The Many Lost Adventure Comics (And One NSFW) Of The Ninja Turtle

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Welcome to the 157th episode of Adventure(s) Time, a look at animated heroes of the past. This week, the comic’s strange journey tying into the ’80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon — the series that set precedent for “Adventures” as a label for animated tie-ins — and the lost media it has produced unexpectedly. And if you have any suggestions for the future, let me know. Just contact me on Twitter.


Launched in 1988, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures is widely known as the “Archie Turtles” comic book, thanks to its publication through the avatar of newsstand-friendly periodicals, Archie Comics. Originally conceived as an adaptation of the hit 1987 television series, the comic was produced in-house at Mirage Studios, the studio owned by Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. While the series could have worn Archie’s business attire, production of the book’s content was owned by Mirage.

Beginning with its fifth issue, the series saw new stories from Mirage artist Ryan Brown and Puma Blues co-creator Stephen Murphy (who kept an office at Mirage at the time.) Working under the pseudonym Dean Clarrain, Murphy wrote the bulk of the issues, carving out his own corner of the Turtle multiverse with an involved narrative that grew with the title readers. Although intended as a tie-in to the cartoon, Adventures was much deeper and more socially conscious than the light-hearted anime series.

Related: EXCLUSIVE: TMNT’s Tom Waltz Talks Latest Ronin Prequel, Teases More Ninja Turtle Comics


A very small (and lost) adventure

The Adventures The connection to Mirage created some interesting obscurities that wouldn’t have been imaginable if the comic had been produced in-house at Archie. The first oddity was printed in 1989, although it was a very little draw that the vast majority of young people Adventures readers would never have found out.

Envisioned as a tribute to small-press mini-comics, Mirage attempted its own special mini-comics, 1989 Mirage Mini Comics. Billed by the studio as a “boxed set” of 13 mini-comics by Mirage staff and friends, most of the material has nothing to do with the Turtles. The product came out literally in box form, with 13 mini-comics inside. Comic book store owners did not share Mirage’s enthusiasm for mini-comics, and the project was considered a dud. One of those eight-page stories was “A Forgotten Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventure” by Murphy (as Dean Clarrain,) Michael Dooney, Dan Berger, and Mary Kelleher.

The story is exactly as the title says. Explicitly located between the first and second panels on page 27 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #7, the story reads like missing pages from one of Archie’s issues. The Turtles travel through time and space inside Cudley the Cowlick, a disembodied cow-head who transports the Turtles to outrageous places. (That’s not even close to the weirdest concept Adventures will bring readers during its run.)

On the way home from Stump Asteroid – where parodies of Donald Trump and Don King forced the Turtles into a televised intergalactic wrestling tournament – Cudley accidentally sent the Turtles to a possible future where Manhattan was flooded. Adventures #seven. In the mini-comic, he then over-corrects and takes the heroes back in time to a forest that seems untouched by human hands. Cudley reveals that he accidentally transported the turtles back in time to Manhattan, about 100 years before European settlers arrived. The turtles say they like it here.

Arguably, it’s not really an “adventure,” but it’s a lost story from the show’s regular creative team. Most fans are unaware of its existence, and “Forgotten” was not included in IDW’s collection of reprints from the Adventures series.

Related: Donatello Follows the Mystical Path of an Iconic Ninja Turtle

Archie finally has enough

By 1995, Turtlemania had cooled and sales of the Archie series had declined. The final Adventures The issue was October 1995’s #72, which concluded a two-part origin storyline that detailed how the Turtles received their individual weapons. This was a replacement arc for writer/artist Brian Thomas, as Stephen Murphy left the title out of frustration.

Murphy’s original plan for what could have been the series finale was an arc titled “The Forever War”, which would have been released as Adventures #71-75. The story had a future version of the Turtles (previously featured in the “Future Tense” story arc) teaming up with their current selves for a final battle with the Shredder. Other characters introduced throughout the run, such as fan favorites like ninja fox Ninjara, would also make appearances.

Murphy has indicated in interviews that he felt frustrated with Mirage and Archie in 1995. Mirage did not see Adventures in priority. However, it remained their best-selling title, and Archie editor Victor Gorelick and publisher Michael Silberkleit had become agitated by Murphy’s increasingly dark stories and adult themes. As Murphy previously stated on his now-deleted blog, The 5th Turtle, “Victor and Michael wanted to know where the book was going with issue 71, and when I told them we’d be revisiting the future (the future of Greenhouse Earth, another notion that scared them) for a 5-issue story arc featuring the return of the Shredder – a totalitarian Shredder (not the cartoon jester) – they blew their toupees. wanted me out of the book.

Murphy said that the first issue of “The Forever War” was scripted, penciled and inked in 1995, and the second issue was scripted and penciled. Attempts were made to complete the script, with Murphy indicating plans in 2005 and 2007, but years passed without its release. In 2009, the arc was to be released as part of TMNT’s 25th anniversary celebration. Six story pages and the covers for each issue were published, but the project was abandoned following Viacom’s purchase of the Turtles property.

A Russian fan project got the original pages intended for production and even commissioned Adventures artist Chris Allan (the cartoonist originally assigned “Forever War” in the 90s) to complete the script. The publisher is clear that this is “an unofficial book and has no affiliation with Nickelodeon or Viacom” nonprofits, but the project has apparently been derailed by the global pandemic. Whatever issues were published before COVID, they are underground versions and hard to find.

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All ages? More like 18+

Probably the rarest TMNT comic in existence is “Birds, Bees, and Turtles”, a pornographic story created by Bill Fitts as a parting gift to his friends when he left Mirage Studios around 1993. look at the comics let it be obvious that this was never intended for the general public.

The credited creative team consists of story, layouts and inks by Mike Hunt (actually Bill Fitts), pencils by Harry Ball (Mirage artist Dan Seneres) and letters by Heywood Jablowme (longtime turtles letterer Steve Lavigne). The art style is indeed the same style used in the Archie series. Previously, Fitts and Seneres were the writer/artist team responsible for the Raphael/Ninjara love stories in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Special #ten. Expect far more lust than love in this “adventure”, however.

The plot consists of three of the Turtles watching porn together in their sewer lair while a pot-smoking Raph is on vacation with Ninjara, and Splinter is away visiting April O’Neil. What follows is a profane litany of pornographic situations in which the actors exchange fluids in various creative ways. (Since the Turtles see each other as brothers, what happens between Donatello and Michelangelo must also be considered incestuous). There’s something close to a character arc here, as Leonardo witnesses this depravity in horror but comes to terms with his cravings after receiving instruction from Splinter and April on “lifestyles”. Shredder watches their subsequent encounter outside through the window, and a certain jewel on a certain limb gets stuck in his armor.

Just how funny it all is is debatable, but Raphael’s exclamations of “Cowabunga!” while the middle of coitus with Ninjara is so crazy it’s hard not to laugh. Only 50 copies were printed, and the existence of “Birds, Bees and Turtles” was unknown until a former Mirage staffer sold his copy on eBay in 2009. Since then, a copy unnumbered would have been located in Mirage. Studio offices in Northampton, MA.

For those determined to take a look, Heritage Auctions has already put some pages of the original art up for sale, and scans can be found by searching their website. It’s the very definition of NSFW, so be warned. The rest of the Adventures lost media aren’t quite as salacious, but they at least have a chance of seeing print again. It’s possible that “The Birds, the Bees, and the Turtles” is the rarest contemporary comic published with well-known characters, and for the sake of decency (and in the interests of Nickelodeon), it’s intended to stay that way. .

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