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The Failure of Media Preservation and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

The Failure of Media Preservation and 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'
Studying Time: 12 minutes

Media preservation is damaged, and we have to talk about what meaning.

Some of you could have heard concerning the current shutdown of ROM websites LoveROM and LoveRetro—locations to get “pirated” video video games—however what you could not know is that these websites are sometimes the final bastion of availability for the video games they host. Richard Garriott, creator of the Ultima collection, has particular hardware to ensure that his first recreation (Akalabeth) is operating always, just because there isn’t a assure anybody would ever hassle preserving it. I’m positive there are mirrors that may pop up, however the fact is I don’t know if all the things was stored. I don’t know whether or not there’s a particular significance to something which may have been misplaced. None of us do, not but. The significance of artwork isn’t found in its personal time. Poring over that materials with the backing of time and a broader understanding of context that we don’t have within the current is the job of researchers and historians, and they will solely work with what they’ve. Why do you suppose archaeologists are so completely satisfied once they discover a clay pot?

Star Wars is of course probably the most well-known instance of poor preservation in popular culture. Resulting from facet ratio modifications, not even the unique VHS copies are correct representations of the movies; the one place a print of the unique movie inventory was preserved is within the Library of Congress. In fact, half of the issue with Star Wars preservation is that George Lucas was and is notoriously disdainful of the unique model, preferring the particular version’s corrections and modifications to the unique releases. And no, I do not know why Disney (and 20th Century Fox) hasn’t launched the unique variations of the primary three movies.

Restored prints do make their approach round, although.

My problem with these selections made by firms or particular person artists isn’t particularly that they’ve their ideas and opinions on their work. My challenge is, fairly merely, a matter of availability. I’ve already mentioned how I despise the thought of a uncommon e-book, and how I really feel that restricted editions do nothing however punish followers who got here in late to the celebration. And with regards to a digital world, the justifications for these items of media being the property of a single library, or avid collectors, are unacceptable.

However I’m not right here to speak about video video games or movie, they’re not my space of experience. I’m right here to speak about comics. I’m right here to speak about how one of the most important media franchises in popular culture has systematically did not protect its personal historical past. I’m right here to speak about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

No, actually. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of probably the most prolific franchises of the century, and for a very long time was beneath the tight artistic and monetary management of Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, who needed to ensure they didn’t find yourself in a state of affairs just like Jack Kirby’s, the place his creations and inventive contributions weren’t underneath his management, downplayed, or he was merely not given correct monetary recompense. Even with their tighter authorial management, large quantities of what they revealed beneath the Mirage Studios banner hasn’t been archived in an easy-to-find, readable means, which is horrifying. I’ll clarify what I imply by showcasing the extreme lack of availability of the “main” TMNT releases, whether or not it’s from Mirage or others.

The Myriad, Messy Methods of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collections

A notice: I will probably be discussing issues which might be out there each at present in print and obtainable in different codecs. It’ll develop into related later. Belief me.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 1)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

There are 4 volumes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the primary is probably the most well-known of the lot. Difficulty one was revealed in Might of 1984 and ran for 62 points (plus 4 one-shots which are integral to the plot). And you may’t learn most of them, even when you return to reprints from the ’80s and ’90s. A quantity of the problems you possibly can learn are colorized, with no means of seeing an untouched model of the artwork. It’s a bit like saying I might learn each difficulty, however solely with three totally different Snapchat filters on.

Half of the issue is that visitor writers and artists have been unable to succeed in licensing agreements, and the licensors, generally, have de-emphasized the significance of non-Eastman/Laird tales. That is greatest proven by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Final Assortment collection, reprinting solely Eastman and Laird collaborations (and their occasional solo efforts) from that point interval. Included within the Final Assortment‘s first five volumes are:

Issues #1-12

Raphael, Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello one-shots

#14-15

#17

#19-21

#48-62

But let’s mix that with different releases. Mirage reprinted points #1-29, 31, 35-36, and the 4 one-shots in black and white, however these are additionally all out of print. IDW additionally gives a good few of the lacking points in colour, although not so as, leaving solely two points unavailable in any format, so far as I can inform. So, let’s tally that up:

Unique Format, In Print: 58% (Lacking #13, 16, 18, 22-47)
Unique Format, Out of Print: 78% (Lacking #30, 32-34, #37-47)
Colorized, In Print: 97% (Lacking #30, 41)

