The Sewer Den is an engulfing experience. Not sure what I was expecting when I decided to create a room dedicated to the Ninja Turtles. Can you really expect anything with such an endeavor?
Fame? Fortune? Heck no.
But, the constant re-discovery of distant memories has been rewarding. Digging up the past can be fun. And The Sewer Den certainly doesn't uncover any skeletons from my closet. Just 20 year old cookies and a few embarrassing photos.
A collection of old memories. That's what I thought The Sewer Den would be. But then, something changed...
New memories. New additions to the collection. How does this happen when I barely make any new purchases? Supporters. Kindness from those who have caught the excitement of The Sewer Den. From the rare few who have witnessed this small, jam-packed room of ninja magic, to the other supporters who have only heard about it up until this point - they've all contributed something wonderful.
This issue is dedicated to you - The Sewer Den Supporters. In no order, all just awesome.
Ninja Turtles Pencil Box
Sewer Den Supporter: Colin J.
Growing up, I lived in an area of New Jersey surrounded by pine trees and great friends. This gave me plenty of opportunities for letting my imagination soar. My friends also showcased their creative imaginations, especially when we played with Ninja Turtles toys or pretended to be Ninja Turtles ourselves. During this time, Colin J. was one of my partners in crime.
Living just a house away, Colin and me shared countless childhood memories. Many of these involved the Ninja Turtles. They were some good times.
Through the means of social media, we have recently reconnected. Whether it's commenting on our love for the Philadelphia Phillies or poking fun at these vintage, TMNT-memories, it has been very enjoyable.
Then Colin hit me with the ultimate act of Sewer Den Support. He wanted to add to the collection. Soon a mysterious box arrived in the mail. After a quick slice with a knife and the unraveling of some newspaper, the magic was revealed.
A Ninja Turtles Pencil Box. All four brothers smiling and enjoying the moment just as much as I was.
Colin had passed on something from his childhood collection to join the memories of my childhood collection. It was a touching moment.
The condition of the pencil box couldn't be more perfect. Appropriately boasting the markings of a past childhood.
Inside was no different. The pencil box housed crayons when in Colin's possession. Fun streaks of vivid wax coat the inside.
Now the Ninja Turtles pencil box joins the nostalgia that fills The Sewer Den. Looking forward to the day Colin can visit and take it all in...
College is usually a time when you bond with friends over dorm life, parties, and beer. Although these things were a thread during our days of higher education, Brad Alston and me connected in many unconventional college ways. Harry Potter, Jackie Chan, and yes, the Ninja Turtles were in there too.
Our college years hit at the same period when the 2003 cartoon series was launched. My friendship with Brad and the re-vamped Ninja Turtles are a time frame that blend together. We watched the new series together and even ventured to a toy store to pick up our favorite TMNT action figures.
Among Brad's many skills, is his stellar ability to knit. And knit he did. In the cold month of February in 2011, I visited Brad in Boston, Massachusetts. Mounds of snow created a maze-like winter wonderland. The chilly winds danced along the icy streets. But, Brad came to my rescue with his knitting skills...
This handmade Ninja Turtles winter hat kept me warm throughout the cold streets of Boston.
Not only did I wear it throughout my New England stay, but it also kept me warm for the remaining cold days in New Jersey and New York.
Is it crazy that I'm looking forward to winter this year? I just want another opportunity to wear this awesome hat.
Sewer Den Supporter: Tanya, Victoria, Larissa & Alexander
Tanya is a longtime friend of my Mom's. Not only has she had the fortune of my mother's friendship, but Tanya and her family have also heard tales of The Sewer Den. During a recent stay at my parents house, they were given an opportunity to enter this fortress TMNT memories.
At this point, very few have stepped foot inside The Sewer Den. Tanya, Victoria, Larissa, and Alexander were treated to an exclusive peak at my Ninja Turtles collection - at my childhood. What did they think?
It's safe to say that the gang LOVED what they saw. Beyond that, they were inspired. After witnessing my creativity, it was time to boast theirs.
Since they were visiting my parents at the Jersey Shore, they spent some quality time playing the classic boardwalk game - skee-ball. After plopping down countless quarters, Victoria, Larissa, and Alexander pooled together their tickets to redeem the ultimate prize.
