LA-based prodco Kinsane Entertainment has picked up the rights to middle-grade book trilogy Wedgie and Gizmo (pictured) with plans to turn the comedy brand into an animated series, mobile games and CP.
Published by HarperCollins, the books revolve around happy-go-lucky corgi and evil genius guinea pig locked in a long-term battle as their humans work to create a new blended family. Written by Suzanne Selfors and illustrated by Barbara Fisinger, the first book debuted in 2017 and earned a spot as Amazon’s Best Book of the Month, as well as a Children’s and Young Adult Blogger’s Literary Award.
“We’re getting into books in a bigger and bigger way,” says Kurt Inderbitzin, co-founder and CEO of Kinsane. “The market is so competitive so everything has to be a franchise, and these books have that because they’re fresh, have a built-in audience and a compelling story.”
Donna Ebbs, Kinsane’s producer and writer, says the stories’ humor, unique art style and the subtle way they depicts a multi-racial family lend themselves well to a series. “Each book has its own primary story, but within those there are many subplots which creates a lot of built-in content that we can turn into episodes,” she says.
The books also capture a struggle between the heart and the head, personified by Wedgie, who lets his emotions guide him, and Gizmo, who overthinks everything, and this is a very personal struggle for many kids coming to terms with their emotions, she says.
Kinsane is still early in the development phase, but Ebbs thinks the six- to 12-skewing series will have 11-minute episodes.
The team connected with the characters, and the fact that these characters haven’t been “shopped to death” by producers—unlike reboots and sequels of existing properties—gave Inderbitzin the confidence that the brand will take off.
“Our process is to gather together around a dozen IPs at a time and then have a team vote on which ones have the best potential as a franchise,” he says. “And these books, because of the art and its layers, scored the highest of any IPs we have ever looked at.”
As the company develops the series, it’s going to look at a variety of ways to expand the books into other mediums, such as podcasts, adds Inderbitzin.
Wedgie and Gizmo is the second book brand the company acquired in recent months, and follows the acquisition of middle-grade book series Young Captain Nemo, which the company also plans to build out into a wide-ranging franchise.