31st May2019

eBuying Comics: Week 19

by Ian Wells


It is fair to say like Star Wars in the 70’s and Game of Thrones today, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a pop culture phenomenon. Between 1984 when the comic debut and the mid 90’s the heroes in a half shell were everywhere. Comics, cartoons, movies, actions figures and pizza boxes. The humble beginnings to major success are the kind of things dreams are made of for self publishing comics creators. To this day an TMNT #1 (Mirage Studios) is one of comic collectors most highly desirable comics. A graded 9.8 (NM) first print of the very first issue is valued at upwards of £13000. First print comics from the original Mirage Studios are very rare sightings at conventions and even rarer on eBay. Eventually there were five printings of the #1 taking its print run to 1988. The only one I was able to find on eBay was a third printing, it was listed as VF for a raw comic and was priced at £300. This is a very good price even though it is a third printing and as it is a set price and not a bid it is worth taking a shot on for any die hard Turtles fan. The original line of comics ran for sixty two issues and like issue one I would say the first five are the hardest to find. I can speak from experience I have never seen them at a convention. If i happened to overlook them I doubt they were first printings. I found two listings for #2. One was a raw copy, graded by the seller as VF and listed for £69.99. Making this a very reasonable price for such a sought after comic. At the other end of the scale is a CGC 9.6 copy priced at £867. Part of TMNT‘s early success was due in no small part to some well placed advertising in comic related publications. The Comic Buyers Guide and The Comic s Journal both ran full page ads a month before the first issue hit shelves so there was already anticipation building.

The Comics Journal #89 is therefore the first in-print appearance of the Turtles. Currently there is one on eBay it has been graded but from the picture it looks in pretty good shape for a thirty five year old magazine that people probably didn’t treat as well as a comic. It is listed for £197 an item i would say was only for the high end comic collector or TMNT die hard completest. The success of the TMNT created a boom in black and white self published comics as well as spawning a thousand anthropomorphic imitators. The first of these was Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters. Now I thought this would be harder to find on eBay than their reptilian counterparts but there were quite a few actually. The prices leave a little to be desired though. £95 for a CGC 9.8, really? Where as someone else is selling the first nine issues for £19 so people obviously have false opinions on what this book is worth and how in demand it actually is. In 1996 with Eastman and Laird overseeing many a TMNT and other comics project publishing moved to Image Comics. IDW has recently started reprinting this series under the title Urban Legends, but the originals still remain affordable. The Image series is very divisive among fans, I myself haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole yet! the first listing I found for Image era TMNT was for a complete set #1-#25. It could be yours for the small price of £450. The seller makes note that the set includes the Chicago Con variant for #1 as well as the regualr edition. There is however no mention of grade or condition. Even if they were all NM the asking price seems alot. A 9.8 NM raw copy of the Chicago Con variant is valued at £6 and a graded one is currently £26. So I don’t know what is boosting the price? The seller states they are hard to come by which may be true. Though I did find the Chicago Variant for sale on its own priced at £50 and a few listings for the regular #1 ranging from £15-£20 depending on grade. You would only be looking to buy this listing if you were a TMNT collector, but you would want some indication on condition. Like I mentioned IDW are reprinting the Image series so if you are only looking to read and not make money the trade paperbacks will soon be available.

When I was a kid, being in the UK, the TMNT to me were a cartoon and movie before I knew they had comic book origins. So when the IDW series launched in 2011 I was all over it. However this came with some difficulty. As they were now under the ownership of Nickelodeon and published by IDW there was some areas of Europe where they couldn’t be printed. So I had to rely on eBay to get my first couple of issues till the ban was lifted. I paid £10 for #1 one with the Raphael cover and if memory serves me right I paid about the same for a third printing of #2, which was a nice black and white Eastman cover so no real complaints. When I looked on Ebay to see what I would have paid for them today there were surprisingly few results. A Donatello variant and Global Conquest cover both for £25. So eight years ago when #1 was at high demand with UK readers I paid cheaper than I would today. It may not seem like new news to comic collectors when I say finding old rare and in good condition TMNT comics is hard work. But I also find it difficult find specific issues for a worthy price. Case in point during the IDW run I have had one instance where my LCS missed an issue for me. It was #28 and it is not a key issue but it is the penultimate issue in a major story arc. For those of you familar with the series I don’t need to go into detail. Every comic shop I visit or every con I go to when I check the TMNT box it always stops at #27 and picks up again after #30. As for eBay it is there, but mainly from American sellers and postage rates are extortionate right now. I try to do keep all my postage under £2.50 so American sellers are off limits to me. Yes it is reducing my purchase field but I can’t justify the price sometimes. #28 came with five covers so you would expect the rarer ones to be the more desirable leaving someone like me able to swoop in and pick up the regular cover or even cover B for a good price. On this search I only found two cover B’s and four cover A’s. To give you some idea of how frustrating tracking down this issue has been for me. One seller has it listed for £2.60 (£18 P+P) that is for a FN raw copy. Whilst another seller has it listed at £39 (£11 P+P) and that is a VF raw copy. A raw 9.8 (NM) copy of cover A is currently valued at £4.40. That’s fifty pence more than what my subscription costs are yet postage from America is double its value! Even the rarer cover which was a 1 in 10 retailer incentive at a 9.8 (NM) for a raw copy is valued at around £10.

At the end of all this then my advice to TMNT fans is if you want the older stuff you will make yourself poor. Stick with the excellent reprint series on offer from IDW. Secondly whether at a comic shop, a convention or a humble car boot if you see any Turtles comics snap them up. They seem to gain value every year. The Turtles are now 35 years old and with each reinvention there will be more interest in the older stuff too.

For Sale:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #1 IDW VF+ – Starting Price £1.20 + £1.80 P+P
  • Batman /Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 DC/IDW VF+ – Starting Price £1.20 + £1.80 P+P
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles In Time #1 IDW VF+ – Starting Price £1.20 + £1.80 P+P
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #34 (Mirage 1990) VF – Starting Price £1.20 + £1.80 P+P


  • Tales of The Teen Titans #42 Judas Contract Part 1 DC Comics – Starting Price £1.20 + £1.80 P+P – Sold For £1.20

I actually contacted the buyer of this listing to see if they would be interested in answering the questionnaire I came up with. Not only did they not reply to my email, they also didn’t even leave the standard eBay feedback! So the quest goes on. This gives me time to fine tune the questions and to give my comics grades based on my own knowledge. It will be a weekend on the floor with my long box of potential eBay listings, going through them with a keen eye, giving them as fair grade as possible.

Character Spotlight

There was only one character to place in the spotlight this week. The Turtles sports weaponed, hockey mask wearing vigilante Casey Jones.

  • Raphael: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle oneshot (1985)
    9.8 (NM) – £181
    6 (F) – £15
    2 (G) – £3
  • Tales of TMNT Vol.2 #56 (2004)
    9.8 (NM) – £3.60
    6 (F) – 64p
    2 (G) – 16p
  • Body Count #1 (1996)
    9.8 (NM) – £3.30
    6 (F) – 59p
    2 (G) – 14p

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