Bobby Curnow talks about TMNT

Interview made in august 2013

First of all, can you present yourself, and your career that led you editor at IDW ?

I’m Bobby Curnow, editor of TMNT amongst other books at IDW. I started here at IDW as an intern, after a brief career in the film world. I eventually worked my way up the ladder to Editor.


Can you present the role and job of an editor in US Comics Industry ? (as Editor in France are mostly chosing titles to translate and publish…)

 That’s a tough question, as it covers a lot of ground. An editor is akin to a producer on a film— essentially a project manager. We determine the timetable and deadlines to keep our publishing schedule moving forward. We reach out to, or receive pitches from, creators and (hopefully, if we’re doing my job right) help them best fulfill their creative vision. Then there’s interacting licensors, making sure they’re happy. (same goes with fans, as well!) Then there’s proof reading, and writing solicit copy, placing word balloons and a bunch of other boring stuff.

How did you become Editor of TMNT titles ? Was it a choice ? Have you always been a fan of turtles ?

When I heard we were getting the license, I volunteered to work on it. I was relatively new at IDW at the time, so worked with editor Scott Dunbier on the book at the start. When it was clear I could handle the work, I was given the full job. (Scott has his hands full with a ton of other amazing books!). I’m 32 now, so I grew up right in the middle of the first Turtle craze. I was a big fan of the original cartoon and toys.  As I got older and started reading more comics. I first got into the Archie, then Mirage runs of the comics. So yes, i’ve been a fan for a while!

When IDW get the licence TMNT, for you was it mandatory that Kevin would work on it ?

No, none of us had any idea if he was going to be interested. We figured maybe we’d get a cover or two out of the guy.  But he was really excited to work on the title again, and brought a bunch of wonderful ideas to the table. Working regularly with Kevin is one the biggest, and best, surprises of my career in comics!

When you started working on TMNT title, did you have difficulties to work with Kevin Eastman as he is the co-creator of the title ? Wasn’t it too difficult to make things different from the original material, but not to much so the fan wouldn’t be lost ?

I had this very same worry when we first started. I figured he’d want things just a certain way, which would be very understandable. It’s his baby! But that was before I got to know the guy. Kevin has been our biggest supporter, and always encourages us to try new things. At the same time he’s grounded us and given us an invaluable link to Turtles’ past. We would have a good book without Kevin, but he makes it something special.

How do you chose (if it you who chose) the artists working on the Titles ? Dan Duncan wasn’t well established in the industry for example, how did you you come with him ?

I wish I could take credit for Dan. Tom Waltz, our main writer, had actually worked with him on a different book, and recommended him. It was important we have someone who was good at character designs, had a knack for kinetic action, was passionate about Turtles, and could meet a deadline! We also wanted it to have a little ‘indy edge’ to set it apart from super hero comics and maintain a link to TMNT’s roots. Dan brought all of that to the table. We were very

While I’m not responsible for Dan, I can, however, take credit for choosing the other artists! (and will do so gladly! =-)  Essentially, I’m always on the lookout for new talent. I’m a fan of a lot of different styles of art, and I think that shows in the different artists we’ve seen on the book and the supporting titles. Luckily, TMNT, with it’s roots in sci-fi, noir, and action, allows for a lot of different types of art styles. If an artist has a passion for Turtles, and brings their own style to the book, I’m interested. (helps if they can keep a deadline, too!)

 When you started to pitch the title, did you know where exactly you wanted to go ? For example, at what time City Fall (at least the plot) came ?

 That’s another good question. The answer is « sort of! » We usually have the upcoming year pretty well planned out. So when we started, we knew most of what was going to happen up through issue #12. City Fall came about during the end of the first year, during the first Shredder story arc. We thought « how can Shredder best torture Splinter— oh, by taking one of his sons and making him renounce the Turtle family! » Funny story, we actually talked about revealing that Leonardo was in fact really Shredder’s son, in Feudal Japan, and that Hamato Yoshi adopted him. We ended up changing that for a variety of reasons, but that’s where the idea for Dark Leo originally came from. Lucky he showed up when he did.

Beside the ongoing, there are all the micro series and the mini Secret History of the Foot Clan. For the Micro Series, was it a choice to fit and pay a hommage of the original Micro Serie to launch them ? Or only a way to improve some characterisation in one shots ? Why did you launch The Secret History as a mini serie and not a fill in on the ongoing ?

All of the above for the Micros! We started them as both an homage, and a way to better explore the characters individually.

