Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

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Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

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Chennai Book Fair - 2011

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Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

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

Feb 22, 2009

Muthu Comics #311 – Buck Ryan | The Saint | Feb '09

Muthu #311 – Buck Ryan
Muthu 311 Buck Ryan Cover 
120 Pgs | INR 10 | B6 | B/W Laminated/Paperback

The entire world might have celebrated the New year 2009 in January, but for Tamil Comic fans, it had to happen only in the mid of February.  The reason, our beloved Prakash Publishers (PP), have launched their first comics edition of 2009, in the form of Muthu #311. 

Muthu #310, starring Martin Mystery, was released way back in Oct’08, and the last release from publishers, Lion #205, was in Nov’08.  So, it is the longest break once again for Tamil Comic fans, which by now I believe everyone would have got accustomed to.

I finally received my Muthu copy on 13/02, after numerous calls to Lion/Muthu Office enquiring about the edition, as some fans had claimed that they received their subscription copy weeks back. 

The reason behind this confusion, as I came to know of was that our publishers had received a sample set (of 20 copies) from their binders, and in “good spirit” they decided to courier them to select people first-up.

Obviously, I was not fortunate enough (or may be not in the elite club) to receive this initial dispatch, and had to wait a couple of weeks for receiving the same.

Muthu 311 Comics Time But it is definite, that our publishers would be refraining in future to send this batch release, as they would have surely got bugged by the enthusiastic readers’ repeated calls and queries on the availability of this comics issue :).

It’s a double bonanza, as it contains two classic stories from the 1960’s, with

  • Buck Ryan (christened in Tamil Comics as Detective Julian) starring Norungiya Naanal Marmam (நொறுங்கிய நாணல் மர்மம்); and
  • James Bond fame Roger moore starrer, Paavamai Oru Puli (பாவமாய் ஒரு புலி).

Here is the Editor’s own Comics-Time, where he puts-over his take on these classical stories.

Editor also silently describes the big debate which we had over the Martin Mystery stories continuity, with a hint that we may never see him again in Muthu.  We had earlier discussed in our last Muthu Comics review, about Editor Vijayan exhausting all the English editions of Martin Mystery so far in our comics.  So the great debate is answered, and I for one will be disappointed, as I felt Martin stories as a star attraction for Muthu Comics, which added all the more oomph factor for the otherwise most classic reprints, for which Muthu Comics has been now renowned for.

By now, everyone would have got their copies of Muthu 311, so let’s look at the storylines in detail for this Muthu extravaganza, on the way detailing the creators behind these series.

Bucky Ryan Story

Buck Ryan aka Detective Julian, needs no introductions for Tamil comic fans, as he has made a couple of appearances in Muthu Comics earlier.

In this issue Ryan explores mysteries surrounding a series of kidnapping cases targeting the elite and the rich. The act is done so swiftly that some of the kidnappings even happen when the police force are right at the crime scene.  Readers are left to wonder and ponder how this hideous crimes are committed without any traces.

But typical to Ryan’s style, he starts probing by piecing together the little evidences he gets around the crime scenes (for e.g., exploring a broken thistle) and figuring them out with other incidents happening around the city. 

Ryan exploringIt should be noted that, Ryan gets a massive assist from unlikely sources, like people coming into complain about their problems, which makes his job even more easy, as he finally nabs the mysterious mob boss at his own layer. (Actually, the suspense of who the mob boss was long revealed by an advertisement featured in Last Muthu Comics.  Maybe, Editor didn’t think of it back-then).

Ryan gets help from Unlikely sources

Censorship by our Artists

In between we get to see some sweet moments, like our local artists handwork on enforcing the censorship, without compromising the panels (which has become a de-facto standard for our Lion-Muthu editions), Julia’s Indian Saree Act (proud to see a reference to Indian females, even though Julia’s feeling that the cloth is too small for a Saree, might have been proven wrong, if the story was written at the present modern era pioneered by Indian actresses on silver screen).

Jula's Indian ActRyan packs a surprise of his own by playing as a dead body to enter the mob’s secret place.  I should say I was surprised with this turning point, credits goes to artist-writer duo.

By the way, did anyone notice a probable reason why our editor decided to name Buck Ryan as Detective Julian? I believe he might have wanted it to rhyme closely with his assistant named Jula.

Julians Dead ActAlso, the reasons may be that he would have wanted to avoid naming him with his original name, as Buck Ryan was already introduced by erstwhile Rani Comics to Tamil comics fans, as Raayan (ராயன்), closely rhyming with his real name. 

But, long time Tamil Comic fans would have noticed that the Artwork is pretty different between these instalments of Buck Ryan stories, which has valid reasons, for which we will explore more on this classic comics hero’s origins.

Buck Ryan (c) Buck Ryan was original created as a fictional young private investigator, to be featured as a comic strip for UK’s Daily Mirror Newspaper.  The creator of the series was writer Don Freeman and artist Jack Monk.

