Picture a lab filled with bats and bubbling beakers, and you’ve hit on the favorite hangout of a new pint-sized heroine poised to swoop into the publishing world. Cartoonist Jim Benton has signed a six-book commitment with Simon & Schuster for a new series geared to the seven to 10 set based on a character he describes as a cross between Wednesday Addams and MacGyver.
Franny K. Stein is a self-described mad scientist whose unique talents in the chem lab make her rather unpopular. Through a reverse Jekyl-and-Hyde transformation that turns her into a sweet little girl, Franny learns to appreciate the usefulness of her odd skills.
At least two production companies have already expressed interest in the TV and movie rights, though the initial print run of the book isn’t scheduled to hit shelves until August.
Benton is the pen behind several successful graphic brand properties, including Just Face It, which has moved US$60 million in T-shirts, stationery, stickers, etc. since launching at retail in 1994. Benton also recently signed a series development deal for two shows with Disney Television Animation. No stranger to TV, he was creator and designer of Fox Kids animated series The Secret Files of the SpyDogs, which originally aired in 1999 and 2000 and is still in syndication.