Tiny Titans creator Art Baltazar | Interview
Art Baltazar grew up on Chicago’s South Side. He had twin passions as a kid: The White Sox—he was raised near the team’s ball park, which, like a true die-hard, he still calls “Comiskey”—and comic-book superheroes. The latter became a career.
The amiable artist told us all about his nifty life last summer when we interviewed him in his home in suburban Streamwood, where he lives with his wife and two kids, ages 5 and 7.
His biggest success in publishing, which he shares with cowriter Franco Aureliani, is Tiny Titans, a DC Comics monthly that depicts the danger-free adventures of cute, wee versions of Teen Titans sidekicks such as Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Aqualad. The hit title (as popular with parents as with the learning-to-read set) won an Eisner Award, the comics world’s Pulitzer equivalent, two years ago, a feat repeated recently at the Comic-Con International in San Diego in July.
We called Baltazar up to congratulate him—and to find out the future of Tiny Titans. Earlier this summer, DC announced a surprisingly bold publishing initiative, dubbed “The New 52,” in which the company is rebooting all of its mainstream titles. Fresh first issues will be printed and, in some cases at least, the brand plans to rewind even its tentpole superheroes, such as Superman and Batgirl, to tell new tales about their early crime-fighting careers.
Tiny Titans won’t be affected by these shifts in continutity nor by the new numbering system although, in typical Baltazar style, the August installment contains a sly in-joke for comics lovers in-the-know. (See above an exclusive sneak peek at the first page of Tiny Titans #43, where half-human, half-machine hero Cyborg jokes about needing a “re-boot.”)
TOC Kids: First of all: Congratulations! You won your first Eisner in 2009 and another this year. So…what happened last year?
Art Baltazar: Marvel won for [their ongoing adaptation of] The Wizard of Oz.
Gotta give it up to Skottie Young and Eric Shanower.
Yeah, Skottie’s awesome. We weren’t even nominated, so we didn’t “lose.” I just wasn’t nominated, which is alright. Last year, I went to the Warner Bros. party instead. It’s always the same night as the Eisner Awards. So, this year, I went to the party early, to shake hands with all the bosses, and then I had to leave [to go to the Eisners]. I found out while we were at the Eisners that Conan O’Brien showed up [at the Warner Bros. party, as did] a lot of actors from The Big Bang Theory and [people from] American Idol. I was like, “Wow!” I missed them all, but I had to go get the award, which is probably better. [Laughs] I’m going to the Harvey Awards in Baltimore on August 20, because I’m nominated. I’m hoping I win. It’ll be fun.
Do you have a Harvey yet?
No. I’ve never been nominated before, either.
What’s the difference between the Harveys and the Eisners?
I’m not really sure. In Hollywood, the Eisners would be the Oscars and the Harveys would be the Golden Globes. It’s still an honor, but I know that the Eisners would be the big one. Not to disrespect the Harvey Awards—they’re probably the second-biggest [award].
So the entire DC Universe line of comics is shifting to “The New 52,” but, happily, I hear that Tiny Titans won’t be affected.
Yeah, we’re still doing Tiny Titans, and we’ve got some other projects that we just got the green light on. I can’t say what they are yet, but it’s going to be awesome. It’s all Johnny DC stuff.
I just signed a two-year exclusive with DC, too. I’ve been exclusive since March, [but] I’ve been keeping it a secret for a while. They announced it late last month in San Diego at the DC booth [at Comic-Con International], when we were drawing and stuff. I’d been getting a lot of job offers from different companies, and I had to make stuff up [about] why I couldn’t work with them. [Laughs] I was telling DC, “It’s hard to tell people I had a fishing trip or a kid’s birthday party, so please announce it.” [Laughs] It’s like buying your kid a birthday present a year ahead of time, hiding it, and not telling them that you hid it. You keep it all wrapped up under the bed and even you forget where it is.
Any hints you can give us about what’s next for the Tiny Titans?
I’m working on an all-Batgirl issue, writing and sketching it right now, actually. It’s pretty cool. The only boy in the book is Robin.
When can we see it?
I don’t even know. [Laughs] By the time [the issues] come out, I feel like I did them so long ago. [When my new issues get published,] I get a box delivered to the house, I take one book out, and I put it on the kitchen table so that the kids can find it. They were telling me about the one that just came out, “Bizarros in Love,” and laughing. I had totally forgotten about those jokes in there.
Tiny Titans #43 is available beginning August 17.