Tiny Titans is up for its second Eisner Award after winning last year, and the all-ages comic doesn't seem to be slowing down.
Already reaching a 40th issue next month, the comic is written by Art Baltazar and Franco, who also write the new Young Justice comic. And Baltazar provides the adorable art.
Tiny Titans debuted in February 2008 featuring tiny versions of DC Comics' Teen Titans characters. In the comic, the young Titans go to school together, hang out at their treehouse, and deal with various villainous teachers and bullies.
As the series gets closer and closer to its milestone 50th issue, and as Baltazar and Franco prepare their speeches for a possible second Eisner Award for Best Kids Publication, Newsarama talked to the pair about working on Tiny Titans.
Newsarama: I guess if you're nominated for a second Eisner after already winning one, you know you've really made it.
Franco: Aw yeah!
Art Baltazar: And you know what was cool? Gail Simone had a Facebook thing where she made up a comic book McDonald's, and she made up a Ethan Van Sciver burger and stuff like that. And she had, like, 57 comments, and somebody wrote on there the "Art Burgerzar."
So, because of that, I know that I'm a "name" in the industry!
Franco: You've been named as an imaginary sandwich at an imaginary restaurant. That's awesome!
Art: Well, she's got a Gail Simone-wich. So she's good.
Franco: Aw yeah!
Nrama: There should also be a Big Franco Fillet.
Franco: I was going to say, what am I? A side of cole slaw? But I like that you refer to me as "big."
Art: Well, you are quite large.
Nrama: With a second Eisner nod, and your book quickly heading toward 50 issues, I think you've surpassed a lot of people's expectations for how long this comic would last.
Franco: Wait, are you calling us old? First you call me fat, then you call us old?
Nrama: I just think that's quite a lot of staying power for a humorous kid book. Obviously you guys have tapped into something here. Did you suspect it would go this long?
Franco: I think Art and I knew. We just were afraid to tell everybody else.
Art: We knew we would keep making comics anyway. We'd still be doing comics. But I'm glad it's Tiny Titans.
Franco: I think people forget we were making them before Tiny Titans. They're like, "Wow! You came out of nowhere! You guys are overnight successes!" And I'm like, "Yeah, it took us 10 years to become an overnight success!"
Art: Tiny Titans has been out for three years, but I've been doing this for 18 years. The difference is that now I'm constantly at my computer drawing. But before, I'd have to go to work, then come home and draw.
Franco: I still do that. I haven't let go of my day job. I'm afraid to. I don't know if this whole comics thing will work out. Maybe after another three or four years. Maybe.
But yeah, we're up to 40 issues, and that's pretty big for a kids' book.
Nrama: It's huge!
Franco: She called me huge again.
Art: I heard that.
Nrama: Are you guys planning anything big for issue #50?
Art: We're trying! We're setting up the tables and chairs and getting the stage ready.
Franco: Maybe we could get Geoff Johns to work with us again.
Nrama: I think that would be a great idea. He's a little busier than he used to be, though.
Art: He said he'd come back for the 50th issue, so I'm hoping he will. It just takes him some time to get back to you. When he says he'll get back to you, he just doesn't mean he'll get back to you right away. I'm sure we'll see him again. I kind of remember that guy.
Franco: I vaguely remember what he looks like.
Art: Before he got all famous and got that huge promotion, I would text him or call him and he would text me right back. And I was like, "Wow!!"
Franco: Art's not used to people responding to him immediately.
Art: It's a little tougher to get a response now, but I know he still loves us. It takes him awhile, but I always eventually get an "Aw yeah!"
Nrama: In May is the "all-Kroc issue," right?
Art: Aw yeah!
Franco: Why not? Why do you question these things?
Art: He's another guy that we snuck in there. In Tiny Titans, even if you're only in there for one panel, you're in the universe forever. So Kroc was in the issue where Batgirl and Supergirl were trying to feed their pets. And he ate all the garbage, and they just left him alone.
So since we got away with that issue and it got printed and put on the store shelf, we know that he's part of the universe.
And Kroc is just Kroc and he's awesome. When kids ask me to draw a character, I know he's popular. And they're asking for Kroc. So it's time to do an all-Kroc issue!
Nrama: I know you guys write these issues over the phone, since you live in different states. Do you guys have voices for how these characters sound?
Art: Aw yeah we do! Any time you see Superman, I always hum the song from the movie.
Franco: He does. He actually does. It's quite annoying to try to do the writing session when he keeps breaking into that every two seconds.
Art: Trigon sounds almost like Clint Eastwood. "Hello kiiiids...." Robin is just our own voices. He gets the shaft all the time, though. He gets messed around so bad.
Nrama: The voices get high for the girls?
Franco: No, they're strangely low. Raven is deep and gravely. "Hey guys, how you doin'?" She sounds like a truck driver.
