Art Baltazar is one happy-go-lucky guy. About eight years ago, he kissed the corporate ad world goodbye and relinquished himself to his life long passion for comic books – with his wife’s blessing. Today, Baltazar runs his own comic creation house, Electric Milk Creations, and is responsible for comic book series like NinjaTown and Patrick the Wolf Boy. Earlier this year, he, along with his partner Franco Aureliani, launched Tiny Titans, a popular DC Comic book series that shows what superheroes like Robin and Wonder Woman, as well as an assortment of their peers, might have been like in first grade. We caught up with Baltazar at his home studio outside of Chicago to delve into the mind of the man behind these undersized overachievers. – Vivian Manning-Schaffel
When did you first become obsessed with superheroes?
I was about six or seven. I’d watch the Batman show and the Spiderman cartoons. My cousin, who was in high school, used to bring his comics over after school and sometimes he’d just leave them, so I’d read them. When Star Wars came out, I was all into Star Wars, but before that I’ve always loved superheroes. I always wanted to draw, so I’d take tracing paper and trace Spiderman and that’s how I learned. I was born to do this.
So what inspired you to do a cartoon for younger kids?
I’ve been writing and drawing publishing my own comics since the early ’90s. My first book came out in ’94. When Jann Jones from DC Comics called and asked if I wanted to do a kid’s comic book . . I never knew she was a buyer for DC. I just knew her as a friend of mine. She’s been buying my books forever. I said, “Yeah, of course!” It evolved from Teen Titans, which was so cool. Classic superhero characters like Spiderman and the Hulk were my favorites, so it was a no-brainer. I remember at the time I had to crank it out in a week or two.
How old are the Tiny Titans? They seem like they are six, because they have a little street savvy.
They are in first grade.
How do you get into the first grade mindset?
I don’t know. I just write what I think is funny. All my life I’ve always watched cartoons, like Magilla Gorilla and Bugs Bunny. The way I draw is cartoony, which young kids like. They are labeled as kids’ books, but I find a lot of adults like the comic books too.