Genius Brands Names Stone Newman President, Global Consumer Products

StoneNewmanGenius Brands International Inc. (GBI) has appointed Stone Newman to the newly created post of president, Global Consumer Products. In this new role, Newman will work with retailers and licensees to build comprehensive consumer products programs for each of the company’s brands, including Baby Genius, Secret Millionaires Club, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7, and others. He will also appoint and oversee a team of licensing agencies from around the world to operate as sub agents.

Newman will continue to manage licensing programs represented by his former company, Art + Science International, including WowWee brands, ElectroKidz, MiP, and Archie Comics.  These brands will now be managed under GBI’s wholly owned subsidiary, A Squared Entertainment LLC.

COMMENTARY: Sonic the Hedgehog: 22 Years and Still Going Fast!

Faster than greased lightning, Sonic the Hedgehog is one tough Erinaceinae to keep up with, and admittedly, I haven’t been trying. I had the first Sonic the Hedgehog game when it came out way back in 1991, but not long after, I went through a dry spell in which I kept away from video games. During the interim, Sonic evolved as both a pop culture icon and corporate mascot for video game publisher Sega, while I—well, I got slightly taller.

Now here we are in 2013, and with the Sonic franchise still going strong, I thought I’d rekindle my relationship with him by checking out some recent Sonic games and toys.

Phil.November20.3Sonic Lost World, by Sega: The original Sonic the Hedgehog was a side-scroller with pretty simple game play. By comparison, the latest installment is a radically different experience at times, with some levels consisting of “classic,” 2-D, side-scrolling play, while the others are immersive 3-D from an angled, top-down perspective. Players now have the option of moving in nearly all directions, and interact with terrain in ways that would have been impossible during the 2-D days.

Phil.November20.1In Sonic Lost World, players can use the trigger button on the Wii U controller to rev Sonic up, and send him zipping along extra fast (Be warned: He can get a little out of hand if you aren’t used to it yet). When approaching tight spaces, he can subsequently ricochet off walls and perform other special maneuvers. During my demo, I actually kept my finger mostly off that button, and the game still managed to be a kinetic, occasionally vertiginous experience, with lots of rocketing off springboards into the air and pinballing faster than the eye could keep up. [Read more...]

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch to Return

Archie Comics is partnering with animation studio Moonscoop for a new animated series based on the adventures of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. The new partnership will give the long-running character, popular since the 1970s, a new look that is more modern and teen-centric. Sabrina will face the trials and tribulations all teens come across, along with monsters and the supernatural.

The series will be produced in Moonscoop’s Los Angeles studio. The companies are looking to launch the animated series with a network or cable partner in the coming year.

Stan Lee Announces New Comic Book Label

A Squared (A2) Entertainment, Archie Comics. and Stan Lee (founder, chairman, and chief creative officer of POW! Entertainment) announced at Comic-Con a new comic book label, Stan Lee Comics.

Stan Lee Comics, based on new and original creations from Lee, will be published across both print and digital formats. Stan Lee Comics will also produce related animated and live action entertainment, including webisodes and games. The new creations by Lee will be licensed and merchandised globally, in categories such as toys, video games, publishing, and apparel.

This year, Stan Lee Comics introduces three new superhero franchises including the world’s first reality comic book. Stan Lee makes his debut as a featured character in Stan Lee and the Super Seven when he befriends seven aliens who find themselves stranded after their spaceship crashes. The second franchise, Airwalker, was teased in last week’s episode of Entourage, which airs on HBO. The third franchise of Stan Lee Comics will be announced in October.

A2 will manage animated and live programming, as well as global licensing and merchandising. Archie Comics will be responsible for the publication of the comics, in both print and digital formats. Lee will be involved with all of the creations for Stan Lee Comics.

Spider-Man Co-Creator to Create New Comic Book

A Squared (A2) Entertainment and Archie Comics have teamed up with Stan Lee—the co-creator of comics such as Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, and Iron Man, and founder and chief creative officer of POW! Entertainment—to create a new print and digital comic book line. Scheduled first for release is an original multimedia series called Super Seven. The series follows seven aliens who are stranded on planet Earth after their spaceship crashes, and then befriended by none other than Lee himself. Lee becomes their leader and enables the seven to live as superheroes on Earth.

Super Seven is slated to debut in fall 2010 in digital, print, and broadcast.