Art: I picture the guys from the cartoons with those voices though, like Starfire and Cyborg and Beast Boy. I hear the voices from the cartoon. And I hear Adam West for Batman.
Franco: I never hear Adam West for Batman.
Art: Oh, yeah! Adam West actually plays Batman in our comic, but you can't see his face. So you'd never know. But he's really played by Adam West. And Christopher Reeve is Superman. George Clooney is my Aquaman. Just the voice, but not the head. Just the voice.
Franco: He's hot.
Art: He's a good Aquaman!
Franco: I like him all wet.
Nrama: In June, the issue has Kid Flashpoint. One of the really unique things about Tiny Titans is that it sometimes refers to things happening in regular continuity. It's obvious you two are comic book readers. Do you like to play with that stuff in the comic?
Franco: Yeah. Art and I secretly want to be involved in all the crossover events, but they won't let us. So this is our way of sticking our noses into it, you know?
Art: Yeah, even though the Tiny Titans don't have noses. We still stick our noses in there. In the new issue, Wonder Girl goes through an "identity crisis."
Franco: And like you said, we have an issue where Kid Flash sharpens his pencil into a "Flashpoint."
Art: Yeah he does. And we take care of it right away in the June issue. It takes place on Page 3. You open it up and "bam!," it hits you right in the face. That's the way we handle our events. We jump right into it.
Franco: We had to do a Flashpoint issue. We were pissed they left us out of it.
Nrama: Well don't say that! Say it's part of the event.
Art: Aw, my bad. That's what I meant. It's part of it. It's a must-read issue. You can't move on to Flashpoint #2 without reading this one. If you don't read it, you're going to be lost. There are clues in there.
Tiny Titans is tied into the whole DC Universe. People just don't realize it.
Nrama: In July, you've got Bizarros in love, and that stars Bizarro Supergirl, who just appeared in regular continuity recently.
Art: Aw yeah!
Franco: Everything Sterling Gates has done, we're ripping off.
Art: It helps when you meet the writers. We're like, "Hey! There's Sterling Gates! Let's go talk to him!" So it helps when you meet them, and they love it when you say you're going to do something in Tiny Titans. We like to bother James Robinson a lot too.
Franco: "'Ello Luv!" That's how he sounds.
Art: Yeah. And we were using Sean McKeever's Titans run real good. We brought in the Terror Titans because of him. And we're friends with J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott.
Franco: He gave us a shout-out in one of his books.
Art: Yeah, when Ravager went to fight the zombies, she said, "Aw yeah!"
Nrama: Anything else coming up that you want to tell fans about Tiny Titans?
Art: We have the first appearance of Duckzarro. We're bringing in a brand new character in the DC Universe. And in the Flashpoint issue, we'll have the first appearance of Jesse Quick in the Tiny Titans.
And we'll have a few pages in Spanish for our bilingual readers.
Franco: That's good. I'm glad they get to read an issue every 20 issues or so.
Art: Yeah! That's really cool 'cause when we put Spanish words, there's never a translation.
Nrama: Is Jaime showing up for that?
Art: Yeah. Blue Beetle's going to talk to Mas Y Menos, the little Flash kids. And they only speak Spanish, so they're going to speak Spanish with Jaime. And you know how Blue Beetle talks to his backpack? And he's the only one who understands the backpack? Well, in this one, the backpack doesn't understand Spanish, so he's going, "What did they say?" But it will all be in the Blue Beetle backpack language. So this will be really confusing for everybody.
Franco: That's our goal. To make the most confusing comics ever.
Art: But we have a translation for Blue Beetle's backpack, so you can translate it. You have to translate it, because he progresses the dialogue. In this one, he says a lot. He talks a lot about lemonade.
Nrama: Looking back, what are some of your favorite things that have stuck around, and that readers have really embraced?
Art: Lunch Lady Darkseid. It's weird because we didn't call him "Lunch Lady Darkseid," and the only part where it was said is when Wonder Girl says, "I liked him better as the lunch lady."
So now everyone refers to him as "Lunch Lady Darkseid." And I get tons of requests for him by little kids. "Can you draw me Lunch Lady Darkseid?" A little three-foot person telling me that is awesome.
Franco: The other thing they love is when Robin puts on the Nightwing costume.
Art: It's cool because we put characters in there that haven't been around since the '80s, like Shimmer. Or characters like Sun Girl, or people who were around for one issue or so. And it's great when a little kid comes up and says, "Can you draw Shimmer for me?" And I know what issue he read.
The great thing about Tiny Titans is when we bring characters in there, they can't die.
Nrama: When you go to conventions, are the sketch requests from mostly kids?
Art: Everybody. All ages. It truly is an all age book because I know that a whole bunch of different people are reading. It's awesome. I love it. Our fans are the best people in the world.
Franco: Aw yeah!