TMNT's Villainous FOOT CLAN Gets Spotlight at IDW
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan is a series that was born out of IDW's desire to do more work with cartoonist Mateus Santolouco after his well-received work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5 back in 2011. Santolouco, who's also working on DC's Dial H and did an arc on American Vampire, came into comics alongside his fellow Brazilian artist Rafael Albuquerque and is making a name for himself with his work recently. On this new series, IDW partnered him with writer Erik Burnham to help hone Mateus' ideas for the tone and direction of the story.
With the third issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan due out on February 27th, Newsarama spoke with both Burnham and Santolouco about their series and their nuanced portrayal of Shredder and the Foot Clan in a "Year One" frame of mind.
Erik Burnham: This tells the story of not only how the Foot Clan came to be created by a man named Tatsuo, but how - and why - Oroku Saki took it over and was resurrected into the present day (as opposed to being reincarnated like Splinter and the turtles were.) Mateus came up with a great story that's been a lot of fun to work on.
Mateus Santolouco: Yep. Erik said it all and I'm pleased to have him onboard to help me out and make this an even better project to be a part of.
Nrama: Erik mentioned this is a history of the Foot Clan, but this isn't just a period piece -- I read that it’s split between the modern day and Feudal Japan. Can you tell us about these two narratives?
Santolouco: Yeah, we kind of swing between these two narratives while people, objects and situations build the links of present and past.
Nrama: Who are the big players in this series?
Burnham: There's Tatsuo Takeshi, the founder of the Foot Clan; Kitsune, who met Tatsuo's (and saves his life) in issue #1; and Oroku Maji, Saki's father... not to mention Saki himself. The present day chapter has Professor Miller, Karai, the turtles, Splinter, April, Casey, and, of course, the Shredder.
Nrama: How does Shredder, the most famous of the Foot, play into this series?
Burnham: Easy -- that's... wait a second! You can't trick us into spoiling it! Seriously, this is all about how he took over the Foot - why it was his destiny - and how he came to the modern day relatively intact. We also show Oroku Saki as a toddler, which I think is a first in all iterations of the franchise.
Santolouco: Personally, it's nice to see a Shredder that is not ALL evil and for no particular reason. I enjoy the fact that we first see the human and then the bad guy.
Nrama: Mateus – you’re not only drawing this but also co-writing, with Erik calling this your baby. How’d the idea to do this series come to you?
We went back and forward with a few concepts but there’s one element that was here from the very first draft and I can’t really talk more about it without spoiling it.
Nrama: One of the many things I love about this series is how the individual turtles are drawn with different features, more so than just different colored masks and different weapons. How’d you go about developing their unique physical characteristics, and was it hard to get IDW and Nickelodeon to sign off on it?
Nrama: The origin of the Foot has briefly been touched upon in other comics and cartoons, but this miniseries you’re doing is the first time it’s been squarely taken on. What kind of research did you two do to determine this story?
Santolouco: I didn’t research previous versions of the TMNT. If there is something that can be related to those was already in my system. My researches were to make the feudal Japan as genuine as possible. To find a historical period where this story could fit, the cultural and religious aspects that could help to build the plot and to validate some concepts and elements that I had already came up with, such as Kitsune -literally the Fox- for example, I created a witch and the ancient Japanese beliefs about Fox as magic spirits came just in handy.
Basically I needed to be sure I was not fantasizing too much, but just a little bit.