Don Freeman (real name, John Henry Gordon Freeman) (1903-1972), was the youngest of three children's to his parents, all of whom surprisingly had an inept interest towards writing stories right from their childhood.   Freeman was the first among them to get his creations published for other audience, by joining Daily Mirror, at the early age of 15, initially as an Office-boy.  But he was known to have contributed to the children's page of the newspaper as early as 1922. 

Don Freeman (c) eagle-timesHe became assistant to Bertram. J. Lamb, who as "Uncle Dick" was the editor of the Mirror’s children’s pages, and he provided story lines to many of the titular characters featured in these pages. Shortly before, Lamb’s death in 1938, he took over as "Uncle Dick”, and continued to use the pseudonym for many of his creations, even though he also started attaching his name to few of them here and there.  Freeman had an unique knack of writing scripts, which unlike other writers, were not just limited to series of text.  In fact, his technique heavily relied on “rough” out the story, sketching it in “pencil” with his visualizations.  This proved a great help to artists, who were able to grasp his works to their style, with his visual plots.

Jack Monk (b.1901) on the other hand started his career as an artist initially with UK’s Daily Express, creating a couple of comic strips for them.  He eventually joined Daily Mirror, where he forged a long successful partnership with Don Freeman.  Both of them initially worked together in adapting Edgar Wallace’s Terror Keep cult-classic, into comic-strip form.  Eventhough, highly appreciated, the series couldn’t continue long, as it ended up with copyright disagreements.  This is when the creators duo, planned to create a comic-strip series of their own, and the result was Buck Ryan, a brown-curly haired, young British investigator fighting crimes, and bringing the wrongs to justice.

The Daily Mirror The series ran in Daily Mirror from March 22, 1937 to July 1962, a tremendous run of 25 long years.  Now that highlights why Ryan is shown with different art-styles, as there is a strong possibility that Monk wouldn’t have been the artist for all those lengthy years when the script ran.  It could also be from the fact that 25 glorious years would have given Monk a lengthy hand to try and improve on his artwork over.  But it should be noted that Buck Ryan was indeed a British classic comic strip, to be rated among the great fictional comic detectives of his time.

buckryan09 (c) continued to script more comic series like Jane, Belinda Blue Eyes (both of which are often rated for adults for explicit content), and Garth (whom Indrajal & Rani Comics are more familiar with).  Monk also moved on to Fleetway and D.C.Thomson, in the process creating more comic series like ‘Commander Cockle’, ‘Inspector Jelicoe’, etc.

By far, Buck Ryan continues to add glory to these two great creators from British Golden Age of Comics.  No wonder our Editor S.Vijayan finds a place for this comic series time and again in his line-up.

This particular story of Muthu Comics, was collected in a Comic Book format in Australia, by a Comics titled “World Famous Comics”.  Here is a cover of that Original, which was #9 in that series.

The recent 118 and odd page of Muthu & Lion Comics standard, prompts that Buck Ryan’s typical 60 to 70 page adventures aren’t enough to fill up the pages.  So, we have an un-announced surprise appearance in form of James Bond fame Roger Moore, in another adventure of his.

charteris (c) Charteris-LastHero (c) mysteryfile.comWe had earlier described the origins related to The Saint series, created by Leslie Charteris, which was christened as Roger Moore, by Mr.Vijayan in Muthu Comics.  For the new-comers, here is a link where I have detailed the complete history of Saint Series in Comics form, while we reviewed Muthu #307, which also featured Saint as Roger Moore, in one of its stories. 

Have a read, before you proceed further with this new instalment of Saint in Muthu Comics, as it contains a write-up about why our Editor decided to name him as Roger Moore.

Saint Story

Paavamaai Oru Puli (பாவமாய் ஒரு புலி, another wonderful title by our Editor), which is the 2nd story of Muthu #311, details another Saint adventure, where he tries to decode a mysterious death of his rich friend Laila. 

During a party hosted at her palace, Laila decides to entertain her guests by playing as a Ring Master, along with her ageing Tiger pet, a sombre animal to say least. 

But, in a sudden rage, the pet tiger kills her, during the show.  Saint’s later probe reveals that the unexpected rage was actually caused by a chemically filled air-gun shot, brewing the suspicion surrounding her death.

The immediate heirs as per Laila’s will, are interrogated and the blame-game, and twists (for which Saint series are known for), unfolds in the following pages. 

Overall, it’s another classic suspense thriller, which will make every Muthu Comics fan proud.

Laila is attacked by her PetThere were some sweet moments in-between, like:

- Saint confronts the seemingly arrogant cousin of Laila, by giving her a witty reply, for her derogatory talk.

- Laila’s statement during her death-bed, to not kill her pet, as she believes it was forced to that rage, highlighting her good nature.

