Thursday, February 4, 2010

You Had To Be There

Originally published in: TMNT (Vol. 1) #7
Publication date: March, 1986

Script, pencils and lettering: Kevin Eastman
Inks and colors: Richard Corben

“You Had To Be There”


Having spent the night drinking with someone named “Mega-Pound-something”, Mike is stumbling his way home through the sewers when suddenly a spaceship crashes through the ceiling. A strange glow erupts from where it landed, creating a weird “hole” in reality. Mike steps through the hole and emerges in a lush and ancient looking “fantasy world”.

No sooner does he arrive, however, he is approached by the scantily-clad Queen Tara and her horde of Viking-helmeted warriors. She mistakes Mike for the green slime creature who piloted the crashed spaceship and “violated” her. She orders her soldiers to seize Mike. Mike puts up a fight but is too inebriated to help himself and gets knocked out fairly quickly.

Mike awakens on a stone alter dressed in sacrificial garb. Queen Tara is about to sacrifice him to her god, Nexus, but before she can plunge the dagger through Mike’s heart, the Turtle rolls away. As Mike attempts to flee, he’s surrounded by more warriors. Suddenly, another spaceship appears above him and fires on the warriors, clearing the path. Mike doesn’t know why the ship helped him, but isn’t about to complain.

Mike rushes back to the portal he came in through and returns to the sewers, though he fears Queen Tara and the warriors are still pursuing him. As he hides in a tunnel, he spots two shadows moving around the corner. Mike pounces, only to discover that they’re Don and Leo. His brothers are pissed, nagging him for disappearing all night and then coming home stinking of booze and acting all crazy. Mike tries to explain his crazy adventure to them, but then just decides “You had to be there” and leaves it at that.

Turtle Tips:

*This story was later reprinted in black and white in Gobbledygook (Vol. 2) #1 and the “Shell Shock” trade paperback. It was eventually reprinted in its original colors in the "TMNT 25th: A Quarter Century Celebration" trade paperback and in the Capital City Comic Con version of TMNT 30th Anniversary Special.

*The Gobbledygook printing appears to be a straight up xerox-job of the color version, with most of the pencil work lost in large blobs of solid black, making it almost impossible to follow. The "Shell Shock" printing rectifies this, with a completely redone grey-scaling so its actually comprehensible.

*"Mega-Pound-something" might be a reference to indy comics character "Megaton Man", created by Don Simpson, an artist the Mirage crew were known to colaborate with. What he has to do with this story, an Eastman-Corben Joint, is anybody's guess.


It’s hard to classify a lot of these TMNT back-up strips. Some are grounded in reality, some are surreal and contradictory and some fall right in the middle there. Stories like “New Comic Day!”, “Raphael: Snapper” and “You Had To Be There”. They’re weird… but not too weird.

I mean, c’mon, this sorta shit happens to the Turtles all the time. They can’t go a day without being sucked into another dimension, rocketed through space, hurtled backward in time or just plain whatever. So with that in mind, the idea of Mike randomly getting sent to another dimension by a mysterious spaceship for four pages isn’t too out there. Half the Turtles’ adventures rely on them being in “the right place at the right time” to “coincidentally stumble upon” warring alien princesses, atom bomb-wielding terrorists or bubbly Timestresses playing hooky.

This one was just really short.

Eastman’s art is his usual style, albeit I noticed that he didn’t do any over-the-top expressions in the bandanas like he usually does. Maybe it was just because he only had four pages to work with, I dunno. Queen Tara’s definitely channeling a “Heavy Metal” vibe with that swimsuit armor and talk of being violated by a slime monster. Corben’s colors are very nice and I’m sure that way back in 1986, it was an absolute treat to have a TMNT comic in color. The entire presentation is nicer than most bonus strips, as the story is printed on some glossy, thick sheets of paper and inserted into the middle of the comic. A nice gesture.

The "Gobbledygook" printing is another matter altogether. They seemed to have just straight-up Xeroxed the the color version and its so dark and muddy you can't make a thing out of it. The "Shell Shock" printing, though still in black and white, thankfully offered an appropriate grey-scaling.

Here are the different versions of the first page for comparison (TMNT #7, Gobbledygook, Shell Shock):

Anyway, “You Had To Be There” is just a random four-page little chunk of nothing, really. Too short to be very exciting and it boasts kind of an odd portrayal of Michelangelo, too (usually Raph’s the one to go off by himself, drink all night and have some crazy adventure). It’s not one of the most memorable back-up strips, aside from the fact that it was printed in color.

Grade: C (as in, “Christ, the Gobbledygook printing of this story looks like it was inked by Joe Ng.”)