Books to Film Rights: France’s TeamTO Studios To Animate ‘Ninn’

In News by Porter Anderson

French animation studio TeamTO has acquired TV, film and licensing rights to the ‘Ninn’ graphic novel from Belgian publisher Kennes Éditions.

A detail of Johan Pilet’s artwork for the ‘Ninn’ series he has created with author Jean-Michel Darlot. Image: Koko/TeamTO

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Story of a Girl and Her Tiger
Based in Paris—with offices in Bourg-lès-Valence, Los Angeles, Beijing, and London—the French animation studio TeamTO has announced its acquisition TV, film and licensing rights to the Ninn series of graphic novels by Jean-Michel Darlot and Belgian illustrator Johan Pilet. The series has been published since 2015 by Belgium’s Kennes Éditions.

TeamTO logoDevelopment plans call for a limited animated series for youngsters 7 and older.

The eponymous Ninn is an 11-year-old girl who spends a lot of time in Paris’ Metro. As promotional copy puts it, “She knows every nook and cranny of the Metro and skateboarding through its convoluted tunnels is definitely her favorite hobby.

Corinne Kouper

“But Ninn has a million questions: What do the distant and incomprehensible memories that haunt her mean? Why are there swarms of butterflies fluttering underground, visible only to her? And how did an origami tiger turn into her protector and guide in the search for the secrets of her past?

“Despite her dads’ annoying concerns, Ninn and the tiger explore every dark tunnel and abandoned station, eager to uncover the clues and connections she has been searching for her whole life.”

TeamTO executive producer Corinne Kouper is quoted, saying, “As soon as I saw the first album I immediately felt attracted by its graphic design style, which is both classic and fantastical. I fell in love with the independent and free-thinking spirit of this little urban girl on the platform of the Paris Metro, visibly protected by her large and warm white tiger.

“I also liked the idea of Ninn roaming freely through the underground tunnels on her skateboard as if it were her bedroom, and her unique and touching relationship with her two dads.”

Jean-Michel Darlot

For the books’ team, author Darlot says, “I have definitely been influenced by Miyazaki in finding the magical in the ordinary, and I’ve always been inspired by the Paris Metro.

“This is where the story comes from, the Metro is not just a means of transportation. It has its own personality and we portray it as a character in our story—a character with some secrets of its own.”

To date, there are four graphic novels out in the series. Distribution is into Belgium and Canada as well as throughout France, with more than 100,000 copies sold in France alone.

Johan Pilet

Media messaging today (October 23) says that the fifth and sixth installments are in the works.

TeamTO was founded in 2005 by Kouper with Guillaume Hellouin and Caroline Souris. Recent projects include:

  • Jade Armor starring a teenaged-girl action hero
  • Presto! School of Magic, an animated show featuring classic magic
  • Under development, TeamTO’s first preschool-audience show, Tiny Island

The company comprises more than 400 artists.

Here’s TeamTO’s comics demo for this year—a colorful 70-second break in your day and a nice tip-off to how much the studio may be able to do with Darlot and Pilet’s Ninn material.

More from Publishing Perspectives on screen development of literature is here, more from us on children’s books is here, more on graphic novels is here, more on the French market is here, and more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.