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Art & Franco Talk Tiny Titans at DC

Art & Franco Talk Tiny Titans at DC
by Vaneta Rogers – courtesy of – 08-27-2007

As the creators like to say, “they’re the same Titans you know and love, but they’re really, really little.”

Tiny Titans, the new comic being launched in January as part of DC’s new kids line, will be co-created by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, the team that does the humorous all-ages comic Patrick the Wolf Boy. And regular DC readers will first see Tiny Titans show up this week in Teen Titans #50, when the Titans characters have the TV set tuned to their favorite television show, “Tiny Titans.”

DC Comics Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, who is spearheading the new kids line, told Newsarama earlier this month that Patrick the Wolf Boy was the first title she thought about when she started developing the new comics line for DC, because the comic had all-ages humor stories without being violent or focusing on serious, heavy situations.

In Tiny Titans, the characters from the regular Teen Titans universe will be tiny (no, really) and will be dealing with outrageous and fun situations in their schoolyard and classroom, or in the Titans treehouse. The Tiny Titans will encounter characters that regular comics readers know as evil villains, but in this comic, the conflicts will be more oriented toward teachers vs. students or the little Titans dealing with school bullies.

But most of all, the comic is meant to make readers laugh. And the gags are meant to play upon those things in the comics that we all tend to laugh about anyway — like the kids figuring out that it’s no fun to play tag with Kid Flash.

And if you take the time at a comics convention to chat with Baltazar and Aureliani, it’s easy to see where the title will get its humor. Newsarama talked to the pair to find out more about the comic and what kind of things readers can expect from the new title, and we ran out of room in the article to put the familiar tagline: [laughs], because that’s pretty much all we did.

Newsarama: You guys talked a little about how it felt when Jann Jones called you about dong a comic for DC. You were pretty excited.

Art Baltazar: Aw, yeah. For sure.

Franco Aureliani: Real excited.

NRAMA: Did DC ask for the Teen Titans in particular? Or was that something you guys came up with?

AB: That was her idea. She had a bunch of different titles, and she wanted us to work on this one. I was happy because I’d been reading Titans forever, so it was really cool. Aw yeah, Titans.

NRAMA: So have you guys always been Teen Titans fans?

FA: Aw, yeah. Reading ’em since way back when.

AB: We’ve been reading since the Marv Wolfman/George Perez stuff. Issue #1.

FA: As a matter of fact, when Art called me about the job, I said, “Oh, dude! I’ve still got those all!” And I started looking through my old long boxes because I had them all — all the Perez/Wolfman issues — and I dug a bunch of them out.

AB: When Tiny Titans comes out, I want to frame it with New Teen Titans #1. But I need to find George Perez and Marv Wolfman now to get their autographs. Frame it real nice. And I need Franco’s autograph on the other one.

FA: Yeah, I’m not sure I’m going to do that. I’ll make him look for it. [laughs]

AB: He’ll charge me.

NRAMA: Can you give us an example of what kind of stuff we’ll be seeing in the first issue of Tiny Titans?

AB: You’re going to see the Tiny Titans in school. They’re going to meet the principal. They’re going to meet the substitute — an evil substitute teacher demon. So we’re going to meet him. [laughs]

FA: There are a lot of bullies in the school, too.

AB: Aw, yeah. The bad guys are like the bullies in the school, and the substitute teacher happens to be Trigon. And the principle of the school is Slade.

FA: They call him The Terminator.

AB: Yeah, he’s real strict, so they call him The Terminator. He’s rough.

NRAMA: Do you have access to all the Titans that have ever been?

FA: Aw, yeah.

AB: We have access to the whole Titans universe. So as long as the Titans fought ’em or they’re on the cartoon, we can use ’em.

We’re going to meet Cassie, and she’s going to show up with jeans and a T-shirt to the Teen Titans treehouse, and they’re all going to get on her about not wearing a costume. So it’s kind of like keeping the tradition of jeans and a T-shirt. They’re all going to make fun of her, and Cyborg will suggest that she wear a mask too, and all this stuff.

FA: We’ll have Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad.

