We've seen a number of vintage comics sales in 2021 that even the most experienced market observer wouldn't have believed a year ago. Among numerous examples, Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC 9.6 pushing (and perhaps surpassing) $3M, Marvel Spotlight #5 CGC 9.8 for $264,000, and the first appearance of the Riddler in Detective Comics #140 CGC 9.6 for $456,000 stand out to me. But ComicConnect's just-announced sale of a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 CGC 9.8 for $245,000 may just have more shock value than any of the others. The 1984 release by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird is the origin and first appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 has been considered a pricey comic book since shortly after its publication. Commenting in 1985 on the immediate success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, Peter Laird noted, "The comic book we were afraid would sit around our living room in unsold boxes upon boxes is now being sold for approximately what a Conan #1 would go for. Believe me — this really blows our minds!"
He's referring of course to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #1, a 1970 release by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith which was long considered one of the most expensive keys of the Bronze Age. I'm too lazy to dig through boxes to find my copy of the 1985 Overstreet Price Guide, but the 1987 edition I have handy lists Conan the Barbarian #1 at $70, while noting that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 had gone for prices in excess of $100 over the prior year. A Conan the Barbarian #1 CGC 9.8 can be had for around $6000 in 2021, which makes me wonder what Laird would think about the notion that a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 now goes for over 40x the price of a Conan the Barbarian #1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 was also such an instant back issue pricing phenomenon that someone produced counterfeit copies in an attempt to take advantage of the market within the first year. There are also several later printings that were produced by Eastman and Laird's Mirage Studios.
In addition to the near-immediate success that TMNT became, this issue has always been pricey in high grade due to a print run of around 3,000 copies, a mostly black cover that makes even the smallest defects obvious, and a non-standard size that historically made it a slight storage challenge compared to standard-sized comic books. As of this writing, there are 8 listings for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 in CGC 9.8 and none higher on the CGC Census. The previous highest price paid for a copy was $88,000 for a CGC 9.6 Signature Series signed by Eastman and Laird, which sold in April 2021.
Cowabunga! ComicConnect Notches New TMNT #1 Record
A highest-graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 CGC 9.8 sold in ComicConnect's fixed price marketplace for a record-pulverizing $245,000. Published in 1984 originally as a parody of Frank Miller's Ronin, the X-Men, and a splash of Teen Titans, the comic features the first appearance of the Turtles, their Master, Splinter, and the teen team's arch-nemesis, Shredder.
"This is the most important comic published in the last forty years and stands as a keystone of pop culture today," explained Vincent Zurzolo, COO of ComicConnect. "The creators transformed what was an inside joke into a media juggernaut and merchandising machine with scores of comic titles and team-ups, movies, tv shows, spin-offs, re-boots and sequels. Eastman and Laird created a property that three generations of fans have grown to love, and the turtle teens aren't going anywhere" Zurzolo remarked. "I fully expect this new record to be broken in a short time," he said. "And I have the clients to do just that."
In ComicConnect's current Event Auction, they are offering two first print copies, a CGC 9.6 as well as a CGC 9.2 that boasts Eastman and Laird signatures on the inside front cover. The auction ends Friday, September 3 at 7:45 PM EDT.
Zurzolo said that ComicConnect is looking for more copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. "I'd like to talk to you about any copy you have, in any grade" Zurzolo said. "Folks are lining up for this book and now is a great time to set a new record; there just aren't enough copies to go around!" Call (888)779-7377 to discuss consigning a copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 or any other comic.