- Saint swiftly finds the evidence of Air-Gun by exploring the Armoury cum Firing Range located at the palace, all the while talking to a murder suspect.

Saint's Witty ResponseThese speaks volume on the effort of writer-artist duo, who were able to capture the essence and style of the hit Saint TV Series, upon which the comics were later inspired in the second innings.

Saint is supposed to be a cunning Thief as per his original characterization. But, since Roger Moore played his role, it seems they decided to wipe of that origin and present him in equals to a private investigator.  That’s how all his later adventures are portrayed as.

Saint explores Armoury

But, did anyone notice that the Roger Moore aka Saint series featured in the different titles of Prakash Publishers namely Muthu Comics, Lion Comics, and Thigil Comics, all had different styles of drawing.  Even the last Muthu series where Saint was featured, had a different art-style, about which I had expressed my reservations

But, surprisingly this Muthu Comics Saint title’s artwork is quite standardized, but it still doesn’t look like one drawn by Santiago Martín Salvador, who was the main artist of Saint Series in Sweden (and has previous experience of working on James Bond Comics itself, which explains his James Bond style artwork for Saint series too). 

Obviously, there could have been a host of artists for the series, seeing its long run during its second innings.  Hopefully, Editor would pick only from these pool of work, where the artwork is creditable, while selecting future Saint titles for Muthu Comics.

Muthu 311 c2 MuthuComics144VinvelikKollaiyar Overall, Muthu’s current issue is a Classic Collector’s item to behold, for all Tamil Comic fans.  And Editor does leave us with a block-buster announcement that the forthcoming Comics Classics will feature the original size of Steel Claws Superhero act published decades back. 

As promising it may look like, I would have hoped him to have chosen a classic Steel Claw story, rather than a cheap imitation of Superhero genre by Steel Claw, which marked the demise of this wonderful British Comic-Strip. 

But, for the sheer reason that Editor is trying to re-introduce the A4 Size in Comics Classics (he tried it once last time for another Steel Claw adventure, but had cited poor sales as a reason for not continuing the same), let’s welcome the issue.  Here is the cover of the original Muthu edition of the same title. If you can read Tamil, then don’t miss out from checking out Comics Doctor’s full-blown preview for the Steel Claw issue, here.

Muthu #312 PreviewTalking about Comics Classics, the back-cover highlights the last Comics Classics edition published in October last year, Comics Classics #23.  Mr. Vijayan is known for pre-producing the covers for many future issues, even before the issue is translated or in-production.  So that may be the reason for this late advertisement.

As per the norm, we get to see the forthcoming Muthu Comics advertisement, which features one of my favourite childhood classics magician Mandrake (Lee Falk’s another master-works).  Fans of erstwhile Indrajal Comics would remember that this story was featured in there issues back then, including Tamil.  But it’s one classic you would want to read again.

Also, Editor lines up Reporter Johny (Johny Hazard) and Wing Commander George’s series as the probable issues following Mandrake adventure.  Let’s see how long does it take for us to see those issues in the coming months.


The last time we discussed Prakash Publishers Lion Comics edition, we had the man himself making his presence felt at Comicology.  Would that happen again, or was that just a flash in the pan?  Let’s wait and see.

Also, did anyone notice that there are no advertisements about the XIII Jumbo Special with this month Muthu instalment.  That clearly foretells that the release of the special issue will be prolonged further, possibly because Editor had complained about not achieving the targeted advance booking mark yet, on his previous issues.  May be it is indicative enough for all those who haven’t booked their copy to do so.

Before we close the review, here is the original cover which was the inspiration of Muthu Comics #311 Cover. This time around it is from the Semic’s James Bond Series released in 1984. More about it here.

I will meet you all again with another comics review over here at Comicology.  Adios Amigos !!

Feb 14, 2009

Celebrity Comics – Ultimate Shower of Love – I

valentines-day We are back with another Special post at Comicology, which is right in time with the event at present, the V-Day.  With tons of news floating around with the so called Moral Police, and their crazy scenes flashing on screen disrupting the peoples lives, it should be said that India is yet to come to terms with the changing global order.  All said and done I strongly feel that Love, also applies to the good feelings you share with your nears and dears, and need not always be your love interest.  If some decide to showcase their love by marking a day in calendar, what’s the harm?  So, my principle is give them their personal space, and get a life of your own.

DC's Love Stories DC's Falling In Love Just in case, if you are wondering what does Comicology has to do with this topic, hold-on, as I here we have a topic which is going to toe closely with the V-Day concept.  If we had been living in Western worlds (and esp. in 80’s), then I could have used some Love based Comics to mark the occasion (like the ones next, not that I like them).  Since, we live in a more conservative and cultured country, our topic for the post, is a different take on V Day, with Comics based on Celebrities.  Isn’t making Comics based on living celebrities is actually a way of expressing love towards their real persona? Well with that context let’s move on to the post.