AB: Yeah, Robin interviews Kid Flash and Speedy, trying to find out, like — why’s he named Speedy if he doesn’t run?

NRAMA: That’s a mystery we’d all like to know.

FA: Yeah! Well, that’s what we explore in this book. We explore all the deepest mysteries you’ve ever wanted to know about the Titans universe.

NRAMA: But just on a tiny level, right?

FA: Yeah, just really, really small.

AB: Just really little. They’re all really little, but they have big heads.

NRAMA: Have you pulled anything out of those old New Teen Titans issues that you’re referring to in Tiny Titans?

AB: Lots of the old guys are coming back in Tiny Titans, like the Fearsome Five, and Plasmus. We’re messing around with Psimon a lot. And Terra’s coming back, and she’ll have her original costume.

FA: And we’ll have appearances from other characters too. Like, you should look for Batgirl in issue #1.

AB: Yeah, Batgirl’s in there. Yeah, I even drew Wonder Woman in the first issue, so she’s in there. And we even remember, way back before the New Teen Titans, they fought a guy named The Ant. We even wrote some stories with The Ant. [laughs] We’re trying to figure out where to fit him in right now. People probably don’t even know who he is.

NRAMA: You’re going to get people to go back and read a lot of back issues.

FA: Why not? We are!

NRAMA: How did you two meet and start working together on Patrick the Wolf Boy?

AB: Me and Franco met at a really small, hurtin’ show in Northampton. There were only about three people in attendance. One of those people decided to read all of Franco’s Weirdsville comics and proceed to tell him all the things he did wrong with it. As I walked up to my table, which was next to Franco’s, I hear him yell, “If you don’t like my books…then go awaay!!” I then asked him, “Do you sell many books that way? Hi, I’m Art Baltazar.”

We sat and chatted for the three-day show. And since nobody came to shop, we got to know each other pretty good. We found out, at the time, we only lived around 20 minutes away from each other. So we started hanging out and drawing comics and stories together. We met in 1998 and started crossing over our characters… which led to creating Patrick the Wolf Boy.

NRAMA: How do you work together on the comics? What does each person do?

AB: We both come up with stories. A lot of the time — thank god for emails and cell phones and bulletproof earpieces. We both work from home. I work in Chicago; Franco works from New York. We talk about the story over the phone — about four times a week we talk. Sometimes every day. It seems like every day for the last month or so.

FA: Yeah. But the process of the story is actually pretty funny, because the rule is that it doesn’t make it into the book unless it makes us both laugh really hard.

AB: Yeah, if it makes us both laugh.

FA: If it does that, we know it goes in the book.

AB: Nothing goes in there if we’re not sure.

NRAMA: So you come up with the story, then what?

FA: Then Art draws it.

AB: Yeah! A lot of times, we’ll talk on the phone, and Franco will write everything down and email me the script — the words. I’ll take that and thumbnail it and make it work. Make the joke work and make the pacing work. And I’ll send it to Jann. And my approval notes from Jann are mostly like, “Oh my god this is awesome! I love it!”

FA: “This is so cute!”

AB: “I love you guys!” That means it’s good to go. She doesn’t even seem like an editor. She seems like a partner, hanging out doing this stuff.

NRAMA: Well, I remember Jann saying that the kids use Cyborg as an Easy Bake Oven.

AB: Yeah!

FA: That’s right! See? That’s what I’m talking about. That story made us laugh real hard.

NRAMA: That’s what a kid would want to do, if they saw a robot — they’d want to play with it. How do you guys come up with this stuff? Are you kids at heart?

FA: My wife says I never grew up. I still act like a five-year-old. So yeah, I guess so.

AB: I still collect action figures and read comics, so there you go.

NRAMA: Would you guys ever have expected you’d be working for DC?

FA: Yes. Eventually. At some point. Within the next 20 years.

AB: [laughs] Not this year…

NRAMA: You guys were on the 20 year plan?

FA: We’re doing that 15 years thing to becoming an overnight success thing.

You know, a lot of people are actually talking to us about “who are these guys?” I’ve been reading message boards, and people are like, “Who are these guys? What are these guys doing? They canceled my Teen Titans Go!”

