A small but dedicated crowd gathered Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to hear Ape Entertainment's new comic book line-up, as well as to learn about Ape's deal to turn DreamWorks Animation properties into comic books for their all-ages comic book line.
"Just recently, in the last twelve months, we signed a deal with DreamWorks Animation to start doing their projects," said Ape CEO David Hedgecock. Comic book versions of DreamWorks projects will be published as part of the all-ages Kizoic comic book line.
"The Kizoic label is essentially assuring parents and retailers that the projects we're doing will be all-ages appropriate," said Hedgecock. "At our hearts, we're all ages."
"Shrek" is the first of DreamWorks properties to be given the comic book treatment. The "Shrek" comic is a prequel to the movie and will be followed with a comic miniseries. "It contains stories that feature the characters you are all familiar with, and also has some of the new characters from the new movie," said Hedgecock. "We're also doing things with 'The Penguins of Madagascar,' [and] the first issue is going to hit stores in a couple of weeks."
"That one is a TV show on Nickelodeon right now. It's actually starring the 'Spongebob Squarepants,'" said Hedgecock to cheers and applause. "We're really excited to be involved."
The last of the DreamWorks projects to be announced were "Megamind," based on the upcoming film, and "Kung-Fu Panda."
"Ape Entertainment will be doing comic book mini-stories," said Hedgecock, speaking about "Megamind." "We're going to have a prequel to the movie, so you'll get to learn about the characters... through our comic book before the movie comes out."
"Kung-Fu Panda" will be serialized in the same manner as "Shrek," with a prequel comic and a miniseries. "All our comic books will be available digitally as well," said Hedgecock.
Hedgecock then highlighted new, original Kizoic titles "Little Green Men," which is available now, and "Scratch 9," to be released later this year.
"'Little Green Men' is about three aliens who land thinking they are going to be twenty feet tall, but they're only three inches tall," said Hedgecock to general laughter.
"'Scratch 9' is a comic about the world's greatest superhero cat who has the ability to summon any of his nine lives," said creator and writerRob Worley. "Its catch phrase is 'litter bricks,'" said Worley to more chuckles from the audience, "and it's out in stores August, September, October and November."
On the mature side of the Kizoic brand is "Freakshow," which has just been optioned by screenwriter Mark Protosevich.
"Freakshow is a passion project," said co-creator David Server. It takes place in a world with only one superhero who is killed in a man-made chemical disaster. "Out of this disaster people develop superpowers, but they are not superpowers you would want...they are defective, they don't work quite right," said Server. They must then decide whether they want to use their powers to help others or get revenge on the people who caused the disaster."
"We're taking these monster archetypes and finding the humanity underneath them," said co-creator Jackson Lanzing.
Ape is also partnering with Bolt Creative for a "Pocket God," comic set for release August 3. "Pocket God" is an iPhone game downloadable over iTunes.
"'Pocket God' was a weekend project that [Allan Dye and Dave Castelnuovo] put together and it turned into a three million-plus selling iTunes application," said Hedgecock. "In March of 2010, it was the best selling iTunes application of all time." The "Pocket God" comic will be purchasable though iTunes, while the game will be updated with an "Ape Mountain" area and content from the comic.
The game's creators were in the audience for their own "Pocket God" announcement. "I'm a big comic book fan and we really want to encourage people to go to a comic book store to pick up the print version, so we're doing a special promotion," said Castelnuovo.
"Go to your comic book shop, take a picture of yourself with Pocket God... and you'll get [something] special in game, and enter a drawing for a $1000 Apple Gift Card," said Hedgecock.
When asked about the process of working with DreamWorks, Hedgecock was very positive. "We're caretakers and stewards of these properties for them," he said. "They've been pretty cool about it."
Applause followed the announcements, especially from the children in the audience.
"I really like the penguins show," said one young fan during the Question and Answer segment of the panel.
"We're huge fans of the show too!" said "Penguins" writer Lanzing. He then bounced in his seat, and for a moment it was hard to tell who was more excited - those on the panel or the kids in the audience.