Chopra, Branson form comic book ties

The duo plan two Virgin-branded companies to create original comic books, writes Kanupriya Vashisht.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 16:23 IST

What do you expect when a maverick entrepreneur, a life-style guru and a film maker get together? A comic explosion, of course.

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Books Ltd. have announced an entertainment partnership with author Deepak Chopra and his son, TV personality Gotham Chopra, along with the filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and South Asia's leading publisher of comic magazines, Gotham Entertainment Group LLC.

The partnership will launch two new Virgin-branded companies, Virgin Comics LLC, based in New York, and Virgin Animation Pte. Ltd., based in Bangalore, India. "Both companies will be "focused on creating original comic books and character properties for a global audience," according to a recent press release.

The first offering from Virgin Comics will arrive mid-2006 from globally acclaimed filmmaker John Who, who's creating an original comic property under the Virgin Comics' Director's Cut line, one of three separate lines the company will run. The other lines are the Indian Shakti line and the Maverick line.

Some of the comics will have an Indian influence, such as the "Shakti" line, while others will feature more general, mainstream characters and stories. Through the Virgin Comics Maverick and Director's Cut imprints, the company will tap into innovative creators in comics, film and entertainment from around the world.

"Virgin always strives to work with the best of the best and with Chopra and Kapur we are certainly doing that," Branson said in a press release. "I am delighted that Virgin Comics, will not only help to launch the Indian comic market and spin it into the west, but will develop new and exciting talent - giving a whole generation of young, creative thinkers a voice."

Deepak Chopra said in the press release, "I am thrilled and excited to be working with Richard Branson and Virgin. I consider Richard a true visionary and believe together, through Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, we will forge new mythologies bringing together east and west. At the forefront of this movement will be new minds, new voices, and new talents that will re-invent the stories that unite us, and that we live by."

CEO Sharad Devarajan added: "Beyond India, we will create a haven for the world's most innovative creators, launching a new wave of characters that simultaneously appeal to audiences from Boston to Beijing to Bangalore."

The Shakti Line will focus on "Asian edged" content in an effort to really brand the space of Indian and Asian character properties and capitalize on the increasing global appetite for these innovative characters and stories. The Director's Cut Line will focus on working with some of Hollywood's best talent to co-create properties in the form of comic books, again to be packaged and leveraged into Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large.

The Maverick Line will focus on working with talented creators, thinkers, and artists both within and outside of the comic book and graphic novel industry.

The company believes that in the next decade, Asia will become one of the largest producers, as well as the largest consumers, of entertainment products, and hopes to create something similar to the phenomenon of Japanese Anime animation and Manga comics, which have influenced every aspect of popular media today.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 15:43 IST