Minnesota based comic writer and artist Erik Burnham has accepted a live discussion to speak with fans. Soon you will have your chance to discuss topics or ask questions with our special guest. Join us Saturday June 10TH @ 1:00 PM eastern time. The live conversation will take place in the real-time comment section below. Creating a Disqus account helps, but you can easily comment as a guest. This will be similar to our recent live discussion with Sophie Campbell.
Burnham has worked with some big companies like IDW Publishing, Marvel Comics, Cryptozoic Entertainment, and more. Some of his major brands include Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Scarlet Spider, Back to the future, The Simpsons, and more. He has a fun personality and is looking forward to speaking with shell-heads around the world.
LIVE DISCUSSION: SATURDAY JUNE 10TH @ 1:00 PM EST
Connect with Erik:
Erik Burnham’s website – Burnhamania
SEWER APPLES!!!! I WONT BE ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THIS ONE EITHER!!!! Well great job organizing these everyone!!! I think these opportunities are really awesome!!! keep it up! TURTLE POWAAAAH!!! sorry i cant come…. I’ll be leaving for training for my job that very day. 🙁
Hopefully you can join the next conversation. Thanks dude!
I hope to attend perhaps. What time would Pacific time be?
Also, Skinner has always been my favorite character.
Pacific time is three hours behind. The conversation will be from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST
The conversation will be starting shortly
Okeedoke, I’m here, folks. Fire away.
Who is your favorite ninja turtle and villain?
I’ve cycled through all of the TMNT over the years as favorites, but finally landed on Donatello, and so far that’s stuck.
Karai’s my favorite villain — and Tom’s work with her in the IDW ongoing helped to solidify that.
Hi Erik! Thanks for joining us! What’s been your favorite thing about writing TMNT?
Part of it is getting to geek out with my inner 9 year old — I can still vividly recall the first wave of Turtlemania — and part of it is that there’s a little bit of everything. Hard sci fi, superhero action, comedy, fantasy, and you could mix in horror without trying too hard. It has a lot of tools for a creative type to use in storytelling.
How did you get into the comic profession?
Oof. Long story. Let me give you the short, bullet point version:
1. Lost job in 2000
2. Spent more time online on message boards, made friendships
3. During a group chat, someone started grousing about modern comics — and someone else said “well, can we do better?” That caused our group to put together an anthology. I was a part of it.
4. The anthology group formed a company and put out 6 more anthologies, a couple of miniseries, and a one shot — the one shot was by me.
5. I met Tom Waltz through this company — he liked the humor in the stuff I was working on, and when he was hired on at IDW, asked if I would like to pitch for an anthology he was editing.
6. I did, got a story accepted, and have gone on from there (to a book called Nanovor, then the A-Team, then Ghostbusters: Infestation, the GB ongoing, and from there to the Splinter micro, my first time writing TMNT)
Losing a job turned into a new opportunity. Life is great!
Love your work, Erik! Who is your favorite TMNT character to write?
Without a doubt, it’s become Karai.
What influenced your art?
Cliche answer is everything, but sometimes the truth is a cliche (:
What was your favorite ninja turtle moment in comic books
Three things come to mind:
1. Maybe not what you meant, but just seeing Mirage for the first time with Return to New York book one (I never lived near a comic shop so it took a while to see the originals!)
2. The TMNT meeting Loki
3. Waltz telling me his plan to have Splinter take over the Foot in IDW… before the book was in the teens on the stands. (:
#3 sounds great
No thats it, that is what i wanted to know. Thanks
What’s it like working on board games? How is it different from writing for comics?
Well, yes. But mostly what I did was write a simple prose short story — so at least it was simple. Working in all of the mechanics and testing, that’s a whole different animal!
While reading through some of the new Ghostbusters comics, it became immediately apparent that you’ve got nostalgia for a lot of the things you write about. What is your favorite reference you’ve been able to sneak into a comic?
It hasn’t come out yet.
But I do remember no one caught the Magnum PI joke from way back in 2011… (:
What work have you done or are doing now outside of tmnt
What characters haven’t you worked on that youd you’d like to.
Whoa, geez. Option paralysis.
I’ll say Spider-Man or Plastic Man for the big two superhero companies, Indiana Jones for a license, and about three tons of creator owned ideas sitting in the back of my brain.
Hey, stranger things have happened when it comes to Indiana Jones comics — and I’d love to see you take on Indy!
