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Comic Book / Johnny Turbo

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Johnny Turbo tells it like it is.

Oh my god! They're not even human!

Okay, quiz time. To effectively market your video game console when it's struggling against two well-established competitors, what would be the best course of action to take?

A. Purchase advertising space on television or magazines to showcase a wide variety of games you have available on your platform.
B. Set up demonstration kiosks in stores to let gamers play these titles for themselves.

If you answered C, you may have been working for NEC in the early 90s as a marketer for their console the TurboGrafx-16, because that's exactly what they did: they presented multi-page ads in gaming magazines centering around a "computer expert" named Jonathan Brandstetter, better known under his alias Johnny Turbo, and his loving sidekick Tony in their quest to teach gamers the completely unbiased truth about the TG-16 compared to NEC's self-appointed rival Se—err, Feka.


  1. Episode 43: The Master Plan! — Johnny learns that Feka is marketing a CD system as "the first of its kind," and this simply will not stand. Johnny takes out the Feka goons who were selling the CD systems, and more in the shadows promise their revenge.

  2. Episode 44: Let 'Em Dangle! — See aboveinvoked, only this time, there's a great focus on the more recently released TurboDuo, which combined the TG-16 and its CD addon into one unit, a capability which the Genesis and Sega CD lacked at the time. Because everybody who wanted the Sega CD obviously didn't own a Genesis at the same time.

  3. Episode 45: Sleepwalker — Johnny's sidekick Tony gets A Day in the Limelight. And he has one hell of a dream.

Today, Johnny stands mostly as a curious and forgotten footnote in the history of a company which was losing ground in the US to Sega and the Big N, but thanks to the internet and webmaster Sardius, you too can experience the entire saga of Mr. Turbo here, along with Atop the Fourth Wall, which you can view here and here. They have also been turned into motion comics in this video. The first two "issues," as noted above, are fairly typical gaming attacks, with Feka presented as a faceless man assisted by identityless goons, but then the third one — most likely an utter last-ditch attempt for NEC to just make some sort of impact on the average gamer's mind — got... weird. Very, very weird.


Seriously, read the whole thing. It's much more amusing than it should be.

Interestingly, Brandstetter has decided to keep using the character since the founding of his new company, Flying Tiger Entertainment, as part of a series of Data East arcade-to-console conversions known as Johnny Turbo's Arcade. Johnny is also a playable character in the crossover puzzle game Crystal Crisis.

