Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Snippets #26: January 29, 1985

       This is from a January 29, 1985 letter to Brad Foster, minicomic publisher:

       "Thanks for all the kind words and congratulations. Rather than watch and worry about when this bubble is going to burst (if it does), Kevin and I are going to try to keep our noses to the grindstone and try to keep producing a book that at least some people will want to read. The success of these first two books still seems a bit unreal to me, like it's happening to someone else… I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of, after years of slaving away at the drawing board and feeling like everything you'd done had gone unnoticed, finally doing something that people actually want to pay money for! It's a nice feeling… I hope it lasts.

       I'm still a little hesitant about spending any of my money on special goodies and treats (because of the lurking fear that TMNT will go down the proverbial tubes and leave me floundering once more) but I do have to take the bull by the horns in this one case and send you the $27.00 for a copy of One Year's Worth. I appreciate your offer of deducting the cost of the TMNT figures, but those were a gift to you. I hope you have good luck in selling the remainder of the OY'sW's. (?)

       Kev and i would love to get out to the fabled and legendary San Diego Comic Con this year, but I'm not sure if our resources will allow it. Exactly when is it, anyway? I don't know if the car we have would hold up on a cross-country trip like that… it's kind of a long drive from Connecticut to California. How do you get there?

       I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens… maybe we'll be too busy with TMNTs and other projects to go anywhere. But it would be fun… I've never been to the west coast."

        [Here we have some more evidence of our -- or at least my -- reluctance back in early 1985 to believe that this Turtle thing was going to continue. At the time, that seemed a sensible way to proceed.

       Kevin and I would make our way out to the San Diego Comicon that very year... and we didn't drive.

       Brad Foster was (and I think still is) a prolific independent publisher through his company "Jabberwocky Graphix", publishing his own and many other artists' work. I believe he was one of Kevin Eastman's first publishers, and I think I drew a couple of things for Brad as well. -- PL]

Snippets #25: January 6, 1985

This one is from a January 6, 1985 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "Whew!!! Finally all the turtles are counted and boxed, the last few UPS pickups are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I can now get back to doing real stuff, like writing letters and drawing.


       The biggest and best news here is that Kevin is definitely moving to Sharon on Feb. 1. I don't know if I already told you about this, so it might not be news. Anyway, you know that the whole thing had been kind of up in the air and vague as to when and if he would be moving down here. I was starting to feel that he would soon be so settled into his comfortable apartment and job in Portland that it would be nigh unto impossible for him to overcome the inertia and move. Last week I had a long conversation with him on the phone and expressed a lot of my doubts and misgivings. I suggested that he should try to move down here by the end of January.

        I was pretty bummed out, because it seemed to me that Kevin had lost the impetus that was propelling him to continue Mirage Studios, and it was looking like the whole Turtles thing would go up in smoke, just as it was starting to take off. Well, the next day I was moping around the house when I got a surprise call from Kevin, who informed me that he had made up his mind to go for it, and come down to Sharon. Needless to say, I was quite happy with his decision. He's already given his notice at the sandwich shop (he'll be able to work there through the end of February), and he'll be coming down here on a bus on January 1! Yahoo!!! No we can really start to smoke.

       I'm enclosing a Xerox of a cartoon that appeared in this week's issue of the Comics Buyer's Guide which may be incomprehensible to you, and for good reason -- it is an "in-joke" about current comics. But the obvious reason I am sending it to you is that it features none other than the turtles! As far as I know, this is their first published appearance outside of our book and done by someone other than ourselves. Neat, huh? In that same issue of the Guide there is an ad which speaks for itself; I'm enclosing a copy of it for you."

      [Looking back, I can see how Kevin may have been having second thoughts. After all, this was a pretty big move, away from a comfortable, known life and employment, and a big leap of faith that this Turtles/Mirage Studios thing was going to have "legs". It could have turned out to be the classic "flash in the pan", and then where would he be? Stuck in the wilds of northwest Connecticut, looking for another job.

       In the end, he did make the choice to move to Sharon, and the rest is history. I tend to think it was the right choice... but of course I am biased. 

       Detail note: The timeline in this sentence:

        "He's already given his notice at the sandwich shop (he'll be able to work there through the end of February), and he'll be coming down here on a bus on January 1!"

       ... doesn't seem to make much sense. I suspect I inadvertently flipped the months around, because in another letter dated February 25, I mention Kevin arriving in Sharon on February 1. -- PL

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Snippets #24: December 7, 1984

       This is from a December 7, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "I finally got our second car -- the Hornet -- completely street legal by bringing it to Winsted and passing the emissions test (no, I didn't pass it, the car did). Or course, it cost me $70 in tune-up work to get it to pass, but what's money, right? It is a load off my mind, though. Because I was only eight miles away, I boogied down to Torrington and stopped in at the comic store, where I sold 100 copies of TMNT #2 to Jack, the owner. He's probably going to buy another 100 for himself and 300 for some dealer friends of his next week, when (I hope!) they will be ready. He also said that when he gets them, he will make a big display of them in his window where he usually displays the comics he's gotten in that week.
       I had high hopes that the book would be ready by today, but I think it will probably be next week sometime. You know what it's like with printers… they say two weeks and mean three. I stopped in at the printer's yesterday, to get the acetate overlay (which has the book's title and logo on it) so I could make copies of the cover to TMNT #4 (which I just finished drawing) to send to Kevin, and I talked for about a minute with our man Chuck Bradley. He seemed pretty frazzled; apparently they are backed up with work until January. He's not a real easy guy to talk with anyway. He's definitely not as friendly nor as interested as Ken Keller (our former printer in Dover) was. I just hope he does a good job on the cover and binding.
       We've run into a little problem with TMNT #2; namely, inadvertently overselling ourselves! I counted wrong, and we're going to end up shorting our last order by 1100 copies (he ordered 1600). I'm going to try to sell him five hundred copies if he wants them, and I wrote him a letter to that effect. That will leave us with about 400 copes for our archives, where originally I had planned to save 1000. I also wrote to Bud Plant, Seagate, and Westfield Comics (all of whom said they wanted lots of copies) and told them they were not getting any. I feel like a schmuck. but what can I do? I mean, we just don't have the numbers of copies that we would need to satisfy all these guys. Anyway, if they don't feel obligated to get their purchase orders to me tres vite (that's French for very fast), then the heck with them. Tom Flynn of Capital sent his order right after I talked with him on the phone Monday night -- I got it Tuesday afternoon, delivered to the house by Federal Express!" 

