In February 2008, DC Comics launched the Tiny Titans series which became an instant success. The book recently won the Eisner award for â€œbest publication for kidsâ€. At the recent Baltimore Comic Con I met Franco, one of the creative minds behind the hit title. We arranged to conduct an exclusive interview for Major Spoilers and when it came time to call Franco I got a special surprise; Art Baltazar was also on the line!
Victoria: Where did the original idea for Tiny Titans come from? Was this your idea or DCâ€™s?
Art: It came from DC. The editor over there was Jan Jones at the time and she called me up and wanted to do a book series called Tiny Titans for kids and that was pretty much it. Her boss read “Patrick the Wolf Boy” and they called me and asked me who Franco was. They said if you want him to work on Tiny Titans too, that would be fine.
Victoria: So you guys worked together prior to the Tiny Titans project?
Art: Yeah, we worked together for a long time. I think we met in 1998. We worked together right away. We both drew characters-
Franco: Then we fell in love and got married.
Victoria: *laughs* The catch phrase for your book, â€œAw, Yeah!â€ is so cute.
Art: Aw, yeah!
Franco: Thatâ€™s something that Art says all the time.
Art: I just say it. Every time someone tells me good news, Iâ€™m like â€œAw yeah, man!â€
Franco: Aw yeah, Victoria!
Victoria: Actually, itâ€™s funny you say that. When I review your book people usually leave comments and someone once wrote â€œAw yeah, Victoriaâ€.
Art: *laughs* Thatâ€™s cool!
Victoria: Are there any plans to expand the Tiny Titans property? I for one think it would make a great toy line or a cartoon series.
Art: Yeah, Iâ€™m hoping!
Franco: You know what I learned over the past couple of years? You know whoâ€™s in charge of doing stuff like that, Victoria?
Franco: Regular people. If regular people bug the right company and they bug Warner Brothers and DC and stuff like that, that stuff could get made. Iâ€™m not telling people to do that-
Art: But they could if they want.
Victoria: I am totally putting that on the website. I will start a campaign for that!
Franco: Aw, yeah!
Art: Yeah, go all grass roots on everybody! Aw yeah! Grass roots!
Victoria: *laughs* I noticed a lot of similarities between Tiny Titans and Charlie Brown. Is it safe to assume you draw inspiration from the Charles Schultz cartoon?
Art: Aw yeah, he inspires me. Heâ€™s one of my guys. I love Hanna Barbera stuff. Magilla Gorilla, we both love Woody Wood Pecker, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes.
Franco: Aw yeah! Hanna Barbera stuff too. I love all that.
Art: It comes from everything. Charlie Brown is definitely one the things that made us laugh all the time and we read the comics. Aw yeah, man!
Victoria: There are some characters that we havenâ€™t seen in Tiny Titans such as Conner Kent and Stephanie Brown, who is the new Batgirl. Any chance weâ€™ll see them anytime soon?
Art: Conner Kent is quite a possibility. You may find out next month if heâ€™s coming into the Titans or not but itâ€™s a secret.
Franco: Thereâ€™s an even bigger secret with that one though.
Victoria: Is there really?
Art: Yeah, so watch out for issue 25 of the Tiny Titans and it will answer your question.
Franco: We canâ€™t tell you what they are because theyâ€™re secrets.
Victoria: Well, you at least told me the issue so Iâ€™m grateful for that!
Art: The original cover I drew for Tiny Titans number one, I had to take a character off of the cover but I canâ€™t tell you who it is because when number 25 comes, itâ€™s going to be awesome for everybody. The kids are going to like it and the parents are going to dig it too.
Victoria: That is awesome, I canâ€™t wait to see it!
Art: We canâ€™t tell you everything.
Franco: We can tell you off the record but nah, we wonâ€™t.
Victoria: Oh, darn it!
Art: Are we on the record?
Franco: Iâ€™m on a CD right now. It kinda hurts a little but itâ€™s good.
Art: You gotta get the soft CDâ€™s.
Victoria: *laughs* By the way I want to say congratulations for winning the Eisner award!
Franco: Thank you!
Art: Aw yeah, Eisner!
Victoria: What was that like?
Art: It was the best experience comic books ever gave us. It was so cool. The statue is sitting here in our cabinet. It was pretty cool. It was beyond happy. Couldnâ€™t control smiling.Â My face hurt from smiling for hours and hours. It was unreal.
Victoria: It was very much deserved. Congratulations.
Franco: Aw, thank you.
Art: Thank you, youâ€™re awesome!
Victoria: No, youâ€™re awesome!
Art: Aw yeah!
