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Virgin's new imprint launches in July. There's a spiel at IGN, plus the promotional issue 0 to download. Deepak Chopra, Garth Ennis and John Woo are involved.

 

Ordinarily I'd predict this'll go the same way as Valiant, Malibu, etc; but the primary market is India, which is a different ballgame.

 

BTW, I did a forum search on "virgin comics" and nothing turned up, so if this has been posted before, please blow forgive me.

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I think it probably was mentioned here when it was first announced that such a thing was going to happen but wasn't discussed much.

 

The link hasn't been posted on the forum before Jason.

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Man, don't get me started on that topic. Virgin Comics touted itself as something that would revolutionize the horrendous state of comics in India, as a company that would finally give all the talent in India a platform to promote their work from so they can move away from the animation outsourcing work they've been doing so far. So much for that. A friend of mine - a published sff author in India - was offered a job and they treated him with such contempt, it boggled the mind. All kinds of ludicrous clauses about ownership, limitations on other jobs and so on. Another friend got an interview for an art position and found people at the office TRACING.

 

And as for the storylines - half of them look to be Vertigo ripoffs. Others are embarrassingly stupid combinations of T&A, pseudo-intellectual Vertigo elements and blatant appeals to the Indian 'state of mind' through the use of stereotypical Indian mythological characters/structures/stories in a distorted form. Lowest common denominator all the way. The art is massively airbrushed and computer-worked and so cookie cutter that even I can spot it as such.

 

It may well be commercially successful, but things dont look good from an artistic POV.

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I haven't seen these Virgin Comics, but I was reading about a comic company that caters to "Middle Eastern" fans. I forget the company's name, but they're very popular in Egypt.

It looked like cheap DC and Image rip-offs mixed with the stereotypical elements.

 

Why exactly can't the successes of comics in the United States translate to success for countries like India or "Middle Eastern" nation?

Or, do you think that these types of comics actually will be a success in these places?

 

The article I read claimed that those comics were very popular in Egypt, but there were no details (such as sales' figures, age demographic, etc.).

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I haven't seen these Virgin Comics, but I was reading about a comic company that caters to "Middle Eastern" fans. I forget the company's name, but they're very popular in Egypt.

It looked like cheap DC and Image rip-offs mixed with the stereotypical elements.

 

Why exactly can't the successes of comics in the United States translate to success for countries like India or "Middle Eastern" nation?

Or, do you think that these types of comics actually will be a success in these places?

 

The article I read claimed that those comics were very popular in Egypt, but there were no details (such as sales' figures, age demographic, etc.).

 

Well its not that comics arent successes in India, if by 'success' you mean they're popular/sell a lot. They are. It's just that all the homegrown stuff is utter shit.

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Yeah, I was talking about popularity.

 

OK! More questions then:

 

1.)I'm guessing from what you've said, you've read some of these books. How would you compare them to the average, by-the-numbers books that DC or Image put out (i.e. Green Lantern, Spawn)?

 

2.)Is it because they are the only alternative that these books are so popular? With wider distribution of (say) Vertigo titles, do you think that these comics would still be so popular?

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Yeah, I was talking about popularity.

 

OK! More questions then:

 

1.)I'm guessing from what you've said, you've read some of these books. How would you compare them to the average, by-the-numbers books that DC or Image put out (i.e. Green Lantern, Spawn)?

 

2.)Is it because they are the only alternative that these books are so popular? With wider distribution of (say) Vertigo titles, do you think that these comics would still be so popular?

 

I'd say they are, for the most part, much worse than the majority of the mainstream titles here. They are artistically bankrupt. The art is ripped off entirely from US comics (to the point, in some cases, that they are literally traced). Computers are heavily used. Photoshop is their best friend. The stories are derivative dreck combining the worst tendencies of American comics with a moronic pandering to what they think is an 'Indian' sensibility. The Spiderman India comics are an example of this. They are so embarrassingly bad as to be just beyond belief.

