Friday, July 28, 2023

Erik Burnham Discusses 'TMNT: Saturday Morning Adventures' and Karai Spinoff

Erik Burnham sat down during SDCC 2023 to discuss TMNT: Saturday Morning Adventures and an upcoming Ninja Turtles project.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fight off mousers in Saturday Morning Adventures

Writer and artist Erik Burham is no stranger to the world of comics. In recent years, he's received critical acclaim for his work on IDW Publishing's Ghostbusters series. He is also known for his work in the TMNT franchise and is currently the writer of one of IDW's most nostalgic series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures, which revives one of the earliest (and arguably most popular) eras of the beloved Heroes in a Half-Shell.

CBR spoke with Burnham at San Diego Comic-Con 2023, where the creator discussed his current work on the Saturday Morning Adventures series and why readers should be interested. He also took time to talk about his upcoming series that takes place in the mainstream Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe and focuses on an unlikely fan-favorite character in the franchise.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures

CBR: What can you tell us about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures?

Erik Burnham: Saturday Morning Adventures is based on the massive 1987 cartoon series that introduced the Ninja Turtles to the world. That's how I learned about them, and that's how a whole lot of people became familiar with them before comics became as ubiquitous as they are now. The series is the same brand of goofy fun that is three parts adventure to four parts humor and breaks the fourth wall with bad puns. It's just a good time that's suitable for all ages.

You seem to be very enthusiastic about this series.

You have no idea how much fun I'm having. My favorite part of my work day is when I get notes back from the editors or from Nickelodeon, and they highlight a pun that I've put into the script. And the note is, "Oh, God, why? Why would you do this?" But they don't tell me no, and they don't tell me to stop no matter how much they groan through the text, and I absolutely love that.

Which of the Ninja Turtles is your favorite to write, and why?

It started as Michelangelo and moved to Donatello in Saturday Morning Adventures. Now it's kind of evolved into Raphael because he gets to have most of the fourth-wall-breaking action. That turned into a replacement story in Issue #8, which revolved around him getting into trouble for breaking the fourth wall, and it's a lot of fun. So Raphael is definitely my favorite Ninja Turtle to write, at least when it comes to Saturday Morning Adventures.

I understand that you are working on an upcoming project that revolves around the fan-favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain Karai. What can you tell me about this new series?

The new series is called Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan, and the idea came about a year ago when the Ninja Turtle writers were having an online Zoom Summit about the Armageddon Game. It was mentioned that Karai was going to take over the Foot Clan, Shredder was going to be out of the picture, and she was going to start fresh in Japan. I suggested doing a story about a mission that occurs during the new status quo. At that point, ideas were coming in from everybody. It just kept getting bigger, and it was moving farther and farther away from my initial pitch. It's now become almost like an event mini-series, and it has been a blast to work on so far.

Several images of Karai in different costumes from Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan.

Will Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan be darker than your work on Saturday Morning Adventures?

I can't write anything without a little bit of humor and a few lighter moments, but Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan is 100% darker than Saturday Morning Adventures. It's a half shade darker than the regular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book but a lot lighter than The Last Ronin. It leans a little toward the dark end of the spectrum, and people will die. Remember, Karai is technically a villain, so there will be some villainous stuff going on.

What kind of Ninja Turtles fans do you think will be most interested in Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan?

Hopefully, all of them, but specifically those who have been following the IDW title from the start. Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan grows out of that and is very much the same vibe and tone, so hopefully, it'll grab them. I'm trying to make it relatively accessible even though it does have a lot of connections to the Armageddon Game, Secret History of the Foot Clan, and the long history of the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title. Longtime fans will hopefully appreciate and enjoy Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan, but we're trying to make it appealing to new readers as well.

Images of the supporting cast of Untold Destiny of the Foot Clan

How is Karai's Foot Clan different from Shredder's?

I think part of what Karai wants to find out is how her Foot Clan can be different. She has always wanted to bring back the past, and we saw that when she resurrected Shredder. But instead of running the clan the way it was done in the past, he evolved. However, Karai didn't evolve quite as much, and this is about her evolution and finding out what the Foot Clan will be like under her rule. It might be more altruistic. It might be more mercenary. We'll all see as the story unfolds.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures is on sale monthly from IDW Publishing.

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