Canongate has won "a fierce auction" for the world rights to two illustrated books by Simon's Cat animator Simon Tofield.
Tofield's creations have reached a wide audience over the last few months, drawing more than 20m hits on YouTube and winning a number of awards, including Best Comedy at the British Animation Awards and the YouTube's Blockbuster Award. The animations–simple line drawings in black and white—depict the ever-hungry Simon's Cat in various attempts to get his owner to feed him.
Editorial director Nick Davies struck the deal with Robert Kirby and Duncan Hayes at United Agents, beating off competition from Little, Brown, Hodder, Penguin and Headline.
Davies said: "Like the best projects, Simon's Cat was a word-of-mouth hit from day one. People found it on YouTube, loved it, and forwarded it on. The humour is refreshingly innocent which gives the characters the broadest possible appeal. I think we have a major new comic creation here—something to rival The Bunny Suicides, Purple Ronnie, and maybe even one day, Wallace
The as-yet-untitled first book will be published as a gift format in hardback at the end of this year. The second book will be published for Christmas 2010.
According to Canongate, the pair of agents "have already started talking to a number of film, television and merchandising companies about the Simon's Cat brand".
The publisher will be auctioning foreign rights at the London Book Fair in April, despite already having received "interest from a number of international publishers".