Most of the comics assets of financially troubled comics publisher CrossGen have been bought for a reported $1 million at a bankruptcy auction by Cal Publishing Inc., a subsidiary of Disney Publishing Worldwide. DPW president Deborah Dugan immediately announced plans to develop Abadazad, a popular CrossGen fantasy series about a young girl's search for her lost brother, under its Hyperion Books for Children imprint. A spokesperson for Disney said that "tentatively," HBC will release four Abadazad titles in summer 2006.

Dugan declined to comment on the financial terms of the auction. She told PW that CrossGen's assets included about 30 graphic novel titles. She said that Disney will not continue CrossGen as a separate business. The remaining CrossGen staff (about six people) will work for the next three months, during the transition to Disney. Mark Alessi, the former technology entrepreneur who founded CrossGen, will serve as a consultant for at least the next three months.

Dugan told PW that she considered herself "a comics nut," as well as a fan of CrossGen comics specifically and had monitored the publisher's financial problems. The acquisition, she said, was part of Disney's initiative to bolster its comics publishing programs worldwide. She pointed to the international success of Disney's W.I.T.C.H., a comics and prose series aimed at teen girls, and the popularity of comics in Disney Adventures magazine.

In addition to Abadazad, Dugan said, Ruse, a Victorian-era alternate reality mystery series, and Meridian, a fantasy series aimed at girls, are among her favorites. She said discussions are ongoing about whether to issue reprints or bring in new artists and writers to continue the story or develop new story lines. "Some of the titles may need testing for a broader audience," she said. But she was quick to point out that Disney will consider selected titles (particularly those aimed at older teens and up) for motion picture or TV development as well as games. And, she said, Disney's "distribution clout, our mass market, newsstand and school channels," can introduce a much larger audience to the works.

CrossGen was founded in 1998 by Alessi, and though it quickly became one of the largest independent U.S. publishers of comics and graphic novels, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. The Disney acquisition includes CrossGen's list of science fiction, superhero, horror and fantasy titles, in addition to a comics-based educational and literacy program, proprietary digital publishing technology and a comics Web site.