Dec 25, 2009

Amar Chitra Katha #10003 – Jesus Christ – 2008

We are back into a seasoned time, lit up by smiles and joy abound on the faces and hearts of one and all. Yes It’s that time of the year, when the religious barriers take a back seat, and people know only one way to spread their joy, by sharing it with others. The Christmas eve.

In staying with the spirit of the occasion, here at Comicology, we are going to review a title which owes much to the celebration. And there is no surprise, that we eventually had to choose one of the legendary issues to have been released by the golden oldie, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), retelling the life and struggle of Jesus Christ.

By 1978, after being in business for nearly a decade, ACK had established themselves as the leading comics brand of India, with as many as 200+ titles to boast of a incredible line-up, which covered as many genres as possible, ranging from the Historical Legends, Warriors, to National Leaders, and Folktales.

But they weren’t the one to sit on the achievements, as they realized the need to try out newer horizons, and in the process break-away from the mould of 30 odd pages per release, which had become a de-facto standard for all International comics businesses. This restraint, was even evident in their longest running series Mahabharata, which incidentally was broken over 42 single issues.

Amar Chitra Katha #10003 – Jesus Christ 
ACK-10003 Jesus Christ c1 
June 2008 | 96 Pgs | INR 80 | B5 | Color | Paperback

So, they decided to start a special series, leaving their monthly issues intact, which saw them releasing two titles eventually in 1978 - Dasha Avatar, retelling the 10 Incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and Valmiki’s Ramayana.

But, this change wasn’t a pretty successful one, as more number of pages in a single issue meant, obviously a higher price tag. Since, much of the readership of ACK that time was built on by targeting the younger readership, who relied on their parents to get these issues for them, they had to be content with the regular issues, as the middle class family life, didn’t allow the parents to honour the steep price increase.

But, ACK Management, under the governance of India Book House (IBH), weren’t going to let their Special issue concept die down. They eventually followed up with another Special release in 1980, which this time touched another sect of people of India. This special issue, was the eventual first publishing of Jesus Christ.

We don’t know how successful this special venture business turned out for ACK that time, as after this release they never ventured on a special issue again until the 21st century. (The only contradiction was the 3 set volumes collecting the entire Mahabharata series.)

But, it was no doubt a cherished issue among comic collectors, which brought the incredibly talented artist Pratap Mulick, into more limelight. In June 2008, under the newly formed management, ACK republished this special issue, which is the version we are going to review in our post.

Title opens up with Christ's messageMulick's rendition of the God The script for the title was written by a scholar,
Dr. Drakshathota Aruliah, which was brought into life by Pratap Mulick, under the guidance of Anant Pai.

The story starts with the year 740 B.C., revisiting the God’s appearance before Prophet Isaiah, and directing him as the messenger to foretell, the coming of God’s own son, to the earthlings.

Worried Joseph confronted by Messenger The scene then shifts to Palestine, which was then ruled by the tyrant Roman king, Herod.  In a town called Nazareth, a young maiden, Mary, is visited by the holy messenger Gabriel, conveying to her that she will bear the God’s son. A Birth of the Childconfused Joseph, to whom Mary is betrothed too, is also visited by Gabriel, upon which he decides to adopt Mary and her unborn child.

Visited by MercenariesWhile Mary was still pregnant, they had to visit Bethlehem, where after failing to find a place to stay, they decide to spend the night at a stable out of the town, where eventually Mary gives birth to a child. Mary decides to call the child as Jesus, touted to be the Hope of Israel.

Soon after, a hoard of shepherds visit the stable, having come to know of the divine The wrath of Herodbirth, who are then joined by three messengers, who followed a star, which was to lead them to the future King of Israel.

These new uproar, turn the the tyrant king Herod restless, and after his misattempts to find the sacred one, he orders to kill all infants, aged less then two years, in and around Bethlehem.

This makes Joseph and Mary to flee the town, and escape to Egypt, but the Jesus shows his Knowledgepoor souls of Bethlehem, had to face the wrath of the king, by being witness to their newborn murdered right in front of their eyes. Some years later, after hearing upon King’s death, Joseph and Mary settle back in Nazareth, where Jesus grows up to be a studious boy.

