Dis' kingdom includes graphic novel business


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, executive Harris Katleman and writer-editor Christian Beranek to oversee the division.

The aim is to create titles that will be the basis of new film projects for the studio as well as reimagine and rejuvenate movies from the Disney's library of live-action films.

No writers or artists have been announced, though the trio is on the hunt for new and established talent to create the books. Kingdom, which will be located on the Disney lot, 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. Also, there is no set number of graphic novels that are mandated to be published per year.

"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.

Zappa started out as an actor on such shows as "Roseanne" and "Growing Pains" before becoming a host on reality and game 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 exec 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," "NYPD Blue" and "Doogie Howser, M.D." (in association with Steven Bochco Prods.). After 20th, he joined Mark Goodson Prods. and then Jonathan Goodson Prods., working on such syndicated shows as "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."

The deal was negotiated by Steve Katleman of Greenberg Traurig. (partialdiff)