 

I am sad to say that many people do actually enjoy these shit comics. Which is why they're popular. I'm not talking (in this entire post) about Virgin Comics. They're a startup and their work hasnt been around long enough for me to talk about them much. I'm talking about Indian comics in general. The sad fact of it is that Indians as a whole do like these shitty comics and thats why they're popular. The reasons for this are varied and complex and the thought of outlining them right now exhausts me prematurely. But I suspect these comics would be popular regardless. It seems pertinent to mention that Vertigo TPBs are becoming a staple in Indian metropolitan bookstores. In Calcutta in the past couple years, its become cool among a certain section of young people (students/young professionals) to have read Sandman. Gaiman's work is flying off the shelves. And some of the mainstream DC titles have been available for a while - published by DC's Indian printer and distributor Gotham Comics. So its not like there are no other options.

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Virgin's new imprint launches in July. There's a spiel at IGN, plus the promotional issue 0 to download. Deepak Chopra, Garth Ennis and John Woo are involved.

 

Ordinarily I'd predict this'll go the same way as Valiant, Malibu, etc; but the primary market is India, which is a different ballgame.

 

BTW, I did a forum search on "virgin comics" and nothing turned up, so if this has been posted before, please blow forgive me.

 

 

hahaha thats really funny, teach me how to do that?.

 

 

blow This, Not that OTHER thing.

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Avaunt, when you're posting, select the text you want crossed out and hit this button:

post-83-1150618157_thumb.jpg

 

 

The Spiderman India comics are an example of this. They are so embarrassingly bad as to be just beyond belief.

This is correct.

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This is an article from www.TheXAxis.com (PLUG:amazing comic book site, especially for all X-fans, go check it out!) on Virgin Comics:

 

Richard Branson has a finger in almost every pie, but can the man behind the Virgin brand launch a successful comics line? Paul O'Brien assesses Virgin's bid to create a new comics market in India.

16 January 2006

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Virgin is a strange business.

 

While most corporate monoliths tend to identify an area of strength and stick to it, Virgin are all over the place. Starting off as a record company, they've diversified hugely. They do radio, banking, clothes, mobile phones, record stores... you name it, Richard Branson has probably had a crack at it. There's nothing linking it all together, besides the curiously vague Virgin brand.

 

But every so often Richard Branson wakes up in a cold sweat, suddenly remembering a product that he doesn't make yet. Clearly, when this happens, something must be done. Thus, Virgin Comics - one of the last products they don't yet make.

 

At first glance, this seems a strange one. Many companies have tried to get into comics over the last few years, and many have failed. The North American market has been stubbornly resistant to newcomers, unless their core activity is reprinting established comics from Japan. And, let's be honest, it doesn't immediately sound like a gold mine compared with some of Virgin's other activities.

 

Then again, aside from its most successful operations, Virgin has always had a range of interests on the side. A couple have been outright misfires - Virgin Cola never stood a chance against the established competition, and Virgin Condoms proved to be an unfortunate misapplication of the brand. Other tributaries of the Virgin empire range from modest to bizarre to just plain silly. So which is this one - a quiet backwater of the Virgin empire, or something to take seriously?

 

'Comics are one of the last products that Virgin don't yet make.' Well, Virgin already have a highly active publishing wing, Virgin Books. It's not as though they're entering into completely novel ground. And the publishing division seems to do quite well for itself. They've carved out a niche banging out light non-fiction, episode guides and sci-fi books. They had the DOCTOR WHO licence for ages. They're not exactly an A-list publisher, but they're certainly a solid presence in the marketplace, and not just one of Branson's hobby businesses.

 

The comics division, however, is not just an in-house creation. It's a collaboration with Deepak Chopra, Shekhar Kapur and Gotham Entertainment. The press release describes Gotham as "South Asia's leading publisher of comic magazines". American readers may recall them from 2004 when they produced the unlikely-sounding SPIDER-MAN INDIA, which was billed (wrongly) as the first reinvention of a superhero for another culture. After an initial spurt of interest, that book drifted off the radar, and nothing more seems to have been heard of it.