We’ve actually been doing this for awhile. We’ve been doing this for more than a few years. We’ve had a number of books that we self-published and a number of books that we’ve done, the biggest of which is Patrick the Wolf Boy. So our fans who know us — they are really looking forward to the book. The people who don’t know us are the ones who are saying, “What is this going to be? We’re not sure!” and things like that.

NRAMA: So break it down for us. Do an “overall picture” — what is Tiny Titans going to be?

AB: You can see by the cover that it’s obviously for kids. But if you don’t have kids, you can still read this. You’ll still really like the comic. It’s written as all-age humor, but it’s more like all the old cartoons like Hanna Barbera cartoons and Tom & Jerry and Woody Woodpecker — all that old humor.

FA: The best way that our books have been described to me by one of our fans is this grandfather about 70-some years old reads our books with his grandkids. And he says, you know, these are like the old Bugs Bunny cartoons because you watched them as a kid and they’re funny, but then you watch them as an adult, and you’re like, “Oh wait! That’s funny!” So you get it on all levels.

NRAMA: OK, but if someone’s this serious comic book collector — and they’re big into the Teen Titans, or just into superheroes in general, and they’re all concerned with continuity and what’s going on in the regular universe — what would you say to them about why they might want to check out something like Tiny Titans?

AB: Well … you know how there are 52 earths? Ours is the 53rd earth [laughs]. If you want to collect the whole universe of Teen Titans, you’ve got to collect even the variant versions of Earth 53.

FA: Tiny Titans is like an unlicensed version of a TV show that exists in the DC Universe. In Teen Titans #50, you’re going to see a little bit of them watching Tiny Titans on TV.

AB: Yeah, that’s right! So our comic is actually in the DC Comics continuity. We just found out about that, and I already called my comics shop and told them we need a bunch of copies of Issue #50.

NRAMA: And you guys are on this for awhile?

AB: The book comes out in January, and I’m trying to get 12 issues done before the book comes out, but I think I can safely do six. I’m actually working on page one of the first issue right now.

FA: We have close to six issues and part of seven kind of written. So we’re blowing out of the gate.

AB: Yeah, we’re going crazy with it.

NRAMA: Is there anything else you wanted to tell people?

FA: Um… buy the book!

AB: And I just want to say, Aw yeah, Titans!

FA: Aw yeah!

NRAMA: Now wait a second. Every time I’ve talked to you guys — particularly Art — it’s “Aw yeah, man.” And everything is prefaced with, “Aw, yeah.” What’s up with that?

AB: [laughs] That’s the most positive thing you can say!

FA: [laughs] Aw, yeah! That’s right! Yeah!

AB: But I’ve changed “Aw yeah, man,” to “Aw yeah, Titans!”

FA: That’s going to be the battle cry for the Titans. “Aw yeah, Titans!”

Tiny Titans
courtesy of – 09-08-2007

Last month, we brought you the first word about Tiny Titans, a new Johnny DC title at DC by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani (Patrick the Wolf Boy). The larger conceit of the series – “Tiny Titans” is the cartoon that’s shown in the DC Universe, featuring very young versions of the Teen Titans.

The main conceit though – to make good comics for kids. As series editor Jann Jones told us in August, “When I moved into the role of Coordinating Editor and started doing the sign off on the kids’ books of the Johnny DC line, I saw that they were really good, solid books, but I didn’t feel like I could give them to a four year old or a five year old, or just any kid in general. Despite their connection to the animated projects, they were still dealing with the more serious issues – cases where if the heroes don’t save the day, it’s implied, or shown that people will die. I think that’s kind of heavy to put on a younger audience.

“I’ve been on the convention circuit since 1999 with DC, and I’ve met a bunch of really great people over the years that do material that is what I was looking for. So when the pieces started coming together, the first person who came to my mind was Art Baltazar, who does Patrick the Wolf Boy. His stuff is so sweet and cute, while also being fresh and funny. It’s something that you could give to a kid, and any child will pick that up and be totally amused by it, but I can read it and laugh too. That’s the kind of humor and that’s the kind of storytelling that I’m really going for here.”


End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author