Virgin Comics Confirmed Closed
After rumors began swirling late last week, Publisher’s Weekly now confirms that Virgin Comics has closed. The SoHo offices have been shut down, the staff let go and principals Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra and Lance Leiberman have not returned attempts by the media to get details.
Virgin Comics has issued the following statement:
"Virgin Comics announced today that it will be reorganizing its operations and closing its New York office to consolidate in an LA base.
"The Company is currently working with management to restructure the business and will release its future plans in the next few weeks.
"Sharad Devarajan, CEO, said, ‘We remain excited about the business and partnerships we have built through Virgin Comics and are working towards a restructuring that properly takes the business forward. The decision to scale down the New York operations and concentrate on core activities is due to the current macro-economic downturn and is in no way a reflection on the dedicated and valuable employees we have had the privilege to work with.’ "
The comic book publisher launched a collaboration between Gotham Entertainment and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Previously, Gotham had been handling translating and selling major American publishers’ titles to India.
In 2006, the company began publishing three lines of comics, largely written and edited in America with art handled by studios in India. One line created new characters based on Indian mythology whole the other lines offered high profile talents such as director John Woo a comics venue for their creations. Just under two dozen collected editions of the choicest material are currently in print.
Their goal, in addition to selling comics, was of course to sell movie versions and they have managed several options, most recently their one-shot The Virulents.
Virgin also entered into a partnership with Sci Fi Channel to use comics as backdoor pilots for cable channel. Mike Carey’s The Stranded debuted in print back in January and is in active development with Carey writing the pilot script. The recently announced Superbia from Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Lisa Klink is not expected to go forward.
Despite big names from Stan Lee to Grant Morrison to Garth Ennis being associated with the line, the titles never gained traction with the fans and tastemakers. Their large presence at Comic-Con International this past July may have been too little too late.
Gotham Entertainment, based in Bangalore, is expected to remain in operation.
Virgin Comics is another in a long line of start-ups that have failed to succeed in either the direct sales comic book market or crossover to mass market readers. Their Shakti line was not dissimilar to CrossGen’s own universe while their Director’s Cut imprint seemed modeled on Tekno Comics’ model of using Big Name people to bring in curious readers. The lack of a successful marketing campaign and inability to get readers excited about the material contributed to the line’s failure.