Do you have a favorite superhero franchise?
Spidey. Even when the books aren’t to my taste, he’s been my favorite for as long as I’ve had a memory.
What was it like working with Tom Waltz and Christopher Yost?
Awesome experiences with great people. Waltz and I have been friends for years, so it’s very much a friendly way of working with teasing popping in here and there.
Yost is just a creative dynamo and a really open collaborator.
Was fortunate to work with both.
What is your favorite pizza?
Right now, pepperoni, green olive, onion.
Does your job allow you to work from home? Or do you work in a studio? I am not sure if you work directly for specific company or just freelance.
Freelancer. I either work from home (when and if I do any drawing) but I write all over. Coffee shop, beach, the park, a diner at 2 am… nice and mobile.
Favorite tmnt incarnation?
I don’t want it to sound like a cop out, heh, but IDW and the current Nick show are both favorites because they both have three decades to mine from — and are mining like crazy. I love that every good idea (and every fun idea) has a place. I have an eclectic nature, so that will always appeal.
haha i figured you’d have to say IDW! XD That totally makes sense though!
Would you like to work on a tmnt videogame? If yes, give us a mini story line.
Yes. But why come after me when they have Waltz? (;|
Well, off the cuff: reality is broken. Four levels start with one turtle trapped in a prior incarnation (mirage, 87 FW cartoon, etc) and all fighting to reunite and then fix whatever has been broken.
Quick thinking, nice!
Have you explored pursuing a creator-owned project?
It’s where I started.
Right now, what slows me down from doing more is simply having a lot of paying work over the last few years. (Not something I’m ever going to complain about.)
That said, I hope to find a small window to do more stuff soon.
Having worked on both TMNT and The New Warriors, which teenage team would win in a fight? Or would they just skip right to the team-up/pizza party?
They would fight… and THEN have a pizza party.
As for who would win, depends on which version of the team.
The version I wrote?
Then the Warriors win. You can’t sneak up on Aracely.
Telekinesis, webbing, kinetic energy, all immobilize our ninja pals.
They can talk it out and then go for a slice as friends (:
How did you break into the industry? I’ve heard tales from other artists and writers who just started going to conventions and sharing their work with editors. Did you have an experience like that?
Nope. I gave a breakdown below — but my experience in working was entirely online. Everyone who hired me contacted me via twitter or email. I didn’t start doing many of the bigger cons until I was working regularly!
Did you get to work on the Usagi crossover at all?
Pretty sure that’s all Stan Sakai, which I would say is the only correct path. I can’t wait to read it.
Do you have a script preference? Full or “Marvel method”?
As most of my work needs to be approved by a licensor, I’ve had to work full script so they can see exactly what I’m going for.
I’d have to work with a willing collaborator on a creator project (or one with a trusting editor on a corporate project that needs no outside approval) to work Marvel method.
When I wrote for myself to draw, the script was a series of short notes, and I wrote dialogue later. So that’s… KIND of Marvel. (;
Anything else you’d like to try with future TMNT story arcs?
I’d love to play more with the Pantheon.
(And find a way to sneak in the Punk Frogs somehow. I tried to get Cudley the Cowlick in as a joke, you’ll never know how much, but have surrendered that battle.)
Aww Cudley! lol I love the Pantheon and the possibilities. Those Toad Baron issues reminded me a lot of Spirited Away… very cool stuff.
Do you listen to any music or watch something when you’re working? What gets your creativity rolling?
When I’m plotting — no music. When I’m formatting a script (which is me tweaking dialogue, fully writing scene description, etc) or drawing, I listen to a lot of music. TV I don’t listen to much while I write (can’t tune out talking as well as singing) but I binge like crazy when I draw.
I listen to everything — every genre of music. Used to work in radio, was exposed to a lot. My movie and TV taste is likewise all over. Was just watching the Desk Set (a Tracy/Hepburn romantic comedy) as a chaser for Journey to the West! Heh.
How many comic cons do you visit per year?
It varies. My record was 5, but this year I have that beat. (6 so far.)
I don’t often go anymore unless I have a lot of friends there, or I’m invited by the show.
Which comic con is your favorite to attend? Do you enjoy them?
I do enjoy them for the most part, although I’ve been getting antsy at the table lately. Heh. I like to get up and wander, see people I haven’t seen in years and say hello, or just bask in the geekery.
