series). Enamel pins, prints, postcards, and extra trading cards were also included as stretch goals and add ons.


In my review for Pieces of Turtles 8 #3, I said that the Pieces of Turtles 8 miniseries was my real reason for following the TMNT 8 Remaster campaign and gobbling the breadcrumbs that led up to it. And that was true in terms of my hunger for new Mirage content, even if it was just historical material never seen or expressed before. If it's Mirage and it's new to me, I'm all over it.

But what of the actual TMNT #8 Remaster? Well, first, let's talk about the variant covers. Oh wow, there's a lot of them! Personally, I only got the Michael Dooney and Jim Lawson/Steve Lavigne covers:

I sure do love 'em, though! And if I was made of money, I might have gotten the 38 other covers, too. They were all really cool! But I ain't made of money so I had to go with my favorite Mirage guys.

Ok, Ok. What about the remaster?

Well, it's a very good remaster! Here are some comparisons between the TMNT 8 Remaster and my original copy of TMNT #8:

As you can see, this is the kind of remaster that only seeks to preserve the existing (and intended) image quality. All the lines are there, but with crisper presentation and on paper that doesn't look like tree bark. This is the good kind of remaster. It isn't trying to "improve" the existing book or change things here and there to appease some sort of modern aesthetic sensibility. It's the TMNT #8 you remember only now you can see it better. 

Hell of a lot more preferable to whatever the fuck IDW has been doing to the Mirage comics with their Color Classics reprints. Those slackers don't even look at the covers for color references and just make shit up. I mean, hey look! It's Renet in her CLASSIC red costume! You know? The red costume she's always worn since the very beginning? And don't you just love all those digital lens flares? Really improves the art by hiding it behind blobs of white!

Yeah, this is how comic remasters and restorations should be treated. A shame Sim can't handle the preservation and curation of all the Mirage TMNT comics. Because IDW just could not give a damn. Even their Ultimate Collection hardcovers which present the issues in black and white have no quality control. Multiple issues are missing their duo tones! IDW, are you BLIND!? 

But hey, Mirage isn't guiltless, either. They've done some awful remasters of their own material. Remember Peter Laird's attempt at remastering TMNT #1 with the PBBZ Reprint?

Whole backgrounds are missing!

Anyway, the point here is that remasters can very often go very wrong, even when the creators are involved in the process. So it's more of a blessing than you might think to get a remaster this good.

And if you missed it, well, I have a feeling you'll be able to get a copy of this book on the aftermarket for a reasonable price (at least for the time being). There are over 8,000 copies; you might not be able to get the cover you want, but I'm sure you'll be able to get something. And I'd recommend it, too. It's the nicest reprint of TMNT #8 out there. If this is one of your favorite issues and you find yourself rereading it often, you can finally put your original copy in the longbox for permanent safekeeping and use this one as your new napkin.

Pieces of Turtles 8 #3


Publication date: August 2023

Publisher: Aardvark-Vanaheim

Curator: Dave Sim, Kevin Eastman


Pieces of Turtles 8 is a miniseries chronicling the creation of TMNT (Vol. 1) #8. Included are photos, sketches, anecdotes and other behind-the-scenes content from the memory of Dave Sim.

This particular volume is square-bound and considerably longer than the previous issues. It was co-written by Kevin Eastman and the majority of the text is an interview with Eastman conducted by Sim. Along the way, vintage photos, sketches, thumbnails, and other production materials are included.

Turtle Tips:

*This issue was preceded by Pieces of Turtles 8 #2. It is the final installment in this miniseries.

*This issue was published after the TMNT (Vol. 1) #8 Remastered: Ashcan Preview Edition and simultaneously in fulfillment with TMNT (Vol. 1) #8: Remastered. It was made available to preorder only through Kickstarter along with the TMNT #8 remaster, in March of 2023.

*This issue does not have different Canada/Swordfish and USA printings, but a single print run of 130 copies.


Well, if you thought Pieces of Turtles 8 issues 1 and 2 were on the skimpy side, I hope you didn't skip out on this installment. It's a chunky tome (the pages aren't numbered and I ain't counting) that consists mostly of an epic-length interview between Sim and Eastman that covers much of their history together during the indie comics scene of the 1980s.

It's a very candid interview, much more in-line with the Eastman interview from The Comics Journal #202 (1998) which tells the whole ugly truth; a refreshing change of pace from the sanitized, historical revisionist versions of the TMNT history that Viacom edits for things like TMNT: The Ultimate Visual History. It's a rare treat--something Viacom doesn't allow now that they own the Ninja Turtles--and absolutely worth brewing a pot of coffee and devoting an evening to.

Or you can just look at the pictures!

Many of the pieces reprinted here I had never seen before. Personal photos (of course; I'm not a stalker), but also production art and sketches that (according to Eastman's blurb on the back of the book) have never been published anywhere ever before. Some of them are sketches shared between friends to commemorate personal moments; not intended for public consumption. Here's a fun one:

All in all, Pieces of Turtles 8 was more substantial than the actual TMNT #8 Remaster, which was supposed to be the entrée of this whole banquet. Don't get me wrong, the Remaster looks great (separate review incoming), but it's something we've all seen before. Pieces of Turtles 8 was filled with personal, private, informative content that we'd never seen or heard before. This is what I was really following Sim's series of preorder campaigns for.

As for where you can read these volumes now that those campaigns are over? Well, that might be tough. These volumes have extraordinarily small print runs, especially this one since there was only a single run of the book. While I know people have different attitudes toward pirating comics, I feel like Pieces of Turtles 8 is more about knowledge and history than consumer art and narrative. It would be a shame for all this history to be lost in a couple hundred copies of an obscure miniseries. 

Maybe split the difference? Put the interview online and leave the collector's value of the books intact? I dunno, I'm not a problem solver. But if you CAN read these books, you definitely should!

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Awesome Turtle Pictures #41

 Artist Eric Canete (creator of Arc Athena, storyboarder on Teen Titans, Men in Black, Godzilla: The Series, etc.) recently offered to draw me something for my birthday. I asked if he could do a version of the Krang/Shredder hybrid from TMNT Adventures #24:

Eric exceeded every expectation I could have had:

Thanks for the birthday gift, Eric!