Jesus Baptised Jesus shows incredible wealth of knowledge, even in his tender age, and is respected among one and all. But he continues to remain restless over a bigger things awaiting him, having sensed his divine birth.

He continues his father’s carpentry business, and the age of 30, he was  Jesus returns Devil's OfferBaptised by a new preacher called John, near the river Jordan.

Before his gathering Having filled with the holy spirit, he visits the nearby mountains, where he is coaxed by the Devil, but returns with his holy self to preach about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Where he also finds his first 12 disciples, which includes Simon, Andrew, and others.

Problems starts Followed by his disciples, Jesus visits town after town, where he showcases his divine power, by raising the dead, and possessed, back to life. This makes more poorer souls to come to him, to whom Jesus preaches the way of true happiness, and the importance of Faith and Prayer.

During this time he also promises to his followers that he will rise again as the king Jesus declares the Arrivalof the world, obviously referring to his origin. These preaching's irate the other Priests, who feel that their teachings and way of life, are being put to shame, by this newcomer, whom they feel his trying to make himself as the Judge of the whole world.

This growing unrest, and division of ranks, results in the irate Priests, to Judas betraysdisallow all of them who follow Jesus, from entering the sacred temples, governed by them. And Jesus starts preaching to his disciples, that the day won’t be far when he would be buried by them, due to their hatred, but promises to rise back from grave, as promised before.

Jesus and his TestsAs suspected, the council of high priests, decide to arrest Jesus, for his preaching's against their beliefs, and they bribe Judas, one of his  disciples, to identify Jesus for the lawmakers do their job. With Judas’s betrayal, Jesus is finally arrested after a supper, which he pre-called as the Last one.

Father and Son reuniteJesus is then led by the high priests to the Roman Governor, Pilate, who fears that the divine presence bestowed on him, would make him a sinner,  if he does punish him as per the High priests. So he lets the public decide on his fate, whom, having been coaxed by the Priests, orders a severe punishment, which sees Jesus being scourged and then finally led to his crucification.

The Awakening The madness finally come to the end, with Jesus leaving his holy body, after being crucified. He is put to rest in a tomb, where the Priests manage to put guards on duty to block his disciples from stealing the body, to prove that he has risen from death.

Heavenly Bound But his premonitions, come true, as Jesus comes back to life from his tomb, and visits all his disciples, and advises them to spread his preaching and message to all the world. He promises that he will be with them till the end of time, before leaving for his heavenly home.

His disciples are then shown to travel the world and beyond to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, and show them the path to holy living.

Thus ends, this incredibly drawn, retelling saga of Jesus Christ. ACK’s professionalism, and the belief to stay true the legends and common beliefs, was best explained in the way in which they portrayed the life of Jesus Christ within this 90 and odd pages, which were only brought into reality, with the sketches of talented, late Mulick sahab.

The issue is more significant, as since the days I first read it, I am yet to see a Jesus Christ graphic novel, which even filled 10% of what was told in this ACK issue, leaving aside the quality of the artwork in those attempts, which is best left rather than being talked about.

It’s really saddening, to not find much details about this greatest artist, which is a similar story for all the Indian creators of this medium in the bygone era. One of the reasons, for which I am eagerly looking forward to the long planned Chitrakatha Documentary project, which is sure to set things straight, by bringing these creators life into limelight.

Till then we can only hope to celebrate this talented artist, by buying this ACK edition. For which you only have to reach out to your nearby bookshop, or order them through the ACK store. One advantage, of ACK has always been their reprints, which makes these classic titles immune, to run out of stock.

But talking of which, it’s the same strategy which also leads us to a position where the golden oldie ACK, always remains only in our memories, as they never venture on adding any new titles to their stable. If only the visionaries like Anant Pai would have been at the helm of the business, things could have been much different.