       [The comic book store in Torrington which was mentioned in the first paragraph had perhaps the greatest name of any comic book store ever: "My Mother Threw Mine Away". I think I wrote about this place in another blog entry. Kevin and I made regular trips down to Torrington to go to this store and get our weekly fix of new comics.
       A few years ago, while motorcycling down in Connecticut, I discovered that "My Mother Threw Mine Away" had not gone out of business, but migrated to another town. I stopped in and discovered that the same guy, Jack, was still running the store.

       I don't remember all of the details of the numbers snafu referred to in the last paragraph, but I do recall that it was awkward and embarrassing. I can only say that we were still learning the business. There was no Internet for instantaneous communication and attendant records of such (i.e. email), and sometimes -- even with the best of intentions -- things fell through the proverbial cracks. This was, remember, back when we were not only writing and drawing the books, but also hand-counting and packing all of the copies of each issue, then shipping them out in smallish cartons via UPS... which took a WHOLE lot of time and effort.

       If memory serves, even though a few of the distributors did not get exactly what they first wanted, we made it up to them on the next book or next printing with some kind of special deals. Again, I don't remember exactly what happened, so I could be misremembering that too.

       In any event, it was a momentary blip, and as we learned more about how to run a self-publishing company, things kept getting smoother.

       Looking at today's date and the date this letter was written, I just realized that they are separated by almost exactly thirty years. -- PL]

Snippets #23: November 27, 1984

       This is from a November 27, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

       "Speaking of "Turtles", you will note that this envelope contains a small surprise. Aren't they just too cute to live? I got these samples in the mail today, and I love 'em! They also sent us a hand-painted set that looks really nice. It's great… this is quite a unique experience for me, seeing actual toys made from characters that I had a hand in creating. Maybe I can get them to do a Fugitoid figure…!

       Yesterday I finally brought the artwork for TMNT #2 to the printer and told him that we wanted 10,000 copies. Well, last night I got a call from one of our distributors and he informed me that rather than the 1000 copies he originally ordered, he now wants 3000! And maybe more! I told him that I wasn't sure if we would have enough copies to fill that order, and he suggested that he would prepay us so that we could have more printed -- if he could get a 70% discount (as opposed to the 60% discount we usually offer). I thought about it overnight, and this morning I called the printer and asked him if it was too late to up the print run to 15,000 copies. He said no, it wasn't too late, so now we have 15,000 copies in the works. AAAIIIEEEE!!!! In a couple of weeks from now, I'm going to be plenty busy packing and shipping these things out."

       [As you might guess, the "small surprise" mentioned in the first paragraph was one of the first sets of samples we'd gotten from Dark Horse Miniatures of the miniature lead TMNT figures, one of our first (self) licensed deals for a TMNT product. I remember being blown away by how cool those things were.
       And they DID do a Fugitoid figure! -- PL]

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snippets #22: September 27, 1984

This one is from a September 27, 1984 letter to my brother Bruce:

       "As you may know, Don was here for a two and a half day visit this past weekend, which was a lot of fun. One thing that he was amazed at was the amount of favorable reaction to our TMNT book from both the comics press and the comics-buying public. I showed him all the reviews and a bunch of the niftier letters that we have gotten. He really thinks that we have a potential goldmine on our hands, and we should act quickly to take advantage of all this initial success.

       I tend to agree… in fact, this past week I've gotten calls and letters from four different distributors asking about the reprint of#1 and the expected printing of #2. One of them, Seagate Distributors, we haven't even sent any material to! They have just been getting a lot of requests for the book from their dealers, and would have ordered 1000 copies of #1 right away if we had them. Westfield Comics wanted 500 #1's, Bud Plant wants 1000 #1's, and Capital wanted about another 1000. Seagate wants a first order of 2500 #2's, and Westfield wants 800 #2's, and I'm pretty sure that Bud Plant will want at least 1000 for his first order of #2. Yow!!! We have got to get this book out soon."

       [I have to give my brother Don credit for having some significant foresight here. 

       I wonder how many of the distributors mentioned in this letter are still in business? -- PL]

Friday, December 26, 2014

Snippets #21: August 10, 1984

       This one is taken from an August 10, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "Well, I finally got my replacement SmartBasic tape back from the Coleco company. I think I told you that the one that came with our computer turned out to be detective, and I had to send it back. It took a month to get here, and I had been chafing with impatience… I wanted to start learning Basic programming! Now I am… and it's really interesting, albeit in some ways confusing as heck. Not really confusing… more like very involved, with lots of new things to learn. It's sort of like learning a new language. But it's also a lot of fun; last night I skipped ahead in the book and started playing around with the graphics mode, which allows you to create on-screen graphics in fourteen different colors, just by typing in a series of number and letter commands. For example, by typing the following program (supplied by the instruction book):

       10 GR
       20 COLOR=INT(RND(1)*16)
       30 X=INT(RND(1)*40)
       40 Y=INT(RND(1)*40)
       50 PLOT X,Y
       60 GOT 20

and then typing RUN and pressing the return key, you get a constantly moving display which starts as a blank screen and gradually fills up with small, different-colored squares. It's fascinating to watch… the whole screen slowly fills up and the colors of each square (there must be about a few thousand of them) shift constantly. And it's all created by those six short lines of instructions! I haven't yet figured out what they all mean, but I'm working on it. Someday soon I hope to create a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Adventure game for the computer. I already have finished a low-resolution graphics program that is about one and a half pages long; it makes the computer spell out "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in bold block letters, the whole thing surrounded by two bold borders in different colors. Far out, huh?

       Speaking of "Turtlemania"…

       … Of the thirty-seven TMNT-filled boxes that were cluttering up the living room (boxes containing the six thousand copies of our second printing), there are now three left. Not bad, eh? I really hope that we can get the second issue out by November… it's getting increasingly difficult for Kevin and I to get together and work on it during these months he is in Ogunquit. And now his fellow lobster cook has fallen and broken his arm, so ol' Kev has twice as much work to do. But I remain confident. Not supremely confident, but confident nonetheless.
       One really neat thing concerning TMNT was the blurb that appeared in this week's issue of the Comics Buyer's Guide. It was in an afterword that was tacked onto a letter of mine that they printed, and I am enclosing a copy of it. Please note the sentences underlined. Pretty wild!"

