NYCC '09 - The Disney Comics Panel

Boom's The incredibles #1

The New York Comic Con Disney Comics panel featured editors Rich Thomas, Steve Behling, Nachie Castro and Christian Trimmer from Disney, as well as Christian Beranek and Ahmet Zappa from Kingdom Comics.

Gemstone Publishing has had the license for 10 years for Disney's standard characters – Mickey, Donald (and other ducks), Goofy, Daisy and Minnie, or the “Fab Five,” as well as the classic characters, such as Cinderella. Gemstone puts out trades and graphic novels, like Mickey and the Gang, an oversize high end book that is a reprint of all the Good Housekeeping comics done in the 40s and 50s.

Disney has over 100,000 pages of comics featuring the “Fab Five,” and won't be stopping production anytime soon.

As Newsarama readers know, BOOM! Studios now has the Disney license for Pixar characters and The Muppets. In the coming year, readers can expect new releases that include The Incredibles, Cars, Toy Story and Muppet Show comics with new original stories. There will also be Muppet Tales which are public domain stories with Muppets cast as classic characters—including Muppets Peter Pan.

“Which Muppet is Tinker Bell? Gonzo Tinker Bell?” Zappa joked.

The licensed projects versus in-house projects are decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on who would be the best fit, whether it's BOOM or SLG (who publishes Gargoyles comics), Gemstone or in-house.

Trimmer introduced the Pigeon series, which are comics for kids two to six, including one that retells the story of the tortoise and the hare—with rap battles.

Many of the Disney lines are looking to publish to kids specifically, though they hope the books will appeal to all ages. Alexa Kitchen, the youngest Eisner-award winner ever at age 10, has her first book with Disney, titled Grownups are Dumb.

Disney films will be doing projects with “very large universes,” in the next year or so, according to editor Nachie Castro, and these will afford plenty of opportunity for upcoming graphic novels to spin off from those universes. These, like many of the Disney titles, are designed to draw the reluctant reader.

The editors also discussed the Artemis Fowl books, put out by Disney Hyperion. They have just approved the seventh book in that series, and will be converting several more Hyperion books into graphic novels.

The Center for Cartoon Studies Studio, located in Vermont and co-founded by James Sturm, will be putting out Amelia Earheart, and will follow that with a graphic version of Helen Keller's story. The Center also falls under the large Disney/Hyperion umbrella.

The Disney Fairies have also become beloved characters, and the Disney Princesses as well offer opportunities to reach out to young female readers, and with another Pirates of the Caribbean movie due, there will be more Pirates spinoffs as well.

Kingdom Comics focuses specifically on the Disney live action vault, and works on breathing new life into the classic Disney live action pictures. Zappa and Beranek couldn't confirm any titles they are working on currently (though they danced around mentions of an Escape from Witch Mountain and “something with a dragon”--Pete's Dragon perhaps?) but these stories will be turned into 120-page graphic novels, and are always looking for new writers and artists.

“We're very passionate about the stories being great,” Zappa said.

The Kingdom books follow a book-publishing schedule, rather than a comics schedule, but will be available in comic shops.

When asked which properties they would like to see made into comics, Trimmer said he would love to see the Miramax film The English Patient made into a graphic novel, and Beranek agreed, illustrating the reach of Disney and the endless possibilities for licensed products from properties owned by the company.

More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage:

NYCC '09 Video Page

NYCC '09 Mini-Site

Twitter activity