Sci Fi turns page in comics

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Sci Fi Channel has teamed with Richard Branson's Virgin Comics to create comic books that also will be developed into content for multiple platforms.

Five new comic book titles will kick off the joint venture, dubbed Sci Fi/Virgin Comics. Details on those titles are forthcoming, but the idea is to create original properties that will be eyed across all mediums, including feature film, television, digital and gaming.

Sci Fi and its parent company, NBC Universal, will have first look at any projects that come out of the partnership. Sci Fi and Virgin, who are equal partners in the joint venture, said they are aiming to attract some of the biggest names and talent who work in comic books, television and movies.

An eight-member editorial board -- representing comic books, television, movies, digital, gaming, licensing and merchandising -- will be responsible for determining which stories make the cut. The first Sci Fi/Virgin titles, distributed by Diamond Comics, are expected to be available to consumers this year.

Sci Fi executive vp and GM Dave Howe and Virgin Comics CEO and publisher Sharad Devarajan made the announcement Saturday at Comic Con in New York.

"Sci Fi/Virgin Comics marks an important step in our strategy to extend the Sci Fi brand into new cross-media platforms," Howe said. "Virgin is the perfect brand to help us connect with the youth audience around the world."

Added Devarajan: "With Sci Fi, we are changing the face of the comic book industry -- seamlessly developing characters and stories for books, television, online and other media. Together, we are creating stories as innovative as the ways consumers will get to experience them."

Virgin Comics was founded in November 2005 by Branson, Virgin Enterprises Ltd., author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and Gotham Entertainment Group.
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