       [I never got around to creating a TMNT adventure game on the ADAM computer, though I did create a little program which allowed Jeannine to average her students' grades, which was sort of useful.
       I can't recall what the thing from the Comics Buyer's Guide was. -- PL]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Snippets #20: July 23, 1984

       This is from a July 23, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

       "Before I go any further, I'd like to clear up what might be any miscomprehension on your part concerning the new high-tech addition to our family, namely the computer with which I am presently writing this letter. I wish I could say that Jen and I were not starving artists, and that the $600 we spent on this ADAM computer was just petty cash. Alas, such is not the case. We are still "starving" in our Dover garrett. What happened is that we were faced with the decision to buy or not buy a computer before we moved, the minuses being that the money we had with which to buy it was money that we might very well need to repair our funky car if it broke down in the next two months, or for some other emergency purpose, unforeseen at the present time. On the other hand… Montgomery Ward was having a sale on these ADAMs ($100 off regular price) and ADAM was the computer that we had been thinking about getting when we did get one. There was a special offer being advertised in the newspaper, whereby if you purchased an ADAM before September 15 of this year, you could receive free of charge a software library of 32 assorted programs. Jeannine, who is a little bit "technophobic", would have the rest of the summer to get used to the beast before starting her full-time teaching job in September, thus allowing her to start transferring her writing process from her typewriter to the computer over the next year, so next summer (when she will not be working) she will be prepared to really write like crazy on it. Even with all these reasons, though, it took a lot of thinking before we decided to take the plunge… and the risk… totay?

       I haven't started to use it for "Turtles" business yet, because we don't have the proper software for it yet. The turtles, by the way, are doing fine. Kevin came down last Wednesday and helped me sort and package about four thousand of them for shipping to our wholesalers, after getting them back from the printer on Tuesday. One bit of bum news was that the printer who did the newsprint insides of the book screwed up on a lot of the folding, with the result that when the printer who did the cover and the binding went to trim the books, a lot of them were incompletely trimmed, and Kevin and I had to go ahead and hand-trim about 500 of them. A mollifying factor is that we got about 250 more than we paid for, but it's still a drag.

       Two letters ago, I wrote and told you that the outlook was not good for Mirage Studios vis-a-vis Kevin moving with us to Sharon, and that our working relationship seemed on the point of changing for the worse. Well, things have gotten better, mainly because Kevin finally got his bicycle fixed, and has found that a ride down to Dover on his day off is not too taxing. So for the last two weeks he's been doing that, and we've gotten some work done, including plotting out the second issue. I've almost finished the cover artwork for it. And he is gung-ho for the move to Sharon, so he and I can continue to work together."

         [That ADAM computer started us off on a -- so far -- thirty-year-long association with personal computers, leading from that early model to the Atari ST, then to a variety of Apple Macintosh desktop models, followed by different portable, laptop Macs, currently a MacBook Pro (me) and MacBook Air (Jeannine). But even though its technology is -- to use Mr. Spock's great phrase from the original series' episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" -- kind of like "stone knives and bearskins" compared to these sleek new Mac laptops, I still have a great fondness for the ADAM computer.

       I'd forgotten that thing about trimming the badly-trimmed copies of TMNT #1 second printing, but it reminded me that we had to do something similar with some copies of issue #2 when we were in Connecticut. What a pain! 

       The stuff about Kevin possibly not moving down to Sharon is once again a reminder of how things might have turned out quite differently, had certain events not happened as they did. -- PL]

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Snippets #19: July 10, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop

       This one is from a July 10, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "This Thursday or Friday I should be getting 6000 more "Turtles" back from the printer. Maybe I'll try to get Chris to help me drive them to the house. Once they're here, I have to start packaging and shipping them to the wholesalers who have preordered their books. That's another reason I am glad that I am done with my drawing work for the moment, because I want to get these in and out as soon as possible. I do not want to have to move several thousand "Turtles" to Sharon!
       Kevin and I are trying to get started on #2 of TMNT, but it's kind of hard to do that with him working in Ogunquit. We were supposed to get together on Wednesday last week (his one day off) but he got involved in some extra work and couldn't make it down. We're hoping to get it together this Wednesday, but who knows."

     [That 6000 copies of TMNT #1 mentioned here was the second printing of that issue -- something we'd had no idea we'd be doing about two months after the first printing... we were quite worried that we'd be sitting on copies of the first printing for a long time. But they went fast!

      And it really was a good thing that Jeannine and I did not have to haul lots of unsold copies of that second printing to Sharon. because as I recall, the U-Haul truck we'd rented for that moved was stuffed to the gills with our belongings -- I don't think we could have fit in another single box of TMNT comics.

       It's interesting to read that we were already trying to work on issue #2 of TMNT even before we moved to Sharon. I suppose the obvious (and surprising to us) success of the first issue emboldened us to think people wanted more Turtles.

       I guess they did! -- PL]

