Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

Another year and another Express Event from Comic Con India. Our Pre-show coverage of the event in the Garden City.

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

Get to know, more about India's first ever Comic-Con, how does it rate among the rest.

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

We catch up with the Annual Chennai Book Fair, and see what it has to offer for Comic fans.

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

An inside look into a collection, touted as the biggest Comic Book released in India

Nov 28, 2007

Lion Comics #201 - Modesty Blaise | Nov '07

Prakash Publishers | Price: INR 10 | Pages: 100 | B/W | Size: B6 | Tamil | Laminated/HardCover

Surprise, Surprise.... We have the Lion # 201 "Kaateri Kaanagam" starring Modesty Blaise as Nov'07 release. So, it's good to see the Prakash Publishers have tentatively planned to release issues every 2 months, at least going by the current release cycle.

Lion #201 - Kaateri Kaanagam
(காட்டேரி கானகம்)
Lion 201 Cover-1

As far the story goes, there is no denial of fact that Modesty Blaise and Willy Garvin simply steal the show, with an interesting plot of Vampires shielded underworld gang being busted with the help of old Network ally.  I wouldn't be able to judge the quality of original dialogues, but as usual, Editor Vijayan simply is awesome in his translation depicted at various pages.  Tamil at its best.

I am pretty disappointed with the cover art.  At first sight, I was astonished to see the sparkling cover, and only realized later that it has been picked up from Biggles Digests released recently. 

For those who missed the previous post, the link is right here.  Editor seems to have found a way to reduce the production work for this release, with this approach. 

If I am not wrong, I believe this is the first time Lion-Muthu Publishers have resorted to a cover art which isn't part of their line-up.  Only the defunct Ponni, Meghala back in 90's used to feature this poor conceived strategy.  I hope it's a one shot, and we go back to our trademark cover designs.

Editor's HotLine
Lion 201 Hotline
Lion #202 Preview (Lucky Luke)
Lion 201 NextIssues-1

Editor's ever popular Hotline, as usual, and a preview of next Lucky Luke Extravaganza are other highlights.  And it also contains a preview of, what likely seems to be an another, Text Willer Saga in a 3 part series, planned to follow the Lucky issue.

Lion #203 Preview (Tex Willer)Lion #204 Preview (Tex Willer)Lion #205 Preview (Tex Willer)

As usual, it makes up for a good wait. But, let’s hope we get to see them later, if not earlier.

Nov 27, 2007

Gotham Comics #43 - Oct '07

Did anyone hear the term "procrastination".  Well, if it sounds pretty new, as it did for me when I first heard about it, then you might want to have a look at the My Million Dollar Year's Procrastination Flow Chart.  I feel it reflects phases of me in there.  Well, the delay in my posting is purely due to procrastination.

The pace at which Gotham releases its monthly issues, is way far to my pace in blogging about its activities. What we have here is another instalment from Gotham Comics, set #43, as its October 2007 release.

By far, this month editions turns out to be the best since their re-launch, with almost all major titles featuring the acclaimed writers and artists (Adam Kubert, Grant Morrisson, Geof Johns, you need not wish anything bigger than this), with some innovative and contemporary storylines, and with that Gotham has answered to the critics who disposed their last set as under-par story selection. Hope the trend continues.

1. Superman #43
Last Son : Part 1
Writer: Geof Johns & Richard Donner | Artist: Adam Kubert
2. Batman #43
Batman & Son : Part 1 : Building a Better Batmobile
Writer: Grant Morrisson | Artist: Andy Kubert
Superman 43 Batman 43
3. Wonder Woman #4 4. Teen Titans #15
Beast Boys and Girls : Part 3 : Changelings
Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Tom Grummett
Wonder Woman 04 Teen Titans 15
5. Ultimate Spiderman #36
Hollywood : Part 4 of 6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Mark Bagley
6. Incredible Hulk #32
Peace in our Time : Part 2

Writer: Daniel Way | Artist: Keu Cha
Ultimate Spiderman 36 Hulk 32
7. Wolverine #17
Agent of Shield : Part 2 of 6
Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: John Romita, Jr.
8. Astonishing X-Men #14
Writer: Joss Whedon | Artist: John Cassaday
Wolverine 17 Astonishing XMen 14
9. Fantastic Four #24
Writer: Mark Waid | Artist: Mike Wieringo
10. The New Avengers #27
The Sentry : Part 2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Steve McNiven
Fantastic Four 24 Avengers 27
11. Batman Adventures #37
Writer: Bill Matheny | Artist: Christopher Jones
12. Fantastic Four Adventures #8
It's Slobberin' Time!
Writer: Jeff Parker | Artist: Manuel Garcia
Batman Advts 37 Fantastic Four Advts 08
13. Justice League Adventures #36

