Issue 22: Awesome Art


If these walls could talk…

If these walls could talk, the walls of The Sewer Den would be quite chatty. What would they say exactly? I like to think they'd be proud - going on and on about their extensive collection of Ninja Turtles-themed artwork. These walls would probably be eager to give history lessons on their artwork - spouting interesting anecdotes and heartwarming tales.

But alas, these walls cannot talk. Luckily, I do. So let me dive right into this collection of artwork. And to the walls of The Sewer Den, I know you cannot talk, but maybe you can read. So if you're reading this, I hope I am doing justice to all the awesome artwork you proudly display.

This issue is appropriate too. I mean, com'on, the Turtles were named after four, famous renaissance artists after all.

SIZE: 11" x 17"


School libraries always had some interesting artwork (propaganda) encouraging kids to read. But, this one takes the cake. When I graduated from college, my friend's mom, who was an elementary school art teacher, gave this poster to me as a gift. My grade school never put this poster on display, so it was new to me.

Oh, how my life would have been different if I had seen this poster back when I was a kid. My book collection would be triple the size and my love for reading would have developed at a much earlier age. But instead, my school was cheap and didn't invest in this brilliant, TMNT, pro-reading propaganda.

Boasting their rubber suits, this poster depicts the Turtles in all their movie-magic glory. However, the fearsome four have been narrowed down to just two. Missing are Raphael and Donatello. Does that mean Leonardo and Michelangelo are the bookworms?

Look at those teeth…they're popping out beyond belief. It makes me think, they needed braces. Being a bookworm AND wearing braces? Seems to me that Leonardo and Michelangelo just might have been nerds.


SIZE: 18" x 24"

The oldest and personal favorite of The Sewer Den collection. With a few Pizza Points and simply filling out a membership form, I became one of the proud owners of this piece. Printed in a limited edition, 1986 of 25,000 deserves a place next to the Mona Lisa. It's just so awesome. Showcasing the style of the original comic book art, Raphael (my favorite Turtle!) is depicted in his iconic pose.

This print has been around the block. Originally, it hung on the wall of my childhood bedroom during the height of the TMNT craze. As the years moved on, so did I. The print was stored away in the darkest depths of my closet. Eons later, I ventured off to college and my parents moved out of my childhood home. It was during one of my visits to their new home that I went exploring. Within the mountains of boxes, I discovered this rare print once again. I was in shock and awe - still in mint condition!

I wasn't going to stuff it in the closet to collect dust again. This time, the print was immediately framed. It journeyed with me to my first post-college apartment and then to my first (no roommates) apartment. Eventually, the print found its way back to its rightful place, The Sewer Den.


SIZE: 11" x 17"

A New York Comic Con gift. My good friend, Niki, surprised me with this goodie after she attended the event. The artwork is a bit unconventional, but exceptionally cool. We've got one of our green machines flying through the air with a vicious kick (to the stomach). Watching over this scene is, what appears to be, a giant lizard with a mohawk.

Bizarre for sure, but this one really sucks you in. The artwork isn't on the simple side. There is an extensive color palette, multiple characters with very different physical characteristics, and a some sort of storyline that is so outlandish that I can't wrap my head around it.

For years I had it displayed in my office at work. I'd always manage to catch a glimpse of my colleagues' wandering eyes. They just couldn't resist taking a peek at that bizarre artwork. Questions and comments about its origin never ceased. It was truly a crowd favorite. But, it did reveal that I am a Ninja Turtles nut to all my co-workers.


SIZE: 22" x 17"

The Burger King Kids Club. The elite club when for seven year olds. And they didn't discriminate either - they were a very diverse bunch (black, white, male, female, handicapped, nerdy, heck - even a dog was in the mix). Rivaling McDonald's bizarre batch of characters, The Burger King Kids Club was their version of the Happy Meal.

Revenue-wise, I'm not sure how successful it was. But, the advertising worked on me. I loved The Burger King Kids Club. The group of kids just looked like a fun gaggle of non-threatening folks who you could see yourself playing with outside. It also helped that they liked the Ninja Turtles.

The Kids Club released a whole slew of TMNT merchandise in the 90's. I know after a few chicken tender meals, I was the proud owner of TMNT-themed bike accessories and a few VHS tapes to top it off. This poster was another giveaway that I missed out on at the time. Luckily, I have amazing friends. My favorite couple, Patrick and Arleen, scored this poster and presented it to me for Christmas. It definitely put some cheer in my holiday season.

The poster showcases the Turtles from their second movie, Secret of the Ooze. How I love those big, rubber suits! Although, the Turtles look photoshopped beyond belief in this one. Every ninja is cut out a little too perfectly.

A fun word bubble is slapped on the front of the poster indicating it was put into circulation for the video cassette release. This adds some major 90's cred to the poster - a true staple of the time period.


SIZE: 11.7" x 16.5"

This poster is a Candy Land-inspired glimpse into my brain in the early 90's. As a kid, this is what I was thinking. My mind always had Ninja Turtle-inspired thoughts bouncing around in colorful form. So, it's nice to see a piece of art capture that so perfectly.

The gang is all here. Of course the four Turtles are present, but we're treated to almost every major player in between. Casey, April, Splinter, Shredder, Krang (with the giant android body!), Rocksteady, Bebop, and many more. The poster is puzzle-like in its execution - like an image search in Highlights Magazine.