Fellow comicologist Aalok, also adds that a comics named “Fort” had published one shot romantic stories in India.  I should admit I have never seen any of those issues so far, probably intimating that it was not wide-spread.

Using Celebrities in Comics, have long been in practice.  Obviously, the American Genre, which introduced new themes and concepts to Comics as a whole, have had made quite a few comics on the living celebrities, and continue to do so.

Mohammad Ali Vs SupermanPrincess Diana awakens as a MutantTV Host Jay Leno with Spider ManSpider Man Saves Obama's Inauguration

Even though they claim to have conceptualized only as a spoof, and in some cases parody, some of them were in poor taste,and in most cases they were intended to cash on the popularity of the celebrity. But, there was a clear line; in the fact that, they were all mostly one-shots, and weren’t planned as a full-blown series (at least to start of with).
(Pics Courtesy:

But, here in India, we are so generous that we consider our Celebrities, especially the Movie & Sports stars, as something bigger than life. So, there was no surprises that a handful of initiatives, were taken on to immortalize few of those loved ones into Comics. Let’s look at some of those famous(?!) attempts in that process.

Supremo's 1st Issue (c) (c) Supremo: The Adventures of Amitabh Bachchan (1982)

Supremo in Second Ever Issue (c) TCPThe Bollywood Super-Star Amitabh Bachchan (or Big B as he is fondly called), at the peek of his acting career, was conceptualized as a Super-Hero in disguise, named Supremo, in his own comic series, by Gulzar, another Bollywood celebrity himself, known for his songs and poems.

Gulzar wrote the scripts for the Supremo comic series, which was published by India Book House (IBH), under their Star Comics banner.  Pratap Mulik managed the artwork, by heading a team of artists who worked on the scripts together.

Supremo wears a skin-tight Costume in Pink, with a Air-Marshal like face goggles, to hide his original identity.  To top it all, the initial page even carried a personal hand-written request from Mr.Bachchan, requesting the readers to keep his identity as a "secret".

One saving grace, though was that Supremo didn’t have any so-called super-powers. He had the combination of strength and agility to defeat his human adversaries, and intelligence to get out of traps laid for him.  So there was never a chance for him being shown stopping Trains, carrying Aeroplanes.  We were saved, at least to that extent.


Supremo in Action

Amitabh with 1st Ever Supremo Comics (c) At over 6 feet, Bachchan was indeed a subject worth to talk about, but did he deserve his masked hero status? especially when everyone knew his real identity.

That’s one for a worthy debate.

In short, even if the Big B fans were not made happy, with this short-lived comic series, at least Mr.Bachchan himself would have been a happy soul to see him being pictured in Comics.

The picture where he holds the comic, was when the owners of the cherished collection met him on a production set. Read more about it from their own account, by clicking here. And also another post over here, which talks about how the duo found this issue. Talks much about the craze this Bolly star, had during the peak of his career. No wonder he had a comic title on his name.

Rajni as SuperheroThis particular series, was imitated and copied over in other States of India, especially in South, where Rajni Kanth, a famous movie star, was portrayed as a Special Agent himself in a Comic series in Tamil Nadu.  While in Kerala, Mamooty, another movie star, was featured in a similar type of comic series.  Poonthalir, which was then a monthly children's magazine, which had its presence in Tamil Nadu and Kerala (as Boombaata) could have been behind this ill-conceived cheap imitation, which did its worst imitation of the Supremo series.  Scripts were poor, Artwork was blunt, to say the least. So they don’t deserve to be included in this list, but just for a complete coverage, here is a small screenshot from the comics, where Rajni played the Super Agent.

Kapil Dev in Comics Ad Kapil Dev: Adventures of a Cricketer (1982)

The next Indian Superstar, was obviously had to be picked up from the second biggest Indian media, Cricket (In India, it isn't merely Sports, for the unknown).  Kapil Dev, who was considered one of the all time great all-rounder in this form of sport, was also tried as a Hero in Comics. 

Although, this was initially made as a Three One-Page advertisement articles for BSA SLR brand Bi-Cycles in India, the plans were there to be featured him as full-fledged comic character, closely following his real-life exploits on the cricketing field.

The one-page advertisements were often featured in the back-cover of erstwhile Indrajal Comics (from the house of Times of India), very regularly.  But the concept never took center stage, and it petered out real quickly. 

So, whether or not it would have become an success, was never known to any Comics fans. But I presume that it would have earned reasonable success, for the reason that Kapil was supposed to be portrayed only with his real-life persona, and his life as Cricketer, unlike the other gimmicks things which were attached to the former Supremo.

