“General Hospital” Book Debuts in April

I knew that Disney liked to publish books that tie-in with its other properties. Browsing the children’s section at any library or bookstore will reveal a plethora of titles sharing their names with popular Disney movies and television series. I’m sure that the young adult sections also contain titles continuing the adventures of popular Disney Channel characters for the teen set.

But I never anticipated Disney publishing novels for adults based on figures from its non-branded channels. Then I read the news from Stitch Kingdom; that’s exactly what’s happening as the Disney-owned Hyperion Books plans to release a novel based on a character from “General Hospital,” currently airing on the also Disney-owned network ABC.

“The Secret Life of Damien Spinelli” is based on one of the current most popular characters from the daytime television show. The book’s publishing date, April 5, coincides with the 48th anniversary of “General Hospital.” Spinelli is a rare character for a soap opera; he’s a college-aged computer geek and tech genius. He’s a private detective on the show, and his book will feature him solving even more mysteries.

The book will take on an almost epistolary format, as the stories contained within are from a computer disc stolen from Port Charles attorney and fellow “General Hospital” character Diane Miller. On the disc Spinelli details additional cases on which he was working that are not featured within the show.

This book just seems so strange to me. I know Bob Iger’s new corporate policy is all about creating properties that can be marketed in several formats, but this seems a little much even for Disney.

Although it’s a hard concept for me to wrap my head around, it’s not like this book comes without precedent. It’s certainly not the first novel meant for adults to be spun off of a television series. I immediately think of a few books expanding the universe of NBC’s now-defunct “Heroes,” but I am sure they’re not the only examples.

In many ways, what better world to further explore than the one created for a soap opera? “Heroes” had a large geeky fan base perhaps more amenable to reading additional material (myself included), but “General Hospital” and other soap operas like it have been on television for decades. Clearly they have myriad dedicated viewers. If “General Hospital” attracts high enough ratings to stick around for almost a half-century, then it’s reasonable to say that some people out there can’t get enough of the stories it has to tell.

I guess it’s just odd to think of Disney putting out a novel based on a soap opera. Sometimes I forget about the Disney corporate umbrella. Technically The Walt Disney Corporation is publishing this novel, as it owns both Hyperion and ABC, but the book isn’t really being advertised as a Disney release. When I think about it, a soap-opera-based novel still isn’t stranger than wearable popcorn scratch and sniff Mickey Mouse ears.

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