Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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]


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