Posts Tagged Superman

Supermen of Comics

Art Baltazar and Franco have created many award-winning, all-ages comics. Their latest creation, Superman of Smallville, shows readers what it was like for Clark Kent in Smallville Middle School. He struggles to keep his identity secret in the face of bullies, first crushes, and an alien threat. The Mixed-Up Files sat down with these two super men of comics and asked them what it was like to create this origin story for the Man of Steel as well as creating great comics for kids and adults.

MUF: Superman deals with a bully when he gets to Smallville Middle School. Why did you decide to include the theme of bullying, and why does Clark deal with the bully in the way that he does?

Art: Clark knows he is not a threat. Just a little annoyance. I think Clark sees the good in people and tries to find a peaceful solution to getting bullied by Brad. I think it worked. I learned that if I made the bully laugh, they would usually leave me alone. Ha.

Franco: There are things in life that everyone has to deal with. There are obstacles and barriers to all things that we do. Some of those are easy to overcome and others are not. Bullying happens in everyone’s life at one point or another and learning how to deal with these obstacles is a part of life. It’s important to know that anywhere along the mythos of Superman, it’s all he does is stand up to bullies in all shapes and forms. In doing so he gives all of us the confidence to do the same!

MUF: The Kryptonian language in the book was a fun addition. Did you make it up? If so, how did you come up with it?

Art: Ha. Its actual Kryptonian Language in the DC Comics cannon. Its real as all real gets! We just get to use it. The bonus thing is…now I am fluent in Kryptonian.

Franco: Nope. Not made up. It’s the official Kryptonian.

MUF: Which scene in the story was the most fun to write? Which scene was the most fun to illustrate? Why?

Art: I love the scene when Clark discovers the ship underneath the barn. How the floor was glowing and how he tried to hurry up Lana. Classic secret identity stuff. I love that the ship talks to him. I don’t think that’s ever been done before in the history of Superman. I think.

Franco: Best was crafting the story to – well, I can’t really answer that or you get the biggest spoiler for the end of the book and we wouldn’t want to do that, now would we?

MUF: Superman often uses his super-powers to finish his chores quickly, even when he’s not supposed to. Why do his parents not want him to use his powers even when he’s home and no one can see him? And which chore would you use superpowers to speed through if you could?

Art: His parents want him to learn an honest day’s work. They want him to avoid the short cuts and do things the correct way. Just because you have powers doesn’t mean you should use them for every little thing. Blood, sweat and tears…even though Clark doesn’t break a sweat. Well, metaphorically. True story.

Franco: Doing things fast is not always the right way. The easy way is not always the right answer. We’re both parents and we still to instill this in our kids because we’ve been through scenarios in life where the easy way, just because you can, does not necessarily mean it’s the right way. Which super power would I use? Flight! Those gutters on my house get filled with leaves in the fall and they are really high up there.

MUF: You both have several great comics out for middle-grade readers. What are some of the best things about creating comics for this age group? What are some of the challenges? How did you decide to start writing/illustrating for a middle-grade audience?

Art: I always made comics the way I make them. Its very cartoony and very natural. Cartooning is in my soul. Its my life. It who I am. Famous Cartoonist. I don’t try to make comics deliberately for certain age groups. I make comics that I think are funny and fun. The term ALL AGES really does apply here. We don’t make comics specifically for kids, we make comics that kids can read. Which also almost makes us as creators just as awesome as our comics.

Franco: It’s just what comes out of my brain! Making comics is awesome!!!

MUF: Any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Art: Next for DC Comics, we are working on ArkhaManiacs! It’s a book about young Bruce Wayne and all the residents of Arkham Apartments. You guessed it…The Joker, Harley, Clayface, Penguin…those guys. Also, I have lots of creator owned projects coming out soon like Drew and Jot from BOOM, and Gillbert from Papercutz. Also Powers in Action and Big Alien Moon Crush from Action Lab. Whew. I’ve been busy.

Franco: Arkhamaniacs! It’s gonna be a fun ride taking all those Batman villains in funny directions!Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

MUF: You both have drawn/written several DC superheroes and villains already? Are there any that you haven’t yet that you’d like to? Which superhero or villain is your favorite and why?

Art: I’ve worked on tons of different DC characters….and their pets! I would love to do a SUPER PETS comic book series. And, of course…I am always ready for more SUPERMAN!

