Although the Walt Disney Company has been involved in graphic novel publishing for years through its foreign subsidiaries, it wasn't until 2005 that Disney-owned house Hyperion Books began publishing the W.I.T.C.H. graphic novels here in the States.  Disney Comics, which exhibited for a second year at the San Diego Comic-Con, is planning to field a growing slate of graphic novel releases, both through Hyperion and its own Disney Press imprint, during the next nine months.  In addition to continuing the W.I.T.C.H. series, Disney plans to release a full color graphic novel adaptation of The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, a 'hybrid' prose and graphic novel continuation of the former CrossGen property Abadazad, and perhaps a full color graphic novel based on the ABC TV series Alias.


Both Alias and the W.I.T.C.H. series of graphic novels are produced by Disney Publishing's creative center in Milan.  A 64-page monthly W.I.T.C.H comic is currently available in 65 countries around the world, but in the U.S. two issues of the comic are combined to create a 128-page full color graphic novel (cover price $7.99), which Hyperion has been able to place in a number of mass-market outlets including Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target.  The first two W.I.T.C.H. graphic novels came out last spring and Volumes #3 and #4 are slated for release in September.  Hyperion has Volumes #5 and #6 on the schedule for 2006 and plans to continue the series beyond that because there is a wealth of material available from Disney's Milanese publishing house.  The Italian-produced Alias graphic novel featuring the full color adventures of Sidney Bristow may possibly be licensed to another publisher or brought out under the Hyperion label. 


But not all of the Disney and Hyperion releases will come from Italy.  Disney acquired many of the CrossGen properties (see 'Taddeo Bids on Valiant') and is currently planning to revive Abadazad by J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog, who will continue to write and illustrate the property for Disney.  In a switch from its comic book origins at CrossGen, Disney plans to publish Abadazad in a hybrid format, described to ICv2 by Disney Editor Rich Thomas. 'Not a graphic novel per se, Abadazad will incorporate sequential art segments alternating with prose segments,' he said.  'The reader will be weaving in and out of blocks of straight prose and then into sequential art.' 


Asked if Disney was planning to revive any more CrossGen properties, Thomas replied, 'There is some interest in doing Ruse from the Publishing Group, but nothing has been committed to yet, so we don't know if we will be moving forward with that or how we would be moving forward with that, but we'd like to do something with it.'


While Abadazad will be published by Hyperion, the graphic novel adaptation of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl will appear under the Disney Press imprint.  The American creative team for the Pirates graphic novel includes penciller Dustin Evans, inker Mike DeCarlo, colorist Jenny Hanson, and writer Mike Stewart.  The full color 128-page Pirates of the Caribbean graphic novel will have a cover price as yet undecided, which should range from $7.99 to $9.99.  The Pirates graphic novel will be available next spring in time for the launch of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Thomas told ICv2 that Disney was considering '...continuing the series after the first book, the adaptation of The Curse of the Black Pearl, and then following up with adaptations of Dead Man's Chest, the second film, and also the third film, but there is no commitment to the two following films yet. We have also considered doing original Pirates stories as well.'


In addition to the graphic novels already discussed Hyperion also plans to publish Biker Girl, a 112-page black-and-white manga by Misako Rocks!--a manga-ka with deep Japanese roots who currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. We reported on this Hyperion project back in 2004 (see 'Hyperion to Publish Manga').  Biker Girl is currently slated for publication in the spring of 2006,.  It will retail for $7.99 and will read left-to-right in the Western rather than the Japanese style.