Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nintendo Power Vol. 7

Originally published by: Nintendo of America
Publication date: July/August, 1989

Story and art: Shuji Imai


Young video game hotshot Nester finds himself at the corner of Mean Street thanks to a poorly planned bus route.  Luckily, April O'Neil happens by and offers to take him back to her place, as she knows some friends who might be able to help him.

Nester returns with her to Superhero Apartments and meets the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  Nester recognizes them as heroes from the comics, but the TMNT recognize him as "Nester the Great", a video game champion.  They ask if he's played their new Nintendo game and Nester cockily replies that he "wrote the book on it".

Michelangelo is thrilled to hear this, as he can't get past Stage 3.  Nester takes the controller and reveals that you need to have 99 pizzas to get through the stage.  The Turtles promptly order 99 pizzas and scarf them down while Nester tries to get through the stage... and fails.

Donatello (or maybe Raphael, they both have purple bandanas) asks for a copy of Nintendo Power with the tips and tricks guide for the game in it.  Leonardo inspects the magazine and learns that you need 99 scrolls to get through Stage 3... not 99 pizzas.  He also learns that the book was written not by Nester, but by Howard.  Nester stews quietly that just once he'd like to get through a game without that bow-tied know-it-all showing him up.

Turtle Tips:

*This 2-page comic was created to promote the first NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game from Konami.

*Special thanks to the Howard & Nester Archive for the strip, as well as for hosting every edition of the comic!


Ahhhh, Stage 3.  The one with the jump.  You know the one.  You know the one.  FUCK YOU, YOU KNOW THE ONE!  THE "JUMP" YOU CAN JUST WALK OVER!  Yeah, that one.

If Michelangelo thinks Stage 3 is a bitch I'd love to see his reaction to Stage 5.

Uh, yeah, anyway.  Howard & Nester comics were one of my favorite things about Nintendo Power in those early years.  I never actually had a subscription, but a friend of mine, also named Mark, had every issue.  I loved diving through his magazine collection when we were having NES marathons (usually while he was playing a 1-player game or a 2-player-but-1-player-at-a-time game) and those little comics were always a highlight.

Yeah, Nintendo Power gained something of a bad reputation in more recent years before its cancellation; not exactly a place for honest reviews of Nintendo titles (nothing ever seemed to "suck" according to them).  But hey, back in the NES days when there was essentially just one console (did YOU know anybody who owned a fucking Master System?  Shut up, you liar) it was an enthralling resource.

I honestly don't know who the artist for these comics was.  I know Howard Phillips (a Nintendo of America employee) is credited as the creator of Nester, and I know he was the basis for the Howard character, but I'm pretty sure he didn't do the comics.  They look suspiciously Japanese and several of the word balloons are tall and skinny, like manga word balloons, and have poorly centered English text that looks sloppily overlaid.  I googled myself silly, but couldn't find any info.  (EDIT: Turns out the artist IS a Japanese person.  Shuji Imai!)

Anyhow, this particular comic is just a 2-pager but it tries to fit at least one gag into each panel to maximize space.  What I loved about these old Howard & Nester comics was how authentic they were when it came to describing the games.  Nester is talking about Stage 3 of the first TMNT Nintendo game and on the little CRT television he's playing the game on, Stage 3 is accurately (if crudely) represented.  He's even playing as Donatello, AKA The Only Useful Fucking Character In That Game.

What I'm trying to say is that Captain N & the Game Masters could have learned a lot from these Howard & Nester comics.

April's design here is actually... and I'm not being esoteric or obscure here just to be cool or different... one of my favorite April designs ever.  It's very simple and girl-next-door with the plain-Jane ponytail, but she's got that little bit of pizzazz going with the shoulderless, loose-fitting t-shirt and the tubetop (or sports bra?) underneath it.  It's a cute design and I've always liked it for some reason.

The Turtles, though... Yeah, what a weird look.  It's mostly the eyes, which instead of being solid white are solid... blue?  Like they have sunglasses on underneath their bandanas.  The coloring is also a little confused, as Don and Raph have bandanas that appear to be different shades of purple, so you're not really sure which Turtle is which most of the time.

Other than that, well... 2 pages.  I'm surprised I've managed to write this many paragraphs about the thing.  Maybe I'm letting the nostalgia cloud my judgment, but seriously, go read through that archive I linked to in Turtle Tips.  The humor is pretty dry in those comics, but they're certainly "neat" and the representations of the featured games are surprisingly authentic.

Man, if only Nintendo would collect ALL their Nintendo Power comics.  I remember some pretty great Mario, Metroid and Star Fox comics that were serialized in that book, even during the questionable Gamecube era when people were falling out of love with the magazine.  Maybe some day...


Anonymous said...

You say that Donatello (or maybe Raphael) finds the magazine. But it's actually Leo. Also I would like to point out Raphael does actually have a red mask in the next to last panel.

StriderSkorpion said...

Funny enough, I actually knew some people who had a Master System. Though I didn't know what the system was at the time. What's a bit weird is that they did end up getting an NES, but it wasn't until near the end of the systems lifespan.

When I was kid, my brother bought a box of old Nintendo Powers at a garage sale. Those old magazines were pretty cool and quite helpful until we got the internet.

We were a bit disappointed when he got a subscription and the magazine was as how you described. It was around the time of late Nintendo 64 or early GameCube when he ended the subscription.

Sam said...

Nintendo Power nerd here! Like a lot of people, my interest in the magazine petered out right before the Gamecube era. Those late-N64 era issues were brutal.

Anyway, I don't have a name, but I have read somewhere that the H&N comics were done by a Japanese artist. The Mario, Zelda, Star Fox and Metroid comics that ran from 1992-1994 were done by a Japanese guy as well. I think the Zelda comic was done by the guy who did Cyborg 009.

Sometimes around 1990 or 1991, the guy who did the H&N comics left and was replaced by an American artist and the art took a nosedive imo. Not too long after, Howard left the comic and it just became Nester's Adventures. This was due to Howard Phillips leaving Nintendo. Nester's Adventures ran until December 1993 with a few different artists and Nester made sporadic(as in you can probably count the number of appearances on one hand) appearances in the magazine from then on out.

Agreed on the April design. I discovered this comic more recently(okay probably 10 years ago) but the design stuck with me.

Enscripture said...

I have the Super Mario Adventures, Metroid and Zelda TPB's and the whatever it was called the Nintendo valiant HC TPB of the best of the Super Mario Bros. Been slowly scanning those

Adam said...

I gotta at least hand it to the Nintendo Power artistic staff. Their clay figure covers were always quite distinctive back in the day. When it came to Mega Man II, that cover is a bit odd featuring Dr. Wily, but still much better than the US artwork on the first two NES games.

@Enscripture, I think those Valiant Nintendo comics were different than the ones that appeared in NPower, although I only had a few issues here and there. The Star Fox comic was pretty cool from what I read of it. I've found the Nintendo themed Valiant comics somewhat rare to track down in the back issue store market. I expect they are widely available online, but it's too bad old issues of Mario or Captain N aren't as plentiful as mid-run Magnus Robot Fighter or Harbinger or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Hang into that mario and zelda tpb. On amazon and the like, they are brutally priced.

Adam said...

"Man, if only Nintendo would collect ALL their Nintendo Power comics. I remember some pretty great Mario, Metroid and Star Fox comics that were serialized in that book, even during the questionable Gamecube era when people were falling out of love with the magazine. Maybe some day..."

Well, well, look it!