Original: Even though this ACK title, Jesus Christ, was published in June 2008, as noted above, this edition is a reprint of the one originally published in 1980. As you Ack #3 (1980)could see, the cover has been digitally re-mastered for the 2008 edition, which has resulted in a better presentation, celebrating the artwork, of the talented Pratap Mulick.

ACK 10003 Foreword (2008)ACK Special #3 Foreword (1980)There is only one change from the original, a carefully removed reference of India Book House (then owner of ACK brand), in the Foreword written by Cardinal Lawrence, the then President, of Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s Indian chapter.

The foreword by such higher authority of Christianity, boasts well on the fact that, ACK hasn’t compromised any of the legitimacy while retelling the life of Christ. Something for which, the ACK brand is renowned even now.

SM-19881125  Yesunaathar AdvtJesus Christ in Tamil: My first encounter with this remarkable issue, was not in its original form, but as a serialized feature in the South Indian Tamil weekly for kids, Siruvar Malar. As discussed during our Flashback post on Malar, it then had a long running business deal with ACK, through their Rang Rekha Features syndicates. This deal allowed them access to their wide variety of classical series, among which Jesus Christ was one.

So, it was first advertised in their weekly issue, dated 25-Nov-1988, and SM-19881202  Yesunaathar covereventually started in their next issue, cover dated, 02-Dec-1988, as a 4 page feature. The entire issue was then serialized into 24 weekly episodes.

Look at the cover of the Siruvar Malar, which started the series. Malar generally reserves their cover for publishing the “reader sent” kids photographs, but the significance of such a big series meant, that Christ duly took his place on the cover. I believe the artwork was done by the renowned local artist, Aras.

The series was titled as Yesunaathar (இயேசுநாதர்), and boasted one of the best translations you could see in Tamil language, a fact for which Siruvar Malar had garnered a huge reputation among the children's, including myself. The present state of which, is something best left to remain in the backburner. It’s a poor shadow of its glorious past, and I am only sympathetic towards the current generation of kids, who have to witness this sub-standard quality of magazines, thrown at them. No wonder, they despise them for the Video games, and TV movies.

Nevertheless, here is the first episode as it was published in Siruvar Malar, to witness the translation on your own.

SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p01SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p02SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p03SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p04

The only difference to the entire series, was the last page which was published in the 24th episode, SM-19890512 Yesunaathar e24p04which I haven’t seen either in the 1980 or 2008 edition of ACK. Could it have been created by our local artists ? I doubt, since the details of the panel are pretty professional. If you know, please share your findings with us.

The Passion of Christ The only rendition in the bigger screen, I remember to have seen, close to this ACK venture, was Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ. The torture scenes portrayed in the film, especially the one charged on Jesus in the trial court, is something you would never forget in your life.

But, the fact that those real sufferings have shown the Path of Light for so many ardent followers, emphasizes the significance of Christmas eve. Those sufferings didn’t go vain.

With that note, I conclude my post on this ACK title, which I hope would have been a good read, for those who spent their valuable time, in browsing through my blah-blah :).

Before I close, here is wishing you all a Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays, along with your nears and dears. I leave you with some of the artworks, which garnered my attention in the local newspapers, in spirit of the occassion. Adios Amigos !

Jesus 00 Jesus 01 Jesus 02Jesus 03

References: John Thompson’s ACK Index

22 ComiComments:


என்ன ஒரு அற்புதமான பதிவு. கிறிஸ்துமஸ் காலத்தை ஒட்டி, சிறப்பான ஒரு பதிவை உங்கள் லாவண்யமிகு மொழி நடையில் அழகாகக் கோர்த்திருக்கிறீர்கள்.

ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பின் முதல் பக்கத்தில் கிறிஸ்து வழங்கிய செய்தியை மட்டும் மனித குலம் புரிந்து கொண்டிருக்குமானால் இந்த உலகம் அன்பால் நிரம்பியிருக்கும்.

ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பின் பக்கங்கள் மிகச்சிறப்பாக உள்ளன என்பது என் தாழ்மையான கருத்து.

