Random House Children’s Books has acquired the rights to the Internet meme Grumpy Cat for a series of three Golden Books. The first title, The Little Grumpy Cat That Wouldn’t, is scheduled for publication on July 26, 2016.
“The deal came together so quickly,” says Chris Angelilli, v-p, editor-in-chief, and director of license publishing, who is overseeing the program. “The acquiring editor, Christy Webster, is a huge Grumpy Cat fan. She reached out to Grumpy Cat’s agent, and he said ‘yes’ right away. He didn’t even have to think about it.” The deal was met with enthusiasm throughout the company, he adds, where many employees have Grumpy Cat calendars or captioned cartoons at their desks.
“Christy is such a huge fan and lives and breathes Grumpy Cat, so the story came together naturally,” Angelilli continues. “And the illustrator, Stephanie Laberis, who had been working on some original non-licensed Golden Books for us, accepted the job before she even heard the payment or the deadline. She loves Grumpy Cat.”
The frowning kitty, whose official and fan-generated images on social media are accompanied by captions such as “Good morning... No such thing” and “I purred once… It was awful,” has accrued eight million Facebook followers over the past three years and inspired an array of licensed merchandise ranging from swimsuits to Grumpuccino-brand coffee. Ongoing Grumpy Cat publishing includes titles such as Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book and The Grumpy Guide to Life from Chronicle Books; Dynamite Entertainment’s comics; and coloring, sticker, and paper doll formats from Dover Publications.
One drawback to an Internet meme is its potentially short life. “With this particular property, we didn’t have any concerns,” Angelilli says. “We think it will be around for a very long time.”