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Snippets #18: May 17, 1984

       This is from a May 17, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

       "Things are happening here in Turtleland, albeit somewhat slowly. . We are still selling single copies through the mail, getting an average of about five orders per day. We did manage to sell about 250 copies at the convention on May 5th, and made contact with some dealers who bought some more last Sunday. Kevin and I also talked at length with two other artists who were guests of the convention, Steve and Darla Woron. They do a comic book called "The Survivors" for a new company in Connecticut, and this past Sunday when I was talking to Ralph DiBernardo, one of the dealers at the weekly flea market in Newington, Ralph mentioned that he had gotten a letter from Steve Woron saying that Spectrum Comics (his publisher) might be interested in publishing our book How real that interest is will have to be seen, but doing the book that way would certainly eliminate a lot of the hassles for us.
       For me, especially. I am currently doing all the bookkeeping, mailing, banking, etc. for Mirage Studios. Kevin is no longer around to help with this stuff. Last week he left to go back to work at the lobster restaurant in Ogunquit where he has worked for the last three summers. I can't say I didn't have an inkling that it might happen, because I knew that the manager of the restaurant was making a lot of appealing overtures to Kevin to get him to come back to work at the restaurant. You see, the problem was thus: The restaurant had been jointly owned by two partners, one of whom actually ran the business, while the other one was a silent partner. Well, last year the active partner sold out to the silent partner, leaving that guy with a restaurant to open in the summer and no real experience in doing it. Kevin, having worked there for three summers, did have that experience, and the new manager wanted him to come back. Kevin originally agreed to, then changed his mind when he got the job at the hotel in Dover a couple of months ago. But the restaurant manager kept after him, finally offering him a very lucrative deal: To work there for the summer, Kevin would be paid $7.00 per hour ($11 per hour for overtime), with a $400.00 bonus at the end of the summer… and Kevin would be given room and board free. This greatly appealed to Kevin, who had been concerned about making enough money this summer to be able to move to Connecticut with us in the fall. He wasn't sure if he could make enough by working at the hotel. The flip side of all this is that if he did take the Ogunquit job, any Mirage Studios work would be effectively ended for the summer. Also, because of the nature of the Ogunquit job, he would have very little, if any, time to draw… whereas working at the hotel in Dover he was finding it possible to do quite a bit of drawing on the job.  In addition, he just wasn't working as many hours in Dover as he would be in Ogunquit. So you can see that it was not an easy decision to make.
       And while I can understand why he made the decision that he did, I am still disappointed. I wonder now if he will come with us to Connecticut, so Mirage Studios can continue. He has said he will… I guess it's the sudden change that has left me feeling uncertain.
       Anyway, now that Kevin's not here, I am doing all the MIrage Studios work. Kevin and I worked out a scheme before he left where I would get paid a nominal amount for the work I was doing: 10% of gross receipts, payable each week. It's not much, but it helps somewhat."

       [Obviously, a deal with Spectrum Comics never happened, and I don't think we ever actually got a real offer from them. But it is interesting to consider what the fate of the TMNT property -- and, indeed, Spectrum Comics -- might have been like had we done a publishing deal with them. -- PL]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Snippets #17: April 30, 1984

       This one is from April 30, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

       "The mood in Turtleland is one of growing excitement as the day of the Portsmouth comic book convention draws ever closer. Our full-page ad came out this week in the Comics Buyer's Guide, and it looks pretty spiffy. Hopefully that will generate more orders. We are continuing to receive a trickle of orders generated by the press releases that we sent out, and are starting to get orders for t-shirt iron-on's from the ad sheets that we sent out with the books.
       This should also be the week that we see ourselves all over the local print media. The first story on the turtles came out yesterday in the Portsmouth Sunday Herald; I'll try to include a copy of it with this letter. It's pretty cute. The Free Press and the Transcript should have our stories when they come out tomorrow, and Foster's Daily Democrat will probably run their piece on the Turtles this Friday in their feature magazine. We've also been mentioned in Portsmouth Magazine and re:Ports; we may also be featured on the cover of re:Ports (which is a weekly rag covering entertainment in the seacoast area) next Friday. We're keeping our fingers crossed.
       What could be either the biggest publicity we get, or turn out to be absolutely nothing, is that UPI (United Press International) might be interested in doing a story on us. I sent a press release to their Boston offices on a lark, not expecting that anything would come of it. But last week I got a call from a woman at UPI who asked me to send her a copy of the book and some more information, and said that UPI might (and I emphasize MIGHT) want to do a piece on us. If they did, it would be fantastic! But being the semi-realist that I am, I'm not holding my breath."

       [As previously mentioned, UPI did, in fact, do that story, complete with photograph, and we got a boatload of publicity from it. What a stroke of luck! 
       Of course, it's also true that, had we not taken the initiative and sent out that press release to UPI, it is extremely unlikely that they would have ever taken notice of us and our little comic book. So I guess it wasn't ALL luck. -- PL]

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snippets #16: April 27, 1984

       This one is from an April 27, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "Here's another dispatch from Turtle  land!

We are cautiously optimistic; the initial response seems to be positive. We just got some nice notes in the mail today saying that the book was, and I quote, "Gorgeous! Better than "Ronin"! Better than "Daredevil"! Better than "Cerebus"? Well, almost! Great alternative reading for all those "heavy" books." That was from a guy in Louisiana.
       We had the last of our interviews on Wednesday, and are waiting for them to appear in the papers. One may appear today, and if it does I will include it with this letter and mail it out to you tomorrow. Actually, our interviewing might not be over, because yesterday I got two calls from interested parties. One was from the UNH school newspaper; they might send a reported over to do a story on us. The other was even more interesting -- a woman from UPI (United Press International) called and asked me to send them a copy of the book, as they might be interested in doing a story on us. UPI, as I'm sure you know, is a BIG news wire service that is as its name implies, international. I sent a press release to their Boston office as a sort of joke; I really didn't expect anything to come of it. Maybe nothing will… but the possibilities are exciting.
       Today we also got in the mail three tear sheets from the upcoming edition of the Comics Buyer's Guide, sent to us as "proofs" for our full-page ad that will run in the next issue."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Snippets #15: April 26, 1984

This is from an April 26, 1984 letter to Amy Blumenthal (of United Press International):

"Dear Ms. Blumenthal,

        Thank you for your call in response to our press release concerning our new comic book, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". We appreciate your interest, and would be happy to discuss the book further with you or another representative of UPI. Our schedules are fairly flexible, and I am usually at home in case you would like to call during the day. (Kevin Eastman and I run Mirage Studios out of our home in Dover.)
        I am enclosing a copy of the comic book, along with some more information about Mirage Studios and the other "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" products that we are marketing. (At present, we are only selling t-shirt transfers in addition to the book itself, but we hope to do a poster in the near future.)
        Hopefully, my next statement will not seem egotistical, but… I think that there is an interesting story to be written here, not just about our comic book, but also concerning the great diversification and expansion that has transformed the comics industry in the last few years.
        Thank you again for your interest, and we hope to hear from you soon.


