This June, IDW Publishing continues to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with “TMNT: Turtles in Time” by writers Paul Allor and Erik Burnham. Joined by a different interior artist on each issue, beginning with Ross Campbell and — as revealed exclusively here — C.P. Wilson III illustrating the second chapter, the 4-issue series sees the Turtles travel to four different time periods — and yes, the feudal Japan setting from “TMNT 3” is most definitely one of them.
Allor and Burnham spoke with CBR News about the half-shelled heroes’ latest time-traveling adventure, revealing exactly which periods the Turtles will find themselves transported to, which classic adversaries await Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo and more.
CBR News: Erik and Paul, what’s “TMNT: Turtles in Time” about?
Erik Burnham: Like the title suggests, the Turtles are bouncing through time — four separate eras, four separate adventures. They’re unstuck in time and can’t quite control where they’re going.
Paul Allor: Yup. This miniseries offers us a chance to tell four really cool adventure stories, with different settings, different tones, different artists. It’s going to be a wild, fun, rip-roaring adventure miniseries.
How were you guys get brought on to the project?â€¨
Burnham: Editor Bobby Curnow quite literally emailed out of the blue and said “I have a project. It’s called ‘Turtles in Time.’ It’s going to be fun. Do you guys want to do it?” And that’s awesome — because it is fun, and I’m always glad to be invited to play in this sandbox.
Allor: That’s pretty much how it happened for me, too. And as a general rule, any time Bobby asks, “Do you want to work on XYZ Turtles project?” my answer is a resounding “Yes.”
How are you splitting up writing duties?
Burnham: Paul is opening and closing the book, because he has a rider in his contract that specifically guarantees this and a bowlful of green M&Ms — no, I’m kidding. What it came down to is, Paul’s choices lined up perfectly as the bookends of this story. Me? The places I wanted to write about fit between those two, and it just worked out. Also, I know Paul’s going to open and close this story in a strong and impeccable manner, so I would have argued for that even if we went more timey-wimey about it!
Allor: I just found a green M&M. Interview over.
Which time periods will the Turtles be traveling to? How did you choose each period? â€¨
Allor: I actually think Bobby came up with both my time periods. But when I heard them I was like, “Yes. And yes. And yes, again.” In the first issue, the Turtles are traveling to Prehistoric Earth, where they discover that they are far from the most dangerous reptiles around! (I stole that from the solicitation text.)
And then, in the fourth issue, they travel to the distant future. I don’t want to say a lot about that, just yet.
Burnham: I’ve worked on a couple of stories set in Feudal Japan — the Splinter micro with CP Wilson III and “Secret History of the Foot Clan” with Mateus Santolouco — and really wanted to get back to that era. Partly because there’s a history of time traveling Turtles finding their way to that era, but partly because — come on, given the setup the book has been working with, there’s no WAY we should avoid a story there. So that was the first one, down and easy. I had a lot of ideas for the second — Vikings, Mongols, Cowboys, Crusades one of the World Wars — but then, thinking about the old video game, I remembered: pirate ship. Right there on the cover. And ninjas vs. pirates clicked. So, they’ll be in the Caribbean during the golden age of piracy — and possibly near an island very familiar to readers of the main TMNT book.
What sorts of adversaries will the Turtles be facing as they travel through time?
Burnham: Well, you know, feudal Japan, the Turtles — it sure would be interesting if there was a familiar ninja clan around for them to run into. (Honestly, I could have done four issues with just this concept alone.) As for Issue #3, Paul gave me a great idea — that a pirate captain the Turtles deal with is the ancestor of Baxter Stockman. I loved that idea! But as we beat out the story, it kind of fell away. So I’m sharing it now, as kind of a behind the scenes moment. Because it really was awesome, and it’s a bummer that I couldn’t make it work. (Still, what replaced it is also awesome!)
Allor: Since that idea didn’t work out, I’m going to pick a random background pirate and pretend that he’s Rocksteady’s ancestor. You know, in my head canon.
As for my issues — there was a scene in “TMNT: Utrom Empire” which revealed that Krang’s race, the Utroms, were around on prehistoric Earth, collecting dinosaur samples for their scientific experiments. Those dudes are still around, and the Turtles get caught up in their net — in one case, literally!
Then in the future, we’ll be seeing one possible outcome of the ongoing conflict between the Turtles, the Foot Clan and the Utrom Race. But again, I don’t want to say too much. Find out in September!
Which artists are you working with on “Turtles in Time?”
Burnham: I’m curious as to who Paul is working with, myself!
Allor: The first issue is being drawn by the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Ross Motherflipping Campbell. I’ve wanted to work with Ross for years, and am a huge fan of his work, both Turtles and creator-owned. So I’m incredibly excited about this. And Ross is, if possible, an even bigger dinosaur nut than I am, so I know he is really pumped for this project as well.
I don’t know if I can announce the Issue #4 artist yet. But it’s another person I’m incredibly to be working with. Lids will be flipped. â€¨â€¨Burnham: CP Wilson III, my collaborator on “Splinter” and the illustrator of “Joe Hill’s Wraith,” will be joining me on #2 for an encore in feudal Japan. It’s so awesome to be working with him again! On Issue #3, the pirates will be realized by Ben Bates. I’m totally psyched for that as well. I was just rereading the “Bebop & Rocksteady” micro last night; he did gorgeous work on that — and his cover for that is one of my favorite covers of all time.
What other projects do you both have coming up next?â€¨
Burnham: “Mass Hysteria” is still trucking along in “Ghostbusters,” and I’m loving how it’s turning out so far. As I write this, I’m a bit over halfway done. But the next new thing is the “Johnny Bravo” tie-in to this summer’s “Super-Secret Crisis War” event. It was challenging, owing to so much of Johnny’s humor in the cartoon coming down to tone or motion, but once it clicked, it clicked. It has some of my favorite lines in here, stuff only Johnny could get away with. (I don’t think I can reveal who’s drawing it yet, but it’s a genius choice, and an awesome cartoonist. Can’t wait to see what she does with the script!) God willing, there’ll be some forward motion on some creator-owned stuff this year, too.
Allor: I have a creator-owned book called “Strange Nation” coming out through Monkeybrain Comics, with artist Juan Romera. It’s a fun adventure story about a journalist who discovers a hidden conspiracy linking together Sasquatch, UFO’s and Doomsday cults. Along with her sidekick (who may or may not be an elderly Elvis Presley), she sets out to expose the conspiracy and (pause for dramatic effect) save the Planet Earth itself.
Then, next month, my new book “Past the Last Mountain” premieres in Th3rd World Studios’ FCBD issue. It’s a geopolitical fantasy story about three creatures — a dragon, a faun and a troll child — who escape from captivity and make their way across the wilderness, while pursued by the American military. It’s a fun, heartwarming story about building a family and finding a home.
“TMNT: Turtles in Time” hit shelves this June from IDW Publishing.