By: Nicole D’Andria
Join the Turner Family once again in this Simpsons meets Hellboy black-and-white style horror-comedy. I’m once again talking with Robert Krisch, the creator and writer of the series.
Featuring a family of monster hunters, the third issue of Turner Family Terrors continues the adventures of the Turner Family. This issue’s story, “The Professor,” introduces Laura Turner’s estranged father, Professor Ezra Brahms. This famous monster hunter is not only a sociopath but a definite not contender for “Father of the Year.” The story also sees the villainess Diva seduce Laura’s husband, Bob Turner.
The Turner Family Terrors series was created and written by Robert Krisch. He is a two-time Emmy-nominated TV & Film editor. He’s previously been interviewed on “Kickstart the Week” for his first and second Turner Family Terrors-related Kickstarter campaigns. The artwork for the series, which pays tribute to 1950s and 1960s horror series like Eerie and Tales from the Crypt alongside contemporary series such as Rachel Rising and The Walking Dead, is by Aleksandar Bozic Ske. A Serbian artist, Aleksandar previously worked on titles like Go to The Museum and the Sex and Violence Anthology. There are also a variety of gorgeous variant covers from several other talented artists that you can enjoy on Kickstarter.
Christopher Angel, director of Wishmaster 3 and Wishmaster 4, rounds out the creative team as an editor. I’m the other editor on the Turner Family Terrors #2-3 (and hopefully many more issues to come!) along with a side story within the Nightmare Theater 2 horror anthology.
The crowdfunding campaign has already reached its $3,000 goal, but there’s still time to unlock more stretch goals before it ends on June 10, 2022, at 3:00 PM EDT. Rewards include digital ($5) and physical ($19+) copies of the third issue along with digital catch-up packages of over 200+ pages ($15). Among the many other rewards, there’s also a limited Kyle Roberts/Wes Hartman Rare Variant ‘Art Nouveau’ ($24) that backers won’t want to miss. Check out the rest of the rewards on the Kickstarter page.
Learn more about the Turner Family’s supernatural shenanigans in my interview with creator Robert Krisch below.
Nicole D’Andria (ND): For newcomers to the series, if you had to sell them on Turner Family Terrors in one sentence, what would you say?
Robert Krisch (RK): The easiest way I describe TFT is to think of it as The Simpsons meets Hellboy. Turner Family Terrors has a whimsical Scooby-Doo look, the humor of Rick & Morty, and the classic black and white horror-comedy feel of Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein. (Sorry, that was two sentences.)
ND: Please give us a one-sentence rundown for each member of the Turner Family that we meet in these first three issues.
RK: As I’ve said in the past:
Bob Turner might be a brilliant rocket scientist, but when it comes to parenting, he’s a definite bumbler.
Eight-year-old Matty Turner is the straight man of the group; the kid with a heart of gold… but a razor-sharp sword.
Five-year-old adopted daughter Sophie is the terror of the family, but will she be the terror for all mankind?
Laura Turner is an ass-kicking Mom, droppin’ F-bombs… and bad guys.
What’s new in issue 3?
We finally meet Laura Turner’s father, the mysterious Professor Ezra Brahms, a sociopath and all-around lousy Dad.
The Professor is a world-renowned monster hunter, expert of the occult, authority of antiquities & religious artifacts, multi-millionaire, and was featured in Playgirl magazine three times.
ND: This is the first campaign in which readers will be able to get the third issue of Turner Family Terrors, and a big element in it is the reunion between Laura Turner and her estranged father, Professor Ezra Brahms. Can you talk a bit about the importance of their relationship and how it shaped Laura into the person she is today?
RK: From the first few pages of TFT, we lay the groundwork for the rocky relationship between Laura and her father, the enigmatic Professor Ezra Brahms. The Professor is a world-famous monster hunter and trained his daughter from a young age to follow in his footsteps. She was to be the next great monster slayer, attaining fame and fortune beyond her father’s wildest imagination. But she rebelled. Laura simply wants a normal life and has retreated to the burbs in search of just a modicum of happiness.
Unfortunately for the Turners, they find themselves on the run from a ragtag gang of monsters and ghouls, and there’s only one man they can turn to for help – The Professor. The story’s been building to this for the past two issues and with Issue 3, it’s exciting to finally meet the jerk.
ND: You have several great new cover options for the third issue of Turner Family Terrors. What can you tell us about each cover and how each artist represents the series in their own unique way?