மெல்கிப்ஸனின் படம் சர்சைகளை ஏற்படுத்தியிருந்தாலும் அது என் மனதிலும் தாக்கத்தை உருவாக்க தவறவில்லை. வன்முறை என்பது எக்காலத்திலும் தன் குரூரத்தை அழகுடன் பேணியே வாழ்ந்திருக்கிறது.

உங்கள் சிறப்பான பதிவுகளில் இதுவும் ஒன்று அன்பு நண்பரே. இருப்பினும் மரிய மதலேனாளை இருட்டடிப்பு செய்து விட்டீர்களே :))

Merry Christmas and congratulations for producing such a nice post as this is.You have realized this post exactly in the same format which i have ever thought for CW,i.e.,discussing about the creative and technical aspect of that very comic.
Its also sad to accept that these comic artists didn't got that recognition and accolades of which they were quite capable of,the main reason behind it being the consideration of comics for only children in India,which prevented reaching this 9th art to a elder and wider Indian audience.

This is an incredible post. Lucid and imaginative. The number of pictures included tells the amount of labour put into the creation of this post.

Very interestingly told. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

I am also looking for more info about the legendary artist associated with ACK series. Pratap Mulick is one of the finest among them.

Trying to post again. Merry Chrismas and happy new year. Lovely seasonal post. Ab dua kaara hun ki job promotion related comics searching, you will have to start soon. Writing about comics having the birth and childhood of heroes (and heroines!) we will postpone for some time. :)

வணக்கம் ராஃபிக்,

AKCன் வாழ்க்கை வரலாறு வரிசை அனைத்தும் சிறப்பான வெளியீடுகள். அம்பேத்கர், காந்தி, டாடா போன்றவை நான் படித்து ரசித்தவை.. கிறிஸ்த்துவ மத வரலாற்றை பெரிய பெரிய வரலாற்று புத்தகங்களை கொண்டு தெரிந்து கொள்வதை விட AKC மூலம் படிப்பது இனிய அனுபவமாக இருக்கும் என எண்ணுறேன்.

இந்தியாவில் கிறிஸ்த்துவ மதத்தை promote செய்யும் நோக்கில் கிறிஸ்த்துவ அமைப்புகள் மூலம் வெளியிடப்பட்டிருக்கும் இலவச தமிழ் சித்திரக்கதை புத்தகங்கள் சில படித்திருக்கிறேன். அவையும் நல்ல collection.

அனைவருக்கும் இனிய புத்தாண்டு வழ்த்துகள்

really a good review. advance new year wishes to you all my friends!.

அன்பு நண்பரே,

அழகான மொழி நடையில் கிறிஸ்மஸ் பதிவினை எழுதியிருக்கிறீர்கள். அமர் சித்திரக் கதையில் ஜீசஸ் கதைகளை நான் இதுவரை படித்ததில்லை. ஷங்கர் சொல்வது போல ஆங்கில மொழி பெயர்ப்பு நன்றாக இருக்கிறது. தமிழியில் நிறைய செயற்கை தன்மை தெரிகிறது.

இனிய புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துகள்.

@ காதலன்: காதலரே, நற்செய்திகளை புறம்தள்ளி விட்டு, மதங்களின் கோட்பாடுகளை மட்டும் முன்னிலைபடுத்துவது நமது ஜனங்களுக்கு பழகி போன விடயம் தானே. அதற்கு இந்த புத்தகமும் விதிவிலக்கல்ல, மெல்கிப்ஸனின் படமும்

புத்தகத்தில் மரிய மதலேனாளை இருட்டிப்பு செய்திருக்கிறார்கள், இல்லையென்றால் இந்த புத்தகங்கள் தீக்கிரையாக்கபட்டு இருக்குமே. இல்லை, கார்டினலின் முன்னுரையை தான் அவர்கள் பெற்றிருக்க முடியுமா. அமர் சித்திர கதையின் பெருமை கருதி, அதை நான் இங்கு பெரிதுபடுத்தவில்லை. அதற்கு இன்னொரு பதிவை இட்டு விடலாம், தனியாக :)

மதங்களை தாண்டி மனித நேயங்கள் வளரும் நாள் வெகு தொலைவில் இல்லை, எனறு நான் நம்புகிறேன். காலம் தாழ்ந்த வாழ்த்து என்றாலும், கிறிஸ்துமஸ் வாழ்த்துகள், நண்பரே. :)

@ Comic World: Zaheer Bhai, hope you had a good quality time with your family on the Xmas holidays.