Franco: Are you a big Supergirl fan, Victoria?
Victoria: I am and I actually have a lot of costumes besides Supergirl.
Victoria: I have Catwoman, Lara Croft, and the Justice League Unlimited version of Hawkgirl.
Victoria: I have a whole website; Iâ€™ll email you the link. Iâ€™m a dork!
Franco: Hawkgirl is one of my favorite characters.
Victoria: I canâ€™t believe what happened to her in Blackest Night!
Art: Yeah, that was awesome! One of my favorite comics.
Franco: That guy (Geoff Johns) is an awesome writer, that guy!
Victoria: Heâ€™s amazing!
Franco: I know a secret about that guy!
Victoria: A secret?
Franco: Do you want me to tell you one?
Victoria: Could you tell me a secret?
Victoria: Oh, you tease!
Art: I got his phone number! Yeah, but I canâ€™t give it to you.
Victoria: Youâ€™re a tease too, the both of you!
Art: Youâ€™re a fan. We gotta be.
Victoria: Do you have any other conventions that youâ€™re attending this year?
Franco: Not for me, no.
Art: I have a bunch of store signings. Iâ€™ll put them on my website www.artbaltazar.com
I have a bunch of store signings here in Chicago and North Carolina. Iâ€™m going all over.
Franco: The first major one we will be at is Mega Con.
Art: Yeah, Mega Con in Florida. Itâ€™s going to be a good time.
Victoria: Is there anything you would like to do with the Tiny Titans in terms of storylines and spoofs that you havenâ€™t done all ready?
Franco: Oh yeah, a whole bunch of stuff.
Art: We have some cool covers coming out. Thereâ€™s a cover coming out thatâ€™s homage to the death of Supergirl crisis cover from like 1984. Supergirlâ€™s on the cover but sheâ€™s not dead, sheâ€™s just tired. Itâ€™s the babysitting crisis issue. I think it will be issue 28.
Franco: Weâ€™re all ready up to issue 30.
Art: Yeah, weâ€™re way in the future.
Franco: Weâ€™re like time travelers.
Art: We got a lot of cool covers.Â I always look for the cool DC covers to spoof them. They gotta be real noticeable. I did a cover of kid Flash verses Supergirl running which was a spoof of Superman verses Flashes. The cover of Supergirl and Batgirl are on the cover (of issue 10) thatâ€™s actually a spoof of the cover from Public Enemies but you canâ€™t tell because their bodies are so squishy and their heads are so big and I put hearts in the background so it doesnâ€™t look anything like the cover. Itâ€™s kinda cool to try to spoof covers.
Franco: The funny thing about that issue, a couple of people in Baltimore were like â€œYou write a girls comic?â€ and they were looking at that issue. I said â€œYeah, two 30 something year old guys are doing it.â€
Art: A guy reviewed our book and talked about it and criticized it and everything and said â€œIâ€™m not sure about this book. I really like it but I think it was for girls.â€Â I was like â€œHey, thatâ€™s cool.â€
Victoria: I know a lot of guys who like Tiny Titans so itâ€™s not just for girls.
Franco: Aw yeah! Thatâ€™s awesome.
Art: Yeah, theyâ€™re for everybody.
Victoria: Do the two of you have children?
Franco: Yes, but not together.
Victoria: *laughs* Do they read Tiny Titans?
Art: Aw yeah. I got a six year old boy and a three year old girl and when my books come in the mail, my kids open them and my six year old reads them to the three year old.
Victoria: Thatâ€™s so sweet!
Franco: My son was at Baltimore. He was standing right behind me, I donâ€™t know if you saw him.
Victoria: Sadly, I donâ€™t remember seeing him. What is you favorite fan memory?
Franco: I got so many of them. Our fans are so cool. Just this week we both got a big package in the mail with a whole bunch of t-shirts that a fan made saying â€œArt and Franco congratulations. Eisner award winning Tiny Titans. Aw yeah!â€
Art: He sent like twenty t-shirts.
Franco: Just yesterday I got it and I opened it up and was like â€œHoly cow!â€
Victoria: Wow, thatâ€™s really cool.
Art: We get a lot of pictures like people dressing us as characters and stuff. In our old book too (Wolf Boy) we had little kids dressing up as the character too like in the Wolf Boy shirts and stuff.
Victoria: Thatâ€™s adorable!
Art: And we hear stories of like dadâ€™s reading the books to their kids and stuff. Itâ€™s cool.
Victoria: I want to thank you guys so much for talking to me. This was really, really awesome and Iâ€™m such a geek fan.
Franco: Youâ€™re welcome!
Art: Our pleasure!
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