Visiting "Ninjatown" with Art Baltazar

This month, Devil's Due Publishing invites readers to visit a peaceful hamlet full of adorable but deadly martial artists in "Ninjatown: The Adventures of the Wee Ninja" Vol. 1. The 48-page one shot by the "Tiny Titans" creative team of Art Baltazar and Franco will explore the lives of characters first seen as Shawnimals plush toys developed by Shawn Smith. CBR News caught up with Baltazar for a few words about the comic and take an exclusive first look at artwork from the comic.

"Ninjatown is a town where Wee Ninjas live. Wee Ninjas are like the general population. That's right, everyone in Ninjatown is a ninja," Baltazar told CBR News. "Well, except the bad guys. The wee Devils are the bad guys led by their evil leader Mr. Demon. And the occasional Zombie Ninja.

"There are different kinds of Ninjas, too. We have business ninjas, baby ninjas, geeky ninjas, anti-ninjas, as well as Wee Ninjas. Oh, and there is one ol' master ninja."

Baltazar said he was recruited to "Ninjatown" by Devil's Due publisher Josh Blaylock. "Josh has been my friend for a long time. I knew him before he was the famous Josh Blaylock," the artist explained. "He told me him and Tim Seely were talking about who would be cool to write the Ninjas and my name came up. So Josh gave me a call and I said yes. Did I mention, I know Josh Blaylock?"

Perhaps another factor giving rise to Baltazar's involvement in "Ninjatown" is that his artistic style as seen in "Tiny Titans" and "Patrick the Wolf Boy" fits nicely with what Shawn Smith had established with the Wee Ninja toys. But the artwork is still quite different from what's going on in most of comics, even among the "all-ages" or kids' titles. His influences, though, are pretty traditional. "I watched lots of cartoons like 'Tom and Jerry' and 'Woody Woodpecker,' and lots of Hanna-Barbera stuff. I like Spidey too," Baltazar said. "I tried drawing super hero style but everything I did came out real, real cartoony. My style is just the way the creative juices pour out of my arm. It's in my brain and its the way I do things artistically. I draw cartoony, I paint cartoony, I even make breakfast cartoony. Believe me, it can be done."

Baltazar and his creative partner Franco have been very busy since their rapid rise to fame. "I'm always working on something," Baltazar said. "The 'Big Amoeba' graphic novel just came out from Platinum Studios and it's still fresh on the comic shelves. We have a whole bunch of new 'Patrick the Wolf Boy' comic strips coming out on DrunkDuck.com and some cool stuff happening with 'Patrick' trade paperbacks. Also, you've got check out BlindWolfStudios.com where we'll have a new 'Eagle All Star' comic coming out soon. And I'm working on a new graphic novel called 'Hot Alien Love Rocket.'

"You've got to keep an eye on our sites. We have a whole bunch of secret stuff we can't talk about just yet. 'Fight Club' style, you know what I mean?"

With the Wee Ninja characters just now being established through toys, DVDs, and video games, and having that sort of distinctive look and sensibility that tends to catch on in a

certain way, CBR asked Baltazar whether he might be in on something that could, say, end up on future editions of VH1 "I Love the '00s." "Man, I think the Ninjas rock. It would be awesome if the Ninjas achieve legendary status!" he said. "To be part of something cultural and generation defining is something most Americans can only dream of. If we are doing it now, let history be written!"

Now discuss this story in CBR's Independents forum.

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