On paper, that’s not dangerous. In apply, you’d want Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Final Assortment Volumes 1-6, TMNT Collected E-book 2-7, TMNT: Soul’s Winter, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Volumes Four-7 to hit that 97%, and I promise you that making an attempt to place that nonsense so as so you’ll be able to simply learn it might contain flipping between as many as three totally different books at a time. And it nonetheless wouldn’t be the entire thing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Brief Tales

Mirage’s TMNT launched a quantity of brief tales through the years, many of them by creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. The solely website I discovered that tried to catalog Mirage’s brief tales is run by somebody with ties to actions that I’ve little interest in getting close to, however even earlier than I knew the one that ran the location, I do not know whether or not it was an entire work or not. I’d actually favor a further secondary supply that’s not run by somebody the Nazis are cool with.

That stated, Quantity 6 of the Final Assortment does have a variety of brief tales by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. It additionally excludes a couple of, reminiscent of “Old Times,” initially revealed in Plastron Cafe #1. A uncommon solo effort by Peter Laird (one of solely two, I feel, and the truth that I don’t know is strictly why I’m writing this text), its exclusion isn’t solely baffling, it’s outright worrying. Whether or not it’s an oversight, a mistake, rights points, or it merely wasn’t seen as necessary sufficient, that’s simply unusual.

Plastron Cafe #1 – “Old Times,” pages 6-Eight. Written and penciled by Peter Laird

However on prime of that, the bulk of TMNT‘s short output from other creators are not reprinted for reasons unknown. I can’t even provide the proportion on what’s obtainable, as a result of the brief tales which were reprinted are minimal and as I’ve stated, I can’t discover the precise quantity of brief tales that have been revealed within the first place.

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 1)

The Collected Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Cowl by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

A secondary guide of seven points, this one presents a baffling conundrum. At solely seven points, this collection was given a full assortment again in 1989, full with a brief story. That is the copy I personal. There’s one other black and white reprinting in 2007, however it accommodates a brand new brief story (whereas not together with the previous one) and changed the splash pages that open every concern with new ones. The new splash pages result in an epilogue which, to my information, caps off the whole thing of the TMNT timeline.

When IDW went to reprint Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they did so in colour and using solely the unique splash pages—not even relegating the 2007 splash pages and epilogue to a bonus function.

Unique Format, In Print: zero%
Unique Format, Out of Print: 100%
Colorized, In Print: 100%, with the exception of the 2007 re-issue’s splash pages and epilogue.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2)

Credit score the place credit score is due: this 13 challenge collection obtained a full reprint. It was in colour, reprinted in shade, and to my information, there have been no modifications when it was reprinted. For the sake of you who won’t know the place it’s, and God is aware of it’s exhausting to seek out out, it’s reprinted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Volumes Eight-10. Whereas the quantity numbers on the reprints don’t point out the contents, that is truthfully the perfect we’re going to get on this article.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2) #1-5Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2) #6-9Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2) #10-13

Unique Format, In Print: 100%

Everyone lives, Rose! Simply this as soon as, everyone lives.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity three)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity three – City Legends Difficulty #5

This collection was revealed by Picture Comics, not Mirage Studios because the previous volumes have been. It went on for 23 points, and I do know little or no about it—it bought poorly and didn’t end its story, although two fan-produced points (with help from the unique artistic group, in addition to Kevin Eastman) allowed an ending to the collection. These points have been made obtainable in an extremely restricted quantity of bodily copies, however are very straightforward to seek out in PDFs. Whereas I had initially heard it dismissed as nothing however Picture’s typical schlock, the collection has been given a crucial re-evaluation through the years on account of its harkening again to the sooner, grittier days of Mirage’s TMNT, and some of its plotlines served as intriguing tales in their very own proper. Whereas that shift is new, which could be very a lot the purpose of why this stuff must be preserved, it’s presently being re-published in shade as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: City Legends. It can additionally embrace three new points by the unique staff to complete off the story, although I’m going to take the straightforward guess that the fan produced points won’t be included in any reprints of the collection. It’s not good, nevertheless it’s one thing.

