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Kingdom Comics key creatives aren't ready to talk about Disney's graphic novels line. Not yet, anyway

Kingdom Comics key creatives aren't ready to talk about Disney's graphic novels line. Not yet, anyway

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If Ahmet Zappa had his way, he’d be shouting from the rooftops about what Kingdom Comics has been up to.

But because of this son of legendary musician Frank Zappa felt that Mouse House managers had lasers trained on him, ready to take Ahmet out should he reveal too much too soon about Disney’s new graphic novel division, Zappa chose his words carefully while paneling at this year’s New York Comic-Con. Talking only in the vaguest possible terms about this new arm of Disney Publishing Worldwide had been up to since its inception back in May of 2008.

Ahmet Zappa points out where he believed Disney's killer lasers
were located in the hall at the Jacob K. Javits Center.
Photo by Jeff Lange

So what was Ahmet and his Kingdom Comics creative partner, Christian Beranek willing to go on the record about? Not much, actually. They talked about how Kingdom Comics will be following a traditional book publishing schedule and eventually hopes to release 6 to 10 titles per year. They also mentioned that these 120-page books would be based on films from Disney’s live-action vault. To be specific, motion pictures that the Studios made 20 – 30 years ago.

Zappa & Beranek made a point of stressing that Kingdom Comics would not be creating any graphic novels based on properties that Disney Studios already has in pre-production and/or active development. So you can forget about a Frank Miller / “The Dark Knight Returns” –ish rethink of the “Tron” mythology (Though, that said, Ahmet did say that he had  seen some of the concept art that had already been done for the “Tron” sequel. And he declared that this project looked very, very cool indeed.)

But as for which Kingdom Comics title would be first out of the gate … Zappa & Beranek really danced around this subject. Often coming close to revealing the book’s title (“It rhymes with … “) only to then suddenly back away from revealing much of anything. Again supposedly because they were very concerned about those ever-present Disney lasers.

Ahmet Zappa (L) and Christian Beranek (R), the key creatives behind
Disney's new Kingdom Comics graphic novel division.
Photo by Jeff Lange

Which – I know – makes Ahmet & Christian sound like two very silly men. Which they are. But they’re also obviously incredibly passionate about this project and are thrilled to death that the Walt Disney Company has entrusted them with this huge responsibility. Which is to re-imagine and rejuvenate some of the Studios’ most beloved films from the 1970s & 1980s in graphic novel form.

That’s the real reason that Zappa & Beranek were actually at NYCC. Not so much to hype Kingdom Comics. But – rather – to meet with artists and writers who were attending this year’s Con. To see if any of these people shared Ahmet & Christian’s vision of what a Disney graphic novel could be like. The grand possibilities involved with telling a tale loaded with action & adventure that was specifically set in a Disney universe.

And the beauty of Zappa & Beranek’s take on this material is that everything in the Disney universe actually fits together. Again in the vaguest possible terms, they talked about how Kingdom Comics graphic novels would be loaded with Easter Eggs. Oblique references to other live-action Disney films. Familiar characters popping up in very surprising ways.

Christian Beranek spoke of how much great stuff there was in
Disney's back catalog, what a challenge it was to
" ... build whole new world to explore."
Photo by Jeff Lange

But then – just as they’d start to get specific (“ … in the spirit and tone of the “Pirates” movies … ) – Ahmet would start to get nervous about those Disney lasers and then send the panel careening off in a completely different direction by talking about how – when he was a kid – he used to pray that Kim Richards from the “Witch Mountain” movies and Robin Zander of Cheap Trick would get married.

Which made for a very amusing if not all that informative panel at this year’s NYCC. Not to worry, though. In closing, Zappa & Beranek did say that they’d be revealing the title and subject of Kingdom Comic’s first graphic novel this July at San Diego’s Comic–Con International.

That is – of course – if Disney’s lasers don’t zap Zappa first.

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  • All this secrecy for a comic adaptation of Herbie?  Gimme a break guys...

  • But if Herbie has lasers and "bat-wings", then we're onto something.

  • Did they say anything about the Gargoyles comic?

  • Actually his name is Ahmet...not Ahmed. He'll tell you when you meet him that it's pronounced "Ahmet like Vomit".

  • I've seen some art for the Muppet comic. Looks horrible.

    IMO, Disney ought to look into a GOOD comic version of Kingdom Hearts. The manga that's out now under that name is badly written and rather weakly drawn. It'd be fun to see what a really good artist and writer could do with the property.

    And Disney should be thinking about a film along those lines.

  • ". . .the third of four children born to the late rock musician/composer Frank Zappa and super-powered psychic witch businesswoman Gail. . "

    One of the sisters is the "Valley girl" singer Moon Unit Zappa. Surprising that I never thought of the Zappas as kind of Disney cartoon characters, surprising how well it fits.

    I've had the pleasure of meeting several heads of Disney comics at various cons over the years. The one's I've met tended to be trying way too hard to be "cool!!!" and "cutting edge!!!" for a company this is decidedly neither when it comes to comics. It would seem that Mr. Zappa would fulfill that image, in this case somewhat more authentically.  

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