Writer: Adam Beechen | Artist: Ethens Beavers
14. Spiderman Adventures #8
Doom with a View
Writer: Sean McKeever | Artist: Mike Norton
Justice League Advts 36 Spiderman Advts 08
15. Devi #7
Sandeha : Part 7
Writer: Samit Basu | Artist: Aditya Chari
16. Snake Woman #7
Writer: Zeb Wells | Artist: Dean Hyrapiet
Devi 07 Snake Woman 07
17. The Sadhu #7
Writer: Gotham Chopra | Artist: Manikandan
Sadhu 07

As I write this review, Gotham since their re-launch have missed their first monthly issue set this November. There seems to be some kind of issues which the Editorial team is facing at the moment, which is clearly evident the way the October release was delayed until the last week of the month, and the same has continued to swallow away the November release all together.

Gotham Officials weren't available to make a comment on the delay, and we could only hope that they come back better and stronger. Indian Comics Fans deserve better than what is currently in offer.

UPDATE (Dec '07): It looks Gotham has purposefully withheld the Nov & Dec Set releases, as they are contemplating on a price rise coupled with some more value add to their existing line-up, and plan to launch them in the new year.  So, what's in store for us could only be unveiled in the Jan 2008.  Let's hope it's better than what's currently in offer.

UPDATE (Sep '08): I thought that I would provide another update, as the older was nearly a year old. So as to keep those visiting fans abreast of the latest developments in Gotham Comics front. To say more, it's completely bleak since they last stopped publishing. Gotham officials, both at their subscription or marketing department, have declined to comment on a possible return date for Gotham Comics in India.

The New Subscribers who received less than two sets, have been returned their subscription amount, citing that they will be re-announcing the subscription plans after re-launch. For those subscribers, like me, who have received more than two sets, it was instructed that we continue to wait for the re-launch. As of this date, there are no announcements or plans. With the increased attention towards the Virgin Comics venture in US of the Gotham Studios, It looks that it will take eons for them to refresh their enthusiasm to Indian market again. Let's hope for the best.

Nov 14, 2007

Muthu Comics #307 - The Saint | John Steel | Sep '07

Finally, we have another release from Prakash Publishers. Expecting a release from Lion-Muthu Publishers have become a rarity of sorts, and that has become a self-designed-trademark - a dubious distinction among other comics publishers.

Muthu Comics #307 – The Saint | John Steel
Muthu 307 c1
2 Stories | 100 Pgs | INR 10 | B6
B/W | Laminated/Paperback

What we have in this release is two classic stories from 1960's, as stated by Editor, Roger Moore starring "Kaatril Karaintha Kathaanayagan (காற்றில் கரைந்த கதாநாயகன்)", and Agent John Steel starring "Kolai Koodam (கொலை கூடம்)", meaning 'Disappearance of Actor' and 'Slaughter House', respectively.

I guess Roger Moore stories were just an imitation to try copy the James Bond fame actors name and make money with it.  It fails miserably and doesn't contribute to a good storyline.  The artwork doesn't help the matter either.  I tried goggling any good source related to this piece of work, but with no success, until I came to know of The Saint Series.

THE SAINT: A fellow comic friend alerted me on the probable Saint TV Series (c) comicrelated.comSwedish origin for the Comics character christened as Roger Moore by Editor S.Vijayan in Muthu Comics  With that info, I could collect some background details about the series, and hence this update.

It was indeed an attempt to cash in the popularity of Roger Moore.

But instead on his James Bond rendition, it was originally based on his earlier successful stint reprising the role of Simon Templar, a British fictional character, also known as the The Saint because of his initials (ST), in the British Television series, screened from 1962 to 1969.

Leslie Charteris (c) saint.orgThe origins of the Saint can be traced from the early works of Leslie Charteris in his novels, in 1926.  Saint was portrayed as a thief, whose origins are unknown. He is known for his many disguises, where he uses the initials ST often referring to different names like, “Sebastian Tombs" or "Sugarman Treacle".

But even before the TV Series, Saint made its debut as a Comic Strip in 1948, written by Charteris, and drawn by Mike Roy initially.  Mike Roy had a classic style, which is quite common for the comic strips released during that period. 

The origins of the Saint can be traced from the early works of Leslie Charteris in his novels, in 1926.  Saint was portrayed as a thief, whose origins are unknown. He is known for his many disguises, where he uses the initials ST often referring to different names like, “Sebastian Tombs" or "Sugarman Treacle".

Saint Comic-Strip 1948 (c)

But even before the TV Series, Saint made its debut as a Comic Strip in 1948, written by Charteris, and drawn by Mike Roy initially.  Mike Roy had a classic style, which is quite common for the comic strips released during that period.

