I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they are what got me into indie comics. I can say without a doubt I would not be writing a comic called Homeless Dinosaur if I didn’t grow up with the turtles. But today I want to talk about Turtles co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s first creation together: the Fugitoid.

Writing: Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
Art: Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
Publisher: Mirage Studios
Year: 1985
Format: Oversized Comic Book, Black & White
Price I Paid: $1.25

Fugitoid #1 is interesting in a couple of ways. First off, Eastman and Peter Laird created Fugitoid before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but Fugitoid did not see publication until after they were an underground black and white success (long before the cartoon and associated toy line).

It’s also interesting that it’s over-sized, not quite as big as a record album, about the standard size for graphic novels at the time (as opposed to trade paperbacks, which have the same dimensions as a standard comics only thicker). The first five or six issues of the original Mirage Ninja Turtles comic were this larger size due to a fuck up at the printer on issue #1. It kind of became a calling card for the series for a while.

The story is that on an alien world, benign mad scientist Dr. Honeycutt is supposed to be working on a transmat device for the Federation military that will allow them to beam troops (or bombs) anywhere they want in the universe, giving them an unbeatable strategic advantage over their intelligent, space faring dinosaurs foes, the Triceraton Empire. Honeycutt is a pacifist, naturally, and keeps stalling on the project. His true passion is the Mentawave Helmet, which allows its wearer to read minds and move objects telekinetically. He psychically communicates with Sal, his robot gardener, who is caught in some cables while doing some weeding. Honeycutt rushes out to rescue Sal from the cables and an impending electrical storm, but ends up getting struck by lightning while carrying the damaged robot home. In a B-movie grade freak accident, his mind is transferred to the robot’s body and his human body destroyed.

Honeycutt has become the eponymous Fugitoid, a robot on the run from the military. Generic evil General Blanque knows that Honeycutt’s mind is in the robot and since robots have no human rights, all he has to do is capture the robot and then he can force him to complete the transmat. A fun chase sequence later and Honeycutt is cornered in a sleazy, Blade Runner-esque future city. How will he be rescued? Oh yeah, the Ninja Turtles just teleported in.

What? Oh yeah, this is actually just a prelude to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5. Hmm. It was originally intended to be a back-up strip split up into several bite-sized chunks over several issues, but that didn’t happen.

To be honest, it’s kind of the standard sci-fi concept of “mad scientist gets his mind put in a robot body” combined with the Fugitive-style man on the run story. It’s not very original, but it is enthusiastic and fun to read. The friendly giant crab/snail thing is a really nice touch.

While the original Kevin Eastman/Peter Laid Ninja Turtles run didn’t last that long (less than 12 issues with them as equal collaborators), it’s entertaining seeing them together here. The art has a scratchy, gritty look to it, perhaps a bit over-inked, but very detailed. Some of their human figures are a bit awkward and stiff but the acting on their faces is mostly pretty good. What impresses me most about the art is the way they manage to convey emotion so well on the robot’s inhuman, sort of blank face. The big eyes help a lot, even if the robot looks like something Magnus: Robot Fighter would punch to death.

The dialogue is not offensive, but again, very much standard B-grade sci-fi movie fare. The evil general guy is generic as hell, but I did like the touch that his loyal aid is a total drug fiend who will sell secrets for a hit, even if it comes out of nowhere and seems totally unrelated to the themes of the story. This also sets up the Triceratons as a pretty good villain, even if “evil intelligent space dinosaur” is a goofy concept. Then again, this is from the creators of the Ninja Turtles. Are Ninja Turtles weirder than intelligent space dinosaurs?

Is this worth reading? I think so. If you are reading the original Mirage run of Ninja Turtles, it’s not strictly speaking necessary, but it does expand Honeycutt’s story a little. I would have liked to have seen what Eastman/Laird would have done with the story if Ninja Turtles didn’t become the life-consuming phenomenon that it did, but at the very least, this is a fun little sci-fi comic with some unusual art.

4 Responses to Fugitoid #1

  • Dude, I love Fugitoid. Little known fact, Fugi was our first official mascot here at Infinite Hollywood and adorned our top banner in various forms for the first year.

  • Peter Laird says:

    "It's also interesting that it's over-sized, not quite as big as a record album, about the standard size for graphic novels at the time (as opposed to trade paperbacks, which have the same dimensions as a standard comics only thicker). The first five or six issues of the original Mirage Ninja Turtles comic were this larger size due to a fuck up at the printer on issue #1. "

    The Fugitoid comic was sized the way it was because the art was drawn in 8.5 by 11 proportions, as "Fugitoid" was originally meant to be published as a "poster comic" — one large sheet of 17 by 22 inches folded twice.

    Also, it wasn't the same size as the first few TMNT comics, which were more traditional comic proportions if not actual size — "Fugitoid" was more square and less rectangular in its page proportions.

    Finally, it wasn't really a printer screwup that made those first few issues of TMNT oversize — it was really our mistake (or at least our inattention to detail in the production of the comic). When we found the printer in New Hampshire (I think it was in Somersworth), we brought with us a free locally produced TV guide thing, and told the printer "This is what we want — black and white on newsprint, but with a glossy cover." What we neglected to say, and didn't even think about until after the book was printed, was that we wanted standard comic book size, which was smaller, even though the proportions of the free TV guide thing were just about the same as a traditional comic.

    It was only after several issues had come out, and we'd heard quite a few complaints from collectors and retailers who found it difficult to find comic bags to fit the odd size of the TMNT books, that we decided to bite the bullet and go to a standard comic book size. — Peter Laird

  • Peter Laird just stopped by Infinite Hollywood. How awesome is that?

    Thanks for the insight PL!

  • DensityDuck says:

    Ha! So *this* is where TMNT Guide To The Universe came from!

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