Big AP story on Virgin’s release of The Virulents, which is produced by creators in Bangalore, apparently. The story, which was picked up by the Washington Post and USA Today, includes a slideshow of the making of the book.

“It’s one of the biggest entertainment markets with 55 percent of the population – 550 million people – under the age of 20,” Suresh Seetharaman, president of Virgin Comics, told The Associated Press in Mumbai. “Virtually all the art is created here. We have a team of 120 in Bangalore.”

“An American reading it has no idea it was not written down the road from where he lives,” added Larry Lieberman, Virgin Comics chief marketing officer. “He has no idea it is written, conceived and illustrated in India, in Bangalore.”

[snip]A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, released earlier at the Mumbai conference, projects India’s media and entertainment business to more than double over the next five years to hit $22.5 billion in sales by 2011. Sales touched nearly $10.4 billion in 2006, up 20 percent from a year ago.

Virgin is all over the place with this story, as well, news of a graphic novel starring the Masked Magician, who’s tell-all TV specials incurred the ire of fellow magicians.

Now, Nash Entertainment CEO Bruce Nash hopes to turn the Masked Magician into a fictionalized franchise, starting with the novel. Nash hopes ultimately to use the novel as the basis for a feature film.

“I didn’t think just having the specials was enough to show the studios that this could be turned into a real dramatic narrative,” Nash said. “So we went to Virgin with the idea of turning it into a graphic novel, and they loved it. Once it’s produced and distributed, we’ll take it to the studios and networks with the idea of turning it into a movie or TV show. The graphic novel will be sort of like the first script.”

The novel will revolve around the fictional magician, on the lam from the law. The character dons a mask to protect himself and begins using magic to solve crimes — and attempt to redeem himself from whatever past he’s trying to escape. Taking a cue from the real-life specials, the book and movie will show how the masked magician actually conjures up his illusions.

Hm, using a graphic novel as the “pilot” for a film…what a great idea!