Longtime collaborators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have been on a roll recently, partnering their Aw Yeah Comics store with Alter Ego Comics, tackling Itty Bitty Hellboy at Dark Horse, which will also collect their Aw Yeah Comics series, and bringing the “Li’l” treatment to several Dynamite Entertainment titles.
However, they’re not finished yet: Aureliani announced over the weekend on Twitter, “Big news out of DC comics and @dandidio1 says so: can you say: Tiny Titans?,” followed by, “Yes! It’s true! New Tiny Titans coming soon!” Although there’s been no official announcement, DC Comics Co-Published Dan DiDio re-tweeted the second message.
The Eisner Award-winning all-ages series, which ran for 50 issues from April 2008 to May 2012, depicts the lighthearted adventures of child versions of DC heroes (primarily the Teen Titans) at Sidekick City Elementary, where Deathstroke is principal and Darkseid is the lunch lady.
There’s no word yet on when, or in what format, fans should expect the return of Tiny Titans.
Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless is the story readers they want: a kid-friendly tale of a strong girl who defies authority and has swashbuckling adventures. Centering on Adrienne, a princess who breaks out of her tower, befriends the dragon who is supposed to be guarding her, and heads off to rescue her sister princesses, it’s funny and well written, and it was nominated for two Eisner Awards, best publication for kids (8-12) and best single issue (for Issue 3, which sends up superheroine costumes). Yet its small-press origins and limited distribution meant that it took a while to reach its audience.
Now publisher Action Lab comics is reissuing Princeless, first in single-issue format (starting with Issue 1), and then with a new Vol. 1. After that, the publisher will focus on new content. I spoke with Whitley, who also handles publicity for Action Labs, about why he wrote Princeless and why he is reissuing the series. (Jeremy’s essay on women and comics is also well worth a read.)
Have you ever received an unexpected gift that made you instantly happy? That’s how I felt in late April when Dark Horse announced Itty Bitty Hellboy, a five-issue all-ages miniseries by Art Baltazar and Franco (known for their Eisner Award-winning run on DC’s Tiny Titans and, more recently, Superman Family Adventures). Ahead of the comic’s debut on Wednesday, I spoke with Art and Franco about their fun-loving Aw Yeah-ification of the Mike Mignola/Hellboy universe.
Tim O’Shea: How hard was it to settle on the Itty Bitty Hellboy title?
Franco: That was pretty easy. Artie takes all the credit for that one. What title would best encapsulate what we wanted to do with the character than make him itty bitty!
Art Baltazar: Yes! We went through a few different adjectives before “Itty Bitty” won our hearts.
“Batman did pretty well, so I sat down with the head of DC Comics. I really wanted to do Kamandi [The Last Boy on Earth], this Jack Kirby character. I had this great pitch … and he said, ‘You think this is gonna be for kids? Stop, stop. We don’t publish comics for kids. We publish comics for 45-year-olds. If you want to do comics for kids, you can do Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘I guess we just broke up.’”
– Paul Pope, relating his attempt to pitch an all-ages (or perhaps young-adult) title to DC Comics, during his Comic-Con International conversation with Gene Luen Yang.
Pope has previously mentioned his idea for Kamandi, a collaboration with writer Brian Azzarello that he described as “a violent adventure story for young readers with a boy lead character.” He’s even revealed a few pieces of art from the pitch. However, as the artist noted in 2010, “if DC would’ve given me & Brian Azzarello a Kamandi series, I’d never have created Battling Boy.”
There’s a new hero in town, one straight out of the Golden Age … wait, what? Captain Ultimate by Joey Esposito, Benjamin Bailey, Boykoesh and Ed Ryzowski debuts on comiXology today as one of five new titles from Monkeybrain Comics. The all-ages superhero title centers on a young boy and his admiration for a Golden Age hero, Captain Ultimate, who disappeared some years before — but makes his triumphant return just in time to save a city from a giant monster.
I spoke with Esposito and Bailey about the new comic, which they’ll discuss tonight at the Monkeybrain panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego (8 p.m. in Room 28DE)
There’s Monster University, Monster High and soon, with a little help from Kickstarter, Monster Elementary.
Written by Nicholas Doan, the graphic novel is an all-ages comedy adventure about five monster children — there’s a vampire, a werewolf, a laboratory-constructed girl, a mummy and a lagoon creature — who are forced to attend public school after their private monsters-only institution is raided by the FBI.
The 90-page book will feature short stories illustrated by the likes of Josh Gowdy, Canaan Grall, Lee-Roy Lahey, Bobby Timony, Daniele Serra, Cal Moray and Patty Variboa. You can read the first six issues for free by downloading Emanata to your iOS or Android device.
Doan is seeking $19,000 to cover production and printing, payments to artists, pledge rewards, etc. The campaign ends Aug. 7.
What a maneuver!
WWE, and the wrestling industry in general, has a long and complicated history in the comics medium, with WWE itself having a string of comic books produced over the years at Valiant, Chaos, Titan and even on its own. But this new partnership sees the publicly traded wrestling company go down a more all-ages route with fans.
Robot 6 has reached out to Papercutz for more on this story, but has not received comment.
I imagine that Dustin Nguyen’s cute, chibi-style drawings of the Batman cast in Batman: Li’l Gotham will weed out the segment of comics readers who truly don’t care for that kind of art. For those who like the style, though – or those who, like me, don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about it – the first issue of Li’l Gotham kicks off what promises to be a great all-ages series.
There’s a scarcity of DC and Marvel comics that are appropriate for kids, so I’m all for whatever new thing those companies want to try. Nguyen’s character designs for Li’l Gotham are so adorable though that when I first saw them, I expected a super-sweet tone that I wasn’t sure I’d respond to. I want comics that kids can enjoy, but I don’t want them to be slight or to change the characters’ personalities beyond all recognition. If Li’l Gotham was just going to be Batman’s Precious Moments, I wouldn’t be able to stay interested. But that’s not at all what it is.