We all were grown up reading these classic ACK's, so no wonder, we thought alike, when we were planning to cover these classic titles in our review.

I hope that Indian Comics artists, will get their due credit sooner. When it happens, 9th Art in India, would have gotten its fair share of limelight, and it's long pending due credit.

@ TPH: We all love the comics medium, and when I talk about a comic, how could I leave those pictures away. :) It was hard work, but also satisfactory at a personal level. Good to see friends like you appreciate the same.

Pratap Mulick is undoubtedly one of the finest, along with Ram Waerkar. When the Toonfactor's Chitrakatha project seems the limelight, we would all benefit out of their hard work, and hopefully these Indian creators and their likes, will get their fair share of credits.

Thanks for your comment and visit, dear friend.

@ KK: Merry Xmas & Holidays, to you and your family too, my friend.

Job Promotion related comics searching... uske liye to abhi bhi intejaar karna padega mere dost. Jaise birth and childhood heroes ka intejaar karenge, waise :)

Hope you didn't face much trouble in commenting, dear friend. Sometimes Blogger behaves badly, but being a free service, we can't complain much. :)

@ Siv: உண்மையே நண்பரே. சரித்திர பாட புத்தகங்களின் படித்து தெரிந்து கொண்ட நாயகர்களை விட, நான் அதிகம் கவரபட்டது அமர் சித்திர கதைகளின் வெளியீடுகளில் தான். பாட புத்தகங்களும் இப்படி படங்கள் சார்ந்த ஒன்றாக இருந்தால், எவ்வளவு நன்றாக இருந்திருக்கும் என்று நான் இன்றும் எண்ணி கொள்வேன். எழுத்துகள் நிறைந்த புத்தகங்கள் இன்றும் என்னை களேபர படுத்த தான் செய்கின்றன... தொட்டில் பழக்கம் இல்லையா :)

நானும் நீங்கள் கூறிப்பிடும் அந்த மிஸனரி புத்தகங்களை படித்திருக்கிறேன். சிலவற்றில் ஓவியங்கள் அப்படியே ஆயில் பெயின்டிங்க போல தென்படும். இப்போது அவற்றை போன்றவைகள் வெளிவராதது துரதிஷ்டமே.

இன்னொரு பதிவு புத்தாண்டிற்கு முன்பு உள்ளது என்றாலும், வாழ்த்து சொல்வதில் என்ன கணக்கு :). உங்களுக்கும் உங்கள் குடும்பத்தினருக்கும் இனிய புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துகள் அமையட்டும் நண்பரே.

பி,கு,: உங்கள் புதிய Display Picture தேர்வு அருமை. ஆர்டின் ஒய்யாரமாக போஸ் கொடுத்து கொண்டிருக்கிறார்...

@ Cap Tiger: Thanks for your comment, friend. And wish you too a Happy New Year. There is another post waiting for you right here before the new year dawns :)

@ Josh: நீங்கள் கூறுவது முற்றிலும் சரி. ஆங்கில மூலத்தில், சற்று மதம் சாராத பாணி தெளிவாக தெரிகிறது... அதற்கு காரணம், அனேகமாக ஆனந்த் பாய்யின் மேற்பார்வையாக இருக்கலாம். அமர் சித்திர கதைகளின் முதல் இந்திய வெளியீடான கிருஷ்னா தொடரில் கூட, முதலில் அதிகமான அதிசயங்களை அவர் வெளியிட மறுத்தார் என்று ஒரு செய்தியும் உண்டு. எனவே, அவர் மதசார்பை இந்த இயேசு கிறிஸ்து தொடரிலும், தவிர்த்திருக்க முயற்சித்திருக்கலாம்.

