Now that Arthur Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have brought their unique "l'il" treatment to everything from Hellboy to Battlestar Galactica, the creative team is going back to where it all started.
Tiny Titans, the Eisner award-winning series the pair launched in 2008, is coming back to DC Entertainment in early 2014. The all ages comic, which portrays an alternate universe with "little" versions of DC characters, ended its former run at issue #50 in 2012.
Art and Franco (as they're known in the industry) went on to work on other all ages comics for DC, including Superman Family Adventures and Super Pets. They also launched the recent New 52 series The Green Team.
But their work outside DC has been getting Art and Franco even more attention lately — whether the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign they launched earlier this year to fun their new Aw Yeah Comics publications, or Itty Bitty Hellboy series that was so popular that Dark Horse asked for more issues.
Next, they'll be working with Dynamite Entertainment on a collection of one-shot all ages comic books with a "l'il" theme, including Red Sonja, Evil Ernie, Battlestar Galactica, Vampirella, and Bionic Man.
Yet among all this other work, the pair will launch a new volume of Tiny Titans in a just a few months. Newsarama talked to Art and Franco to find out more about this version of Tiny Titans.
Newsarama: Art and Franco back on Tiny Titans! Did you miss them?
Arthur Baltazar: We did! Yes! It feels like the kids coming home, you know? For the holidays! Feels kind of good.
Nrama: Is this different at all, or is it more of what we loved the first time away?
Art: It's the same thing, but we're trying to keep it in the continuity of not only Tiny Titans, but also Superman Family and Super Pets. So this is the next chapter. Everything we do for DC is all in the same universe. And this volume of Tiny Titans will be the next part.
Nrama: Is it like Earth 53?
Art: Yeah, Earth 53! We're not supposed to say that, but we're going to say it anyway.
Franco Aureliani: Yeah, don't tell Dan [DiDio, DC co-publisher] that we said Earth 53, but that's what it is.
Art: We extended the New 52 by one title. Yeah.
Nrama: So will we see evidence that the universe is "shared" between these different titles?
Art: Yeah, the Super Pets will be in there, but they'll be older, like they were in the Super Pets cartoon. And in this first issue, you'll see Superboy and Supergirl return from the Fortress of Solitude, and they'll have their new costumes on. And they'll mention that they were taking a break from training with their cousin. It's going to tie in to Superman Family that way in the first issue. But you'll see them all in the same storyline.
Nrama: You guys have had a lot of success with your Kickstarter campaign, your comic book store, and your other comics with publishers like Dynamite and Dark Horse. Why, among all the successes after Tiny Titans did you want to come back and do more stories about these characters?
Art: We've got more to say! [Laughs.] Our goal is to hit 200 issues. And this will be our 51st issue, so we have a lot to do! We're not done.
Franco: Plus this is where everything started for us, on this roller coaster ride we've been on. It feels good to be back in a place that's comfortable.
Art: In these issues, we're going to meet different characters, and we're going to have a lot of guest stars — probably people you haven't seen in Tiny Titans. And maybe some you have.
Franco: Coming back to Tiny Titans has generated a whole bunch of new stuff, which is what you'll be seeing in the first six issues.
Art: We had a whole bunch of stories before the original series ended. We had sketchbooks full of stories that we can always go back to and use.
Nrama: Does it still take place mainly at school and in the treehouse? And are they the same age?
Art: Yeah, they're still the same age. We thought about that — should we make them older? They're the same age. But we changed some of their costumes. So there is a difference between this new series and the old one because you're going to see some of their costumes are different.
Robin gets new shoes. And Beast Boy has new shorts. And so you're going to see few things.
Franco: And the first issue revolves around something that happens to the treehouse. It's called, "Return to the Treehouse."
Nrama: Does it reflect current continuity, like it used to every once in awhile?
Art: Yeah. And you're going to see Superman in his New 52 costume. And probably Shazam with his hood. Stuff like that. We're going all the way!
Franco: Nothing is off limits.
Art: Everything you've ever known about the DC Universe could happen in the Tiny Titans.
Nrama: Do you have anything else coming up that you want to tell people about?
Art: We're working on Aw Yeah Comics, and we're doing a cool one-shot that, I don't know if we can reveal it yet. We're doing some crossovers with Action Cat, Adventure Bug and Awesome Bear. We're doing some crossovers in the future.
We're confidently making new books. I don't know if I can say all the other stuff I'm doing, but I've got three different stories going right now for three different companies. I can say that I'm working on the [L'il] Battlestar Galactica book. That was announced. And of course the Aw Yeah Comics stuff comes out of the Kickstarter.
Every day, I have to decide what I have to get done first. I just handed in the cover for Tiny Titans #1.
Nrama: We've talked before about how you guys met and became good friends. And now you're working on a lot of projects together. What is it about you guys that works so well together?
Franco: We share a brain.
Art: It's like, when people say actors have good chemistry. We don't pick a leader. We don't pick a boss. And we don't pick one guys idea. It's kind of like we just gel together. We know what we want to do. It's kind of like, you know how it is when you're in a car full of your friends and you say, "You guys want to go to dinner?" And they're like, "Oh, sure." And all of them keep saying, "Oh, whatever you choose is fine." And that drives me nuts. They're like "oh, if you want to do it, that's OK."
But with me and Franco, we'll suggest things. We'll say what we want to do, and the other guy will agree or we'll build off it.
Franco: Yeah, it builds off that, and then that's how the story evolves. And if it makes us laugh, it goes in the book. So that's always been the secret.