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]


  1. Man if only we all had foresight to know what an idea could become. In hindsight, it's amazing to believe that Kevin would have to take a break from working on what has essentially become the next great American icons since the X-men or Spider-Man, to work at a lobster restaurant for 50 hours a week at $7.00 an hour.

    You guys must have been working your butts off. Thankfully the hard work paid off! I think, at least in my opinion, that's why your story is inspirational to so many, especially those in the creative field. The fact that you guys managed to do it all on your own terms, makes it even better.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Marco. Yes, we were putting all the energy we had into that project, and in those early days it really did seem like the very probable outcome was going to be minimal success for the TMNT... and then we would move on to something else and see if we could figure out how to get Mirage Studios to be something which would provide us with a way to keep stocked with macaroni and cheese (as Kevin often puts it). What actually happened shocked the heck out of us, and made us work even harder. But it was an exciting time, especially that moment when we realized we could make good livings WRITING AND DRAWING OUR OWN SELF-PUBLISHED COMIC BOOKS!!! That was truly a memorable moment. -- PL

  3. Do you still have those character sheets?

    1. Somewhere, I must have copies of those. I think they were the drawings we sent out along with the press releases for the first issue, and I believe those have been reprinted in one or more of the MIrage TMNT comic books. -- PL

  4. 50 hours a week at only $7.00 an hour to work at a lobster restaurant? Man, Kevin had it rough. Was that minimum wage back in the 80's? Kevin especially must have been thrilled to go from $7.00 an hour to striking it rich, so to speak.

    Its honestly hard to imagine there was a time you and Kevin were just regular people working at various jobs to break even, and to support a just-starting comic project.

    1. If I am correctly reading the chart I found at this link:

      ... then that $7 per hour Kevin was being offered to cook lobsters was almost TWICE minimum wage at the time. I can see where that could be pretty appealing.

      We're still regular people, by the way -- still put our pants on one leg at a time, as the old saying goes. -- PL