        Peter A. Laird"

       [As diehard Turtle fans know, this UPI connection resulted in a windfall of free publicity for the TMNT comic, as this story went all over the country, and possibly around the world. We literally could not have paid for that much press. Thirty years later, I still feel grateful to Ms. Blumenthal for her interest and efforts. -- PL]

Snippets #14: April 18, 1984

       This snippet is from an April 18, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "This Monday, after much anxious waiting and several postponed delivery times, we  finally got the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" back from the printer. (By the time you read this letter, Chris will probably have gotten the two copies that she ordered.) I drove up to New Hampshire Printers in the rain, and stuffed the little Vega with 3000 copies, thankfully all boxed. Actually, we got about 275 extra copies, because of a printer's overrun… it didn't cost us anything extra, thank goodness! Now all those boxes full of comics are sitting in our living room, making the whole house smell of printer's ink. We immediately mailed out all the orders that we had received, plus about another 20 as review copies to magazines and to potential distributors. The bad news about the mailing is that we discovered that it costs us 71 cents to mail out a single copy. That, combined with 13.5 cents for each envelope, plus 9 cents for a Xeroxed insert that we are sending with each mail order, makes our shipping cost 93.5 cents per copy. If our mail order customers send us $2.00 per issue, that leaves us with $1.06. From that we have to subtract 50 cents for printing and advertising costs per copy, and we're left with a fantastic profit margin of 50.65 cents per copy. Far out, huh?
       In any event, we are currently too thrilled at having the books in our hands to be too upset about a meager profit margin. Both Kevin and I think the book came out very nicely, especially the cover, which I think makes the whole thing look very professional. We are happy with the finished product, and (hopefully!) our buyers will be too. I think that the convention will prove to be a lot of fun; Kev and I are both psyched-up for it. We're each doing a large color drawing of the turtles to hang on the wall behind our table at the convention; Kevin's is actually a full-acrylic painting on canvas. We are also starting to get some results from the press releases that we sent out to local news organs; I was interviewed over the phone by a reporter for a local radio station yesterday (unfortunately I forgot to ask him what radio station he was with), and today we got a call from a reporter from Foster's Daily Democrat, the Dover paper, and he wants to do a feature story on our book. We're going to talk to him next week.
       In the meantime, I am working on the Moxie ad artwork. I would much rather be doing turtles, but I need this money. Today I'm mailing off to the Peace Development Fund in Amherst several drawings that they commissioned. Hopefully they will pay me for them soon."

       [The convention mentioned in the second paragraph was the Portsmouth, NH comic convention where on May 5, 1984, Kevin and I "premiered" the TMNT comic book. 

       The "little Vega" mentioned in the first paragraph was the little shitbox car which Jeannine and I owned, a notoriously (though we didn't know it at the time we bought it) low-quality machine which -- after conking out several times and leaving us stranded -- made every drive a white-knuckle experience. It eventually ended up in the hands of some neighbors of ours in Sharon, CT, shortly before we moved from there, and I think they basically drove it around a little dirt track they'd made on their property. I suspect it has long since been recycled... or perhaps it sits in that very field, slowly returning to the earth.

      One of the promotional things which happened around the time this letter was written was a short video piece done on us and the Turtles by a local (I think Durham, NH-based) public TV station. I wish I had a copy of that. 

       It's funny to recall that Kevin and I actually, seriously thought for a little while that a good business plan would be to sell the entire print run of TMNT #1 as single copies, through mail order direct to customers. I'm glad we wised up and went with the wholesale thing. It made life a LOT simpler.

       One of the neat things about these old letters is the inclusion of small details which I had long forgotten. Case in point -- having all those boxes of freshly printed TMNT comics "making the whole house smell of printer's ink". I suspect that given my wife's sensitive nose, especially for artificial scents like that, having the house reek of printer's ink was not the most pleasant thing for her. However, I don't recall her complaining.

       At least the boxes didn't stay around too long, thanks to the unexpected demand for that first issue. -- PL]


Monday, December 15, 2014

Snippets #13: March 28, 1984

       This is from a March 28, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

"The Turtles are finished. We did manage to stay on schedule… in fact, we surpassed our schedule, and had all the artwork done by March 19. This Monday I brought all the stuff to the printer, and we are currently waiting for it to be printed. Hopefully, that will be accomplished within a few weeks. I wrote up and sent out a press release to all the major comics fanzines, hoping tat we might get some free publicity (our advertising budget is a very frayed shoestring). Wonder of wonders! -- This week in the Comics Buyer's Guide, a weekly magazine/newspaper devoted to comics and distributed nationally, our press release was reprinted almost word for word, along with a piece of art that we had sent along with it. The space it took up would have cost us about forty-five dollars. I'll send along a reduced Xerox of the page so you can check it out.
Yesterday I got a call from a guy out near Concord, NH, who saw the notice in the Guide and wanted to know what our plans for distribution are. He does some distributing  of comics to stores in his area, and may want to deal some of our turtle books. I didn't give him a definite yes or no, as we are going to wait 'til after the convention before we start dealing with dealers. Also, he said that he would probably want to pay 40% of cover for the book -- supposedly that is the same amount that he pays another major distributor for comics. However, that would mean we'd only make 25 cents per book… not exactly what we would like to make. We'll wait and see; if the book really sells well through mail orders, we''ll sell it that way. But if it is really slow-moving, we'll probably bite the bullet and try to unload them on distributors.


Probably the biggest news up here is that Jeannine has found a teaching job for next year, after filling out many applications. Amazingly enough (and to her relief),  she was offered the position after her first interview!….. The school is in Falls Village, Connecticut; she'll be teaching high school English there. So, come September, we will no longer be residents of New Hampshire. Kevin will probably move with us, so that he and I can continue Mirage Studios. Far out, huh?"

     [As mentioned before, we DID "bite the bullet" and sell to distributors at wholesale prices. Just goes to show how little we knew about the way this business was typically done when we started out in it.
     At this late date, I can't remember who the "guy out near Concord, NH" was, and if we ever ended up doing business with him. 
      In hindsight (which, as we all know, is 20/20), it's ironic that the "biggest news" when I wrote this letter was Jeannine finding a teaching job -- and NOT the first issue of the TMNT being done and about to be printed, something that would change all our lives radically. But that's life -- at that time, Jeannine's new job WAS way more important than our goofy little comic book. -- PL]

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Snippets #12: March 26, 1984

This is from a March 26, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

"This afternoon I have an appointment with the New Hampshire Printers -- I am bringing the turtle book to them. It is completely finished, art-wise, and with luck the printing of it will be done in two weeks. Kevin's uncle did agree to finance the book, and he gave us a check last week. We are going to have three thousand of the books printed; hopefully we will sell a greater percentage of them than Don and I did of the "Calendar of the Gods". We have already placed a full-page ad in the Comics Buyer's Guide which should appear the week before the Portsmouth Mini-Con (the comics convention at which we will premiere the turtles). I'll send you a copy of the flyer that was made up for the convention -- it's alright, but I think they should have had Kevin and I do it. I can't remember if I sent you one of the press releases that I wrote up for the turtle book… I sent out nine of them to the major comics-related magazines, hoping to get some free publicity. Around the end of April, we're going to send out a bunch to the local media -- maybe some paper or local TV station will want to do a human-interest story on "local boys create own comic book" or something of that nature. In any event, I'll send you one of them.