A plush turtle. Classic, simple, and not branded with any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-likeness.
But, a plan was in the works. It was time for them to get crafty.
Introducing Victoria and Larissa's creation that they have appropriately named, Jonatello. What is a Jonatello exactly? A combination of my name (Jonathan) and the intelligent Turtle of the bunch (Donatello).
In terms of arts and crafts, it doesn't get much better than this. They pulled out all the stops when creating this masterpiece. Red bandannas too - in honor of my favorite Turtle, Raphael. It's amazing how a little bit of glue and some red material really transformed this simple skee-ball prize.
Jonatello now sits proud in The Sewer Den. Although he's a little younger than the other plush Ninja Turtles (20 years give or take), and a bit different in appearance, he still reflects the charm and creativity that is on display within the room. Jonatello, you are fifth Turtle.
Sewer Den Supporter: Matthew & Marty
Matthew and Marty are interesting guys. I had the pleasure of meeting Marty in New York City a few years back. At that time, my Ninja Turtles-love wasn't as discussed as it is now. A little more undercover. But as the time passed, Marty was introduced to my world of TMNT-appreciation...
I'm not sure if he was prepared for it all, but Marty grabbed the bull by horns. Halloween costumes, movie screenings, matching t-shirts - he joined me for it all. Whether he appreciated the Turtles to my level really didn't matter. We had some fun, silly times.
During that period, I met one of Marty's best friends from childhood, Matthew. They were both raised in Augusta, Georgia - far, far away from my days growing up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Despite the distance, it was interesting that they were also hit by the Ninja Turtles phenomenon with an equal appreciation. Kids in the 90's loved 'em from all over!
Despite that they haven't stepped foot in the Turtles-themed room yet, Matthew and Marty have embraced the fun vibes of The Sewer Den. Soon the time will come when the boys from Georgia venture inside. And when they do, will they be prepared? The room is a LOT to take in. Wall to wall, inch to inch, there is something interesting to absorb. So once the awe has worn off and the pure excitement has settled, what will they want to do next?
Kick up their feet and find something to read.
Not only did the boys build upon the library, but they added some truly important works.
First editions of the very early Ninja Turtles comics.
Yep, First Editions...in mint condition. The Sewer Den is full of fun stuff, but not sure how many actual "collectors items" actually exist in the joint. Well, this is definitely one of them.
The Turtles really come to life on the colorful covers. Taking advantage of the full spread, the Turtles bask in illustrated beauty.
The artwork inside is equally as rewarding. Some really classic images. How could these comics get any better? The story of their discovery. Matthew managed to find these masterpieces at bargain prices. Discovered in a thrift store in San Francisco, Matthew quickly threw down some small cash for these prize possessions.
For just a few bucks, the boys put some quality, top-tier reading material in The Sewer Den.
Ninja Turtles Red Herrings (book)
Sewer Den Supporter: Sue
Right off the bat, I don't know Sue much at all. But, she surely has some thoughts about me. Being a neighbor of my parents, Sue was given the rare chance to enter The Sewer Den. I had never spoken to her about her experience inside, so I was clueless about her reaction.
But, the next time I headed home to visit my parents, a surprise was waiting...
The library in The Sewer Den keeps on growing. First it was a collection of amazing comics and now this. The Turtles in true, literary glory. This book should be on the curriculum at schools all across the country.
The cover speaks for itself. Weapons, yoga-like positions, fighting stances, AND pizza-eating! All while on a surfboard?!?! How could you not be impressed?
Phil Jacobs left no stone unturned when illustrating this cover. His work belongs in a museum...or at least in The Sewer Den.
Sue mentioned that she found this gem at a flea market and immediately thought of me. The generous soul that she is, Sue made the purchase. Being secondhand, not all the art within the pages was created by Phil Jacobs. The original owner took some liberties and got creative with a few markers. So, we're treated to a few artist renditions of our favorite characters.
The Sewer Den now has a solid book in it's literary section thanks to Sue. Is the story any good? You'll have to visit to find out!
A pencil box, a winter hat, comics, a book, and a Jonatello. Endearing additions to The Sewer Den. It's wonderful to have so many people contributing to the magic of this room. I hope the kindness continues and I have to opportunity to thank others along the way. Sewer Den Supports are always welcome to contribute!