Franco: I’m not sure if there are any that we haven’t written yet. My answer is: Let’s do them all again!

MUF: Please do! We’d love to see a SUPER PETS comic book series. Last question. Any advice for young writers and artists?

Art: Yes! Carry a sketchbook and/or notebook everywhere you go everyday! Write all the time and draw all the time. Make your sketchbook part of your life. Just like your phone and your keys. Never leave home without it. That’s what I do.

Franco: Just do it!


Superman of Smallville is out now from DC Zoom, but you have an opportunity to win a copy from us. Enter below before September 27th.
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Dear Michael Northrop, An Author Interview and Giveaway

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgDoes Superman ever make mistakes? What was Wonder Woman’s eleventh birthday like? These are just a few of the questions that eager fans ask DC superheros in Michael Northrop’s Dear Justice League. At the Mixed-Up Files, we had some questions of our own for Mr. Northrop, and just like the Justice League, he was super to answer them.

MUF: Dear Justice League is your first graphic novel. Have you always wanted to write graphic novels?

MN: As a kid with dyslexia, I wasn’t much of a reader or a writer. Comic books were huge for me because I was hesitant about reading, and comic books were the first thing that I could read both for fun and socially. As each issue came out, I could read them and participate in the discussion. So, writing Dear Justice League was like coming full circle. There’s a visual storytelling to graphic novels that was already there for me because comics were so formative for me.

MUF: Wow, from a reluctant reader, to an author. You started out at Sports Illustrated Kids. What was that journey like?

MN: I chose the most perilous of paths. I became an English major, and jot just English, but poetry. Poetry is also great for dyslexia or struggling readers because it’s something that is read and written slowly and carefully. I became the poetry editor for the literary magazine in college. My editor recommended me for a job with the sports section at World Almanac, which is how I got into journalism and Sports Illustrated Kids, which really helped me to develop the middle-grade/YA voice.

MUF: Was there anything from your time at Sports Illustrated Kids that informed or inspired Dear Justice League?

MN: The interaction with the athletes, and how they responded to questions from young fans as opposed to questions from me. There was just a direct connection between the kids and these larger than life figures.

Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of Scholastic’s new multi-platform series, TombQuest. His first young adult novel, Gentlemen, earned him a Publishers Weekly Flying Start citation, and his second, Trapped, was an Indie Next List selection. His first middle-grade novel, Plunked, was named one of the best children’s books of the year by the New York Public Library and was selected for NPR’s Backseat Book Club. He is originally from Salisbury, Connecticut, a small town in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains, where he mastered the arts of BB gun shooting, tree climbing, and field goal kicking with only moderate injuries. After graduating from NYU, he worked at Sports Illustrated Kids magazine for 12 years, the last five of those as baseball editor.

MUF: Since you mentioned that comics helped you overcome your dyslexia, is that something that you thought about while writing Dear Justice League? Helping struggling readers build their skills?

MN: I did write with readers like myself in mind. I wanted to write for a lot of different levels, and to make Dear Justice League as accessible as possible. That’s why the story is broken up into a different chapter for each hero. It gives the reader more ways into the book. So, if someone only wanted to read about Wonder Woman, they could read that chapter, and get into the story that way. It’s also why I chose to start the story with Superman. He’s one of the biggest stars, and that chapter is also wordless with a lot of physical comedy. It’s like the first rung on the ladder, making it easy for reluctant readers to get into.

MUF: Speaking of heroes, who are your favorite heroes? Who were your favorite heroes growing up?

MN: Growing up, it was teams that really captivated me, particularly the Legion of Superheroes. The comics had a kind of soap opera feel to them, but in space. They had a dazzling array of heroes, like Lightning Lad, whose power I loved, and Mon-el, who felt like my own personal Superman because he had all the powers of Superman but not as many people knew of him. But what I really loved about the teams was the variety.

MUF: Now, I feel like I need to read some Legion of Superheroes. But if you had to choose one hero. All-time favorite?

MN: Superman. He made a huge impression on me. He’s the perfect superhero in that he’s not perfect. He’s a complicated character with great stories about doing what’s right and being responsible with power.

MUF: How did you come up with the questions that your young fans ask their favorite superheroes?

MN: The fun part was the mix. Finding a mix of serious and funny questions that would get into who the hero really was and bring out those relatable human qualities.

