It looks like kids’ comics licenses are the new hot thing, as two new licenses were revealed yesterday: BOOM! Studios will be picking up the Disney Comics license formerly at Gemstone, and Archaia has just signed a pact with the Henson Company.
§ Disney first. As revealed by the online September previews, BOOM! will publish WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #699 by Riccardo Secchi and Stefano Turconi, and MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS #297 by Stefano Ambrosio and Lorenzo Pastrovicchio. This is picking up the numbering right from where Gemstone left off. But it also looks like BOOM! will be marketing these books in a more kid-friendly format, like its successful launch of the Pixar books, THE IINCREDIBLES and CARS. Arthur de Wolf at the DCW website (a dedicated source for Disney comics news) gives this a bit of perspective:
It looks like Boom! is completely abandoning the collector’s concept and going a different route. The first new issue of Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories will have only 24 pages and will sell for $2.99, the same price and size as its Pixar titles. And that’s not all, it will have the first part of an Italian-produced multi-part series titled Ultraheroes. These three-tier stories (stories with three rows are usually used in smaller pocket-sized books, while full-sized comics have four rows) aren’t anything like the material that has been published in WDC&S in recent years. Ultraheroes is a series with a total of 240 pages, so it looks like this is going to be the new style of WDC&S for at least its first 10 issues.
Gemstone always published Disney Comics more for the extremely niche adult collectors market that’s more numerous in Northern Europe than here; a switch to a kid-friendly line could make for a larger potential audience.
§ The other news was Archaia picking up the Henson license, with such properties as FRAGGLE ROCK, THE DARK CRYSTAL, LABYRINTH, MIRRORMASK, and THE STORYTELLER. PW has more details. With Archaia recently refinanced and revitalized, this is their first significant licensing deal, and shows that they’re fitting right in with the model of the modern comics publisher.
Unanswered questions from THIS announcement: what about Toykopop’s license for manga-esque versions of things like LABYRINTH? According to a post by author Jake Forbes at Comics Worth Reading, the fourth volume of RETURN TO LABYRINTH is still coming out.
The Jim Henson Company and Archaia announced today that they have entered into a partnership that will publish comic books and graphic novels based on popular Henson titles as well as new co-branded original properties.
The multi-year partnership will draw from The Jim Henson Company’s extensive film and television library, including Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Mirrormask, The Storyteller and other titles. The agreement also allows The Jim Henson Company and Archaia to partner with talent in the comic book, television and film industries to create brand-new stories under a co-branded banner, building on the legacy of quality and creativity of The Jim Henson Company brand and strengthening Archaia’s relationships within the entertainment sector.
“Some of the best storytellers in the world are flocking to comic books and graphic novels, making them the foremost platform for innovative and imaginative storytelling,” said Joe LeFavi, Director of Publishing and Development at The Jim Henson Company and who will serve as story editor on all the books. “Archaia has always epitomized artistic integrity, and their passion and support for our brands ensure that fans will receive the very best from the properties they know and love as well as from the new stories we will tell.”
“This is a truly groundbreaking agreement, as it is not just a licensing deal but a partnership in every sense of the word,” said Stephen Christy, Archaia’s Director of Development. “To work with the entire Jim Henson Company and with new talent to create the next generation of Jim Henson Company fan favorites is an unprecedented opportunity, and a dream come true for all of us at Archaia. Creating comics that become a part of the incredibly rich Jim Henson Company legacy is an exciting challenge, and I think fans will share our excitement when they see the talent we’re bringing in to help make these comics a reality.”
Representatives from Archaia and Henson will announce creative teams and a release schedule for the initial slate at San Diego Comic-Con International, with the first title tentatively scheduled for winter 2009.