LA-based animation studio OddBot has optioned three graphic novels with plans to develop them into two series and a special.
While the stories feature magic and other fantasy elements, OddBot president Chris Hamilton tells Kidscreen that they are ultimately about the universal experience of growing up.
“Not only do these books have incredible artwork and distinct looks that will translate beautifully to animation, but they are also grounded in familiar realities that will resonate with kids and their families,” Hamilton says. “These stories embody the full spectrum of growing up—the good, the bad, the funny, the awkward—in a way that is aspirational and entertaining.”
Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom will be adapted into a 52 x 11-minute series, with the potential for more episodes. The 2D and CG-animated project will be aimed at kids ages six to 11. Published by Penguin Random House in 2018, the book tackles themes such as family conflict, inner strength and gender identity. It follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard boxes into costumes for extraordinary adventures—encountering knights, rogues, robots and monsters.
Meanwhile, Emma Steinkellner’s debut novel The Okay Witch is being developed into a 10 x 22-minute series with the potential for more episodes. The CG-animated series will be aimed at the eight-to-12 demo. Published by Simon & Schuster in 2019, the book centers on Moth Hush, a 13-year-old girl who happens to be a “witch in progress.” Moth learns to control her newfound powers with help from her mom, her talking cat and her best friend.
Lastly, Reimena Yee’s middle-grade novel Séance Tea Party will be adapted into a 70- to 90-minute CG-animated special for kids and families. The book, published in 2020 by Random House Graphic, tells the story of 12-year-old Lora Xi who wants to be a kid forever. As she faces the specter of teenagerhood, she befriends a ghost named Alexa at a tea party.
There’s demand from buyers for high-concept stories, existing IP and fantasy, Hamilton explains, making these books ripe for adaptation. Blending coming-of-age and fantasy helps “present heavier topics in a way that is accessible to a wide audience,” he adds, noting that he finds the genre pairing to have a timeless appeal. “I definitely see this trend when it comes to popular graphic novels, and I’d love to see it more in the TV space.”