நமது சிறுவர் மலரில் அந்த கட்டுபாடு இல்லையென்பதால், அவர்கள் மொழியாக்கங்களின் அந்த செயற்கைதனம் கூடி கொண்டது போல. சிறு வயதில் படித்தபடியால், என்னால் அப்போது குறைகளை காண முடியவில்லை. ஆனால், இப்போது அது அப்பட்டமாக தெரிகிறது.

கருத்திற்கும் வருகைக்கும் நன்றி நண்பரே. உங்களுக்கும் இனிய புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துகள், உரித்தாகட்டும்.

Sorry for late comment!

Thanks for nice article!

Rafig bhai, I'm absolutely agree with you about the art & the artist. The art work is one of best among available comics about Jesus. However, I feel story is above good, but below excellent.

With minor modification, the new ACK cover is looking very attractive.

I always wonder about reddish coloring of comics in southern India. Can you explain?

Hi friends,

I am fan of danger diaboliK(lion comics). I want to collect that book for my collection, if anybody give me, for that i will give you old muthu comics 3 books, between 1 to 100, for exchange purpose only, if anybody interested drop me mail on my id:

@ PBC: Dear Prabhat Bhai, I agree with you too. The story could have been better presented, as it lacked the screenplay for Perfection. The story wasn't divided properly into segments, which should have given equal amount of time, for each phase in Jesus's life. Instead, it was more heavy on the Charismatic accounts which is often associated with him, then the struggles which should have been portrayed far more to a greater extent, as those are the ones which needs to be passed on to next generation as lessons.

All the credit of the cover art should go to the one and only Pratap Mulick Sahab, without which the modern photo editors wouldn't have stood a chance to show them in better limelight.

On the reddish coloring stuff: If you had referred to the overall color of the paper (as noticed in the whiter segments) then they are because of the pulpy condition at which these comics are available with me. In the contrary, if you had referred to the single color choice (which in this case is darker orange, then that's a common coloring aspect used in most weekly, or monthly magazines in Tamil Comics, when using multiple colors used to be a luxury and cost-consuming activity. So, publishers either decided to utilise one single color prints, or double-color prints, on alternative pages, with full color decoarting the remaining. A cost saving measure, which undoubtedly denies the pleasure viewing your favorite comic, in all blown full color :).

For instance, have a look at another Comic series, which was published in the same magazine, which adopts the same color theme. Survival Comic Series on Siruvar Malar

By the way Bro, you can take all the time in the world, to comment, as what matter is the intent to passback the feedback then the time to taken to do so :)

@ Aslam: Wish you all the luck, on your comics search.

thank you for this article.

thank you for this article.


என்ன ஒரு அற்புதமான பதிவு. கிறிஸ்துமஸ் காலத்தை ஒட்டி, சிறப்பான ஒரு பதிவை உங்கள் லாவண்யமிகு மொழி நடையில் அழகாகக் கோர்த்திருக்கிறீர்கள்.

ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பின் முதல் பக்கத்தில் கிறிஸ்து வழங்கிய செய்தியை மட்டும் மனித குலம் புரிந்து கொண்டிருக்குமானால் இந்த உலகம் அன்பால் நிரம்பியிருக்கும்.

ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பின் பக்கங்கள் மிகச்சிறப்பாக உள்ளன என்பது என் தாழ்மையான கருத்து.

மெல்கிப்ஸனின் படம் சர்சைகளை ஏற்படுத்தியிருந்தாலும் அது என் மனதிலும் தாக்கத்தை உருவாக்க தவறவில்லை. வன்முறை என்பது எக்காலத்திலும் தன் குரூரத்தை அழகுடன் பேணியே வாழ்ந்திருக்கிறது.

உங்கள் சிறப்பான பதிவுகளில் இதுவும் ஒன்று அன்பு நண்பரே. இருப்பினும் மரிய மதலேனாளை இருட்டடிப்பு செய்து விட்டீர்களே :))

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