IDW has lately been reprinting the earliest and original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from the 1980s. Back in the 80s, prices of first prints of the original comics skyrocketed, and they still retain a fairly high collector’s value. In response to their limited availability to all but the wealthiest collectors, First Publishing produced four, full-color, oversized graphic novels from the original black-and-white stories.
The unique and gritty visual style of Eastman and Laird’s reptilian martial artists comes through even in color. First did a wonderfully professional job on this production. They wisely included the Leonardo one-shot, since its story leads right up to the events of issue #10. And, First thoughtfully preserved the dramatic three-page fold out from issue #10. We have scans of the original black and white pages in our archives for comparison.
All of the splash pages look great, and the binding and paper quality of these turtle tomes remains evident decades later. From the first issue to the battle with Triceratons in space to the hilarious Cerebus crossover, all of the Turtles earliest adventures rock hard in this graphic novel format.
Let us offer a few suggestions for those seeking some high-quality Turtles reprints. You can still find copies of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TPB by First in stock at reasonable prices ($10-$15 for a Fine copy,) though you may need to go to eBay to get a complete set all at once! IDW printed the stories in single issues in full color as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics, but it seems they left out the Leonardo one-shot to include issue #11 which more or less wraps up Eastman & Laird’s original plot line.
A second volume of color classics reprints some excellent adventures from the subsequent stories, including a reprint of the glorious Return to New York storyline this spring. Those who want these stories in black and white should get the excellent seven-volume Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collected Book produced by Mirage in the 1990s. IDW more recently gave us The Ultimate Collection in hardcover which wisely includes the one-shots from the 80s as well as the original title.
Despite the availability of recent reprints, the old ones have held onto their collector’s value due to their limited runs and high production values. The First Publishing collection also gives you a much larger page size than, say, Mirage’s normal-zized Collected Book reprints.
IDW has much to gain by reprinting these collectible issues, but they also do readers a great service by keeping these classics in print. We sold both the First TPB set and the Collected Book set on eBay last year, but you can bet we would like another copy of Return to New York in our hands before all this is over!