Kapil was almost an Ad Exclusive Comic cricket star, as he was involved with another full-length comic issue, this time to promote the Action Shoes brand, for which he was an Ambassador then.  The book was titled Action Grah Ke Waasi (a Hindi title, which literally means “The Citizen of Action Planet”), which was published by Diamond Comics in India.  The book was largely distributed as an Ad feature, so it didn’t reach all sects, so I couldn’t grab any scans for the same.  Thanks again to Aalok for alerting me on this issue.

Sunny The Supersleuth 1st Issue Sunny The Supersleuth: The Adventures of Sunil Gavaskar (1984)

The loss of Kapil Dev, was the gain of another cricket team-mate of his,
Sunil Gavaskar, as it was his time to share the limelight. Gavaskar, who held many batting world records during his lengthy and illustrious career, was feared and respected the world over for his batting prowess.  Especially when the fiery, tall, fast bowling legends walked the face of Cricket, during his era.  He was considered a hero then, so no surprises when he was picked to don the next superhero role, albeit in Comics. (Pic Courtesy:

It was the brainchild of Bharat and Shalan Savur, couples and full-time journalists, who were actually inspired by Bachan’s Supremo act, and wanted to create a Cricket fiction (“Cri-fi” as they named it).  The artist for the series was Prabhakar Wairkar, who was chosen among a list of commercial artists.  They decided to name the character "Sunny The Supersleuth" (sleuth synonyms with Detective).  The series was distributed by erstwhile India Book Distributors (IBD).  I couldn’t get hold of any sample pages of the interior artwork, but going by the cover art I believe they were done with a professional touch.

But what made the 5 ft 5 in persona to be touted as a Superhero, first-up.  To know more, here is an excerpt from an interview with Bharat Savur, by Narayan Radhakrishnan, a new Comicologist from Kerala (who actually suggested me initially to blog on this topic at Comicology, thanks to him, and for his valuable info about Sunny Comics)

“Shalan and I were both into full-time journalism [in the early to mid-80s]; Shalan with Savvy and I with Debonair. So, the comic-book project was, of necessity, an after-office hours one.  Sunil Gavaskar’s consent was obtained first over the phone and then in person. Fortunately, Sunil and I had known each other since our St.Xavier’s College days. And had adopted parallel paths since then. Paths that crossed and blended – Sunil, of course, as a reputed Test cricketer; me, as a sports journalist in print and on TV [Bombay Doordarshan’s Sports Round Up.]. Being in touch on and off must have helped. For Sunil said, “Yes,” immediately. Alongside, Shalan already had a penchant for fiction—contributing short stories for children to publications like Bal Vihar [Chinmaya Trust]; Children’s World and even Eve’s Weekly. Thus, our quest to be the world’s first cri-fi comic book authors had a firm base.”

Sunny The Supersleuth Last Issue Sunny is shown as a superhero who battled cricketers from Bandookstan (parody?) and England on the field and, between games, took on evil magicians who lived beyond the outer range of the Himalayas.  Wasn’t it little too much for a Cricketer?  While some of his allies in the comics were named on the real Indian crickets, like Shashtri, Kirmani, etc., the foreign players were named differently, like Gotham for Botham, Usman for Imran and Bower for Gower.  Obviously they didn’t have the freedom to represent other cricketers in a commercial venture, without their permission, which wouldn’t have been a problem with understanding locals.  Surprisingly, his another team-mate, Kapil Dev, didn't make any appearance in the Comics. The professional and personal rivalry between them is well documented, so that is understandable too.

There were a total of 3 books released on this series, and after the initial euphoria petered out, the publishers pulled the plug out of the series; the 4th and the last in the series, was serialized in a some newspapers across India.

The only saving grace, on the entire episode, was that despite the shortcomings, the Savurs did have a great love towards the Comics genre, as it is highlighted in the closing notes of Bharat’s Interview.

“Looking back now, must say it was great fun conceiving and creating Sunny the Supersleuth.  Perhaps, we were a generation ahead of our times. We believed then—even more so now—that comic-books are the right medium for India.  Still a semi-literate country with a new ‘instant’ generation with a short attention span, the combination of words and visuals that comic-books bring have an ‘instant’ compelling appeal. We put this concept into practice by creating The World in Pictures.”

ShaktimanShaktimaan: The Adventures of Mukesh Khanna (1997)

If Movie and Cricket Stars can make it into Comics, why not a TV Star?  That what happened when Mukesh Khanna, known for his legendary role as Bheesm Pitamaha in Mahabharata TV Series (which aired on Doordarshan DD1, a state owned TV channel in India, on every Sundays), decided to turn Superhero himself, in the next full blown TV serial on the same channel. 

He brought up the concept “Shaktimaan”, which is actually a imitation over the Superman character itself.  Shaktimaan was pictured as a Superhero having super strengths, fighting the evil of darkness, by harnessing the mysterious powers within a human body, by meditation, and practice.  His alter ego is a Newspaper photographer, and shares a love interest towards fellow Newspaper journalist. 

Doesn’t it sound all the more familiar? Judgment is at your disposal.