Unique Format, In Print: zero%
Colorized, In Print: Ongoing

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity Four)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity Four) – Challenge #20

In 2000, Peter Laird returned to the Turtles for a continuation of the occasions of Quantity 2, rendering Quantity three non-canon. Over the course of 14 years, he produced 32 points with artist Jim Lawson. It was independently revealed, had a various web page rely, and the circulation was restricted: all complete, it was over 1,00zero pages. It was by no means launched in commerce format of any type, and Peter Laird has said repeatedly that he has no concept if he’ll ever end the collection. He has additionally said that he doesn’t consider (and contemplating what little he’s carried out with the collection because the sale of TMNT, I think he at present doesn’t care sufficient to verify) that IDW has the proper to reprint the collection in any respect, leaving the work even additional out of attain.

Unique Format, In Print: zero%
Unique Format, Out of Print: zero%

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2)

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2) Challenge #41

Operating from 2004 to 2010, this 70-issue anthology collection coated any space of the Turtles’ lives that the writers wished. I can say little or no about it, as I’ve had no actual capability to learn it. From what I perceive, because of the sale of the Turtles to Viacom, the collection had no correct conclusion. IDW has tried reprinting the collection, with combined success—they revealed 25 colorized points over eight volumes, and by no means launched any additional volumes. Just lately, they launched an omnibus that features the whole thing of Quantity 1 and the primary eight points of Quantity 2, nonetheless all in colour.

Unique Format, In Print: zero%
Colorized, In Print: 35.7%. Ongoing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Newspaper comedian)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Newspaper Strip – 01/09. Yr unclear.

This collection was produced for seven years, largely by Mirage Studio mainstays. It has by no means seen any sort of re-release that I’m conscious of. Some other info I might discover out concerning the strip and its contents is contradictory and unclear.

Unique Format, Out of Print: zero%

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)

Season 1, Episode 24 – “Lone Raph and Cub”

A seven-season animated collection produced by 4Kids, this collection tailored a quantity of Mirage comics whereas giving its personal spin to the story and a extra cohesive throughline. It is extremely a lot a Peter Laird creation, as he was probably the most hands-on government producer you’ll ever see, and for my part, it’s his definitive model of the Turtles. There have been 156 episodes, a made-for-TV film (Turtles Eternally), and a quantity of shorts. I don’t know what that quantity was, however no less than greater than 18. None of these are in print anymore, and the unique DVD releases have been lacking no less than three seasons value of content material, to start with. These DVDs additionally included making-of materials, which can also be successfully misplaced.

A pair of particular notes: Turtles Eternally was launched within the US on DVD, nevertheless it was launched in Four×three fairly than its meant 16×9, and additionally had a number of minutes of footage minimize. There was additionally an internet site included over 1,600 items of manufacturing artwork all through the collection, together with materials that by no means made on display. The web site is gone.

Unique Format, In Print: zero%

Unique Format, Out of Print: 6 seasons out of 7 (Lacking film, a number of shorts, a web-serial, and the whole thing of Season 7)

Extra Turtles, Extra Issues

There are a selection of different issues—just like the Japanese OAVs, Mirage employees brief tales, crossovers, jam comics, and I’m fairly sure extra that I’m completely unaware of—which are merely not obtainable in any authorized format, whereas a number of (reminiscent of Kevin Eastman’s Bodycount) are being launched by IDW. Going by means of all of them would take an quantity of analysis an precise historian would undertake—and I’m not that.

Fortuitously, not all TMNT materials is misplaced. All six theatrical films, Quantity 2, the 1987 collection, its comedian e-book tie-in, the 2012 TV collection, and IDW’s commerce paperbacks of their model of the Turtles (offered you get the Full Collections, which together with their Transformers and G.I. Joe Full Collections are probably the most complete commerce collections of any comics firm I’ve ever seen) have all been launched in comparatively easy-to-collect codecs. Once you examine this to the wealth of materials that has been misplaced, and its significance to its creators and shoppers, this isn’t a lot of a consolation.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was bought for $60 million again in 2009, and the 2018 cartoon collection is simply getting began. It’s a thriving property, and “cowabunga” alone is sufficient to convey the Turtles to thoughts in most People. However if you take a look at all that’s misplaced, even when it might exist in some type, it’s horrifying. We don’t know the inventive significance of the uncollected Volumes three or Four. We don’t know the inventive significance of Volumes 1 or 2. We don’t know the importance of any artist, any story, with out the profit of hindsight—hindsight that typically can solely be created by what exists on the exhausting drives of avid collectors, those who horde media just like the preppers for a nuclear struggle horde water.

