As broad a canvas as a 26 x half-hour series may seem to be at the start of development, it’s actually quite narrow when it comes to storytelling scope. Constrained by having to feed a series-long story arc, adhere to a repetitive episode format and focus on a core set of characters, more potential stories and extensions get left on the table than any one show concept can use. And it’s these left-
overs that Atlantyca Entertainment is interested in.
The Italian studio launched a publishing content development arm earlier this month, with the express goal of creating books that are inspired by TV shows but pick up threads of stories just hinted at on-screen. So for Taffy Entertainment’s Code Lyoko, the first property to step up for this unique licensed publishing treatment, Atlantyca’s writers plan to explore the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a female protagonist’s mom, which are never fully explained in the TV series. In the books, the kids will embark on a mission to find her, says CEO Claudia Mazzuco.
Atlantyca’s whole executive team has deep publishing roots, especially chairman Pietro Marietti, who previously served as CEO of Italian publishing house Edzioni Piemme, which gave birth to the Geronimo Stilton adventure book series. The company will tap into its considerable publishing industry contact base to staff up with writers, editors and illustrators to handle the creative execution. And then, the finished product will be licensed out to global publishers for printing and retail distribution.
The beauty of this model is that it shouldn’t infringe upon master publishing deals that may already be in place. Atlantyca is working on securing the rights to more TV properties to feed into this business venture, and Mazzuco is looking for concepts that contain rich characters and storylines that offer enough potential for content expansion.
The first two Code Lyoko chapterbooks will roll out in Italy in March 2009 and September 2009, with another two due out in 2010. All four books will eventually be compiled in a 350-page novel format aimed at kids eight to 12 that will be supplemented with a 16-page insert of color illustrations.
Mazzuco hopes to sell the format to a French publisher as a first effort to establish it across Europe. She’ll be shopping the concept around at the Frankfurt Book Fair this October, and should have an English-language version ready by then to introduce to North American publishers.