P.P.P.S. I got my Comics Buyer's Guide in the mail today, and what do you know! -- They mentioned our book! So I'm also enclosing a Xerox of the page."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Snippets #11: March 2, 1984

This is from a March 2, 1984 letter to my brother Don:

"Right now, I am in the middle of a major project with Kevin. We are attempting to put together the first issue of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", for publication in late April. This is our biggest effort to date; 40 pages plus covers. It's been pretty crazy -- we thought up the idea in December, decided we wanted to do the artwork on this special kind of paper that costs $7.20 per sheet (we could fit 3 pages on each sheet, but just barely), had many discussions about whether we wanted or could spend the money on that paper (actually it was Kevin's money to be spent), and finally ordered 14 sheets of it from an art supply store in New York City in January. Of course, we couldn't start drawing the thing until that paper got here, so until about a week ago we were on tenterhooks, wondering if it would get here in time. You see, we have set a pretty tight schedule for finishing the art: pencils and lettering finished by the end of February, and start inking by March 1, finishing an average of a page and a half every day. That would allow us to bring the completed, camera-ready artwork to the printer by the first week in April, and. allowing the printer two weeks for printing, we should have the book ready for sale by the fourth week in April. Just in time, too, for we have committed ourselves to premiering the book at the Portsmouth Comics Convention being held May 5th. We have already paid for the table, and have started advertising, that we will be there. Whew! So, as you might imagine, the next two months will be filled with a frenzy of activity.

Of course, all this may come to naught if we can't get up the money to print the book. As I will explain further on in this letter, I have NO money, and Kevin has only his IRS refund of approximately $500, which is supposed to arrive sometime in March. To get the book printed with the minimum acceptable quality, so it won't repel potential buyers, we will have to have $750 to print 1000, or $1500 to print 5000. Take a look at those figures, and try to guess which scenario is more attractive. If we have 1000 printed, the unit cost is 75 cents per book; if we have 5000 printed, the cost to us per copy plummets to 30 cents! Obviously, we would prefer to spend twice as much and get FIVE TIMES as many copies, because the profit potential is so much greater. But as it stands now, we don't have enough to print 1000. I really don't know where we are going to get the money; and if we don't get it, then all our plans and work go down the tubes, and the "Turtles" book goes back on the shelf, publication postponed to who-knows-when. There is a possibility that one of Kevin's uncles may be willing to loan us some money, but it is still uncertain how much… and for that matter, whether he will.

All this is further complicated by our (Jeannine's and my) financial state. Until a couple of days ago, I hadn't realized how desperate it is going to get for us come May. Together we have perhaps $700 in the bank, and come May, Jen will no longer have her job. I am still making dribs and drabs of money, illustrating jobs being scarce of late -- maybe $200 per month. Add to that rent and utilities expenses of close to $400 for the summer months (each month) AND the fact that we have to move out of Dover by the end of the summer (Jeannine will have graduated, and we have no reason to stay), and you will perhaps see why I am starting to feel the icy fingers of despair probing my being… or something like that. I'm trying to maintain some level of confidence and cheer, but it is somewhat difficult with imminent financial doom staring me in the face."

       [Interesting... here I make mention of our having created the TMNT concept in December of 1983 -- that's close to the November 1983 date I thought I saw on that letter which at the moment I cannot find.

       I remember quite clearly the anxiety produced by having to wait for that "special kind of paper" (which real TMNT fans know is the Graphix Duo-Shade illustration board upon which we drew many of those early issues) to arrive. We literally could not start drawing the pages until we got that shipment, and there was definitely some nail-biting happening. 

       It's interesting to ponder what might have happened had we managed to get enough money together to print 5000 copies of that first issue, or, alternatively, if we'd only raised enough to print 1000. -- PL]

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snippets #10: February 10, 1984

from February 10, 1984 to my brother Don

"I'm glad you liked Fugitoid,... but what did you think of the teenage mutant ninja turtles? I think I sent you the character sheets for them. Kevin and I are going ahead with their first issue, a 40-page opus which may turn out to be a one-shot. We are starting to look around for financing and/or a publisher and/or a printer. What a drag it is not to have money! If we had what Nancy Raygun spent on just one place setting for the White House, we could publish our book. Once of the expenses in doing the "Turtles"book is the paper we are doing it on -- for one 17" by 24" sheet, it costs (GULP!) $7.20. We hope to be able to cut up each sheet so we can get three pages out of each one, but it will be tight. Anyway, doing the book should be a blast -- I'm having a lot of fun drawing sketches of the turtles."

"Ol' Kev and I went to a small comic book convention that was held in Portsmouth last Saturday. It was fun… we browsed through thousands of old comics, even buying a few. We also talked for awhile with a guy who was the "special guest" at the con; he's the artist of one of the new alternatively published comics titled "The Survivors"…….

Anyway, we had a pleasant conversation with him,  and listened to his criticism of it. The amusing thing was that the main character in his book looks (facially) almost exactly like him. You think the 'toid looks like me or Kevin?"

"Kevin thinks that he may take up on a job offer that he received last week; one of his old bosses at the lobster restaurant in Ogunquit wants him to work there from May through September, fifty hours a week at $7.00 per hour. Of course, that means that Mirage Studios' output would slow down to a crawl… but Kevin wold be able to save some money to enable him to then move to wherever we end up. That way, Mirage Studios could continue.

And what is Mirage Studios doing these days, anyway? Well, to be honest we have not yet gotten a paying job. We have turned out a lot of artwork: 25 pages of FUGITOID, the ninja turtles sketches, numerous other drawings, lots of color samples, and some greeting card designs. We have sent out Mirage Studios samples sheets to twenty or so people who requested them. We have many ideas cooking away… and we've had a lot of fun."

