Thursday, January 12, 2017

History of Liquid/Virgin Comics

Brief History: Liquid Comics is a comic book company, founded in 2006 as Virgin Comics LLC, which produced stories (many of which are Indian-culture related) for an international audience. The company was founded by Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group, author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, and entrepreneurs Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman, and Gotham Chopra. In August 2008, the company restructured and relocated from New York to Los Angeles.On September 24, 2008, it was announced that Virgin Comics was renamed Liquid Comics after a management buyout.

Detailed History: The companies spun out of the previously announced partnership between Chopra, Kapur, and Gotham Entertainment (but not Branson). Gotham Studios Asia was announced in late 2004, planning its first release in 2005, which failed to occur. Variety reported in January 2006 that Gotham Entertainment head Sharad Devarajan and Chopra's son Gotham were the key movers, and approached Branson as a potential partner. With Branson on board, Gotham Studios Asia became Virgin Comics and Animation, with Devarajan taking the role of CEO, with Gotham Chopra as chief creative officer, with Indian advertising executive Suresh Seetharaman running Virgin Animation from India. The companies are based in Bangalore with the comics arm having its headquarters in New York. Variety reported that Devarajan and Chopra planned to spend 2006 "staffing the Indian operation with approximately 150 people, most of them artists".

Devarajan, who continues to operate Gotham Entertainment as a separate entity, stated the aim of the Virgin imprint was to, "create content that not only reaches a global audience but also helps start a creative renaissance in India."

Focusing on Asia "as an area to inspire and create content and drive revenue... to reach a global audience", the two arms allow for properties to be translated into "full media properties across a wide line of products and media outlets".

The companies' Press Release qualified this focus, writing, "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. Virgin Comics intends to look to Asia, and India in particular, as both a growing market for consumers of entertainment products and also a source for unique, innovative content to be brought to the world in comics and licensing into movies, animation, toys, video games and consumer products...This partnership brings Virgin, one of the world's leading youth lifestyle brands, into the areas of comics and animation for the first time. Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson commented on the new partnership by saying, "India is an incredibly vibrant market which Virgin already, through Virgin Atlantic, has the pleasure of working in. Virgin Comics embodies all that Virgin stands for - innovation and launching, developing and opening up markets, for the benefit of the consumer - both at home and abroad... 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."

Adrian Sington, Executive Chairman of Virgin Books noted that "the market for comics and graphic novels worldwide is exploding... [partly due to] the emergence of comics out of Asia." Sharad Devarajan referred to the Japanese forms of Anime and Manga, stressing their impact on world media, and outlining Virgin Comics' "mission... to spark a creative renaissance in India, reinventing Indian character entertainment and permeating this new style and vision throughout the globe... launching a new wave of characters that simultaneously appeal to audiences from Boston to Beijing to Bangalore."

On August 26, 2008, it was reported that Virgin Comics had shut down its New York office. A statement released by CEO Sharad Devarajan confirmed closure of the New York office, but indicated that the company would be restructuring and relocating to Los Angeles. Devarajan said that further information would be released later. Gotham Entertainment will be unaffected by this change. According to sources, Virgin will continue to own the rights for the properties which it published.

On September 24, 2008, it was announced that Virgin Comics changed its name to Liquid Comics. Among the first projects of Liquid Comics is a Hollywood movie based on the comic Ramayan 3392 A.D., together with Mandalay Pictures and Mark Canton, one of the producers of the movie 300. The movie is set for a 2011 release. Liquid Comics also entered into an agreement with FremantleMedia Enterprises to create television shows. The first two shows in development under the partnership are First Family and Ani-Max.

Dork Note: It appears Liquid Comics is not dead, but not producing either. The last press release was from 2014. Side-Note: I bought these books in TPB form and they felt more like pitches for movies & tv series then comic books; which in my book is a fail.

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