Last July, Boom Studios announced that it would be teaming up with Disney to produce a series of comics based on Pixar properties. Former Tokyopop editor Paul Morrissey is heading up the line, and I spoke to him shortly after the announcement about where the line is headed, then updated the information in late October when he had more solid schedules for me. Here’s what he had to say.
Good Comics for Kids: There must be about a million comics based on Pixar properties. How will these be different?
Paul Morrissey: They are going to be different because they are original stories. They are not adaptations. Dark Horse did an Incredibles comic, but it was an adaptation. Disney has published comic adaptations of the movies, and they are really well done, but they are not original stories. I don’t want to do adaptations because pretty much every kid on the planet has the DVD of Finding Nemo. Why would they want an adaptation of it? We want to bring something new to these characters, new stories for these characters. We have to be really respectful not to step on the toes of any possible sequels, so there is sort of a middle ground of what we can do. All the stories will be new, but they will feel very familiar to people who like the movies.
GC4K: What constraints are you under?
PM: Despite the kind of awesome action sequences they have, all these movies are really character driven, and I am doing my best to make sure the stories we end up writing are driven by those characters. And those characters don’t change that much. Woody is always going to want to make Andy happy, and then he is always going to be anxious about being abandoned. Those are his two things, and that doesn’t change. All the stories that we pitch have to be approved by Pixar, so I feel that we have a safety net with them. I don’t think there is any way we are going to end up telling a bad story.
GC4K: Tell us about the format and timing.
PM: They are going to be 4-issue arcs. Each issue will be 22 pages, and we’re going to do our best not to have any big cliffhangers—each issue should stand alone fairly well, but when they are collected into a trade, we want that to have a better payoff than if you read each issue alone.
They are going to be monthly. The March launch titles are The Incredibles (written by Mark Waid), Cars (written by Alan Porter) and The Muppet Show (written and drawn by Roger Langridge). Toy Story and Finding Nemo will follow shortly after, along with Wall*E and Monsters, Inc. We’ll also be doing the public domain Muppet spoofs—Robin Hood, Peter Pan, etc.
GC4K: What age range are you aiming for?
PM: That’s the challenge. What Pixar does really well is they do a movie for every ten-year-old on the planet that adults can enjoy as well. That’s what we want to do, but these are kids’ books. I would say 7 to 10 years old. I think they are going to be all ages comics, especially as Mark Waid is writing The Incredibles.
I haven’t had this conversation with him, but knowing him as a writer, I know the approach he is taking with The Incredibles: He is writing as if it were a classic comic, as if it is a comic you read when you were a kid. You could sit down and read an issue and it would be really fun; it would not be dark and gritty. It’s like reading those great Silver Age comics that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created. If you’re a fan and you grew up reading those comics, and if you are a fan of Mark Waid, you are going to be able to pick up a comic and enjoy it as much as any kid. That’s really hard to do. I know Mark can pull it off. The challenge with these books is to make them appealing to the 7 to 10 year olds and also make them fun for adults.
Finding Nemo will skew a little younger. Monsters Inc., depending on how you tell the story is a little younger, but I think The Incredibles has a lot of crossover in terms of age range. I think Cars does too, and Toy Story has a lot of nostalgia value, especially because Woody is a classic toy. There’s something timeless about that character. And it’s the same with Wall-E—there is something very timeless about Wall-E, even though it is a movie set in the future.
GC4K: One of the big challenges with children’s comics is getting them to where the kids can see them. Where do you think these will be available?
PM: I think Scholastic is the golden ticket. The books are already being presented to the people we want to read them. The other thing I am really excited about is doing things for libraries.
Manga has really changed everything. When I was at Tokyopop, librarians loved manga because it was the one thing kids were reading. They were so nice to us, and so great to all the manga publishers, getting people to come in and do manga presentations. We aim to do the same thing with these books. I have already talked to one library rep and they are really excited about the Pixar stuff, so we will see what happens. Also, having the books in places like Wal-Mart is huge.
GC4K: Will you try to get them into chain bookstores?
PM: Absolutely. The fight there is to get it into the kids’ section. I think they might get lost if they are in the graphic novels section.
I think things are changing a bit. The stranglehold manga has on our nation’s youth is slipping a bit because of the success of the superhero movies. I have seen a lot of kids who you would normally see in the aisles of Borders who are more curious about Iron Man or Batman or another superhero.