Writing The Big Blue Boy Scout: Art Baltazar & Franco Talk ‘Superman Of Smallville’

by James Ferguson

Art Baltazar and Franco have been making awesome kids comics for years. I shouldn’t really call them kids comics because they’re fun for all ages. Their latest collaboration, Superman of Smallville, takes them back to the Last Son of Krypton with some fun adventures.

Can Superman keep Smallville from going to the dogs? Acts of awesomeness are happening around town. People are being rescued, runaway tractors stopped, and fires extinguished. This is all in a day’s work for the hero known only as “Superman.” But who is he, really?

Thirteen-year-old Clark Kent knows. He has a super secret-one his parents are constantly worried will get out. Clark promises to be extra careful, but when random objects begin to take flight and disappear, his parents threaten to ground him. Except he’s innocent! If Superman isn’t responsible…who is? Join Clark in this hilarious adventure as he sniffs out the real culprit.

James Ferguson: You’ve tackled Superman a few times over the years. What is it about the character that keeps you coming back to him?

Art Baltazar: We love him! He’s been in our hearts, minds, and souls since we were little kids watching him on cartoons and reading comics. He’s my favorite. I’m big into the classics. Superman and Batman are my guys. It keeps coming back because we know him so well.

Franco: Everyone in the world knows Superman. Non-comics or cartoon people will ask me what I do and I tell them I write and draw comic books. They ask what, but when I tell them, they give you that look like “What are you talking about?” but you mention Superman and everybody knows him. The fact that we love Superman doesn’t hurt.

AB: I remember a few years ago when we were doing Tiny Titans, I was telling Franco I’d really like to write Superman one day. He was saying he wouldn’t know what to do with him. I explained to him who Superman was in about ten minutes. And he said “Oh! I get it! We could write him!” I told you! The hardest part is a lot of writers don’t know who he is, what he does, what he could be, who he thinks he is, who he knows he is. Kryptonite is not his only weakness. He’s a regular guy like me and you. You wouldn’t do some evil things, but Superman wouldn’t either.

There was a Justice League cartoon where he’s on an airplane with the rest of the team and he buckled up. He’s indestructible but he follows the rules.

Franco: My friend asked why he would do that and I asked him why wouldn’t he do that? Everyone calls him the big blue boy scout. That’s exactly what he would do. If he’s on an airplane, he’s going to put on his seat belt.

AB: It’s because it’s safe and those are the rules. He would never show off. If it crashes, he could just float away, but he’s with the team.

JF: You have worked together for some time. From a collaborative standpoint, how do you get the story on the page? Do you kick around ideas? Write out a full script? Start sketching stuff?

Franco: We’ve evolved past all that. [Laughs]

AB: I haven’t ever written a script. Maybe one. We just talk and write notes in our sketchbooks. Usually we’ll write on Skype, on the phone, or in person. Franco will write some notes and I’ll make stories from them. In Tiny Titans, we’ll point out a good joke, but we don’t know who wrote it. It came from us. It just grows and evolves.

JF: You’ve showcased just about everyone in the Superman family including Streaky the Super Cat. Are there any favorites that have stood out?

AB: I love Krypto. I love all of the Super Pets. They’re so cool. The Bat Cow is great too. It started as a Battle of the Cow(l) joke. I could draw them forever, for the rest of my life, every day. I know they’re making a movie of them too so I’m real curious about it.

JF: Is there more Superman of Smallville coming?

AB: We hope so. It’s up to the fans to make a big stink and to say they want it. We’re working on another book called ArkhaManiacs with Lil Joker, Harley, Penguin, Killer Croc, and Bruce Wayne. That’s what we’re working on now.

Superman of Smallville from DC Comics is currently available at your local comic shop, book store, and Amazon. Comicon would like to thank Art Baltazar and Franco for taking the time to speak with us.

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