The Cartoon Network series The Powerpuff Girls is in the midst of a year-long 25th-anniversary celebration, and Random House Children’s Books is bringing three new titles to the party. Last September, it reissued the original Powerpuff Girls Little Golden Book, Big, Terrible Trouble?, which will be followed in May with the all-ages The Powerpuff Girls Super-Fierce Coloring Book. In September 2024 will come Tales from Townsville, a graphic novel-style book that compiles two episodes from the original six-season run of the series, “Moral Decay” and “Bubblevicious.”
Big, Terrible Trouble? was the very first Powerpuff Girls book published by Golden Books in 2000, two years after the TV series debuted and just before Golden was acquired by Random House the following year. Craig McCracken, the creator of the show, authored that title. “He was a fan of the Little Golden Book format and wanted to write and illustrate the story,” said Geof Smith, now Random House’s editorial director for licensing, who had just joined Golden Books as managing editor and worked on the program then, as well as this time around. “That makes it special, especially to the collectors.”
That first Little Golden Book was followed by a large publishing program. “Everyone at the office was excited about the property,” Smith said. “The editors liked the theme of girl power, the designers loved the vibrant art style, and it was a very hot show at the time.” In addition to coloring and activity, Little Golden Books, and other formats, “there were lots of cute, fun little novelty titles,” Smith said. He cited as an example mini keychain books that could be attached to a backpack, a format done only for The Powerpuff Girls.
Smith compared the property to classic Looney Tunes, with its wide, varied audience that includes younger kids who love the cute characters, older viewers who appreciate the action and adventure, and now a nostalgia factor, and an audience of original fans who want to introduce their children to the show.
“The Powerpuff Girls was unique in the ways it included messages of confidence and empowerment for preschool girls,” Smith said. “It was a little ahead of its time. Nowadays, those themes are everywhere and stronger than ever, especially with regards to fantasy and superhero entertainment. Likewise, its unique style introduced many children to anime, which has only grown more popular over the years. It’s almost more timely now.”
Other publishing licensees involved with The Powerpuff Girls in time for the anniversary include Dynamite for comic books and Insight Editions for a cookbook that comes out in September. “The look of the show, the vibe and the bright colors, are really picked up in the design of the book and in the recipes themselves,” said Rachel Barry, v-p of marketing and publicity for Insight Editions. “It’s an incredibly charming, funny property. The characters have really endured, but there’s still a freshness. If you showed me the original art and told me it was created today, I’d believe you.”
Warner Bros. is marking the anniversary with a year-long celebration on screen, in social media, in promotions, and in consumer products, where the property was a big success during its initial run. Current consumer products licensees include Funko for collectibles, Dumbgood for apparel, Nike for shoes, Bobbi Brown for makeup, and Igloo for lunch bags, among others.
In addition to the hit 1998 series on Cartoon Network, the tough-but-cute Powerpuff Girls—Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles—have starred in a 2002 theatrical film; a 2006 anime adaptation, Powerpuff Girls Z; and a 2016 Cartoon Network reboot. Another iteration is in development, with McCracken involved.