UPDATED: Virgin Comics Shuts Down New York Office

Virgin Comics Shuts Down New York Office

Confirming reports that have been running through the grapevine for the past few days, Publisher’s Weekly reports that Virgin Comics has shut down its publishing unit in New York, which oversaw its comic book publishing arm. It is unclear if the shuttering will affect Virgin Comics’ other media projects, which include movie adaptations, video games, and most notably in recent weeks, a joint web-based animation project with Grant Morrison, MBX. According to PW, the closing of the New York branch does not affect Gotham Entertainment, the partner in the enterprise based in Bangalore, India.

According to sources speaking with Newsarama, Virgin will continue to own the rights for the properties that were published under its banner, either outright, or a percentage of the rights shared with celebrity creators who were involved with development.

Virgin Comics was formed in 2006 by Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson, author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and Gotham Entertainment Group. Chopra’s son, Gotham, along with Sharad Devarajan saw to the day to day activities of the company. Virgin Comics launched three lines of titles: Shakti, which was heroic characters based on Indian and Hindu mythology; Director’s Cut, which was designed to be an imprint to showcase the works of film directors; and Virgin Voices, the company’s most experimental line, which was home to projects that were originated by actors and musicians and written by others

Virgin also had many joint endeavors, including one with Sci Fi - a series entitled The Stranded, with a comic component written by Mike Carey. It was also announced at this spring's New York Comic Con that Stan Lee would be creating a new universe of super-heroes for the company. Several other of the properties had been optioned as films.

Virgin's comics were known for their high production values (refelcting the backing the company had) and distinctive artwork as well as its collection of known comic talent it attracted, such as Carey , Garth Ennis, Alex Ross, Ron Marz, Jeff Parker, Andy Diggle, Jimmy Palmiotti and many others. Despite an aggressive publication schedule since its launch, Virgin Comics failed to capture any appreciable market share in the US direct market, despite its pushes to position itself as a major comic book publisher. It's criticis consistently pointed to the publisher as one that was solely in the buziness to sell properties and develop other media based on its titles.

It’s unclear if the shutdown of the New York offices will result in a complete shuttering of the company, a reorganization, or the titles and properties being licensed out to other publishers. An official announcement from the publisher is expected soon.

UPDATE 12:50 PM EST:  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.”

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