Virgin Comics all set to foray into India

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | August 21, 2006
The comics will hit the stands in September 2006

Virgin Comics & #BANNER1 & # LLC, a New York based company owned by Intent Media (co-owned by writer Deepak Chopra and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur) and the Richard Branson promoted Virgin Group, recently launched Virgin Animation in India.

Earlier in the year, on January 6, 2006, Branson's Virgin Books Ltd had announced a partnership with Chopra and Kapur and South Asian comic magazine publishing house, Gotham Entertainment Group LLC, to launch Virgin Comics LLC, based in New York, and Virgin Animation Pvt. Ltd, based in Bangalore, India, focused on creating original comic books and animation.

Sharad Devarajan has been made the CEO and publisher of Virgin Comics in India, while Gotham Chopra will be the chief creative officer. Samarjit Choudhry, V-P, operations, Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, talked to agencyfaqs! about the Indian venture.

In India, the company will work under the name of Virgin Animation and its 75 writers and artists will be responsible for producing creative content and ideas for media as diverse as mobile phones, gaming, the Internet and movies, thus not limiting their efforts to comics.

The focus of the Bangalore based company will be to create a unique intellectual property and it is not to be confused with an outsourcing hub. Virgin Animation has clear intentions of facilitating a creative exchange of ideas and concepts in animation and is claiming to be a prototype in its segment. It promises to take India to the world by way of stories. To achieve this, it will collaborate with talent from around the world, including filmmakers, writers, musicians and other artists.

In India, Virgin has launched its first original comic book series, 'Sadhu', 'Devi', 'Snake Woman' and 'Ramayana 3392 AD'. The first three series have already been launched in the US. 'Ramayana Reborn' will be launched worldwide in September 2006. 'Devi', which was launched in the US in July 2006, has been a huge success there.

The comics will be sold at Rs 10 per copy in India, $3 per copy in the US and 3 Euros per copy in Europe. Initially delving into the comic segment, Virgin Animation will later develop the comics into other forms of youth related entertainment products such as films, television, ancillary print publications, gaming, online and mobile content and merchandise.

Three lines of comics are on offer: the 'Shakti' line, the 'Director's Cut' line and the 'Voices' line. The 'Shakti' line has Indian or India-based content and characters. The 'Director's Cut' line is in collaboration with internationally acclaimed filmmakers such as John Woo, Guy Ritchie and Shekhar Kapur. The 'Voices' line will seek talent in all creative fields, whether writers or artists. Some of the popular names here are rock star Dave Stewart and actor Nicholas Cage.

Choudhry says, "The goal is to reach out to the youth and not the child as far as comic reading goes. We are looking at the age bracket of 12-21 years. Sadly, in India, comic books are associated with children, unlike internationally, where comics are read by a wider age group. So, we will produce content for all possible media. For marketing these, we are not looking at any particular media as such, though a lot of heed is being given to word of mouth publicity to do the trick."

The comics have been defined and designed as a potent mix of mythology and modern culture to devise a product that takes care of the relatability factor with Indian readers. For instance, 'Devi', which is essentially Shekhar Kapur's brainchild, is based in contemporary times although the name sounds archaic. The content has been translated into a setting and backdrop familiar to today's Indians.

Choudhry says that although an all-India readership and popularity is ideal, initially, they will foray into 15-17 cities. The comics will be available on the stands in September 2006.

The company is the first in its arena in India and has on board world renowned creative minds such as John Woo, Dave Stewart, Nicolas Cage, Guy Ritchie and Shekhar Kapur to create material for Virgin Comics.

Virgin Animation sees Indian youth as a market waiting to be tapped and its goal is to connect with all Indian youth, regardless of barriers such as language or region and tap into their aspirations, fears, joys, frustrations and collective imagination. To achieve all this, it plans to form a powerful youth media company. The company will conceive of unique youth related entertainment products, including films, television, ancillary print publications, gaming, online, mobile content and much more. Virgin Animation is also aiming at developing a globally recognised intellectual property that caters to Indian sensibilities.

Every month or two, Virgin Animation will launch fresh titles and characters, bringing out the best of Indian mythology, folklore and culture for the world. The company is motivated to carve a niche for India in the comic book segment and bring it a distinctive name by way of its content, style and art.

2006 agencyfaqs!

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