Artists Spotlight: Art Baltazar and Franco wash their whites and colors together In TINY TITANS #39
Children’s titles involve a very specific kind of cartooning – engaging and easy to follow panel-to-panel. And it doesn't hurt if it's funny, too...
Ongoing artists Art Baltazar and Franco have been doing an extraordinary job with their NEW YORK TIMES bestselling, Eisner-nominated children’s series, TINY TITANS. We asked Art and Franco for some behind-the-scenes insight into the steps they take to create the art you see in TINY TITANS.
“We usually write them so this is an easy one for us!” Franco said. “AW YEAH! Our Tiny Titans scripts are more like notes. After talking on the phone for hours making up stories, funny dialog, and awesome situations, Franco will type up everything we talked about and email me the notes. It’s a cool system we got going on. After I re-read the stories, I pull out the gags and start thumb-nailing the story ideas in my sketchbook. Once we got something funny, the rest is easy,” Art said.
“The whole inspiration for this issue came from a familiar line to most comic and movie buffs, ‘I like pink very much, Lois!’ In this issue, we take that line to heart and turn everything PINK! We get to use the entire DC Universe and spin them with our take. I can't believe issue #39 is here already. It seems like we were just getting underway with the first issue! This book is so much fun, I can't wait until we're talking about issue #139!” Franco continued. “The Pink Issue! This is an idea we had for a long time! Being a lifelong fan of the Superman movie, working on this issue brought out the 8-year-old in me! Aw Yeah PINK! Aw Yeah DC! Aw Yeah TITANS!” Art replied.
“We (me and Franco) talk all the time. Everyday even! We’re always creating and writing and making stuff up ‘til we are both laughing! That’s when we know we got something cool. Man, I go through 3 sketchbooks a year filled with thumb-nailed stories ready to be drawn onto the comic page. We are kind of like one entity with two brains. We think alike so much it can scare the average person. Even when I am drawing an issue we are already talking about the next one. Making comics is in our blood. It’s a way of life. Comic stories are constantly rushing through my brain. It’s like breathing,” Art said. “We talk all the time – sometimes many times a day. Occasionally we even talk about comic work stuff,” Franco chimed in.
How do panels get arranged?
“I let Artie do all of that,” Franco said. “Arranging panels is all about timing! Panels must also move the page along nicely not to leave the reader stuck in one place for too long. I like a nice flow. I like to use panels with no words sometimes to show the characters faces and reactions. This allows the joke to zing a little stronger sometimes. The sizzle before the bang, the bongos before the bass drum...dig?” Art replied.
How do they take a humorous style and translate it into their cartooning?
“Humorous, funny, style is really natural to me. I love the funny! It’s what I know and how I grew up. The style I draw in is the way things look when they leave my hand. It comes from within. Cartooning lives in my heart. I am what you see. And what you see is full of AW YEAH!” Art said.
“There are differences between children’s book art and other comics but to me it’s the same thing. I love traditional comic book artwork, but when I draw comics, they look the way TINY TITANS look. Kids are very open-minded and think lots of stuff is awesome and cool. I think it depends on the age of the kid and what they can relate to. As a kid gets older, they graduate to other styles of art that they find appealing at a certain age. It’s the subject matter and story that is different. Artwork can be interpreted differently depending on who is drawing the comic. It’s a total visual thing and appealing to the beholder. Yep, it’s like being in love,” Art added.
So what’s the biggest perk of the job?
“Working on these awesome characters with my bestest pal! It's truly a dream come true!” Franco expressed. “I love creating! I love creating new characters! I love redesigning many of the characters I grew up with! I love making comics! I love going to conventions and meeting the fans! I love interaction! I love our AW YEAH TITANS PEEPS! Our fans are the best fans in the world!” Art proclaimed.
TINY TITANS #39 hits stores on Wednesday.