UPDATE: Hollywood-Geared Virgin Comics Closes Up Shop?

Virgin Comics — the high-profile joint publishing venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur — has officially shut down its New York-based office (which oversaw its comic book publishing division) and laid-off staff, according to Publishers Weekly. This morning, Virgin Comics CEO and cofounder Sharad Devarajan made an official statement which can be read after the jump.

Launched in early 2006, Virgin Comics’ goal was to create a series of superhero and adventure comics inspired by Indian/Hindu mythology, which could also be parlayed into film properties. However, one of the publisher’s main draws in the hopes of pulling in readers and Hollywood interest was the combinations of established directors — such as John Woo, Guy Ritchie and Ed Burns — and well-known comic book writers like Mike Carey, Jeff Parker and Garth Ennis. The company also worked with celebrities like Nicolas Cage, Jenna Jameson and musician Dave Stewart.

Recently, Virgin also announced a partnership with legendary comics creator, Stan Lee, where he would create a new universe of superheroes for the publisher. For those of you keeping score at home, Lee’s deal with Virgin was one of two he had with a major comic publisher (the other is with Disney) announced this year. As of now, it remains to be seen what will happens with this or any other Virgin Comics properties, but certainly this story will evolve over the week.

Via Newsarama, Virgin has released a statement about the closure:

“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.”

Does Virgin Comics shutting down its New York publishing arm come as a surprise to you? Were you reading any of their comics? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned to Splash Page for more developments.