Seattle-based indie comics publisher Fantagraphics Books and animation developer Lincoln Butterfield have agreed to collaborate on the publication of a graphic novel based on RIP, M.D., an animated cartoon series in development by Lincoln Butterfield. The first volume of the graphic novel series is slated to be released in 2010.

RIP, MD is the story of a little boy who discovers that monsters are real and sometimes are hurt or need help and he becomes an MD—or Monster Doctor. Lincoln Butterfield is a newly launched independent animation house, founded by animators Robert Hughes and Joseph Walker. Fantagraphics Books is the publisher of such distinguished comics artists as Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Dan Clowes and Joe Sacco. But while Fantagraphics has been instrumental in the growth of independent comics publishing, the house is not known for publishing kids-oriented material.

Lincoln Butterfield cofounder Joseph Walker told PWCW that he was “a big fan of Fantagraphics Books and their publishing sensibility.” Walker said the project will be a series of standalone graphic novels not periodicals. “We want a true graphic novel. We don’t want an adaptation of a TV show, these books will not be dependent on the TV production.” Along with Mitch Schauer, who created the property and will write and pencil the book, Walker visited Fantagraphics offices in Seattle to pitch the book directly to Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth. Schauer said he had always “enjoyed the classic horror films and RIP comes from that,” and while the book will deal with teen issues, he said “it will appeal to all age groups.”

Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth said that Lincoln Butterfield cofounder Joseph Walker and creator Mitch Schauer brought the project to him and he was impressed. “They were very familiar with our books. I did some research on them and I was impressed with the project.” The book will handled like all of Fantagraphics publishing projects, Groth said. Schauer will deliver a finished book and Fantagraphics will handle production and distribution and work with Lincoln Butterfield on marketing and promotion.

Groth acknowledged that Fantagraphics is not known for publishing kids comics material, but noted that he has a child of his own and has always been looking for viable kids comics projects to publish. “I’ve always wanted to do comics for kids,” he said. “It’s good to diversify your publishing program as long as it’s done well. I’d like to do more.”