Monday, November 15, 2004

Disney sees potential for CrossGen properties

The Hollywood Reporter pounces on news that Walt Disney Co. has snapped up the assets of bankrupt CrossGen, including Abadazad and Route 666:
The acquisition of the more than two dozen titles comes as Disney is set to launch a TV series in the United States based on W.I.T.C.H., a comic magazine for tween girls that debuted in 2001 in Italy. Disney says W.I.T.C.H. is now the fourth-largest magazine in the world in terms of international editions. Books based on the property are published in 20 countries; the animated TV show will debut on U.S. TV as part of Disney's Jetix block on Toon Disney and ABC Family early next year.

"Publishing is really an incubator of new content," Disney Publishing president Deborah Dugan said. "We said girls 10-12 are big readers, why not comics? That's how (W.I.T.C.H.) started."
Dugan said Disney isn't just interested in CrossGen's "all-ages" fare: "We're not shying away from the more adult titles. We have Miramax Books and other possible outlets for that."

Update 1: Newsarama also has some details.

Update 2: The Pulse talks with Abadazad co-creator J.M. DeMatteis, who said his series was "the primary reason Disney wanted to buy CrossGen":
"Shortly before the official bidding, I was contacted by Brenda Bowen, editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books For Children, about her desire to publish Abadazad as a line of children's books. When Disney finally won the bidding, a separate deal had to be worked out for Abadazad (since Mike Ploog and I are co-owners of the property). We were told, a number of times, that Disney was going to walk away from the CG deal if they couldn't get Abadazad."

"My manager, Kevin Cleary of Content House, and my lawyer, Mike Brundage, did some serious negotiating ... and they came up with a deal that Ploog and I are extremely happy with," continued DeMatteis. "We're doing Abadazad as a series of children's books. We'll be taking material from the comics, adding to it, reformating it ... and coming up a combination of prose, illustration and sequential art that we think will be unique. Our plan is to create a storytelling format that is new and exciting ... and we can't wait to get started."
Update 3: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) weighs in with an interview with Disney Publishing Worldwide president Deborah Dugan:
She told PW that CrossGen's assets included about 30 graphic novel titles. She said that Disney will not continue CrossGen as a separate business. The remaining CrossGen staff (about six people) will work for the next three months, during the transition to Disney. Mark Alessi, the former technology entrepreneur who founded CrossGen, will serve as a consultant for at least the next three months. ...

... In addition to Abadazad, Dugan said, Ruse, a Victorian-era alternate reality mystery series, and Meridian, a fantasy series aimed at girls, are among her favorites. She said discussions are ongoing about whether to issue reprints or bring in new artists and writers to continue the story or develop new story lines. "Some of the titles may need testing for a broader audience," she said. But she was quick to point out that Disney will consider selected titles (particularly those aimed at older teens and up) for motion picture or TV development as well as games. And, she said, Disney's "distribution clout, our mass market, newsstand and school channels," can introduce a much larger audience to the works.
Update 4: Disney Publishing Worldwide's official press release.