MUF: Hawkgirl was one of my favorite chapters because it was just funny and caught me completely off-guard.

MN: Hawkgirl was a choice. I mean, I had to include the founding members of the Justice League, like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, but I got to choose some of the other members, and Hawkgirl brings a young teen kind of energy to the group, and she really carries the through line of the story. She was a super fun character and super fun to write.

MUF: Speaking of fun characters, the Flash is a pretty fun character, and he’s the only hero in Dear Justice League that deals with bullies. Did you always want bullies to be in the story? And why is he the hero that you chose to address bullying?

MN: I knew that bullying was a topic that I wanted to deal with because it’s something that a lot of kids deal with, and initially, I had a really serious bullying situation in the story, but I didn’t want it to be heavy-handed. So, I gave the most serious topic to the most free-spirited character.

MUF: Last question. I’m sure that you have a lot of young readers writing to you, much like the fans do in Dear Justice League. Do you have any advice for young readers and writers out there?

MN: For young readers, there are so many kinds of stories. There are no wrong answers. For me, comics came first. Then, it was rule books for Dungeons and Dragons, which led to fantasy novels because I felt like I was already inside the story. Any kind of storytelling is valid. Find the stories that work for you. For writers, it’s similar. Everyone has their own way of doing things. There’s really no wrong answer. The only thing that’s really important is to finish something because it’s in revision that you learn how to become a better storyteller.

MUF: Thanks, Michael! This was a lot of fun.

Dear Justice League is out now, and one lucky reader will win a Dear Justice League prize pack, enter here! A winner will be chosen randomly on August 15th.

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Super Reads for Superman Day

It’s a bird; it’s a plane. It’s Superman Day here at Mixed-Up Files (and everywhere else). In 2013, DC Comics declared June 12 to be Superman Day.  To celebrate, we’ve gathered some of the greatest middle-grade reads featuring the Man of Steel, his family, and his friends. So, drop that kryptonite, don your capes, and get ready to go up up and away with these super stories.


Graphic Novels

Super Sons: The Polarshield Project by Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Ile Gonzalez. Super Sons follows Jon Kent (Superman’s son), who moves to the town of Wyndemere when the melting polar ice caps threaten the cities of Coleumbria. With his father away fighting the devastating climate change, and a mysterious illness spreading across Wyndemere, Jon teams up with Damian “Ian” Wayne and a mysterious girl named Candace to find the source of the disease and stop it from spreading. This new out-of-continuity story was one of the first titles to launch DC Zoom, the middle grade imprint of DC Comics.



Secret Hero Society by Derek Fridolfs, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. In this series, a young Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, and Clark Kent team up for middle school misadventures. The investigate a roving band of clowns, encounter a lake monster, and accidentally time travel. Other DC superhero favorites, such as Green Arrow and Cyborg, join them, and they even face some familiar villains.





Superman Family Adventures by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani. This fun series created by the Eisner Award-winning team behind Tiny Titans brings all the whole super family together. Superman teams up with Supergirl, Superboy (and his dog) to fight classic foes.






Superman: Adventures of the Man of Steel by Scott McCloud and Paul Dini, illustrated by Rick Burchett, Terry Austin, an Bret Blevins. Inspired by the 90’s cartoons, this older collection of comics was made by the show’s creators. It’s essential reading for any Superman fan!






DC Super Pets by various authors, illustrated by Art Baltazar- Even superheros have pets! This chapter book series follows the crime-fighting adventures of the pets of popular DC superheros, including Superman’s monkey Beppo. There’s also Krypto, Superboy’s dog, who appears in Superman Family Adventures, and Supergirl’s pets- a horse and a cat.





Supergirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee. When Krypton is destroyed, Supergirl lands on Earth and sent to Super Hero High. Supergirl has bad grades and trouble controlling her powers. But when an alien invasion threatens her new friends, she’ll find out what it really means to be a superhero. Based on the DC Superhero Girls series, this is a superhero story with a lot of heart.





Superman: Solar System Adventures by Steve Korte, illustrated by Dario Brizuela- When Superman’s enemies invade our solar system, he journeys to the different planets to fight them. This series infuses real science facts into superhero action.





And if you like nonfiction, check out the story of how Superman came to be.  Boys of Steel by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross Macdonald tells the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman.