Marking further dynamic expansion, ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) and Ricardo Siri Liniers, Argentina’s best known cartoonist and children’s book author-illustrator, have announced they will adapt Liniers’ latest graphic novel, “Wildflowers.”
The project rolls off a development deal between VIS, ViacomCBS’ global production arm, and Liniers that was announced by VIS Kids at Kidscreen in February. This mentions the “adaptation of an upcoming book.”
“Wildflowers” (“Flores Salvajes”) marks the final part of a beginning readers’ graphic novel trilogy begun by “The Big Wet Balloon,” Liniers’ U.S. debut in 2013, and continued by 2017’s “Good Night, Planet.”
All three are odes to Liniers’ own three daughters. “As soon as I took a photo of my three young daughters looking at the jungle in Yukatan, México, I began to imagine this book,” Liniers has said. The three graphic novels also pay tribute, however, to the more general joy of childhood play and its imaginative powers.
Published this April in the U.S. by Toon Books, and garnering upbeat reviews, “Wildflowers” is a wildly imaginative tale, spangled by magic realism and Argentine conflation of reality and fantasy. It centers on three young sisters on a magical island where the flowers can talk, and the only animal is a minute gorilla – unless dragons count as animals.
Delicately and quaintly illustrated with warm natural colors, Liniers’ naif style is countered by echoes of U.S. pop culture – here both “Lost” and “Jurassic Park” – from a cartoonist and illustrator who has described his style as “observational, dark, absurd, sweet and strange.”
Liniers’ use of water-color and ink recalls French 2D animation in his largest drawings, suggesting, as his remarks on the VIS deal, that “Wildflowers” may be bound for an animated makeover.
“I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with VIS and watch the story of ‘Flores Salvajes’ develop into a completely new format with the work of great animators and talented writers,” Liniers said Monday.
“We are honored to be able to work with such a talented artist. Ricardo Liniers Siri’s work has gone beyond borders and has reached many diverse audiences,” said Federico Cuervo, senior vice president and CEO of VIS Americas. “We look forward to bringing this incredible story to life and to developing more new and exciting projects together.”
“The Big Wet Balloon” made the cut of Parents Magazine’s Top Ten. “Good Night, Planet” won the Eisner Award for best comics for beginning readers. In 2018 Liniers had his first major exhibition of original artwork in the U.S at The Society of Illustrators in New York.
The Liniers’ deal marks part of VIS’ ongoing and energetic drive into kids entertainment. This saw it launch VIS Kids, overseen by the highly respected Nickelodeon exec Nina Hahn, in October 2020.
The Feb. 2021 Kidscreen creator-talent deals include three-to-five long format animation projects from “Star Wars” and “Small Axe” actor John Boyega‘s UpperRoom Productions; a first-look deal with Fred Seibert‘s FredFilms (Nickelodeon’s “The Fairy OddParents”); and a female-fronting adventure comedy from the U.K.’s Wildseed Studios.
Other Kids & Family Projects in Latin America
Regarding Latin America and the Latino U.S., at April’s MipTV singer-songwriter Marc Anthony and J.C. Acosta, president of VIS Kids and ViacomCBS Networks International Americas, confirmed Latina social media comedy of manners “Liked.” It follows on a first kids project between VIS and Anthony’s Magnus Studios, the pre-school “Gloria Wants to Know It All,” which is also produced by Juan José Campanella’s Mundoloco Animation Studios in Buenos Aires and Miami-based Lanugo Media.
VIS Kids has also optioned the rights for “¡Socorro!,” a children’s book from the late Argentine author Elsa Bornemann.
VIS at the L.A. Virtual Screenings: Black Narratives
One of the world’s fastest growing production forces, at the L.A. Virtual Screenings VIS has announced further expansive moves. One is also inclusive: Black Narratives, a Brazil-based Latin American writing room of black writers, which Cuervo said marks just the beginning of VIS’ efforts to create more diverse content that represents cultures worldwide.
The team of writers will be led by Marton Olympio. It also includes Renata Diniz, Eliana Alves Cruz, Estevão Ribeiro and Lidiane Oliveira. Projects to be developed include series, fiction and films. The writers will also “serve as diversity and inclusion consultants, providing valuable insights that align with the market’s evolving demands,” VIS announced.
‘The First of Us’
Signaling the return of fiction series to prime time on ViacomCBS’s Telefe in Argentina, “The First of Us” (“El Primer de Nosostros”) has gone into production, starring “Locked Up’s” Benjamín Vicuña. The show turns on a group of friends who discover that one of their members suffers a terminal illness. That news reawakens “a profound desire to rediscover their feelings and find the real purpose of being alive,” VIS and Telefe announced.
The show will also air on Paramount Plus, as VIS steps up its supply of key titles to the ViacomCBS premium SVOD service. More details of this move may form one talking point at the VIS Global Screenings, which take place on June 2.