 

Frankly, the attempt to clone Spider-Man as an Indian kid called Pavitr Prabhakar, complete with an Uncle Bhim and Aunt Maya, always struck me as a touch superficial. If you want to appeal to Indians, you create something new - you don't clone a piece of Americana and tinker with the trappings. I suspect that, as with American audiences and manga, those Indians who are interested in Spider-Man at all would probably prefer the original to a localised cover version. In any event, judging from Gotham's website, the project seems to have quietly died a death after the initial series.

 

What Gotham bring to this deal, from the look of it, isn't really a track record of creating comics. Rather, Virgin are gaining access to the Indian marketplace by hooking up with the top local publisher.

 

'SPIDER-MAN INDIA seems to have quietly died a death.' It's pretty obvious from the press release that the Indian market is Virgin Comics' major concern. Despite a reference to "creating original comic books and character properties for a global audience", the real focus is squarely on India. Richard Branson is quoted enthusing about the vibrancy of the Indian market, and probably states the divisions' priorities more accurately when he claims it will "help to launch the Indian comic market and spin it into the west".

 

This all sounds remarkably ambitious. From the sound of it, the plan is to build the division around some sort of homegrown Indian product, which can then be marketed to western audiences in a similar way to manga. There's no doubt that manga, and not the direct market, is the template that's encouraging Branson here - after all, it's the major driver behind growth in the English-language market.

 

The bit about building an Indian comics industry isn't a bad idea, so far as it goes. India has a massive population with plenty of money to spend, and it sounds as though their comics industry is rather underdeveloped. It may well be that there's an untapped market in India waiting for this sort of product. If so, it's likely to be worth plenty of money in its own right, more than enough to justify the exercise. After all, there are a billion people living in India - over 15% of the global population. Indians outnumber Americans by more than three to one. That's a hell of a lot of readers. If you can establish a major presence in India, you're doing well already.

 

But the company's global ambitions seem rather more optimistic. Of course, they could always produce something completely different for foreign markets, and maybe they will. The initial plan, though, seems to be to take Indian-originated material and make it globally appealing. This is a tall order. True, in some ways it's easier to translate comics than other media - at least you keep the art, and you can change the dialogue without resorting to dubbing or subtitles. And true, manga has been successful outside Japan. But it wasn't designed for that purpose - it just happened to have greater resonance to western audiences than the homegrown material. (And what does that tell you about the homegrown material?) European comics, in contrast, have never found much of an audience abroad.

 

'If you can establish a major presence in India, you're doing well.' I struggle to imagine any sort of Indian hybrid comics finding a mass audience in America. It just doesn't instinctively seem like the sort of thing American readers are looking for. In Europe, they might do well with the large Indian communities. They're a worthwhile market in their own right. They've managed to get Bollywood films into the UK top ten. But that's largely through an intensely devoted minority audience. Penetration of Indian influences into the British mainstream remains comparatively limited.

 

To judge from their press release, Virgin Comics anticipate a potentially massive crossover appeal of Indian concepts. Stranger things have happened, but it still seems a remarkable assumption. I can buy the idea that this division could grab a big chunk of the Indian market, but I'm extremely sceptical about the idea that they're going to achieve worldwide success with the same product.

 

Perhaps the oddest thing about the press release, though, is the location of the company. Even though the overwhelming focus is on India and the subcontinent, the publishing operation is going to be based in New York. This seems a truly strange move, if they're really intending to build around Indian themes in the way they claim. It may be that New York can provide technical knowledge about the comics industry, but I can't imagine the place is overflowing with comics professionals blessed with a detailed cultural understanding of the Indian subcontinent.

 

It strikes me that if Virgin really want to pursue this course, the best way to do it is to focus on establishing themselves in the potentially-massive Indian market, rather than pushing too heavily for an "all things to all people" global-village identity. They'll just confuse people if they do that, and reduce their chances with the market that might be most receptive to them.

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Judging from the previews and the aforementioned intel from insiders, these titles are most certainly not going to go big in the West. Or with discerning Indian readers for that matter.

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Good first post in this thread Abhi, if you fancy getting your name in virtual lights, you could pass a similar e-mail along to Rich Johnston.

 

Heh, how so? Not a fan of Virgin Comics, is he?

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Yeah, I can't see these comics appealing to anyone in the West either.

