BuzzPop Colors Outside the Lines with Crayola

Bonnier Publishing USA’s BuzzPop licensing imprint is launching a series of coloring and activity titles this fall under a three-year deal with Crayola.

“This is a trusted, evergreen brand that’s been around for more than 130 years and is still thriving,” said Sonali Fry, BuzzPop’s publisher. “As a child, I always had about a million Crayola crayons all around me, and I had the box with the little pencil sharpener. We all used Crayola crayons in school, too. It would be hard to find someone not in contact with the Crayola brand in their life.”

The first three titles, releasing at the end of August, are Crayola: My Big Coloring Book, Crayola: Sticker Burst, and Crayola: Color Fun. Color Fun takes its inspiration from Crayola’s box of 120 crayons, with the color of each page matching a different shade contained in the box. “It ties back into what the brand is well-known for,” Fry said.

An additional six titles are planned for 2019, including coloring books with simple activities, mosaic sticker books (a new format for BuzzPop), chunky coloring and activity books at higher price points, and holiday-themed titles. Some future releases may feature blister packs of Crayola crayons. The books, which incorporate a range of art styles, focus on a sweet spot of ages three to seven initially, although the company may look at adding titles for slightly older children going forward.

“We’re trying to come up with activities that fit with Crayola’s mission of creative freedom and self-expression, so we’re including lots of open-ended activities that let readers break borders and go outside the lines,” Fry explained. “There are so many possibilities for a variety of formats, and Crayola has been great about having us pitch concepts. They’re open to us taking the program in new and different directions.”

Other publishers that have recently signed with Crayola include Lerner Publishing Group, which is creating educational titles for children in grades K–3, and Simon & Schuster, which has the trade rights for Crayola preschool storybooks and board books and also distributes BuzzPop’s titles. “The sales team is excited about our titles because they round out the Crayola list nicely,” said Fry. “Our whole team is really thrilled we got this one,” she added. “We think it has lots of potential and long legs.”

Random House Steals Christmas with Grinch Tie-Ins

Random House Children’s Books is releasing eight movie tie-in titles, as well as a few additional exclusives for specific retailers, based on The Grinch, a 3D-animated feature film set for a November 9 premiere. The film, produced by Illumination, released by Universal Pictures, and licensed by Universal Brand Development, is an origin story starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the Grinch.

Titles will include a deluxe 8x8, I’m the Grinch; a chunky crayon book, The Heart of a Who; a deluxe Step into Reading title, Welcome to Who-ville; a Little Golden Book, Who Likes Christmas; a paper doll playset, A Who-ville Celebration; two coloring and activity titles, A Colorful Christmas, with a rainbow pencil, and A Wonderfully Awful Sticker Book; and a deluxe junior novelization. RHCB’s sibling, Penguin Young Readers, will also release a Mad Libs title for the film, marking the first time a Seuss character has appeared in any Penguin format.

As is the case with many A-list movie tie-ins—“and this is nothing if not an A-list movie,” said Cathy Goldsmith, Random House’s president and publisher of Beginner Books and Dr. Seuss Publishing—all titles have a little something extra. The junior novelization, for example, features “as much as we can fit into it,” including a four-color insert and a fold-out poster, as well as a hardcover binding.

Meanwhile, as part of its classic Grinch program, Random House is releasing the board books I Am Max and I Am Cindy-Lou Who this fall. “It’s our attempt to take a little piece of the story, which is too complex for a board book, and show the heart of who these characters are,” Goldsmith said.

While the focus this fall is on the movie tie-ins and the Grinch, there are a few other Seuss titles coming out in 2018. They include Dr. Seuss’s First 100 Words, the initial book in a series of literacy titles for very young readers, starring the little cats A, B, and C from The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, to be followed by People, Places, and Things next summer. Meanwhile, Dr. Seuss’s You Are Kind, featuring Horton the Elephant, is a casebound book combining Seuss-drawn imagery and original text. This is the first time Random House is capturing the Seussian spirit and mission, focusing on a theme that infuses all of his titles, without using the author’s exact words. A second, similar title, I Love Pop—a celebration of fathers—will follow in the spring.

The Grinch is expected to boost these titles and Seuss publishing overall. After the movie advertising starts and before the tie-ins are available, for example, sales of the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, already a perennial bestseller during the holiday season, are likely to ramp up earlier than usual this year, Goldsmith predicted. “There’s just no marketing budget like a studio marketing budget,” she said. “Every dollar spent on the movie is a dollar spent marketing Dr. Seuss.”

IDW Goes Middle Grade with Marvel, Retro with Go-Bots

Among IDW Publishing’s key announcements during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con were two new licensed initiatives: a new middle-grade comic book line with Marvel Entertainment and a series tied to the 1980s toy and cartoon brand Go-Bots, in time for the property’s 35th anniversary this year.

The Marvel line “came from a desire to get these characters into the hands of the fastest-growing segment of comic readers,” said IDW editor-in-chief John Barber. “They have never lived in a world where Iron Man wasn’t one of the biggest characters out there.

The first middle grade books launch in November with a series focusing on Spider-Man—featuring Peter Parker and Miles Morales, both alter-egos of Spider-Man in alternate realities—followed by The Avengers in December and Black Panther in January 2019. All are properties that resonate with middle grade readers and are currently top-of-mind, thanks to high-profile films over the past few years, Barber said. The titles will be available as ongoing monthly comic books, with every three or so published as paperback collections that form a cohesive story arc.

Separately, IDW is working with longtime licensing partner Hasbro on a five-issue series tied to Go-Bots, marking that property’s return to comic books after a more than 30-year hiatus. The series is written and illustrated by Tom Scioli, known for his Transformers vs. GI Joe series. “He’s a unique artist with a distinct personal voice,” said Barber, who added, “This is a little more esoteric than a lot of mainstream comics.”

The series is likely to appeal to original fans of the property, admirers of Scioli’s work, and Transformers fans, Barber believes. IDW’s mainline series based on Transformers—a toy line that originally was on shelves at the same time as Go-Bots in the 1980s—is wrapping up its current 13-year run in September, with a new iteration to launch in 2019.

In Brief

Chido Comics is publishing a Masked Republic Luchaverse line of comic books featuring the stars of Mexican wrestling, or lucha, under license from Masked Republic. Wrestlers featured in the initial list include Rey Mysterio, Blue Demon Jr., Konnan, Los Cadetes Del Espacio, and the Lucha Brothers.... Taschen’s new releases for fall 2018 include the licensed art books Ferrari, Walt Disney’s Disneyland, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History, and The Star Wars Archives: 1977-1983.... Dynamite Entertainment and the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate signed Lynnvander Studios to create a board game, Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle, which launched on Kickstarter. Dynamite is the comic book licensee for Tarzan.