Senior Vice President of Global Children's Magazines, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Alessandro Belloni gives
some background behind Disney's W.I.T.C.H.
series over at the Pulse. He knows his marketing and it's very apparent especially with statements like this:"Our core target is girls 9-13 years of age," continued Belloni. "As this is a very aspirational group, we chose a slightly higher age for our heroines. By doing so, we ensured what we’ve found to be a successful combination of identification and aspiration."
Now that's talking the talk.
I had some issues with Disney/Hyperion releasing this property as a series of chapter books with a few pages of color comics bound in. It felt like Hyperion wasn't prepared to release these as graphic novels even though that was W.I.T.C.H.
's original format. However, with the release of two volumes of pure graphic novels, one available now and another coming this summer, I'm starting to change my tune. I was pretty much prepared to hate W.I.T.C.H
especially after reading that it was conceived by "a creative team consisting of scriptwriters, artists, and editors," but took it upon myself to read THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP
and was quite surprised -- quality artwork, sharp dialogue and a solid story. It's definitely not the most original work and does read like a mass market property (the book just screams dolls with removable clothes and magical accessories) but the series does touch on experiences that most tweens will identify with.
I still have my ongoing gripe that we need more children's graphic novels that can form a canon of in this category instead of just taking the easy route with licensed properties and turning them into graphic novel form. There's definitely a place in the market for this stuff, like the SpongeBob Squarepants
chapter books or Barbie
early readers but I'm just itching for some more books with a singular creative vision.
Hyperion boasts that they've sold over a million copies of W.I.T.C.H.
so far in North American in its various formats. I've personally seen ok sales but nothing to deem it super hot. Sometimes it takes a while for properties like this to really catch on and with a cartoon on its way that's sure to help raise W.I.T.C.H.
popularity in the children's book market.