Unfortunately, due to the crazy schedule of SDCC, Art was still working on signings for fans when our interview time came, but AP reporter Matt Moore came to our rescue (Thank you!), sharing his time with Angela to sit in and ask questions along with him:
Matt Moore: Young kids have been kind of shut out of comics for a long time, and then you guys came along with your stuff. Now, how do you approach a character like Hellboy, who is decidedly demonic, and make it appeal to kids and mollify their parents?
Art Baltazar: We don't really think of them as kids books, just books that kids can read. Hellboy is a good guy. Sure, he's a demon, but his heart and soul are human, he's part of humanity. All the monsters and demons like Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature of the Black Lagoon, when I was a kid I loved those guys. So to us, it's just a monster book.
Franco: Like children brought up on Looney Tunes and then re-watch it as an adult and see a different kind of humor in it. There are things on an adult level that you don't get as a kid and we always put that in our books.
OH: So the key to success for what you do on all-ages work is that across the board humor?
Art: Yea, if we come up with stuff and we aren't laughing, we don't put it in. Sometimes we are on the phone laughing so much, we can't get the jokes down fast enough. If something is funny, it's going in the book.
MM: When you guys reach an impasse, is there an arbiter for it, or do you never really hit an impasse?
Franco: There are times we get frustrated, but never really with each other, usually just with the story.
Art: A lot of times, we just have too many jokes and they won't fit in the story so we have to take stuff out. That happens a lot.
Franco: We have to do a lot of self-editing. For issue one I typed up ten pages of notes and there is no way ten pages of notes is going into a comics.
Art: I learned from Charles Schultz that to be a comic, you have to come up with one funny thing a day, and we try to do that.
OH: Why do you think a lot of publishers haven't embraced all ages comics?
Franco: Most times it's probably just money. It just hasn't been a money generator for them, the big publishers are thinking about movies and million dollar deals. The smaller publishers tend to focus on it more and it's never really gone. Sometimes you have to look for it, but it's always out there.
Art: I've been doing comics for twenty years, and I've always done all-ages books. But for big companies, it's just business and what makes the most money. We got real lucky with Tiny Titans, we hit at the right spot. Then it hit the NYT bestseller list, then it won an Eisner, then two years later another Eisner, so that's what kept that series going. Then we spun that success into Superman and it's dominating now. It's awesome to be part of the mainstream, but we are still creator owned kind of guys. We're never going to go away.
Franco: We love this industry, we are part of this industry. We're part of publishing, we've done animation, we've got a podcast, we own a comic book store just outside of Chicago. We've been open for about a year, we just won merchant of the year and the community loves us because it's bright and clean and airy and we are an all ages store. We have big giant sofas in the middle of the store, on Sundays we have a 'chat and chew' where we have donuts and you can sit and read comics as long as you want. We like to do it all because we love what we do.
MM: Any hope of bringing Aw Yeah! to an animated series?
Art: That's our goal yea. Wheels are turning.
Franco: We have some things we've been talking about, but nothing we can really talk about right now. DC had us do the Super-Pets for Cartoon Network, hopefully they liked working with us and people liked the product.
Art Baltazar and Franco's Itty Bitty Hellboy miniseries starts in August and today, Dark Horse released a preview: