After a profession centered on iconic manufacturers—from working as a personality designer on Teddy Ruxpin within the ’80s, to overseeing a content material portfolio together with SpongeBob SquarePants for practically 20 years at Nickelodeon—Russell Hicks is able to construct massive issues on his personal.
As president of LA-based Curiosity Ink Media (Baldwin’s Massive Journey), and poised to take over leadership of Philippines-based High Draw Animation subsequent yr, Hicks is targeted on discovering a crop of latest movie, TV and publishing ideas he can grow to be hits.
And this effort will hinge on discovering expertise from underrepresented teams. “The European fairy tales have been tapped out,” says Hicks. “Why don’t we glance to different cultures and other people for his or her fairy tales, lore and characters that work for them?”
He factors to an authentic youngsters graphic novel referred to as Thunderous as a great instance of the route Curiosity Ink goes in. “We’re working with an Indigenous author on the e-book…the story has all of the substances for a profitable IP,” he says.
The corporate can be growing Bear Drive 5, an animated eco-adventure collection for four- to six-year-olds a few group of bear cubs and an Indigenous boy who group as much as shield a nationwide park. Hicks says a grasp toy accomplice is already secured, however not fairly able to be introduced.
Hicks can be looking in Europe and Asia for artists, character designers, e-book illustrators and growth expertise, and in addition to turning to areas outdoors of the US and UK for writing expertise. “There are a variety of nice writers around the globe,” he says.
Bestselling author-illustrator Darren Farrell (Dandelion Magic) has already joined Curiosity Ink. He’s at the moment writing a collection of children books based mostly on the favored Cats vs Pickles collectible plush model from Missouri-based toyco Cepia. Due out in 2022, this publishing vary is an element of a bigger deal Curiosity Ink and Cepia signed in June to develop and produce a non-dialogue Cats vs Pickles TV collection for preschoolers.
Previous to launching Curiosity Ink in 2018 along with his accomplice Brent Watts, Hicks served as president of content material and manufacturing at Nickelodeon from 2012 to 2017, and as CCO earlier than that from 1998 to 2012, taking part in a key position on tentpole collection equivalent to SpongeBob SquarePants, Henry Hazard and The Loud Home. Earlier in his profession, he labored at Warner Bros. as VP of selling for Cartoon Community, and he additionally produced content material for Disney.
Making use of all that he’s discovered about brand-building would be the key transferring ahead, says Hicks. “We need to discover characters which have the fitting emotional substances to the touch audiences in sure methods. With that, you may construct franchises.”
Hicks is taking over from High Draw’s longtime managing director Wayne Dearing, whose retirement early subsequent yr is setting off a series of different govt shuffles. Curiosity Ink co-founder Watts is now serving as CCO—a title Hicks held till he turned president in April. In the meantime, former Jakks Pacific exec Jared Wolfson was hired earlier this month as CEO of Curiosity Ink and EVP of High Draw. Wolfson reviews to Hicks at Curiosity, and to Grom CEO Darren Marks in his High Draw position.
Although Wolfson was introduced in to spearhead partnerships, operations and finance, Hicks was equally compelled by his growth and manufacturing expertise at Jakks and ZAG Leisure.
He and Wolfson are at the moment getting up to the mark by way of Zoom on High Draw’s group and ongoing tasks, in addition to in search of methods to maintain the pipeline fed with each originals and repair work.
Now that Curiosity Ink and High Draw are underneath the Grom umbrella, each firms are planning to begin testing short-form content material concepts on kid-safe social media platform Grom Social, which has greater than 25 million subscribers worldwide.
“If they’re fashionable on Grom Social, then we will push ahead into long-form content material,” says Hicks. “We will additionally gauge how the tasks are performing via publishing, which is a superb place to get your IP established.”