Well, despite its copy-cat concept, and the visibly ageing Mukesh Khanna donning the lead role, the series was a hit among children, and generated a huge fan following for the star, among kids, obviously. I remember that one of my nephew actually wanted to get a gift of Shaktimaan costume for his birthday, and we tried hard and long in vain to get the same, as they were out-of-stock always. I still make fun of him (now in his Teens), for having a wish of that sort in his tender days, with his obvious discomfort.

Shaktiman Comics No wonder, Khanna decided to merchandise the brand name he garnered, by introducing Shaktimaan in Comics, under his corporate entity “Bheesm International”.  Probably the first time the Celebrity himself wanted to launch a Comics on him, while the previous two attempts were actually made by other fans and friends of the celebrities.

Shaktimaan Comics in DiamondInitially the Comics were featured in Diamond Comics, but the artwork was so poor that Khanna didn’t like the overall product himself.  The reason given to him by the publishers was that it is not yet mainstream, and this was a possible means to keep the costs in check.  He later moved the series to Raj Comics, known to have some talented bunch of artists and script-writers, who launched a series of special comics, this time around.  The series also didn’t have a long run, though Comics enthusiasts can grab some back-copies still available on the Internet.  Not that, I would be gunning for it either, they are best left to the kids. (Pic Courtesy: Raj Comics)

Fellow comicologist Siv also adds that Shaktimaan was also released in Tamil. Obviously, that would have been from Diamond Comics, who are known to have one of the largest distribution network among comics publishers.  But, it’s long since I remember seeing a Tamil version of any Diamond Comics.  May be they wanted to cash in on Shaktimaan’s popularity, which during its run on DD, was also translated in Tamil in their regional channel.

Drona CoverDrona: The Adventures of Abishek Bachchan (2008)

If Amitabh Bachan decided to have his own comic series, why not his son, Abishek Bachchan, an actor himself?  So, he was the recent addition to the Celebrity Superhero list, when he was cast in the Bollywood movie, Drona.  Unlike any of its predecessors, this time the Comic book form was launched as a prequel to the movie, obviously to generate a fan base.  The concept which was originally pioneered in the American genre, was introduced in India by Euro Books, who Comicologists would know from their comic series launch in India like Biggles, Spirou and Fantasio, etc. which were detailed and discussed at Comicology before.

Drona is a different superhero, who is shown in an Artwork embodied Dhoti as a costume (isn’t that different?), but possesses supernatural powers, like coming back to life, even if killed during battles.  His lady love in the movie was Priyanka Chopra (more about her later in our Part II), who also dons the role of the bodyguard to the superhero. Isn’t that new trend too? a Bodyguard to a Superhero himself. Well, Bollywood and its atrocities at times, deserves a special post on its own :)

Drona Artwork 1

Drona Artwork 2The one-off comic was scripted by Jaydeep Sarkar, and artwork was done by a team of artists, which is symbolic by the richness in the resultant output. 

Enough said, the movie was a far cry for the wannabe superhero type, which was poorly scripted, and badly acted.  Abishesk was a never a good actor (he continues to improve at snails pace), even though media’s promote him left, right, and center for being Big B’s son. His acting showed its true colours in the movie, where he was often seen like a man lost.

The movie went on to be the biggest flop-show of the year, and the comic franchise died along with it, with only a Prequel edition, to its credit.  Thanks to Almighty, that we were saved from witnessing the flop concept in our beloved Comics.  For those of who would like to collect this edition, for the sake of it, it is now available at all leading bookstores, and priced at INR 50, consisting of 32 pages.  I own one for the same reason, but don’t expect others to follow the suit :).

In the age of graphic novels, it’s now belatedly obvious that the Savurs, and Gulzar, were pioneers in giving Comics a Contemporary Indian context. But at times, they were a whole lot of groups and individuals who were not impressed on these Comics, like myself at present.

The Best review about which could be exampled by Angena Parek in the Sunday Express in 1984 about Sunny and Supremo, while noting like: “These personality-oriented comics are a retrogressive step”.  She further adds - 

“The Indian psyche is very receptive to the personality cult and to make heroes out of ordinary people is not a difficult task in this country. These comics are reinforcing the tendency to attribute superhuman qualities to ordinary humans, in the same way that commercial Hindi films do.”

And with that closing note, we come to the conclusion of our post on the Indian based Superhero comic franchises. But, that wasn’t all.  In between Shaktimaan and Drona, there were a host of other attempts to make Indian Super Heroes in Comics form.  But, they were either shelved or delayed for various reasons.  Let’s look at each one of them in our next Celebrity Comics Post.  Bonus to that post will also be Indian Superhero Movies released in India in the past.  Stay tuned as it will be On, very soon over at Comicology.

