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Disney Nabs CrossGen!
Does this mean we'll see the end of Negation War?

Today the Disney Company confirms what comic book readers had thought was happening.

The House of Mouse now owns the House of Alessi. For most of us, that means that we may see how Route 666, Way of the Rat and many others were to play out. At least, we can hope. From the tone of the press release, you can also tell that the one project that had Disney slobbering was J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog's Abadazad, which it looks like (this is just my inference) Disney plans to make into a series of illustrated books, not comics.

It makes sense. Though the short-lived fantasy series did bear a resemblance to Oz on certain levels, it was unique enough to have garnered critical acclaim, and accessible enough to be something that should get fantasy-obsessed children into reading it. And Disney has been taking shots all over the map trying to find something that could compete with Harry Potter for young readers' attention.

Me, I just want to see that Negation War end.

From Disney:

Disney Publishing Worldwide (DPW) today announced the acquisition of the assets of CrossGen Entertainment, Inc., an innovative publisher of comic books and graphic novels, fortifying DPW’s position as the world’s leading publisher of children’s comics. CrossGen’s stable of epic fantasy and science fiction properties include Abadazad, Ruse, Way of the Rat, Meridian, Mystic, Route 666 and Sojourn. Disney represents approximately 50 percent of all children’s comic magazines sold around the world, reaching readers of all ages with 220 million comics each year.

“To maintain our leadership position, we are committed to developing and acquiring top-quality, powerful content that expands our rich comic portfolio and CrossGen has some great properties” said DPW President Deborah Dugan. “In light of recently reported declines in reading (1), we are developing creative new approaches using comics to engage children in the written word, and we hope to benefit from CrossGen’s experience in this area.”

Named Comic Publisher of the Year among small comics publishers for three consecutive years (2), CrossGen was founded in 1998 and by 2000 had grown into one of the largest independent comic publishers in the U.S. The company’s intellectual properties are known for their excellence in production, artistry and writing; their compelling stories; and their multi-dimensional characters. Other Cross Gen assets include a comics-based educational and literacy program; the proprietary BeeVee Player and Chameleon technologies that enables enhanced online publishing of comics and magazines as well as new digital business models; and an initiative to publish comics online in several countries, including China.

“Given Disney’s legacy in comics, global distribution relationships and talent for multi-media storytelling, I believe we have found a great home for these properties,” said CrossGen’s CEO and founder Mark Alessi.

One of the first CrossGen titles DPW plans to develop is Abadazad, a complex and deeply engrossing story of a girl’s search for her lost brother, set in a fantastical world within a world. Four Abadazad books are already slated to be published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of DPW.

“The most successful publishing properties also generate excitement throughout Disney, including its motion picture, television and games units,” Dugan said, “and Abadazad lends itself perfectly to Disney’s synergistic philosophy.”

Disney’s long history in comic books began when the first Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comic magazines were published in 1935 and 1942, respectively. Disney Publishing Worldwide has enjoyed tremendous success with W.I.T.C.H, a comic magazine for tween girls that debuted in Italy in 2001, and is now the fourth largest magazine in the world in terms of international editions (33 editions generating over 1 million copies/month). W.I.T.C.H. books are currently published in 20 countries, and a TV series launch is planned for early 2005.

Disney Publishing Worldwide is the largest children’s publisher in the world, with books and magazines in 55 languages in 75 countries, reaching more than 100 million readers each month.

1 - National Endowment for the Arts, June 2004
2 - Comic Publisher of the Year in the under 5% Market Share category by retailers using Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. Annual awards are presented to publishers based on votes accumulated by Diamond from their more than 4000 retail accounts.

Derek McCaw

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