Johnny Turbo provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Despite the second issue ending with FEKA plotting to take down Johnny Turbo, the third issue is devoted to promoting the TurboDuo through an odd dream sequence. Since that was the last story of the series, the FEKA plot went unresolved.
  • Acrofatic: Johnny is very fat and stout, but he's also incredibly strong.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Johnny and Tony. Taken up to eleven in "Sleepwalker" in as much as could be shown to kids.
  • Ambiguous Robots: As the page quote shows, the FEKA goons aren't human. However, it's not clear if they are Ridiculously Human Robots, some sort of demon, or something else entirely.
  • Big "OMG!": Several, among them the page quote.
  • The Bear: Johnny. To Tony, at least.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Johnny has no superpowers other than his surprisingly impressive strength. Although the third issue suggests that he may also have some sort Dream Weaver ability.
  • Common Fan Fallacies: Johnny uses these exclusively, in lieu of reasoned arguments, when convincing the kids that the Turbo Duo is the better game system.
  • Cool Shades: The Feka goons.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Johnny's heroic claim that the Turbo CD got Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (one of the earliest FMV based games) first comes across as this nowadays.
  • Demonization: They portray their rival company as being evil robots.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Feka goons selling their system on a street corner in the first issue are very obviously made out to resemble drug dealers, including giving away free games to hook customers. Also, pretty much all the Homoerotic Subtext innuendo in the third issue.
  • Dirty Communists: The person in charge of FEKA is known as the FEKA Czar.
  • Dream Weaver: Johnny is somehow responsible for the dream Tony had in Issue 3
  • Emphasize EVERYTHING: Whenever Johnny dons his "superhero" get-up, the exclamation points and boldface text just can't stop flying.
  • Evil Gloating: Feka must not be a very well-run company, if their members feel the need to do this in front of paying customers.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Feka's boss.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Feka gives away games for free! How evil!
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Even though Johnny wears them, they don't seem to have a purpose.
  • Guest Fighter: In Crystal Crisis.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: To the point where by the third issue, it might as well just be called Homoerotic Text.
  • Hypocrite:
  • Iconic Outfit: Everybody's, since they almost never appear in anything else.
  • Insane Troll Logic: "The Master Plan!" consists entirely of the argument that the Turbo Duo is automatically better than the Sega CD just because it was released first. How exactly this equates to having better games isn't mentioned. Linkara has stated that this argument is analogous to an elementary school kid taunting their peers by going "Na na na na na, we did it first!"
  • Irony: Johnny's beloved Lords of Thunder was eventually ported to the Sega CD. And if you got interested in it because of the comic, this was probably the ROM you downloaded, unless you purchased the Wii Virtual Console port (itself further irony, as both NEC and Sega eventually lost the console wars to Nintendo). Also, NEC did end up making some games for Sega.
  • Knight Templar: Johnny is quick to resort to violence against the Feka's "evil" ways, even before he knows they're robots.
  • Left Hanging: The plot involving FEKA is completely dropped in the third and final issue, even though the Big Bad's last appearance has him preparing some kind of evil plot against Johnny Turbo.
  • Malicious Slander: The comics show FEKA trying to scam customers to purchase the CD console, without telling them that they need to get the 16-bit system for it to even work... despite this information being clearly advertised on every Sega CD box; Sega never tried to lie about that! So, the comic was accusing Sega of things they weren't even doing!?
  • Megaton Punch: In "Let 'Em Dangle!", Johnny somehow uses a running uppercut to send a Feka goon flying. He punches another goon clear out of his shades, leaving them hanging in midair, undamaged.
  • The Men in Black: The Feka goons.
  • Moral Luck: Johnny's preemptive attack on the Feka goons for allegedly ripping off customers could have sent his reputation into a nosedive. Thankfully, they turned out to be robots.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Tony has a fricking orgasm over the Classic Cheat Code to unlock Bomberman in the TurboDuo's included 3-games-in-1 disc.
  • Noodle Incident: Johnny is heavily implied to have caused Tony's dream sequence in the final issue, although it's unknown how he managed to accomplish such a feat or why he felt the need to subliminally shill the TurboDuo its biggest fan.
  • Not Even Human: The big reveal for Feka goons. And it's a good thing, too, or Johnny would have been guilty of assault and battery at the very least.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: Jonathan being a computer expert could mean anything, really.
  • Obviously Evil: Feka's doing a really bad job of hiding their true nature, what with their evil gloating, creepy grinning, and shadowy boss figure.
  • Off-Model: Whoever drew these comics seems to have gone to the Rob Liefeld school of comic artistry, and not just because of Johnny's infatuation with belts.
  • Opaque Lenses: Johnny's goggles all of the time, Tony's glasses most of the time.
  • Propaganda Machine: Feka is apparently the devil incarnate for persuading kids to give them their hard-earned allowances. So how does Johnny/NEC fight this? With more propaganda.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Johnny Turbo is who your average fanboy would be if he stopped being an Internet Jerk and started actually assaulting those who hold opinions he doesn’t like.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Again, Feka's boss. The goons hide theirs with their Sinister Shades.
  • Retool: "Sleepwalker". Feka is out, freaky Homoerotic Subtext-saturated dreams are in.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Feka is discovered to employ these not-even-humans! when Johnny fights a bunch in "The Master Plan!"
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Johnny. Full stop.
  • Say My Name: "... I just can't contain myself! JONATHAN!!!"
  • Shout-Out: "Sleepwalker" takes its splash page almost straight from Star Wars: A New Hope's poster. Sardius is only too quick to point out that Tony is occupying Leia's position in the pose.
  • Single Tear: A random boy's reaction when a Feka goon gloats about how he'll need to spend another $100 for the main Feka console in order to use his shiny new CD system.
    Sardius: Mild disappointment is a bitch, ain't it?
  • Skewed Priorities: Instead of trying to promote the TurboDuo or its games, the comic spent most of its time insulting Sega or making asinine assertions that the Sega CD was inferior simply because it came out after the TurboDuo and needed the already super popular Sega Genesis to work.
  • Small Reference Pools:
    • For no good reason, the JT ads chose to focus exclusively on (admittedly very good) Shoot Em Ups Gate of Thunder and Lords of Thunder as being the Killer Apps of the TurboDuo. Even the most casual Sega owner could probably name more games than just Sonic the Hedgehog at the time.
    • It also counts for the fact that, as mentioned below, the entire campaign was basically a giant Take That! towards Jonathan Brandstetter and Tony Ancona (both of who are real people). Until recently, nobody outside NEC really knew this as neither Brandstetter nor Ancona were seen that much in the public eye.
  • Stealth Parody: Interviews with real-life employees of NEC at the time, coupled with the downright bizarre direction "Sleepwalker" took, suggest that the artists and writers were using the comics to make fun of people in the company, as Jonathan Brandstetter really does exist. As does Tony, if he's the same person as Tony Ancona.
  • Strawman Product: The TurboDuo has the arcade feel! And Feka's pack-in shooter gamenote  doesn't even compare! to Gate of Thunder! But of course, at the same time, Sega was doing the same thing to Nintendo in their own ads.
  • Take That!: If you assume that "Feka" is pronounced similar to how "Sega" is, it makes the name of the company "Fake-uh". And the name itself is an anagram of "Fake".
  • Too Many Belts: Johnny.
  • Un-Installment: In spite of the episode numbering, there were only three of these comics ever made. The previous 42 installments of Johnny Turbo do not exist.
  • Unknown Rival: NEC seemingly chose to make Sega their primary enemy in the Console Wars for no other reason than they were the only other major video game company selling a CD console at the time. If Sega even knew about the Johnny Turbo campaign, which is doubtful, they didn't feel the need to respond with a smear campaign of their own.
    • According to The Other Wiki, other side of the story has just recently been unearthed, and it turns out that Sega again started this mess by launching a series of ads that only aired in NEC'S trial market areas mocking the TurboGrafx-16's CPU when NEC announced the launch of the console. NEC was only responding in kind. Unfortunately for NEC, Sega actually had a point, as when gamers talk about word size, more often than not they were referring to the word size of the CPU.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: Starts at 43, then goes to 44 and 45.
  • World of Ham: There's no shortage of excitement and melodrama over the CD console wars in the world of Johnny Turbo.