Zodiac Signs on with Kids Slate

Recently formed Zodiac Media announced a roster of TV series, specials and character brands aimed at the youth market. Among the 10 animated and live-action projects in development are a Flash shorts program and two shows designed to capture the growing tween boys demographic.

Maple Shorts, a web-inspired 13×24 series produced in association with CBC, is a Flash animation film festival containing four four-minute flash animation shorts and commentaries for kids 9-12. The show, hosted by a Canadian Goose named Canuckles and a former child star named Natalie, debuts on CBC early next year. At the end of each episode, young viewers will be encouraged to visit www.cbc.ca/mapleshorts to vote for their favorite short.

H. Paul Gill, president of Zodiac Media, says the Toronto-based production company will also begin animation of an original new comic book character and TV series called Cottontail Avenger. The comic book is being written by renowned comic book writer, artist and novelist Mike Grell (Marvel Comics’ Iron Man and DC’s Batman) and illustrated by Draxhall Jump Studios, whose clients include Lego, Hasbro and Mattel.

Cottontail Avenger is the story of a rabbit hero who will rise and stand up for the little guy while searching for his foot, which is dangling from somebody’s key chain. The comic book will launch in early 2004.

Also in the works is Jack of Souls, an MTV-like one-hour Halloween special with rock and roll roots and highly stylized animation that tells the real story of Jack of the Lantern.