What the heck is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Printer Proof? Today, I wanted to touch on a recent sale of quite possibly the holiest of holy grails when it comes to TMNT. If you are familiar with my YouTube channel, you know I recently lost a good friend, Edwin The Comic Jabroni, who was the biggest TMNT fan I’ve ever come to know. In his memory, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I can about the Turtles he loved so much. Also the intro, “What the heck is a” was a series he had on his channel to try and teach people the things he learned during his time as a comic collector.
Ok, let's get into the turtle meat and potatoes of this. Back on August 27th of this year (2020), a TMNT Printer Proof was sold at auction for $12,472.00. Starting on 8/13/20 with a 125$ bid and then selling 14 days later over 12k, that's a massive jump but this is no ordinary book. Back in 1984, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird introduced the TMNT to the world, and the world loved it. But, before all 3000 copies were printed of the first print run back in ‘84, they had to print the first one to make sure everything was perfect, containing no errors. That first printed book is what we have come to know as the TMNT #1 Printers Proof.
Looking at the pictures of the printer's proof, you’ll notice how jagged a rough the edges of the pages are. That's actually because this was cut by hand and hand-assembled. Yeah, there was also no cover since they printed the covers separately from the interior pages. All they had was a piece of paper with Ninja Turtles written on it for a cover and 6 staples along the side to keep all the 40 pages intact. Now let's take a look at where this Printer's Proof has been.
Well, it was printed back in 1984 at the Journal Tribune, a newspaper printer in Biddenfor, Maine. From what I know, the print number and date are on the interior side of the cover. This means the date/information wouldn't be printed anywhere on these interior pages. It makes you wonder where that printer proof is for the cover. A few years after 1984, once TMNT was growing in popularity, two brothers (no, not the comic book YouTubers Two Brother Comics, although I do recommend their channel since they are a great source of information) worked at the printing press where they cleaned out old filing cabinets and came across this holy grail.
What did they do with said grail? Well, what most of us would have done, take it to a local comic book shop. That comic book shop being Downeast Comics in Brunswick, Maine, run by Stan Wakely. Mr. Wakely didn't offer up cash for the book, rather store stock. My understanding is the shop closed down in the mid-’90s, as many shops did. Looking back, I bet those brothers wished they would have kept that printer's proof. Ah, seller's remorse, how we've all been there. Now, this is where I raise a red flag and demand a few answers.
Looking at the start of this, I expressed how the Printer Proof of this sold on Comic Link (a well-known auction and exchange site for over 23 years) for over 12k and it was Cream to Off-White pages. That's pretty impressive for something like this. In the description for this auction, that had 77 bids, it states, “Wakely has held onto the printer's proof all of these years and it's now being offered for auction on ComicLink for the first time anywhere.” The only problem is that's not the only sold copy of a TMNT #1 Printers Proof.
Back in May 2012, over at Heritage Auctions (another well known, reputable auction site) a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Printer Proof” was sold. Now, this was a little different since the Printer Proof was sold alongside a 1st print signed remark of TMNT #1. The auction contained 15 bidders online as well as registered phone bidders, and had a final sale of $3,883.75. Even in the description, they note “The word unique gets misused a lot, but it certainly applies to this proof -- there is only one.”
Now, forgive me if I'm wrong here, but something doesn't add up. How can something sell for the first time but have a sold price for the same item on a popular auction site years ago? I tried to see if I could get a name from the original seller or buyer but unfortunately, Heritage doesn't disclose that information. If anyone reading this has any information please leave it in the comment section below. Either way, this is a great piece of history and I wonder what this will sell for in years to come.
Perry here, I host a pop culture YouTube channel known as Perry Comics and also a little Instagram over at @perry_comics. Feel free to message me or catch me on one of my live streams, comic book videos, or movie reactions. https://www.youtube.com/perrycomics