What We Need to Lose (and What’s Already Gone)

This isn’t okay. Once more, artwork just isn’t found in its time. Partly as a result of it takes time for issues to be sifted, partly as a result of we don’t know the way it influences individuals, partly as a result of we don’t know the way it influences tradition. Carl Barks wasn’t recognized for many years, so his work went comparatively unexamined, simply loved. When followers tracked him down and the breadth of his work turned public information, we couldn’t solely monitor how he impressed individuals, we might monitor who impressed him, and have a greater understanding of the historical past of the medium. And our means to trace current artwork isn’t restricted to comics and tv: we don’t even know the date that Tremendous Mario Brothers was launched for the NES right here within the States.

Whereas I’ve mentioned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in depth, it’s hardly the one work in fashionable consciousness or from distinguished creators that’s at present misplaced. Let me present you some materials that’s unavailable to the general public, whether or not it was destroyed, locked in a creator’s vault, or misplaced for authorized causes.

  • Will Eisner’s Hawk of the Seas
  • The Batman – The fullscreen model is on the market, however it was initially produced in 16:9. I’ve seen it streaming on Netflix, however by no means out there in some other format.
  • Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog (500+ points) – Even once they have been publishing it, the collection was poorly collected. Now, it’s doubtless misplaced to authorized limbo.
  • A Nero Wolfe Thriller (2001) – There have been a number of cutscenes within the North American launch, and it was not aired or placed on DVD in widescreen.
  • Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s romance comics
  • Mickey Mouseworks – Whereas all however two shorts have been repackaged to be proven as half of Disney’s Home of Mouse, that collection can also be misplaced.
  • DuckTales (1987) – Whereas out there on iTunes, some scenes are edited.
  • Disney’s The Little Mermaid TV collection
  • Physician Who – The BBC burned years of footage as a result of that they had no devoted archival division. Some episodes have been recovered. Many weren’t.
  • Dexter’s Laboratory – “Dial M for Monkey – Barbequor,” because of complaints about The Silver Spooner. “Dexter’s Rude Removal” – An unaired brief that was launched on YouTube however by no means aired on tv. The brief is now gone from YouTube utterly. Additionally lacking is Ego Journey, the finale film to the collection and long-form directorial debut of Genndy Tartakovsky.
  • Mickey Mouse ’90s strips – Written and drawn by quite a few Disney veterans, together with Floyd Norman. I used to be solely capable of finding one library within the nation that even had the newspapers it was printed in.
  • Love’s Labours Gained – It even occurred to Shakespeare. We don’t know if the play is actual. We don’t know what occurred to it. Take a second and mirror on that, please.
  • Watchmen RPG – Written with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, giving context and further bits of info to the story. At present out of print.
  • The supply code for nearly each NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES recreation, many of which have been saved on paper. And at the very least one studio’s archives, unsurprisingly, caught hearth.

I do know there’s extra. Issues that I didn’t embrace that I find out about. The record would go on too lengthy if I did. However even when I didn’t care concerning the size, I can’t record the whole thing of what I’m conversant in for precisely the identical purpose I wrote this text: they’re misplaced. For all of the issues that I do know are gone or are in peril of being misplaced, it’s nothing in comparison with what’s already gone.

I’m wondering what else simply had its final copy thrown away or deleted when you have been studying this text.


If you wish to learn Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, right here’s my greatest options for a way to try this with out breaking the financial institution—meaning the stuff that’s in print, even when it’s not essentially in its unique format. Perhaps they’ll see that the curiosity for the originals is there. (The hyperlinks are affiliate hyperlinks.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 1)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Final Assortment Quantity 1
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Final Assortment Quantity 2
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Final Assortment Quantity three
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Final Assortment Quantity Four
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Final Assortment Quantity 5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity 2
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity three
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity Four
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity 5
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity 6
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity 7
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legends: Soul’s Winter by Michael Zulli

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Brief Tales

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Final Assortment Quantity 6

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 1)

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Omnibus Quantity 1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity Eight
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity 9
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Quantity 10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity three)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles City Legends Quantity 1

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Quantity 2)

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Omnibus Quantity 1
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity three
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity Four
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity 5
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity 6
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity 7
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Quantity Eight

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