Favorite has been San Diego, but that’s in large part to knowing many people who live in SoCal — Tom Waltz and the IDW crew, of course, but also many who aren’t even in comics — and the show is a fantastic excuse to see them all.
Any writers that have really inspired and shaped your career?
I learn every time I read. But EARLY on? Stan Lee gave me big words when I was four. JM DeMatteis bounced back and forth between comedy and melodrama, and I ate it up as a kid reading Spectacular Spider-Man. Shane Black or William Goldman movies. Elmore Leonard novels. Dialogue seems to be a big thing for me… heh.
Writers who directly shaped my career by way of helping with a word or a lead at the right time? Tom Waltz, Chuck Dixon, Chris Yost.
Do you have a favorite episode of Batman 66?
I was rewatching the first season recently. There is so much gold there — the humor holds up — but the pilot! Frank Gorshin’s Riddler!
RIP Adam West!
Do you have a favorite TMNT video game?
I wish I could’ve beaten that first NES game……
But Turtles in Time in the arcade. I loved it. Still do.
I have a soft spot for Tournament Fighters on the Genesis, but Turtles in Time is a classic.
Do you have any new plans for the future? Any big news!
Yes! To be announced soon. (:
…And hopefully I can amass some more!
Thanks… i will be waiting.
What are your thoughts on the last two tmnt movies? 2014 & 2016
Haven’t seen the second one. First one had some good character beats, though I was never big on the designs.
What I will always remember is seeing the trailer — two adults behind me were grousing that their childhood had been ruined.
Two kids up front lit up and begged their dad to take them. “Can we go? It looks AWESOME!”
So that’s it right there. It excited a new generation. I welcome what brings new people to the party.
So true. Nobody ruined their childhood — it’s still there! They can still go back and watch the original 90’s movies if they want to. 🙂
The second film featured more turtles scenes with humor. Designs and story could of been better though,
Any advice for aspiring comic creators
1. Finish what you start. That sounds weird, but so many half-finished stories. So many give up. Comics are expensive (cashwise, timewise, or both) to produce. But you can’t improve if you don’t finish a story.
2. Get what you finish in front of an audience. Notice what they like. Build on that. Notice what they don’t. If they don’t like something that will be improved with practice, practice more. If they have a legitimate point (X doesn’t make sense because Y) consider this. If they just hate it because of a different sensibility, let your skin thicken.
And if you’re a writer who doesn’t draw, you have two choices to improve — first, do stuff with crude art. (Easier for humor. See Cyanide & Happiness or XKCD) It will help you learn pacing and what the format can do.
Also, fanfic. Prose fanfic. It’s where I started showing things to an audience. (Mine was largely original takes as opposed to the kind that’s set in the world and adheres to continuity, but audiences still had to make sense of it!) (:
do you have any tips for coming up with ideas for comics? specifically, ghostbusters fan comics?
Favorite tmnt artists?
Mateus Santolouco. AC Farley. Cory Smith. Sophie Campbell. CP Wilson III… Look I could keep this up all day.
This marks the end of the live discussion. We agreed to one hour with Erik. I am grateful for all the activity in the discussion. Thank you to everyone here!!!!
Thanks for having me!
Thanks to you and the moderators!!
Thanks Erik! It was a pleasure talking with you!
Thank you so much…. you are awesome
When the dimensional portal from TMNT/ Ghostbusters was created was it intended as a one shot plot device or was it already planned on being a method to get the RGB and ATC universes into one multiverse? (PS thanks. I have never been as consitantly impressed with comic writing as i am with you). – JH
At the time we wrote it, there was no ATC universe! Movie hadn’t been made. Paul Feig *might* have been in discussions at that point, or might not have — either way, it wasn’t part of the thought process when we were working on the TMNT crossover.
Interdimensional adventures (everything under the sun, really) was part of Dan Aykroyd’s broad idea for Ghostbusters before Harold Ramis brought it down to earth. Having such a device would only open the door for more kinds of stuff, so of course we were gonna always keep it and use it in the future. For any kind of story that might come to mind.
And thank you!
Heck, I still have the page open, and it is early in the day, so feel free to keep shouting Qs if ya like, folks, I’ll answer while I’m still home. (:
Favorite TMNT comic?
Favorite TMNT character
Which turtle represents you the most?
Oh, probably Raph, at the end of the day. (:
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