Mike Roy was replaced by John Spranger, who took the comic strip into a next level, with his superior and detailed artwork.  Look at a sample from 1952 comic strip, during the partnership between Charteris and Spranger. 

Saint Comic-Strip 1951 (c)

But, does the character look like Roger Moore, anyway.  The answer is clear “NO'”.  Then when did the turn happen?  Actually, it was when the series was introduced in a Swedish Newspaper in 1966.

swedish-comic-1969-08-smThe Swedish Comic Series titled Helgonet (which is Swedish translation of 'Saint'), was eventually started following the comic strip reprints.  The Comic Strips were edited to fit the Comic Book format, and it went on publishing the complete series which appeared originally in the New York Herald Tribune.  But they soon touched the rock-bottom, as the material shortage, prompted them to start their own new series based on the character.

This is when the British TV Series of Saint featuring Roger Moore was widely acclaimed, and Moore was praised for his role as the protagonist. So, to cash in on the popularity, the new Swedish Saint or Helgonet Comic Strips, were drawn with lead character having a striking resemblance of Roger Moore himself.  Have a look at a Sample Cover of the series.

The Saint Series, in Sweden, ran from January 1966 to December 1985.  Due to dwindling sales as a result of less creative artwork, and continuous reprints, The Saint Comics Series was later acquired by Semic Press, who went on a buying spree becoming the biggest series publishers in Sweden, until it wound up business in 1991, for the same reason as Saint Comics.  In 1997, Semic Press was bought over by Egmont, and the name is defunct thereafter.

But, whatever they did, the Swedish Comic publishers, never referred to their titular character as Roger Moore, which our Editor Vijayan, decided to utilise to market the series, which created all the more confusion in exploring the original series for me at Comicology.  Thanks to him :).

Muthu #307 Stories: Coming back to our this month instalment, the second hero of the issue, Agent John Steel's instalment does have a good detective storyline, but the artwork makes it more painful to get attached to the storyline.  I am not trying to be critic, but the fact cannot be ignored that 1960's also housed the golden comics like Spider, Barracuda (Lawrence & David), which boasted superior artwork.

Muthu 307 story2Muthu 307 story1So, the way these arts are drawn, only shows that these stories were never given the importance or was never intended for mass media.

The Front page scans of both stories given here, should substantiate that claim related to artwork, the fact that Muthu & Lion follows the low quality paper for all their printing (which doesn't help the matters either).

I am not against reading classic stories in Muthu Comics, In fact it can be said that is the unique differentiator of Muthu Comics all along. 

But I strongly believe that the amount of time which is spent on waiting for new releases should be substantiated with a proper storyline.  With this release, that wish is not fulfilled.

Muthu 307 Comics TimeMuthu #307’s Extra Features & Facts: Eventhough Editor, S.Vijayan, time and again re-iterates that he does consider Muthu and Lion Comics as equal, the fact remains that Muthu Comics has always played second fiddle to Lion Comics. 

This is quite evident, when we look at the release statistics of both the comics since their re-launch in 2002.

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Lion 6 8 6 4 4* 3*
Muthu 5 5 4 4 4 2
Total 11 13 10 8 8 5

The numbers with * denotes that there was a special issue in that year which is included with the count.  Both instance being Lion's INR 100/- special issues.

The numbers should speak for themselves.  This year being the worst that we have only 5 releases put-together on a whole.  It seems Editor is content with releasing one special issue a year, followed by one or two releases here and there.

Muthu 307 next1Muthu 307 next3It would be better if Editor publicly announce that Muthu and Lion Comics would only be published in alternative months, thus at least giving some semblance to keep waiting for the releases.

One of the bright spots of Muthu Comics is the Comics Time feature from our Editor, through which we get to understand what's in for the coming releases, and also a foreword from a great comic fan.

As per the norm, we get to see a preview of upcoming releases lined up in Muthu. Going by the trend they will be the only 2 releases for 2008.

Being the only Tamil Comics alive at the moment, we only have to hope that they do get released early.

SA21 The Mind Machine(Micro Alaivarisai 848)SA03 The Devil's Secret(Mali Kottai Marmam)Since, Editor Vijayan utilized the Fleetway library covers for this The Saint edition (as briefed in Muthufan's blog and refurnished here), I wasn't able to exactly pin-point on the original edition.

As it turns out that we have a huge set of Saint Series to tap-into, if Muthu Comics decides to continue this franchise in Tamil Comics.  Would they? is a Million Dollar Question.

By the way, if you want to read and know more about The Saint Series, visit the exclusive website: Saint.Org. Adios Amigos!

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