That comic company that I read about that's popular in Egypt had the same aspirations. To bring Muslim culture into American pop culture.

The problem is all these companies seem to produce sub-par copies of our United States comics, with certain stereotypical elements of other culture.

If we already have an extremely popular Batman franchise here in America, having a Muslim Batman-like-character is not going to appeal anyone in the United States. We already have the original everywhere we look.

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What Christian said.

 

I haven't seen anything from the Egyptian company, but I have issue #1 of Spiderman India, and it pretty much is what Christian described. There is no interesting, new information for me about India or Indian culture in it, and I don't know much about either, so it would be an easy thing to provide. Plus, SM-I's origin was just some spiritual-mystical twaddle that seemed to have no actual content, and as such was completely unmemorable, and impossible to tell to another comic geek (which makes word of mouth more difficult).

 

The Virgin comic URLed at the top of the thread was lackluster, derivative action-adventure stuff. Okay, there's the god-myth pages, and the godhood for the girl, but I found myself not wanting to go through the g-m pages, because I like my comic text in captions or bubbles in discrete panels, not as a solid block surrounded or interspersed with pictures. If I do have to go through something like that, the story that I've already gotten in panels must be good enough for me to be willing to put out the effort. I'm guessing the god-myth pages are some kind of digested, commercially inoffensive sort of pop-Hinduism or general regional polytheism (perhaps so Sikhs can get into it too?), but Japanese comic people do the god thing with real flare that these guys lack. (Don't know if that's true of Indian comics in general).

 

So there is no such thing as an originally-conceived Indian title? All of it is Western-imitating crap?

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So there is no such thing as an originally-conceived Indian title? All of it is Western-imitating crap?

 

There are. But they are of a quality so mindbogglingly poor that some of them could probably entertain you for a couple hours with just how bad they are until your brain catches up with what you're doing. There's an entire line of comics called Diamond Comics which include titles such as Pinky (the adventures of titular little girl), Chacha Choudhury (the adventures of a clever old man accompanied by a giant wearing nothing but knee high boots and briefs) and Billoo (adventures of a young boy). The writing and art have to be seen to be believed. Nothing I can say will do justice to how bad they are.

 

Slightly less bad but still pretty poor is the whole Tinkle series for children, which mixes stories based on mythology with animal-centric fables. They are simplistic, badly drawn, moralistic and tedious for anyone above the age of 10.

 

Off the top of my head I cannot think of any originally conceived Indian titles aimed at adults. This is probably because the overwhelming majority of Indians think comics are for children and a large proportion of people above age 12 would get a right yelling for reading comics.

 

Hell, till I brought my parents round, I used to have to read comics on the sly. After age 18 or so, they couldnt really tell me what to read but in my early teens I used to have to borrow comics and hide them till night-time which is when I read them. Often by torchlight. The only comics I could read openly between age 12 and age 16 or so, were Asterix and Tintin (both of which my parents are avid fans of).

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This isn't such a rare phenomenon even over here in the States after all the time and effort put into working to make comics respectable.

Unless you really bother to take the time to research, people who don't read comics still think of comics as being just for children.

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This isn't such a rare phenomenon even over here in the States after all the time and effort put into working to make comics respectable.

Unless you really bother to take the time to research, people who don't read comics still think of comics as being just for children.

 

Perhaps, but this doesnt compare to the attitude in India. In India, amongst most average middle class, educated families, comics are considered intellectual anathema. There's this idea that the fact that its all spelled out for you in pictures makes the readers dumber or mentally lazy. Parents actively punish their kids for reading comics or discourage the practice with extreme enthusiasm. From what I see, despite the bum rap for comics in the West, parents don't exactly punish their kids for reading comics, even if they're past the age where they're supposed to graduate to 'real' books.

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I guess this attitude has evolved.

People from my grandparents generation still seem to have that attitude about comics, that they're junk and mind-rotting.

If you're over 10 years old and reading comics, you're wasting your time.

I still have my grandfather asking me, "So, you're still buying all these funny books, huh? Do you ever read any actual books?"

