The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, originally published by Mirage Studios. Their battles with mutated creatures, alien invaders, and petty criminals gave way to a dynamic multimedia franchise in cartoons, films, action figures, other merchandise, and many more comic books. As their popularity has grown, so too has the market for TMNT collectibles – especially comics. During Hake’s premier auction on June 29-30, 2021, the Turtles drove competitive bidding on key books and original art toward the $3.6 million total.
Gobbledygook #1 CGC 9.0 signed and sketched by Eastman and Laird set a new world record for the title and grade when it sold for $71,390. Containing the first appearance of the Fugitoid, it has a back cover ad for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, predating their first appearance. The interior cover features signatures and Turtles sketches by the co-creators, which were authenticated by Eastman. This sale was more than double the high-end preauction estimate.
A high grade first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 CGC 9.2 hammered for $32,450. Published by Mirage Studios, this issue contains the origin and first appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter, and Shredder. Featuring story and art by Eastman and Laird with a wraparound cover by Eastman, it is among the most sought after Cooper Age keys.
After news of the sales broke, Scoop reached out to Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman for his reaction. “Considering the TMNT are still relatively new to all those iconic comic book based characters/properties we ALL love so very much, ‘Shocked, Humbled, and Honored’ come to mind immediately,” Eastman told Scoop. “Wow! When I read the success of the auction, one of my first thoughts were of a fan letter Peter and I received from a young collector back in 1984, Lawrence Klein, who explained how he and his father traveled all over to New York City comic shops and conventions – where they eventually purchased a TMNT #1 for $25! We were blown away! Who would pay $25 for our nutty little $1.50 self-published comic?”
Eastman went on to say, “All I could add to this kind of event, would be a ‘Thanks’ to the fans... I have spent my whole life writing and drawing comics, characters I co-created, and could NOT have done it without all their wonderful support. Eternally grateful.”
Within the original art portion of Hake’s auction, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5 comic cover original final color art by Eastman that was used for the first printing cover, realized $28,053. The 10-5/8” x 14-1/4” thin sheet of art paper features mixed media original final color art for the wraparound cover of the October 1985 issue. The vibrant full color original art depicts an action packed scene of the four Turtles, along with Professor Honeycutt/Fugitoid, fighting on the planet Peblak in a scene that is similar to the famous Star Wars cantina scene.
Additional Ninja Turtles key comic sales were Gobbledygook #2 CGC 8.5 with signatures and Turtles sketches by Eastman and Laird on the inside front cover, plus an ad for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 on the back cover, that brought $8,566. A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 CGC 9.6 second printing achieved $7,210 and a CGC 9.8 third printing grabbed $4,720. TMNT #2 CGC 9.8 first printing, featuring the debuts of April O’Neil and Mousers, cleared $5,516.