Despite his shortened body and enlarged head, Li’l Gotham’s Batman is my Batman: overly serious and unswervingly dedicated to fighting crime. But his rogues gallery isn’t as homicidal or destructive as the current, canonized versions of those villains, so Batman’s able to be a little more relaxed about how he takes them down. They’re still lawbreakers, just not especially deadly ones. For example, Nguyen and co-writer Derek Fridolfs are able to get them together at an Italian restaurant for Halloween without murdering each other.
The Kickstarter campaign for Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar Aw Yeah Comics! received widespread and immediate attention, rocketing the series past its $15,000 goal on the very first day. However, a drive for another terrific-looking all-ages project by established creators kicked off last week without that level of publicity.
Gumshoes 4 Hire brings together Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Kevin Hopps, Gurihiru and DJ Welch for a comic about a group of friends that investigates seemingly petty crimes only to discover the real cause of the troubles in the town of The Cliffs may be the fabled Curse of the Wendigoes.
If the cancellation of DC Comics’ Superman Family Adventures has left you a little deflated, take heart: Longtime collaborators Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar are turning to Kickstarter to launch their Aw Yeah Comics!, an “all-reader friendly” series with contributions from established and new talents alike, including Mark Waid, Brad Meltzer, Chris Roberson and Jason Aaron. The series was originally announced in July.
The comic, which stars Baltazar and Franco’s Action Cat and Adventure Bug, is designed to appeal to children and adults alike: “Our hope is to present a comic book that has just as much to offer a little girl as it does a little boy, and leave absolutely no one out of the fun. Because fun is important. Fun is a good thing for a comic book to have, and we want to add a little bit more of it to what’s out there now.”
Aw Yeah Comics!, which shares its name with the duo’s Skokie, Illinois, store, will debut in April with Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo. According to the Kickstarter page, work on the first three issues is about 80 percent complete, while issues four through six are at about 60 percent. To help reach their $15,000 goal, they’re offering pledge incentives like an exclusive digital comic, an original mini-painting by Baltazar, a guest appearance by a donor’s own character, and a cover by Franco for a donor’s comic book.
The Kickstarter campaign ends March 7.
When Challengers Comics + Conversation opened nearly five years ago in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, owners Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush expected their clientele would be predominantly men. However, families with young children soon began walking through the door.
“When we first started in March 2008, we were surprised by the number of families that would come in,” Brower told Time Out Chicago. “Over the years, that’s grown, and it seems like a large portion of our regular customers have just started to have kids. They’re just infants, but those comic readers will want their kids to read comics.”
So after a 2010 expansion into an adjacent storefront for a sequential-art gallery didn’t prove as popular as they had hoped, the owners decided to transform the 400-square-foot retail space into Sidekicks, a “comic shop within a comic shop” devoted exclusively to family-friendly fare.
As he promised Monday in his interview with ROBOT 6′s Tim O’Shea, Smallville writer Bryan Q. Miller has launched the Kickstarter campaign for Earthward, his all-ages graphic novel collaboration with artist Marcio Takara. Only hours into the drive, the project is already $5,401 toward its $30,000 goal.
“From inception, it was always intended to be all-ages, in a sense that I wanted it to live in a space where 7-year-olds could enjoy it, as well as 35-year-olds,” Miller told ROBOT 6. “Often, all-ages winds up meaning “watered down for child consumption.” That isn’t the case with Earthward.”
It’s the story of six kids (Ben and his sister, Alyssa; Smack, the hustler; twins Cody and Trin; and Daniella, who was orphaned by a space pirate assault) in search of their missing parents. To tell the story of these adventure-seeking children (known collectively as the Mercury Six) properly, Miller wants to team with artist Marcio Takara, who has worked on BOOM! Studios’ The Incredibles and DC Comics’ Blue Beetle. That’s where the Kickstarter drive comes into play … but more about that in the interview.
Miller’s partial aim with Earthward is to tell a tale that appeals to both kids and adults, without pandering to either demographic — a lofty goal. Miller and Takara are aiming for a September 2013 delivery date.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development process of Earthward did you know you want it to be all-ages? How long has this story been in development?
Bryan Q. Miller: Earthward has been with me as completed story that I would tweak every now and then, for a bit. I could never quite put my finger on the best avenue to pursue with it. Should it be an animated movie? A video game? A live-action movie? A Cartoon Network pilot? From inception, it was always intended to be all-ages, in a sense that I wanted it to live in a space where 7-year-olds could enjoy it, as well as 35-year-olds. Often, all-ages winds up meaning “watered down for child consumption.” That isn’t the case with Earthward.
Creators | Contrary to some reports this morning, reclusive comics legend Steve Ditko won’t be a special guest at the second annual London Super Comic Convention, to be held Feb. 25-26 at the Excel Centre in London. A press release that circulated has been confirmed as a hoax. [ComicConventions, Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Trajectory, publisher of the Classics Illustrated comics, announced at the Beijing Book Fair that it has begun publishing Chinese translations that will be available as ebooks. The first two titles: Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. [press release]
Holiday or no, it’s a busy week for new comics announcements. The latest is from the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, who chose Independence Day to announce Aw Yeah Comics, a new independent comic series featuring their mascots Action Cat and Adventure Bug, along with, we are promised, “a wide cast of crazy characters.” Each issue will feature different writers and artists, both veterans and newcomers. The monthly comics will be available, in print form, at conventions and at the Aw Yeah Comics store in Skokie, Illinois, as well as by mail order. No word of any digital release.