RK: One of my favorite parts of creating comics is collaborating with artists. Our interior artist Aleksandar Bozic Ske is back producing his lush, moody but light-hearted illustrations. For this issue, I was lucky enough to work with four more insanely talented artists producing three stunning covers.
Easton Hawk is back creeping us out with our main ‘Cryptid’ Cover A. Easton is the master of all things American Cryptid, and it’s always fun to give him free rein to produce his amazing monster pinups. Of course, we couldn’t resist throwing our poor Turner Family into the chaos to see what happens.
For the first time, we have commissioned two variant covers to offer our fans: our ‘Art Nouveau’ variant by Kyle Roberts and Wes Hartman, and our ‘Cthulhu Attacks’ variant by Carlos Trigo.
I ran across Kyle Roberts’ work while reading the horror anthology Nightmare Theater. Kyle’s work was hard to miss as his art graced the cover of the trade paperback. When Clay Adams dropped his The Blazing Blade of Frankenstein, I noticed Kyle again and a certain pinup he illustrated titled ‘The Empress.’ My imagination kinda ran wild with this idea for an Art Nouveau variant cover for TFT. Kyle took that idea and elevated it to an insane level and colorist Wes Hartman just crushed it. The cover has been such a hit we are offering it as a bonus 5×7 mini-print to fans who back both our TFT3 Kickstarter and Wes Hartman’s Savage Sasquanaut Kickstarter, which is currently live. There are just a couple of days left to back both campaigns and grab this bonus work of art. So act fast.
Our second variant is illustrated by a wonderful artist based out of Spain, Carlos Trigo. While reading Nightmare Theater, I came across a little story called ‘Ahead of Joaquin’ and I remember thinking “Damn, I love this art. I gotta work with this guy.” Later that week my Kickstarter rewards arrived for the comic Mandrill PI, a book I just adore, written by my buddy Christopher Brimmage. When I read that book I remember thinking again “Damn, I love this art. I gotta work with this guy.” It was not until about a week later that I realized they were both drawn by the same dude—Carlos Trigo.
For his variant I wanted to do a mashup of two of my favorite movie posters – the classic original Star Wars poster with a brooding Darth Vader in the background; as well as National Lampoon’s Vacation. But instead of Chevy Chase holding his tennis racket high to the sky, our Laura Turner has her scimitar raised with a cowering Bob Turner clutching her leg.
ND: There are plenty of villains chasing the Turner Family as well based on historical figures and/or folklore. Can you tell us a bit about them and why they make for the perfect antagonists in your story?
RK: I live down the street from the Wende Cold War Museum in Culver City. It’s a fascinating place full of Soviet-era art, East German espionage gadgets and all sorts of communist cultural artifacts. Walking around the halls of the museum I just thought it was a cool setting to kick off the comic. I thought ‘What if one of the Turners worked at the museum?’ Ideas just continued to flow from that initial thought. Our heroine Laura Turner could work at the museum and stumble across an apocalyptic plot devised by monsters inspired by Russian folklore.
Some of these villains are more familiar than others, the Baba Yaga being the most famous. But I discovered other lesser-known mythical creatures—the Vodyanoy frogman or the Vila Samodiva ethereal maiden. Once I had a few monsters based on myth, I gave myself the freedom to just make up a few more to fill out the gang – the ghost of Stalin, a huge lumberjack who transforms into a bear, a demented cosmonaut monkey… you get the idea.
Playing with Russian myth worked on a few levels. It helped kick off the story at the Cold War Museum thrusting the Turners into peril, but it also played into a consistent theme of the book: all our characters are pretty annoyed at one another. The Turners are a dysfunctional mess, but our monsters are right there with them. They are extremely pissed that they had to travel to America to track down their long-lost magical relic. They are fish out of water and their journey across the US will be just as absurd as the Turners.
ND: You specifically mention that the series is like The Simpsons meets Hellboy. What elements from each of these works do you feel are reflected in Turner Family Terrors to make this comparison?
RK: From the outset of creating Turner Family Terrors my main inspiration was clear—my own family. In many ways, Turner Family Terrors are the Krisch Family Terrors. It’s a personal story for me as I get to joke around about my own frustrations in life, the sadness and joy, but most importantly I get to lean into the humor—those inappropriate situations all parents find themselves in. I get to crank that humor up to 11 and it’s a joy to write. But looking at TFT from 30,000 feet, the influences from some of my favorite shows are apparent, and a big one is The Simpsons.