      [It's interesting to read in that first snippet that we were "... starting to look around for financing and/or a publisher and/or a printer". I've always told people -- because this is the way I remember it -- that we never considered trying to strike a deal with another publisher to do the TMNT, and that we were always planning to self-publish it from day one. Well, apparently we DID briefly consider looking for a publisher... but it must have been VERY brief, because until I reread this letter, I didn't remember it, and I know we never approached anyone with the idea. -- PL]

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Snippets #9: November 8, 1983 and January 23, 1984

       This is from a November 8, 1983 letter to my brother Bruce:

       "Having Kevin here is a definite inspiration. We've just finished the second ten pages of our robot story, "FUGITOID", and will be sending it off to whoever wants it. We sent the first ten pages off to three different "alternative" comics companies last month, and so far have heard from one -- they thought it was nicely done, but it didn't fit into their publishing scenario."


       The following two snippets are from a January 23, 1984 to my brother Don:

"Dear Don,

  Gahonk! It is already the twenty-third day of the new year, and I am not a millionaire yet. What am I doing wrong? I thought for sure by this time some wise and enterprising publisher would have snapped up "FUGITOID", and ol' Kevin and I would be relaxing in our hot tub at our studio near the ocean. I guess I'll just have to wait a few more weeks."

       "Kev and i have completed the next chapter of "FUGITOID" and I will endeavor to send you a copy with this letter. We have also started on another comic book project called -- are you ready for this? -- "The Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles"! I know it sounds bizarre, but I think it will be a lot of fun. The title is kind of an "in-joke", understandable to regular comics readers; it refers obliquely to the proliferation recently in comics of teenage mutant superheroes and ninjas. Maybe I'll send you the character sheets that we have worked up."

       [The line in the second snippet from the January 23, 1984 letter, above, is the first mention of the TMNT which I have found during my letter transcription project. However...
       ... I could have sworn that about a year and a half ago, while looking through old letters, I came upon one -- and it was another letter to Don -- from November of 1983, and in it I mentioned the new concept that Kevin and I had come up with -- "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". I also remember that letter as being from the 23rd of November, 1983.
       Unfortunately, I cannot now lay my hands on that letter, and I am wondering if I mixed up the months... and THIS is the letter that I thought I'd written in November of 1983.
       In any event, it's only a difference of two months -- and it IS still possible that Kevin and I had come up with the germ of the idea in late November of 1983, and only started really working on it by late January of 1984. I'm going to continue to keep my eye out for that letter... and hopefully it will turn up. -- PL]

Snippets #8: September 7, 1983

       This is from a letter to my brother Bruce:

       "I have been plugging away at work, though I've been feeling a certain lack of inspiration lately. The one thing that has inspired me is the discovery of a method of doing full-color t-shirt transfers (the iron-on type), using a color Xerox machine. You can copy just about anything, as long as it measures 8 1/2 by 14 inches or less, and the iron it on to any t-shirt or sweatshirt or whatever. They're cheap, too -- only $1.80 per copy. The only major marketing problem that I see now is that they don't seem to be very durable. I'm going to experiment with some different procedures to decrease the fading that happens when the shirts/transfers are washed. Stay tuned…!
  By the time you get this, it's altogether possible that Kevin will have moved into our house, to become our new (and only) housemate. We're hoping that this will help Mirage Studios to take off."

     [As hardcore TMNT fans know, those iron-on t-shirt transfers were our first bit of TMNT merchandise, and I don't think we sold many of them. But they were fun to do, and fun to wear -- I remember having a few shirts decorated with that artwork. Yes, they did fade, and significantly so, but not so much, in my experience anyway, so as to not be readable.
       The copy shop in Portsmouth, where we had these iron-ons made with their high-tech color laser printer, is gone now -- there is a health food store in that space currently.

       As you can see in this snippet, when this letter was written, we were probably only days away from having Kevin move in to the Dover house... and, though there's no way we could have predicted it, only a couple of months away from the creation of the TMNT -- something which would go on to change our lives radically within a few years. 

       I've always found it interesting that we formed MIrage Studios with the intention of becoming an illustrating team and doing all kinds of cool artwork for a variety of clients... and that never happened. Instead, our work together went in a completely different direction. The best-laid plans, right? -- PL]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Snippets #7: July 18, 1983 and August 17, 1983

       This is from a July 18, 1983 letter to my brother Don:

"Since I was last at this terminal, several important things have happened: we've got a new roommate to move into our house, we got your letter Saturday, and we have decided on a way to visit you.
First things first… when we went to Ogunquit today to visit Kevin, we asked him about the possibility of his wanting to live with us in Dover in the fall, and he said yes! So after he finishes work at the lobster restaurant (sometime around September 20) he will move to Dover. I am excited! Now maybe Mirage Studios can move forward. We are both glad, Jen and I, that we don't have to go through the dreary process of finding a roommate now. Groovy, huh?"


        This is from an August 17, 1983 letter to Jeannine (probably when she was away for two weeks at the Breadloaf writing conference):

"I also got two messages from Kevin, who has been working an extra eight hours per week, which means a total of seventy hours. Yikes! I tried to call him at Johnny's Oarweed last night, but the phones are so squinky with the strike going on that I never even was connected with the restaurant. Fortunately, Kev called me this morning, and we are going to get together next Monday, and he'll give me September's rent. He sounded really excited about moving to Dover, and apologized for not getting in touch… though I think he has a pretty good excuse, what with the schedule he's been working."

       [Reading some of these letters reminds me that if a few small things had not turned out the way they did, Mirage Studios might have never gotten under way in any serious form, and there would almost certainly have been no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Would the world have been better or worse off? The jury's still out. -- PL]

Snippets #6: April 28 and July 15, 1983

       This is from an April 28, 1983, letter to my brother Don:

"I'm still working with Kevin on our various projects, though it is hard to get in touch with him as he has moved and has no phone now. But I'm probably going to see him sometime this weekend, and of course he'll have a pile of new stuff that he's whipped out. The guy is pro-lific!"