Secret History has a somewhat interesting backstory. I had originally talked to Mateus Santolouco about writing the series way back before we started the series! He had some really great, cool ideas. Many factors led to us choosing Tom as the primary writer, but I couldn’t forget Mateus’ passion for Turtles. I brought him in for the fill-in artist for the Feudal Japan pages of TMNT #5, and he brought that to life so vividly. So I thought, « I’d love to see more of this! » I had the title of the mini-series in my head and brought it to Mateus, and asked if he wanted to flesh out that aspect of the world. Luckily, he said yes! From there, we developed the story and brought in Erik Burnham to help with the script. He ended up helping the story too!

We didn’t want to distract from other things that were going on in the ongoing series, and it’s special nature (different artist, different time period) made it ideal to make it a mini-series of it’s own.

Mateus Santolouco told me that when you first meet him when IDW had the TMNT’s licence, he presented you a pitch of a serie he would write and draw. But at that time, you have already chosen Tom and Kevin. One day, will we see that serie he had proposed ?

Ha, I didn’t read this question before answering the last. So there you go— story confirmed! Mateus story was an origin story, that had a lot of major differences from our world. So it couldn’t really fit in with our Turtles world now. It would have to be set as an « Elseworlds » type of thing. Maybe one day— there were a lot of great ideas in it. I remember that in the proposal, OOZE was actually just a number for a chemical… 0023, which I thought was pretty cool. I’m probably misremembering it a bit… I need to reread it!

On City Fall, you are also credited as writer. What is your part on it ?

I’ve always been pretty involved in the story side. Tom and I sit only a couple feet from each other, so we yell story ideas back and forth over our little partition all the time. City Fall was the culmination of a lot those shared ideas. So Tom graciously thought I should be credited on them, which was nice. Now i’ll never leave!!

To work on TMNT titles, did you get to read/watch a lot of  TMNT materials ? In order to introduce elements of the past ? One of the strength of the serie is to pick elements of each iteration of TMNT, and still introduce new elements.

I was already pretty familiar with a lot of Turtles from the past. I had not watched much for the 4Kids cartoon, or read the later comics, in both Archie and Tales of TMNT. So it’s been very enjoyable to do that. There’s just so much good TMNT, from different times, we’re in a really lucky position to be the first to be able to pick and choose different elements from the past and mix them all up together!

For the Micro Series 7 about April, the creative team is composed by two women. Was it a choice to choose women to write about the only woman in the title ?

 I had been a fan of Marley Zarcone for a while, and I wanted to work with her on the book. Several other, male, writers actually initially pitched for the book, but it didn’t quite work out. Barbara Kesel brought a perfect perspective to the character though, so it worked out nicely. I think Heather Breckel also happened to be brought on by circumstance.

Beside TMNT? you are also Editor of My Little Pony (I’ve read a few ones). How did you come to be editor of that serie ?

Ha, My Little Pony… I was not expecting that book. When we were talking about it, I said « Katie Cook would be good for that book! » And everyone said « Okay, it’s your book now! » I had no idea what I was getting into. But luckily I was surprised and ended up enjoying the cartoon a lot. I’ve always thought it a shame that more kids don’t read comics these days, so seeing kids enjoy a book I work on has been really rewarding.

I also edit the Godzilla books, and various creator owned titles. (I recommend « Wild Blue Yonder » right now!)

Any special anecdotes on the writing of the ongoing to give to our readers ? Any informations on the future ?

Hm, on occasion, Tom will sometimes mistakenly switch Shredder and Splinter in the script. So sometimes I’ll read something funny, like « Splinter stabs Casey in the stomach » and I’ll be like « WHAT?!?! » That’s happened only two times, I think, but it’s a chuckle.

I’m really excited for Northampton. Ross Campbell is an extremely talented, passionate TMNT fan… I can’t wait to see him get more than just one issue! That’s going to be a very different type of story, and will be a good counter balance to City Fall. Our remaining micros, Karai, Hun, Bebop and Rocksteady and Shredder are also all really special to me. I feel like we’ve got the hang of that format now.

We’re also batting around ideas for some major new characters in the coming years. It’s very fun stuff.

After the Shredder Micro Series, will it be the end of Micro Series or will you make others ? And if you do so, what will it be about ?

The Shredder micro will be the last for Micro for the foreseeable future. I can’t reveal what will come next yet, but I’m excited for it.

To conclude, do you have a favorite Turtle ?

If I had to choose, my favorite Turtle might be Leonardo.

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