Just for a Preview of what’s in store for you in that post, here is a glimpse:

UPDATE (03/09): The 2nd and concluding part of Celebrity Comics Post, is now online at Comicology. To read that, click here.


Hopefully, you would have found this post useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it.  If so, why not leave your comments to let others know. Also, please do let me know if there was any other Super Hero Comics, which were missed out from this list.  You could mail me or post it as part of your comment.

The Original post at this place was supposed to be the Muthu Comics latest issue review (I received my copy this Friday), but since to blog something in line with the V Day occasion, I hurried up this post in its place.  The Muthu Comics review will be posted shortly.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post very soon. Adios Amigos !

Feb 9, 2009

CineBook - Biggles Recounts | Rugger Boys | 2007

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 48 | Laminated/HardCover

Thanks to all the Comikers who travelled with us back in time to re-live the yesteryear Tamil Comics, Thigil, in our last post, and chose to leave their valuable comments.  My replies to the same could be found at the end of the post.  No surprises, that old comics review would be an integral part in our future posts. But for now, we are back to our favourite CineBook instalments, as we will be looking into two more sets from their famed batch release in India last year.

Biggles First up the order will be a known hero for Comicologists, the famous British Novels, Biggles, who was brought in comic format through one of the  famed Franco-Belgian genre creators Francis Bergese.  If you had been following Comicology regularly (which I am sure you would), then you would recall that we covered an exclusive post on the Biggles Indian debut through Euro Books.  If you had not read it yet, now is a good time, as I have updated that post, to make it in line with the Comicology’s trend of detailing the creators behind the series, and a complete account of the originals; a concept which was originally pioneered at Comicology, and now being followed by fellow comics bloggers.  So in many ways, the update to the earlier post is a bonus for this post.

Biggles Recounts 1: The Falklands War
ISBN: 978-1-905460-22-9
Biggles Recount 01 Cover1
BR 1: BackCover
Size: A4 | Published: 2007
Biggles Recount 01 Cover2

Biggles Recounts is a new French series, which is different from its predecessor Biggles series, by the way that except the title, the storyline doesn’t always revolve around the main character Biggles.  The series is more like a self account of Biggles, during the real historical events which has happened through the World Wars which shaped the world as we see it today.  Since the Biggles character is fictional, the writers have the flexibility of basing him in every historical incidents, thus it is narrated as if Biggles had experienced the events from a first person point view.

So, if you had been expecting Biggles adventurous series, then you have to take a reality check, before browsing through these historical archives, delivered in graphical format.   Since the impact of W.E.Johns and Francis Bergese to the Biggles are already discussed in detail in our earlier post, we will look at the storyline and new artist/writer duo for this two set series.

The Falklands War is set in 1982, in the backdrop of the decade long conflict between Britain and Argentina, over the ownership of Falkland Islands. Deciding to make a head start over the 500 years of futile claims and negotiations, Argentina forcefully occupies the Islands.  A British task force is deputed it reclaim the island, which brews into a full blown war between the cross continent countries, with Argentine garrison finally accepting its defeat.  The war actually paved way for a testing ground for the modern weaponry of electronic warfare's, where Britain stamped its authority to the world.  Surprising even though the title says it is Biggles, the character itself doesn’t make any appearance in 48 page comic book, which takes the sheen out of this historical issue.

This was originally released in French titled Biggles raconte la bataille des Malouines in 2003.  This was a new series consisting of a team of brand new writer and artists, in the form of Bernard Asso & Joel Rideau donning the role of Writers, while the artwork was taken care by the duo of Daniel Chauvin & Marcel Uderzo (who is the older brother of Asterix creator Albert Uderzo).  None of these creators were known uniquely for their other work, so it says best about their attempt to create a pot-luck out of the Biggles brand.  I should say that even though the historical accounting is real good concept, I cannot help but noticing the fact that it was little over-used for a graphic novel format.

Biggles Recounts 2: Battle of Britain
ISBN: 978-1-905460-39-7
Biggles Recount 02 Cover1
BR 2: BackCover
Size: A4 | Published: 2007
Biggles Recount 02 Cover2

Bergese's Artwork in Biggles The second album on Biggles Recounts, is the Battle of Britain, where the story unfolds in the Spring of 1940. The Third Reich forces streamed into the north-west of France, after pushing through Sedan.  France crumbled within 35 days.  The Germans pressed their advantage and trapped the British Expeditionary Corps in a corner.  English army managed to escape back to England.  And the fate of the world was rested on the shoulders of a handful of men, the Pilots of RAF, where our fictional hero Biggles is placed in service.  The story then unfolds his team’s adventures through these war torn times, which also interlinks with the real event about the Bombing of Germany in 1943-45.

This was originally released in French titled Biggles raconte la bataille d'Angleterre in 2003. The story was again scripted by Bernard Asso, along with real historical events for which the Biggles Recount series is aimed at.  Surprisingly Francis Bergese, stepped into add his charm to the series which he revolutionized in 90’s.  I should say that his art has breathed new life into the series, which at times over-weighed by the predominant historical events.