       [One of the things which always impressed me about Kevin -- really from the very first time we inked each other's penciled drawings -- was his amazing energy. He had a fearless approach to drawing, just diving in and doing it. Although we don't hang out any more like we did in those Dover days (and haven't, for many years), I suspect he is still like that, from what I can see, from afar, of his output these days. -- PL]


       This is from a July 15, 1983 letter to my brother Don:

"The best-case scenario that I can come up with is if I start making more money doing my thing so that I could support us both… this of course is contingent on my making some more lucrative contacts. It's sort of difficult, I have found, trying to do that while we are living here, because there is a real sense of transience that works in subtle ways on my feeble mind, and makes me drag my feet when it comes to establishing continuing working relationships with local people -- because, after all, we probably will leave this area for good after Jeannine is finished with school. Now, too, we are sort of at the halfway point, with Jen starting the second half of her graduate school experience, and in some odd way it feels like this year will be a kind of winding down time… after which we will have to move somewhere else and get wound up again. 

Even Mirage Studios is having a hard time getting going; partly for these reasons, but also frankly Kevin has no time: he's working 12 hour days at the lobster restaurant in Ogunquit. I am going to see him this coming Monday, the first time since the wedding. I really hope we can get moving on this thing; I keep seeing a whole mess of possible applications for our collaborative work."

       ["The wedding" referred to here was mine and Jeannine's, held in the back yard of the Dover house the month before. Kevin was a guest.
       It's strange to see these musings about what we might do after Jeannine's time in graduate school was over. My memories of that time was that we followed the most immediately lucrative path, which -- shortly after this letter was written -- would reveal itself when she got an offer to teach in Connecticut. And when I say "lucrative", I mean "most likely to keep our heads above water on a consistent basis". This was not a spendthrift time for us, to say the least. 
       Little did I know at the time of writing this letter that a bit more than a year later we would be in Sharon, Connecticut, cozy and happy in a little log cabin near a lake, and soon to meet a person who would become a big part of Mirage Studios -- Jim Lawson. 
        But an even larger unpredictable event was due to follow this letter before the end of 1983 -- the creation of the TMNT a few  months after Kevin moved into our house. -- PL]

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snippets #5: April 25, 1983

This is from an April 25, 1983 letter to my brother, Bruce Laird:

       "I've got a bunch of things occupying my time at the moment. Foremost among them is a new comic-book project that I am working on with my friend Kevin; it's called FUGITOID, and is the story of… naw, I'll let you wait and read it when it comes out. The really exciting thing, though, is the format that we have chosen for this project: Instead of being a traditional comic "book", with a bound spine and separate pages, this will be a one-sheet (measuring 17" by 22") folded in quarters, so what you end up with is an 8 1/2" by 11" booklet that can unfold to its original size. (I'll try to include with this letter a piece of paper folded in the way I'm describing so you can see exactly what I mean.) The neat thing about this format -- or should I say the neatest thing -- is that you can have four pages of standard comic-book size in which to tell the first part of the story, and the last page would be on the unfolded 22" by 17" sheet -- in essence, a poster! Every issue of this comic will have as its final page a poster-sized piece of artwork suitable for framing, hanging or whatever is done with posters. We will try to work if so that that last page is always one big, dramatic panel, with few word balloons, and every one will be a cliff-hanger type of ending. What do you think? This is, by the way, somewhat hush-hush, because we don't want anyone to get the jump on us; so keep it under your hat, otay? This has not, as far as I know, ever been done using the comic book idiom, and I think it would be wildly successful. Of course, it could just as easily flop, but that sort of thinking will get us exactly nowhere. We are planning on two issues each month; the initial print run will be 5000, and we are hoping to have it on the market by this December. I'll keep you posted!
       Other than that, Kevin and I are going ahead with our plans for Mirage Studios -- he's already done a number of color renditions of some of my drawings, and they look pretty groovy. At the moment, we're trying to get a camera to start taking slides or photos of these works so that we can start sending them out and then start raking in the bucks. Kevin is living in Ogunquit now, and he'll be working at a lobster restaurant this summer, but this fall he's thinking of moving down to Dover -- which I think would be great!"

        [As all Fugitoid fans know, the Fugitoid "poster comic" idea never took flight... at least from Mirage Studios. I wonder if anyone else ever tried it? I still think it's a neat idea.

       "Raking in the bucks"... HAH! I'm pretty sure Mirage Studios never even had ONE paying job, with the possible exception of the "Fighters for Justice" superhero role-playing game those kids in Portsmouth put together... although with that one, even though Kevin apparently did some work on the cover, it might not, technically-speaking, have been a Mirage Studios job. Forgive me -- it's been a long time. Some of the details are a bit fuzzy.

       It was pretty exciting to see Kevin'c color work on my black and white drawings -- especially when he took one and blew it up to about four times its original size and did a fully painted version. -- PL]

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Snippets #4: April 19, 1983

       This is from an April 19, 1983 letter to Mom and Pop:

"I've been talking with a new contact that I've made here about some possible publishing ideas, one of which I've gotten my friend Kevin interested in. I'm trying to set up a meeting for the three of us this Thursday, but it's difficult when Kevin doesn't have a phone where he is living now. Kevin and I are going ahead with Mirage Studios; in fact, when I saw him this past Saturday he showed me some neat things he had done in coloring some copies of several of my black and white drawings -- they look really nice!"

       I have no memory of what the "possible publishing idea" that I got Kevin interested in was. - PL

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Snippets #3: March 13, 1984

This is from a March 13, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

"I talked to Kevin's uncle Quentin yesterday, and he sounds very interested in helping us finance the bulk of our first printing of the turtles' book. Kev and I are still going at warp speed on the book. It's interesting to see that we can set ourselves a deadline and actually stick to it, especially when the project is so large. So far, out of a total of forty pages, we have 23 completely finished, perhaps another 9 three-quarters done, another 4 half-done, and the remaining 4 still in the pencil stage. So we are well ahead of our original schedule, which was to have the artwork finished by the end of March.

P.S. I'm enclosing a copy of the press release that we are sending out to help promote the book."

        It's interesting that less than two months away from the date of the Portsmouth comic book convention at which we were planning to premiere the first issue of TMNT, we still hadn't quite nailed down how we were going to pay to have it printed. It was great that Kevin's uncle Quentin stepped up and loaned us the balance of what we needed to print the book, but I have a strong feeling that even if he hadn't, somehow we would have raised the money. I might have even considered selling my original Jack Kirby "Thor" page" (though I confess that would have been painful). -- PL

       [D'oh! I just realized that I posted this letter excerpt out of sequence... I had more early stuff to post before this, but I messed up the order. Sorry! -- PL 12-07-14]]