Marvel hires Loeb to run new TV division

Former 'Heroes,' 'Lost' producer has extensive background in comics

Three years after taking over control of how its stable of superheroes are featured at the megaplex, Marvel has turned to “Heroes”-helmer and comicbook vet Jeph Loeb to launch a TV arm.

Loeb is certainly familiar with Marvel’s lineup of caped crusaders.

As exec VP, Loeb will essentially sift through Marvel’s library of 5,000 characters to develop live-action and animated TV shows. He will also shepherd the production of direct-to-DVD projects.

Marvel’s more popular characters, like Spider-Man and the X-Men, have long been a staple on TV as animated series aimed at kids. Nickelodeon’s NickToons also currently has a deal to air episodes of “Wolverine and the X-Men” and “Iron Man: Armored Adventures,” while Cartoon Network runs “Marvel Super Hero Squad.”

But those characters had either been licensed in the past or produced by Marvel Animation. That arm also oversaw direct-to-DVD movies like “Planet Hulk,” “Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow” and “Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme.”

Loeb’s appointment is seen as a more orchestrated effort to seriously turn TV into a new platform to exploit the company’s colorful characters, especially the roster of more unknown heroes.

Since being taken over by Disney, Marvel has been working closely with the Mouse House to figure out new ways to generate revenue from its library.

TV is seen as one crucial platform to introduce characters that mass audiences may not be familiar with. Once launched on TV, the character could then be turned into a videogame, merchandise and a film.

He wrote for “Smallville” and “Lost” before joining “Heroes” at its inception and rising to the title of co-executive producer. His film credits include “Commando” and “Teen Wolf.”

But he is best known for turning himself into a brand in the comicbook biz over the last two decades, penning books featuring the Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Daredevil, Spider-Man and the X-Men characters, for which he’s won four Eisner Awards for creative achievement.

Loeb will report to Dan Buckley, Marvel publisher and president of print, animation and digital.

“His work in the comic book field is in a class of its own,” said Marvel Studios exec veep and creative committee chairman Alan Fine.

Marvel’s film division currently has “Iron Man 2” out in theaters.

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