My grandmother will chime in, "You have such a gift with your ability to read and understand words, yet you waste it with trash!"

I ask them, "How is reading a fiction book any more intellectual than reading a comic book?"

"Oh! There's no pictures and it just is!", they reply.

 

Other people my grandparents age I talk to have this same idea.

 

At the writer's workshop I used to teach, I read a story I wrote about a childhood bond between two friends based on their love of comics. A woman in the group who is my grandmother's age said, "Oh, I remember what it was like for little boys and their comics. My son loved his comics. I remember how upset he was when he came home from school and found out his father burned his comic books. He was just too old for them. He had to grow up and read real books. I sometimes wonder if we did the right thing, and I know now that they're worth lots of money. I was just afraid of him never giving up comics for real books."

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At the writer's workshop I used to teach, I read a story I wrote about a childhood bond between two friends based on their love of comics. A woman in the group who is my grandmother's age said, "Oh, I remember what it was like for little boys and their comics. My son loved his comics. I remember how upset he was when he came home from school and found out his father burned his comic books. He was just too old for them. He had to grow up and read real books. I sometimes wonder if we did the right thing, and I know now that they're worth lots of money. I was just afraid of him never giving up comics for real books."

:ph34r: How scary.

 

My economics teacher (sorry, former teacher) told me last week about how his mother, who happens to be our school principal, threw away so many of his comic books, including Golden Age Action Comics. I was beside myself. I was about to forgive her for five horrible years at her school, but now I don't know if I can.

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At the writer's workshop I used to teach, I read a story I wrote about a childhood bond between two friends based on their love of comics. A woman in the group who is my grandmother's age said, "Oh, I remember what it was like for little boys and their comics. My son loved his comics. I remember how upset he was when he came home from school and found out his father burned his comic books. He was just too old for them. He had to grow up and read real books. I sometimes wonder if we did the right thing, and I know now that they're worth lots of money. I was just afraid of him never giving up comics for real books."

:ph34r: How scary.

 

My economics teacher (sorry, former teacher) told me last week about how his mother, who happens to be our school principal, threw away so many of his comic books, including Golden Age Action Comics. I was beside myself. I was about to forgive her for five horrible years at her school, but now I don't know if I can.

 

I had a pile of about 80 comics - Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, JLA - taken from me by force and sold to a second hand bookseller for 10 bucks. In front of my eyes. Traumatized for life.

 

Thankfully, things have changed and my parents defer to me with regards to things literary and cinematic. They are also very apologetic and shamefaced about what they did, now that I show them authors like Gaiman, Sacco, Spiegelman or Moore and rattle off all the awards and acclaim they've won.

 

Still, though. Traumatized.

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I'm so lucky my mom is understanding. Maybe that's because I started reading comics relatively late. I had been things like E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, Shakespearian sonnets, etc. by myself, just for fun, before I started reading comics. Maybe if I had been reading comics before and never stopped, she would have been concerned about it.

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hmm...That could be the case.

It could be the case with my own experience too.

I was reading the classics, Roald Dahl, non-fiction books, C.S. Lewis, all that stuff before I discovered comic books.

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I collected and read comics from when I was 8 until I was about 11, when I sold all my comics to fund a trip to Seattle (it's ok, none of them were very expensive. Or any good for that matter....). During that whole time, my mom thought it was a waste of money and a childish habit (or course she didn't tell me at the time, as I was a child).

 

I didn't start seriously reading or collecting again until I was in college, where no one could get after me for doing things like spending $40 dollars on the first Silver Age Phantom Stranger!

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Other people my grandparents age I talk to have this same idea.

 

At the writer's workshop I used to teach, I read a story I wrote about a childhood bond between two friends based on their love of comics. A woman in the group who is my grandmother's age said, "Oh, I remember what it was like for little boys and their comics. My son loved his comics. I remember how upset he was when he came home from school and found out his father burned his comic books. He was just too old for them. He had to grow up and read real books. I sometimes wonder if we did the right thing, and I know now that they're worth lots of money. I was just afraid of him never giving up comics for real books."

And I'm sure she never wondered why her son hated his father from then on. :icon_rolleyes:

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