In TFT, little Sophie provides the terror in Turner Family Terrors. She plays the Bart Simpson of the group, wreaking havoc in our story, providing a good amount of comic relief, but also helping with those heartfelt quiet moments that ground the story and make our family relatable. I would also say Bob Turner has a whole lot of Homer Simpson in him. But for Bob, he’s a genius rocket scientist in addition to being a dopey Dad. So while he drinks too much beer and continually screws things up, moments of his brilliance do occasionally surface. It’s just this damn parenting thing that keeps tripping him up.
I’m also a big fanboy of Mike Mignola. Hellboy’s my jam. His monsters and mythology are captivating and the Lovecraftian artwork is creepy, weird, and beautiful. Readers of TFT will definitely see his influence as the story weaves in and out of mysterious Russian folklore, with quirky frogmen and deranged monkeys lurking in the shadows.
ND: What’s the number one reason why people should pledge money to your Kickstarter?
RK: Turner Family Terrors 3: The Professor is really the product of another year’s worth of love and creativity. Backers can catch themselves up with issues 1 and 2, and also experience issue 3, our most exciting installment yet. For the first two issues, we introduced the lovable Turners, explored their origin stories, and laid the groundwork for their bizarre misadventures. With issue 3, The Turners finally confront The Professor and a whole new assortment of oddball villains. The story just explodes in issue 3 and we’re psyched to finally share it with our fans.
And as always, I continue to try and up my game as a creator, this time collaborating with seven artists on three stunning covers and two additional pinups. We fully funded our Kickstarter in 72 hours, so this comic is definitely happening! We’ve unlocked five stretch goals and are offering 10 bonus digital indie comics to any new backer (even $1). Plus we even have the 160+ page Nightmare Theater 2 Horror Anthology available as an Add-On. So there’s a ton of value to be had, and hopefully more than a few inappropriate jokes to enjoy.
ND: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers in addition to the great advice you’ve given out on the two previous “Kickstart the Week” features you’ve been in? (See the first and second campaigns’ Kickstart the Week!)
RK: In previous articles, I’ve offered up tips on how to create your first book. I’ve also discussed engaging the indie comics community and sharing the love, as they will share it right back. This time around, I want to talk about anthologies. Recently I was lucky enough to contribute a TFT short to the Nightmare Theater 2 Horror Anthology, edited by David Schrader and Clay Adams. It was a wonderful experience rallying my TFT Team, banging out a quick 6 pager, and working with some new friends in Dave and Clay. It gave me some new perspective on what I might tell aspiring comic book writers. I think I would now tell them to start their creative journey by submitting to anthologies.
Starting with a short story is just plain easier to produce. Working with an artist on a short is a more manageable endeavor as it’s only for a limited time and not a months-long (or years-long) commitment. Also when your anthology hits Kickstarter you can act as a cheerleader for the book and get your toes wet with crowdfunding, while not being responsible for an entire exhausting Kickstarter campaign. (Did I mention I’m exhausted right now?)
But don’t wait around to be invited to the party. Buy a bunch of anthologies. Find the creators that you vibe with. Track them down on social media and share your ideas. Contributing to anthologies is a quick and fun way to generate some work and get yourself in the comics game.
ND: Promote yourself! What other projects are you working on that we will be seeing in the near future?
RK: Turner Family Terrors 3 will be released following this current Kickstarter. The big news around these parts is that art production for Issue 4 is underway and halfway complete. The dream for the series has always been to create a four-issue story arc, culminating in a 120+ page volume 1 trade paperback. We’ve got 105 pages illustrated so we’re very close to seeing this dream become a reality. Exciting stuff. Holding that trade in my hands will be a significant accomplishment in my creative career. Also in a few months, Nightmare Theater 2 will be released and I’m looking forward to offending a whole host of new readers with the over-the-top shenanigans of the Turner Family.
Me: Thank you for inviting us to the Turner Family dinner! Interested readers can check out Robert’s campaign to get a slice of the action.
Do you have a crowdfunding project? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart/IndieGogo/GoFundMe/etc. the Week?” Then message me on my website. Also considering checking out the official Kickstart the Week: Interviews with Comic Book Kickstarter Creators Volume 1 on Kindle.
Other “Kickstart the Week” features: