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Thursday, 1 December 2016

SOME NOTES ON THE OFTEN ODD WORLD OF INDIAN COMICS!

Image result for violence in Raj comic books
This post has gathered items from my old IndoPakBang Comics site which was going in 2007.  For that reason a lot re prices could be out of date but it gives a basic guide to the newbie!
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 In 2014 Indian comics greatest creator, Pran, passed away.  Here is what I posted at the time.


Cartoonist Pran, creator of Chacha Chaudhary, dies at 75

IndiaToday.in  New Delhi
Cartoonist Pran
Pran was included in People of the year 1995 by Limca Book of Records for popularizing comics in India. (Photo: www.animationxpress.com)
Pran Kumar Sharma, creator of iconic comic book characters like Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu, is dead. He was 75, his family said Wednesday.


Better known as Pran, he was suffering from colon cancer and died at 9.30 p.m. Tuesday, his daughter-in-law Jyoti Pran said.


"His condition was extremely critical in the last 15-20 days and was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Gurgaon," she said.


His cremation will take place in Punjabi Bagh at 2.30 p.m.

He is survived by his wife Asha, son Nikhil Pran and daughter Shaily Pran.

Pran is also the creator of other characters like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman, and Chachi.

Born in Kasur near Lahore, he began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for a Delhi-based newspaper. He had created the character of Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine "Lotpot".

He had also received a Lifetime Achievement Award 2001 from Indian Institute of Cartoonists and he was included in list of "People of the year 1995" by Limca Book of Records for popularising comics in India.

And FirstPost.com:

Cartoonist Pran, the creator of the iconic Indian comic book character Chacha Chaudhary, died today in New Delhi. He was 75 years old.

Pran Kumar Sharma, according the website www.chachachaudhary.com, was the first Indian artist-writer to come up with comic books whose protagonists were characters rooted deep in Indian rural and middle class ethos. His most popular creation was of course Chacha Chaudhary, a short, frail-looking man in a huge red pagdi, who fought everyone from thugs to pretty crooks with elan. He had for company a giant man called Saboo, apparently from Jupiter.

Chacha Chaudhary, created in 1971, was a landmark work given how it fused sci-fi, filmy action and Indian middle class oddities, to offer a wholesome entertainer for people across ages.

Pran was born in Kasur near Lahore, in undivided India. He completed his bachelors degree in political science from Gwalior. He then went on to study art in the JJ School of Art in Mumbai, but left the course midway.

He began working as a cartoonist in 1960 in Indian dailies.

Pran's body of work includes other comics like Billoo, Pinki, Raman, Shrimatiji. He later created a separate series of comics on Saboo, Chacha Chaudhary's assistant.

All his characters had one thing in common. They were superheroes in their own small ways - while Billoo was an insufferably naughty boy, he was extremely sharp and could wriggle out of any soup he was in. Pinki, another of Pran's character, was again a small girl, who was extremely brave and ready to take up challenges. Chaudhary, famously, was said to have a brain 'which worked faster than a computer'.
Image result for Diamond Comics india
Pran's superheroes were complete antithetical to the construct of the superhero popularised by say a Marvel Comics in the West. Most of Pran's characters did not possess any super-powers - they were average humans who used their brains well. Chaudhary's superheroes, essentially, were ideal human beings and looked and sounded like any of us. No wonder then, they were household names and were loved by generations of comic book lovers in India.

Later, several of Pran's works were animated, turned into cartoon films etc. However, his works still draw sustenance from the comic book format and is hugely popular among the middle classes.

The Chacha Chaudhary website says about Pran, "He travelled widely over the globe including countries like America, England, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, China, S.Korea etc he delivered speeches to the gatherings of cartoonists on the subject wherever he went."

Pran, the website quotes, had said, "If I could put a smile on the face of people, I would consider my life successful."

Chances are he will continue being a success, long after he is gone.
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Image result for Muthu Comics indiaImage result for Muthu Comics india
Above: Fleetway legends are still stars in Tamil Ccomics -The Spider and the Steel Claw!
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There can be little doubt that to many outside India comics from the subcontinent can be very confusing.

There is The Phantom and Mandrake The Magician -Tamil language Muthu Comics published the adventures of both because,, obviously, no other publisher was translating either into Tamil. The Phantom will be dealt with elsewhere on this site but the publishing history is very complex.

Comic Sizes are weirder!
 Image result for Muthu Comics india
Most from Muthu are smaller than A5 at 12 x 18 cms -some even sized 10x13 cms- the latter have something like 242 pages while the former 74-122 pages.

Unusually, the adventures of the Steel Claw, Spider, Barracuda and Mandrake at these sizes does not affect the artwork. They are little gems.

Even at the larger 12x18 cms size, and in landscape format to boot, Blueberry still looks good. How could it not look good!
 Image result for Muthu Comics india

Gotham Comics are full colour and publish DC and Marvel material and are A5/Digest sized. Excellent quality with it. Gotham, of course, created the 4 part Marvel limited series Spider-Man India.
 Image result for Muthu Comics india
Indrajal Comics are roughly US comic book size and full colour.

Raj Comics are full colour and just a wee bit shorter than A5/Digest.

Diamond Comics are similar in size to Raj Comics and colour throughout, though not as great in colour quality as Raj or Gotham. They used to look as though a basic PC colouring/Fill program was being used
 Image result for Diamond Comics india
A major problem is that with some Muthu comics you can find pages uncut so that you have to do this yourself. Bulky sizes, some fast and loose stapling and crooked covers are drawbacks. Muthu relies on cheap printing and this can show from time-to-time but most fans do not care -they are happy to see the books.
 Image result for Diamond Comics india

Amar Chitra Katha ("Immortal Captivating (or Picture) Stories") is one of India's largest selling comic book series, with more than 90 million copies sold in 20 Indian languages. Amar Chitra Katha are US sized and full colour and tend to concentrate on Indian myths and history.

Image result for violence in Raj comic books

Virgin Comics lasted as long as I predicted they would -Branson did his usual get the money quick and run routine -as he did with Viz comic in the UK.
COVER PRICING

A rough guide to cover prices and Indian-US-UK-CANADIAN currency is as follows (I just up-dated that as a lot has changed since 2077!):

1 USD =  0.793234 GBP  =86.2259 INR =1.19027 EUR


Given this you can see that comics such as Raj at 10 INRs are very cheap to Western visitors who are into comics.....though few comic fans seem to holiday there or bring Indian comics back -or am I wrong?
 Image result for Diamond Comics india
Violence

Death is part of every day life to Indians.  And children there encounter death more often than in the West...as the news shows us frequently. And we have to remember that Indian comics reflect the national situation. 

Fighting against evil Pakistani plots is not uncommon and before anyone complains -UK comics have done this as have comics from other countries and let's not get into the USA, its comics, "Commies", "Arab threats" etc.. It happens in all comics.
 Image result for Raj Comics india DOGA

Indian comics can be very violent. In one issue of Raj Comics excellent Doga, the character goes on a revenge spree making the Punisher look absolutely tame. Doga, taking revenge along the "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" lines,  cuts away one persons lower eye-lid so his eyes cannot be closed; another has his ear chopped off and, most chillingly, we see a knife slicing through another’s tongue!  

There's also a decapitation of a villain by a Captain America style shield thrown by a hero. Come on, if Disney could get away with Captain America doing that....
 Image result for Raj Comics india DOGA

In Diamond's MAHABALI SHAKA & THE URANIUM THIEVES, the hero hands over a crook to police and they string up the prisoner by his feet while he is cut with a knife. In an issue of Dynamite, the character shoots someone in the face.
 Image result for Raj Comics india DOGAImage result for Raj Comics india DOGA
However, having written that, there is nothing I would not let a child of 8 or 9 years see. It is, after all, comic art work.

I LOVE these comics!

Bangladeshi Comics

Every example of Bangladeshi comics I have so far seen are reprints of Diamond Comics such as Chacha Chaudhary but there are others such as Tin-Tin (example shown below is Tin-Tin And The Picaros).
 Image result for Bangladeshi comic books

Gotham Comics…..Just In case you were wondering.....





Just in case you didn't know! Gotham comics are the people who produced the 4 issue limited series Spider-Man India for Marvel Comics. The company publishes full colour A5/Digest sized comics reprinting both Marvel and DC comics titles.
Image result for Spider-Man India

A SMALL SELECTION OF INDRAJAL COMICS

I owe a major thank you to my friend Vineeth Abraham in New Delhi who has supplied me with so many Indian comics -including those on this page.

Without Vineeth's help this whole web site would not exist and the joys of Indian comics would not be open to us all!




The "Indian Saint"?

Bahadur was a kind of Indian Simon Templar who wandered around the country fighting bandit gangs, pirates and other menaces.  Though not pursued by Chief Inspector Claude Eustace Teal!

Bahadur and the...
........Oh,come on! Do you really need an explanation of what goes on in this issue??





Although seemingly pen drawn rather than by brush,the art is quite effective.

Bahadur dealt with bandits,dacoits,pirates and was a heart throb to all the girls.  Who needed Shaft,man?

"Shaft? John Shaft? Who's he?"

Secret Agent Phil Corrigan. A popular character in Indian comics also has a publishing history with Indrajal Comics as well as Muthu as Secret Agent X-9 -and why not!
 Image result for comic strip character Phil Corrigan

Anyone never hear of PHILIP CORRIGAN? Certainly he's popular with Muthu Comic fans.

 
MAIKOO MUCHANDAR!


Well, if Diamond Comics can have a short, turban-wearing magician -who shall remain nameless on this page - why couldn't Indrajal?

Anyone with a knowledge of comics history will know turbanned magicians-cum-crime fighters have been popular for decades...and continues today with Black Tower's duo, Kotar and Sabuta!

CHIMPOO by SHEHAB
 

"Chimpoo" could be a boy,or he could be a man. In fact he could be--no,lets not go there!

I know as much about Shehab as I do about other Indian creators -zero! I'm hoping to change that however!

HENRY
 

When I first saw this it reminded me of something early King Features Syndicate but just could not place it.

Then I looked at the side of panel [c] which read:"King Features Syndicate"!

Y'know, it doesn't take a lot to tell you how old you are getting....or to wear your spectacles!!

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And there you go. Reading this and looking at Indian/Bangladeshi comics (I've seen no examples of a comic from Pakistan) I realise why I love comics!



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