For how iconic Shredder and Splinter are in the TMNT universe, they don't get the spotlight. Instead, Shredder is just a small, silhouette lurking in the background while Splinter is stuck peering in from the corner.

Actually, April's cleavage gets more attention than the both of them. 12 year old boys rejoice!

I received this poster as a birthday gift from another awesome set of friends, Marty and Jesse. Wow, I'm seeing a trend. I get a lot of TMNT-inspired artwork as gifts. No complaints here!

The title of this piece, Big Apple 3 a.m., is also had me smiling. Such a fun nod to my button smashing days with the Turtles.

SIZE:18" x 24"

This guy is really gross. Inspired by the popular trading cards and stickers, Garbage Pail Kids, Derek Deal created Michael Mutant. I bought the print on a whim, thinking it would be fun to hang above a toilet if there was ever a bathroom installed in the room. Well, that was a far-fetched idea.

Months later, the print is still rolled up in the closet. Michael Mutant doesn't exactly fit in with The Sewer Den decor. Although I love the intense color palette and overall wackiness, the print doesn't compliment the rest of my Ninja Turtles collection. The childhood vibes of the plush Turtles and TMNT night lights don't mesh with Michael Mutant's bathroom antics and boogers.

The poster isn't the TMNT-norm, but it's still a blast. Any kid (boy) would find it so disturbing that they would immediately love it. The gross antics of Michael Mutant keep your eyes pretty busy.

Along with the green, slime-like cheese on Michael Mutant's pizza, are plenty of zany toppings. Razors, syringes, and a finger!


SIZE: 24" x 36"

The Alamo Drafthouse. If you've never heard of the place, you're missing out. This movie theater chain based out of Austin, Texas loves, loves, loves movies. Aside from theater experience (food and booze while you watch!), they host elaborate film screenings. For a screening of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film they threw a pizza party. For some events, the Alamo Drafthouse will even hire artists to create promotional posters. In addition to being hung in the theater, a handful of prints go on sale to the public. It's a frenzy when trying to snag one. If you miss out, there's always eBay.

Luckily, I lucked out! Shortly after, this classy piece of art arrived in the mail. The art direction is an interesting one. The drama of the film is highlighted in this print rather than the humor or action. Shredder is front and center, beneath him a wounded Raphael.

Although it's definitely a cool poster, it's a little glum. The artist even took a few liberties to further this theme. Derailing from the events in the film, Raphael has a few throwing stars lodged in his body. Ouch.

There are a few hidden gems scattered throughout the print too. The shout out to the NARC arcade game is, hands down, my favorite.

For the most part, the poster features the color green only with the Turtles. That's why this skateboard caught my eye. The wheels are also green. So, the Turtles and the skateboard wheels are the only things featuring green in this print? Is there some significance behind these green wheels that I am missing? Alas, I studied film in college, not fine art. I'll leave it to the professionals.


SIZE: 12" x 36" (SET OF 4)

What this lacks for in age, it makes up for in creativity. Sold as a set of four, these TMNT prints are jaw-dropping. Once again from the Alamo Drafthouse, each poster measures a modest 12' x 24', showcasing each individual Turtle. 

But, when you display the complete set, prepare for your entire wall to be transformed in a massive Ninja Turtles mural. It's no Grand Canyon, but it can still take your breath away. Just staring into the artistic beauty of this set will make you lose track of time. The hours easily slip away.

As with all TMNT purchases, I refused to drop heaps of cash down. Like a junker at a flea market, I enjoy a good deal and love the thrill of the hunt. I found the set of four prints after hours of late night web surfing. The price was a steal. I felt like some sort of suave art dealer (but behind the keys of computer).

Christmas had just passed, so I was home visiting my parents for the holidays. Signature was required when the posters were delivered and I wasn't there to give my John Hancock. So, I was forced into a trek to the post office to pick them up. From art aficionado I moved into eskimo-mode, as that day a blizzard had hit the state of New Jersey. Bundled up and eager at the wheel, I plowed through the snow in my Mom's car to the post office. With a swift flick of the pen, I inked my name, and the prints became my prized possession.

SIZE: 14" x 6"


The Ninja Turtles Squad - my childhood, self-created TMNT fan club. A handful of us rag tag kids ran around in the woods, pretending to be Turtles and fight the Foot Clan. This sign (art!) followed us wherever our clubhouse (Sewer Den) might be.

What the sign lacks for in quality, it makes up for in charm. I crafted this masterpiece using the most basic tools - a small piece of wood with a few permanent markers. Picaso with paints, I was not. It doesn't take an art critic to realize I screwed up writing the word "Turtles" either. The letter "T" has some traces of the letter "F' in there. "Ninja Furtles Squad" just seems weird. You can't chalk that up as artistic expression.


But, simplicity can go a long way. Instead of tacking images of every character in the TMNT universe, I kept things clean. Just the core four's weapons and an image of Raphael's head.

The sign survived the ages along with the rest of my TMNT collection. What should I do with this thing? Well, it only seemed fitting to hang it above the door in The Sewer Den. So now, when everyone enters this room filled with TMNT treasures, they pass under the Ninja Turtles Squad sign - the ultimate artwork of an eight year old. My clubhouse continues.


The argument always arises in art discussions - what defines art? One person falls in love with a certain piece, while another despises it. It's very subjective. But, I think there is a common thread in all great art. I can finally end this ongoing debate. So, what makes great art? Simple - Ninja Turtles.

Thanks for reading!

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Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.

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