Disney Doing Graphic Novels
Disney is getting into the graphic novel business, with a plan to adapt the works into movies.
Walt Disney Studios has created Kingdom Comics and signed a multiyear deal with writer-actor Ahmet Zappa, exec Harris Katleman and writer-editor Christian Beranek to oversee the fledgling division.
The aim is to create titles that will be the basis of new film projects for the studio as well as re-imagine and rejuvenate movies from the Disney “vault,” the company’s library of live action films.
No writers or artists have been announced, though the trio are on the hunt for new and established talent to create the books. Kingdom has a first-look deal with Disney Publishing Worldwide to distribute the publications. If Disney chooses not to publish a book, Kingdom will explore other venues.
The studio will pluck titles, putting them into development on a case-by-case basis.
“Some of these exciting publications will be inspired by films and characters in the vast and storied Disney library, while other original graphic novels are sure to spark great ideas for future Disney classics,” studio president Oren Aviv said. “Our vision for Kingdom Comics is to bring a fresh, contemporary approach to Disney properties that already have a strong connection with moviegoers and readers all over the world, and to add to that storytelling legacy.”
Zappa started out as an actor on such shows as “Roseanne” and “Growing Pains.” This led to feature film work and a run as a host on many popular reality shows. In 2006, he sold the rights to his first novel, “The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless,” to Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. He is writing the second installment in that series and is executive producing a feature version of “Fraggle Rock” with the Jim Henson Co.
Katleman served as president and CEO of 20th Television from 1980-92, during which time the studio developed such landmark programs as “L.A. Law,” “The Simpsons,” “In Living Color,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.” (in association with Steven Bochco Prods.). Following his tenure at 20th Television, he joined Mark Goodson Prods. as COO, followed by a stint as COO and partner in Jonathan Goodson Prods., in which he still maintains a partnership. His recent credits include executive producing the syndicated shows “Forgive or Forget,” “House Calls” and “Dirty Rotten Cheater.”
Beranek formed his own publishing company, Silent Devil, in 1996, producing such titles as “Dracula vs. King Arthur” and “Super Frat.” He parlayed that success into consulting for companies such as Universal Music Publishing, Harley Davidson, AOL, and Mazda on graphic novels and their value as both intellectual properties and marketing devices.
As a writer, he penned the origin of John Doe for the New Line/Zenescope series “Seven” and recently finished a draft of the “Dracula vs. King Arthur” screenplay. [thr]