Saturday, August 14, 2010
History of Comics in India
“चाचा चौधरी का दिमाग़ कम्यूटर से भी तेज़ चलता है।” (Chaha Chowdhury’s brain works faster than computer)-->
Well within the buying capacity of middle class children, Indrajal Comics made foreign comic heroes like “Phantom- the ghost who walks”, Mandrake the magician, and Flash Gordon household names in India. They later added Indian characters starting from most popular that time, Bahadur.
`Pran`, as Pran Kumar Sharma is universally admired, had created umpteen comic strips, like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo and the still legendary and popular Chacha Chaudhary during the 1970s.
The immediate success of Indrajal Comics gave a further boost to the indigenous comic industry and in 1967, Anant Pai, a former executive of the TOI, founded Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) to bring out Indian culture and history through comics. Anant Pai, popularly known as Uncle Pai, is also considered the father of Indian comics.
The ACK comics were mainly of two categories – Mythological and
Historical. While the mythological comics catered to the characters from Classical Epics and religious stories, the historical comics featured regional personalities /events promoting national integration. It requires a complete article on ACK, so we will skip it here. But this is one of the oldest comics brand, still in production. There are a total of 439 ACK titles, of which 255 are still in print. If it matters, ACK is also available on your mobile phone, if you have Vodaphone connection! Check out Vodaphone Live for details!
The success of Indrajal Comics and ACK inspired other publishing houses who launched their own series on their own themes: Dreamland Publications and Diamond Comics at New Delhi, and Jaico Publishing House at Mumbai.
comic publishing house is Raj Comics, which enters from their Pocket Book business into Comics pu
blishing, is home of characters such as Nagraj, (an Indian superhero with special powers), Doga, Super Commando Dhruva, Parmanu and various others. In Tamilnadu Alagar comics is the most famous one.
The 80s also saw some short lived, but notable Comics launch, like Comics series featuring Amitabh Bachchan (written by Gulzar) as Supremo the Crime Fighter, and Sunil Gavasker as
Then come 90s and we saw the end of Indrajal Comics after 27 years of publishing! Amar Chitra Katha went out of circulation, resurfaced again by Diamond Comics, and then went out of print again! This was the era of cable TV, and very few comics publishing house continue to publish comics. Diamond Comics and Raj Comics continued and are still going strong!
During the ushering in of the 21st century, a much esteemed partnership between Richard Branson`s Virgin group and India`s Gotham Comics, has led to a new company, Virgin Comics, motivated towards giving birth to new lines of comics, doused in Indian mythology and Indian history. Virgin Comics started publishing in 2006, and received good reviews, but went out of the print in 2008 when Virgin restructured and decided to discontinue with publishing. The principal icon of Virgin Comics however is the superhero, Devi, but other series have incorporated a science-fiction adaptation of the ancient Ramayana epic, a series based on the life of a supernaturally proficient Sadhu, as well as umpteen ones based outside India. They also launched India Authentic series, similar to ACK, but with completely different artwork and presentation style.
on the life of Karna (the legendary and controversial son of Kunti in Mahabharata) and their future titles will also be based about other inherent characters from the Mahabharata. All these stories from Fluid Friction are founded in a fictional world based on a mythological notion of the Earth 7000 years ago titled Bhumi. The
graphics excellence in the comics has been reproduced by an actually global team, boasting artists from both the eastern and western hemispheres.
Self publishing of single panel gags and other cartoons by Indian cartoonists is gaining momentum. There are many Indian webcomics available today on the net. Badmash, aimed at the Indian diaspora, "Curry Bear Comics" revolves around three South Asian college kids and their white friend, "Fly, You Fools!" is aimed at Indian residents, and deals with the daily irritations of life in India. 'Savita Bhabhi', is possibly the first pornographic comic in India. 'Arbit Choudhury', is regarded as the World's 1st MBA Comic Character. "Sunny Kris", a webcomic focusing on Indian workplaces through its five characters is another new addition to the growing list of independent webcomics.
So, overall, the journey was not bad, with a great early year of 60s till 80s, then a bump in 90s with cable TV followed by Internet, and then again back in the limelight! I will leave you with a last piece of information, ever considered Spider-Man, as an Indian boy in Amchi Mumbai? It has already happened! Marvel's Spider-Man: India project, which was the first major release by a large comic company, introduced India-based artist’s talent to the mainstream, and which was published in India by Gotham Comics. The title was inspired by the success of American comics in India. This four part series explore the origin of Spider-Man, showing him as an Indian boy in Amchi Mumbai! Why only four part? They did some mistakes; It lacks originality, and was a copy of original Spider-Man, like Mary Jane becomes Meera Jain, Peter Parker becomes Pavitra Prabhakar! The biggest mistake was to put a Dhoti as part of Spider-Man costume! Who wants to like a Super Hero in a Dhoti these days?