CineBook has shown its keenness to publish the Biggles Recount series, as they have at present launched a 3rd album in UK (this time Biggles recounting the Wright Brothers from their early years; that’s sounds interesting), which is yet to reach India.  Moreover, CineBook have also started to reprint the Biggles series from 90’s, starting of with Spitfire Parade.  That and 13 other from this series have already been released in India by Euro Books.  So we might not being seeing CineBook Biggles editions over here.

Overall Biggles & CineBook seem to have got locked in for a long partnership, which is only good news for all the Biggles fans.

The next CineBook series review for this post would be Rugger Boys.  I wanted to review this long back, along with the Children Category posted earlier at Comicology.  But, this was clearly a set which I couldn’t quite fit into that sect.  It neither could make it into the more mature Winch & IR$ comics series review post at Comicology.  And since I strongly felt that this series doesn’t deserve a complete post on its own, I had to plug this in with the Biggles post over here.

I might be sounding pretty harsh about it, but the fact remains that Rugger Boys is a series which you can safely ignore from the lot delivered by CineBook.  It talks about the stories and adventures of a French Rugby team named PAC (Paillar Athletic Club), rightly subtitled as “Old Muckers”.  It showcases a bunch of rogues, dim-wits, half-minds, and their adventures, as they walk the breath and width of Europe in the name of the Rugby club.

RuggerBoys Inner ArtMake what you want out of this description text on the first title

“They’re sturdy Frenchmen, big eaters and drinkers, more physical than intellectual, more losers than winners… The Rugger Boys.  With them, readers infiltrate the heart of the cloakroom, the scrum, the clubhouse and all the nuisances you can ever dream of in your life.”

Look at the naming of some of the lead characters in this group: Lightbulb, Fat Neck, Anaesthetist, Trumpeter and Romeo.  They are also two others named Trunk and Ding-Dong, the reasons for the name are strictly “censored”.  Come-on I know there are some kids who read Comicology too :)

The series is written by Beka and comically illustrated by Poupard.  I couldn’t find much details about these creators, except a bio on the Original French publishers of the series, Bamboo’s website, for which I have them linked-to.  Explore them more, if you would like.  As for me, I will give them a miss, until they come up with some series which is worth talking about.

Rugger Boys 1:Why Are We Here Again?
ISBN: 978-1-905460-33-5 | B6 | Published: 2007 
Rugger Boys 01 Cover1

Talking about a good point, I did like Poupard’s comical sketch work, an example of which you could se right above. 

One another thing I noticed in their layout, is the top most corner art, which symbolically denotes the subject of the particular page.  The last time I remember this concept being utilised was in Ducoboo, which we discussed earlier at Comicology.

Rugger Boys 1: Why Are We Here Again

The Rugger Boys are invited to England to play some friendly games.  What’s in store for them over there is full of surprises, as they are introduced another kind of rugby.  The story travels around their exploits and their eventual return to their home.  Do they come up Triumphs is the overall subject of this instalment.

The Original edition of this book was released in French titled Les Rugbymen – On n’est pas venus pour etre la in 2006, by Bamboo.

Rugger Boys 2: A Spoonful of Style and A Tonne of Class

In Spoonful of Style, the All Blacks look for a sparring partner in order to prepare for the World Cup.  The stars of the team, Lightbulb, Fat Neck, Anaesthetist, Trumpeter and Romeo, can’t resist the call of the southern hemisphere.  The story is full of Cauliflower ears, broken noses and black eyes for which the Rugger Boys series seem to have aplenty.

The Original edition of this book was released in French titled Les Rugbymen – On va gagner avec le lard et la maniere in 2007, by Bamboo.

Overall, I should agree that there are some comical and funny moments pictured in these stories, but there is a clear over-dose of adult jokes and caricatures, which may only impress a few sects of the crowd.  It’s something which you can give a miss for sure, as they find their place in my collection only for the name sake.

It also seems Cinebook have themselves made their mind about the same, as there are no plans or announcements regarding a next issue in this series, even though the original French publishers Bamboo seem to have printed 7 albums so far on these characters.  Yeap… I agree there are some who might be liking these kind of stories too.. :)

Rugger Boys 2: A Spoonful of Style
and A Tonne of Class
ISBN: 978-1-905460-44-1 | B6 | Published: 2007
Rugger Boys 02 Cover1

And that brings us to the close of another CineBook review here at Comicology, which compared to the others which were discussed over here, should be the lowly rated instalments from the famed publishers. To improve things for better, we will take up some classic titles for our next Cinebook review, which may be of interest many Comicologists over here.  Stay tuned, to know more.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post shortly (probably our Muthu Comics latest issue review, which is yet to reach my hands). Adios Amigos !

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