Art N Franco Cash In With "The Green Team"

Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have hit the big time.

Aside from their years of acclaimed kids comics and their still-growing "Aw Yeah! Comics" , the creators were finally tapped for a big ticket gig in DC Comics New 52 this year with "The Green Team" -- an ongoing series with art by Ig Guara launching in May.

Based on the original concept created in the 1970s by comics legend Joe Simon and artist Jerry Grandenetti, "The Green Team" tells the adventures of an extremely rich collection of boys who decide to use their money to fight crime. This outsized take on the 1% will serve as a compliment book to "The Movement" -- a new series by Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II focusing on an uprising of the 99%.

Art and Franco spoke about their new project with CBR News, explaining how that clash of haves and have nots does and doesn't play into their book, how the series will surprise readers only familiar with their kids comics work, why they had to reinvent the team and its goals from the ground up and how the cash coffers of "The Green Team" will make a big impact on the DC Universe.

CBR News: Guys, I think it's fair to say that if you walked into a room full of comic fans and asked which obscure DC character they expected you to launch in the New 52, not one in a thousand would have said "The Green Team." [Laughter] How did you get brought into this process, and what was your reaction to that concept?

Franco Aureliani: We're never predictable, as you can tell. But they liked what we've done. We're reliable. And there's always been talk about us doing some stuff in the regular DC Universe, but while we've talked about other stuff with them and have done some preliminary legwork on other projects, the other properties we've worked on never seemed to make it. Nothing really fit until this thing came along. It just happened to coincide with the end of "Superman Family Adventures."

And again, we've done stuff like this before. It may come as a surprise to some readers, but we've written serious comics before. This is the first time a lot of people will be seeing that, but we've done this kind of comic before.

Art Baltazar: Yeah, our editor had the pitch for a while on this. They had a meeting there and our names were brought up as writers. Because we have the feel for younger characters, the humor we can mix in and the adventure, that's why we got the call. It was kind of funny because we were getting phone calls every day for a while on this. "Do you guys want to do this?" "Yes." "Okay, we'll call you back tomorrow to have another discussion about it." [Laughs] But they pretty much wanted us to write because they want our sense of humor on a book which is also a high adventure story. They had us in mind for a long time, and we didn't even know!

But it was a surprise to get involved with this because we didn't even know who the Green Team were. We had to look them up online and find out who they were. I personally didn't really like the characters, but when they told us to reinvent them and reboot them, I was like, "All right." We've made them our own now. I'm real happy with the way the main characters and the supporting characters are -- they way they act and look. It's pretty exciting.

And when we found out that our book was going to tie to Gail Simone's new book, that was even more exciting. We were both thinking, "Wow! Gail Simone! She's got high profile New 52 books!" [Laughs] That was cool. It was another pedestal in our careers. We've written some regular DCU stories in the Halloween specials and Christmas specials. But now to actually have an ongoing series in the New 52 where they could meet Superman, Batman and Aquaman for real? Like for REAL real? It's part of the new universe, and that's so cool. We can be a part of something.

At its core, the Green Team was about a band of boy billionaires. What have you kept from that as you placed this in the New 52?

Baltazar: Now they're trillionaires! [Laughter] Imagine if you had a trillion dollars in the DC Universe. You had unending, unstoppable cash. You could do whatever you want with it, and you woke up one morning and decided you wanted to be a superhero. That's the attitude some of these kids have. They can do whatever they want because they're filthy rich.

Aureliani: It's going to be a little different than the regular New 52 books. It's going to be high adventure and a little humorous. It's going to be sad and about young love. It really is a mixture of so many storytelling elements. There are some people who are kind of up in arms about it online, and Art and I have both gotten Tweets and e-mails and Facebook posts about the book already. It's generally not our policy to comment on anything and let the work speak for itself, and I think people are going to be really surprised. We drop kick things right in the first issue. You're not going to see what's coming. We're going to set up these characters and take you on a ride form there. And we really hope people stick around for the ride.

Art and I don't do anything half way. We dug our heels in with this, and we've talked about all the characters. We've planned out through issues #8 and 9 already, and the first issue hasn't even hit the stands. We know what's happening down the line, and we've even got ideas for a few issues after that so we can weave hints into the earlier issues. We really think people will be surprised by this.

Baltazar: We want people after they read the book to wonder, "What did I just read? Wow! What was that?" We're looking to get a reaction that makes you not want to wait for the next issue. You know when you buy your comics now and just set them in a stack to say, "I'm going to read these six issues in a row"? Like you're just waiting for the story to build up? Ours is going to be the one on the pile that you're going to read in the car at the red lights on your drive home from the store. You're going to read this on the bus. That's our goal. We don't want you to stack up those books. You can't say "I'm going to wait for the trade" because this is just too exciting.

One of the few teases we've got about the book so far is that it will compliment Gail's book "The Movement" which takes its cues from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Usually in that kind of conception, the rich people will be viewed as bad guys. Your cast won't be presented as villains, I'm sure, but is there a way in which those ideas play at all into what you're doing?

Baltazar: Kind of. Our characters are called the 1%, but they're so far into the 1% that they're not even aware of the 99%. They don't know those people exist. I'm not sure what's going to happen in Gail's book because we haven't been able to talk with her too much yet.

Aureliani: There's a lot happening with our characters. They're super rich, and they're a small, close group so they don't interact with anyone outside of that. But that's going to evolve over the issues, and at some point down the line, we'll come into contact with Ms. Simone's book. And she's going to have to watch out. [Laughter] I like her, but she's going to have to watch her back.

Baltazar: If our characters ever fight, our guys are going to win.

What has Ig Guara brought to the book? He seems like an artist who can do the more animated style like you've seen on your Johnny DC books, but he's more worked on mainstream superhero teens like Blue Beetle. How does his style fit in with your story?

Aureliani: We've gotten some artwork from him, and he's got some really cool designs down. We're excited to see how he brings it to the final product. We've been going back and forth with some designs, and of course, Art and I are both cartoonists so we did some designs in cartoon form and sent them to Ig. They were used by him and Amanda Conner to make these designs. We're just excited about it. With every project we're doing, we're equally enthused. We're like little kids on Christmas every time new pages come in, and we call each other up going, "Ig sent new stuff? Did you see it?" That's what drives us.

Overall with the story, if these guys are building themselves up with money to be superheroes, who is the counterpoint to that? Is there a supervillain set for this book, or is there a chance they'll come into conflict with the other traditionally rich characters of the DCU like Bruce Wayne or Lex Luthor?

Aureliani: Well, we can't tell you that! [Laughter]

Baltazar: Yeah, we have [a villain], and their trillions do effect the rest of the universe. They could meet Bruce Wayne. They could meet Oliver Queen. They could meet Lex Luthor. But we don't want to tell you how that all might play out.

Aureliani: With the idea of what our characters are doing, they're just starting out. We establish in the first issue that this is kind of new what they're doing, and it's going to become very public. We'll take it from there, and you can see what happens in the universe. If you go into the first issue, you'll know that they haven't really come to anybody's attention yet. But that's about to change.

"The Green Team" #1 launches in May from DC Comics.

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