Comic Club: Not Your Father's Turtles
While I didn’t mean for this to slip all the way to now—life intervened—I’m now very happy to be able to let you in on my first personal ‘comics discovery’. It’s a little three-issue gem—of which I have two—featuring none other than the turtles and their sensei Splinter.
But this is not your father’s turtles, or your brothers. Hell, this isn’t anyone else’s turtles!
For some reason I happened to have a couple of days not too long ago where I got interested in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles again. So I read up on their origins, saw the movies:”(I like both, but the first is by far the best, what with Casey Jones and Splinter’s outrageous backstory.)”: and decided to check out some of the comics, since I remembered hearing that some of them were quite different from the turtles we know and love.
I didn’t expect them to actually have any TMNT comics, I mean they not exactly hot stuff these days (though they will be soon), but I asked at my local comics store nonetheless. And much to my surprise, I was taken ‘backstage’, through their claustrophobic Neverending Story-worthy backrooms. No kidding; those backrooms are scarily cool. Row upon row, floor to ceiling of comics. Stacked. More comics than you can shake a graphic novel at. I’m telling you.
Anyway, they pull down a stack and let me go through it, to see what there is to see. These are the old Mirage comics, which vary wildly in style and artists and look and feel like they were printed in a basement somewhere and then shipped out in the dead of night by ninja/bike messengers and dumped on the doormats of comic store owners, who would then in turn proceed to haul them in before first light and file them away in their vast storage cabinets.
It felt like no one had touched these comics since they were put on that shelf back in 1991…
The earliest issues in the stack were #35. I flipped through it and was… surprised. Wow. This is fucked. Up. I love it!
It turns out however, that I got my hands on the second and third part of a trilogy of stories, so I still need to dig up issue #31 somewhere… Damn.
The story and art was all done by Michael Zulli, whom I have no other experience with. He’s worked on The Sandman. And might I add that both the writing and the art complement each other in ways I’ve rarely seen before. It is dark, disturbing, violent, abstract, nightmarish and very poetic. And it is by no means a children’s comic!
Really, the only thing I can think of being wrong with this short storyline, is that it isn’t longer and that it’s so damned hard to get ahold of.
You can check out the story arc for Zulli’s trilogy if you’re interested, complete with page-samples and if you’re up for it, you can compare Zulli’s turtles to other artists takes. Also, I gathered some scans and some found images into a flickr group.
If you can get it. Get it. And if you have an extra copy of #31, drop a comment and I’ll give you the address of a doormat you can have your ninja-bikers drop it at.