This post was originally published on Jan 6, 2009, and has been further updated on Jan 15, 2009. Jump to the Updates
Gone are the times, when a variety of books and magazines, used to fill my imaginations in those childhood days. The materials available then, which ranged from Novels, Weekly magazines, to Monthly editions, was able to cater to all sects of elders at home. Kids, weren’t left alone in the party, as they had a variety of children's magazines to drool on, in the likes of Indrajal, Amar Chitra Katha, Diamond, Chandamama, and our very own Lion/Muthu Comics, Poonthalir, or Siruvar Malar.
The penetration of TV, and Satellite channels, into our houses, weren’t able to deter the elderly crowd who still loved the print medium, but it effectively diverted the new generation’s interest.
Now, those old family get-together, have moved on to a new home, The Annual Book Fairs. Families throng the event, and do remember to bring their kids along with them. In a ray of hope that the environment, would give those young ones the right platform to grow their interest.
One such event is the Chennai Book Fair, which celebrates it’s 33rd year of existence, this year.
It was started by Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), in 1977, mainly covering the English editions of various publishers. It took until the turn of 21st century, for the regional language publishers to storm this event, and now they clearly overpower their Angrezi counterparts, in numbers.
I have been a regular visitor, since the day I came to know of its existence, through my elder sister. While she thronged the Book Fair, for laying her hand on the Literary works and Novels from famous authors, I used to restrict my visits to only get hold of some issues, from my beloved print medium, Comics. The kid in me, still refuses to look for any other modes of literary work, but, the key is that my love towards Comics, keeps my reading habit intact. So as long as it holds good, I wouldn’t look for a change.
Let’s look at some of my recent buys, in this Book Fair, and I hope that it would help those Comics enthusiastic, who would be visiting the fair, which runs until 10th January.
If it is a comics hunt, that too in Chennai, could you leave out the legendary Lion Comics or Muthu Comics, from the famed Prakash Publishers?
Every year, it has always been a unfulfilled dream for the Tamil comics fans, to see a dedicated Prakash Publishers stall in the Chennai Book Fair. They always had to share the spotlight, by finding their way in some other vendor’s stall.
But, from last year, two of our loyal Tamil comics fans, old-timer RT Murugan, and Arun from Rhythm Book Distributors, have made it a point to make the back-issues of Lion and Muthu Comics, be available at their extended stall. This year it is no different, as we have another bunch of those wonderful titles, waiting for you at the InfoMaps Shop, at Stall No.P5.
So, if you had missed any of the back-issues, or wish to buy a set for your closed ones, P5 Stall is the place to be. This year, Arun has got a nice gift wrapped set consisting of one title each from the available bunch. So those visiting can simply walk away with one such bundle for their collection.
Here are some more pictures, to tempt you into buying them, even if you already have it with you. I got one set for me, that way :). Look for this familiar sign, in the shop.
Update: And just in case, if you miss out from buying the Lion/Muthu Comics in Book Fair, do remember that a sizeable number of the same is also available in the Chennai’s Koyambedu Bus Terminus at Sai Scholars Book Shop (Platform No.3-4)
Coimbatore based Vidiyal Publishers, have their 2005 Tamil edition of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, for sale in their stall. The Tamil Editions, are in the same format as the original French title, both in terms of paper quality and package, and are priced INR 100 each.
On the first glance, I believe the translation could have been little better, but I presume that the publishers wanted the comic to adopt the same colloquial way, in which Marjane expressed her personal story in the original. In any case, I should restrain myself from passing any overall comment, until I read through this Tamil venture.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, if not for anything else, for the sheer reason of promoting the Publishers intent to bring an International best selling comic title, for Tamil audience, this Tamil comics initiative should find its way in your collection.
Considering the higher priced Originals in the same format, a price tag of INR 100 justifiable. A friend in the Book fair told me that a Sri Lankan national who occupied a next seat to him, was coming over to Book fair, all along to find this edition. It’s a pity that such a publication, is unknown to us, when other nationals know about it even before us. Is it a problem with ourselves ?
Appusami Comics – Manimegalai Publishers (மணிமேகலை பிரசுரம்)
Created by Ja.Ra. Sundaresan, under his pseudonym Bhakkiam Ramasami, Appusami’s many stint in a variety of magazines, also involved some comic strips, where the artwork was handled by one of the able and most stylist artists from South India, Jeyaraj (who signs his artworks, with his initials as J.) The character Appusami is so famous that, there is still a running domain, under his name (appusami.com).
I remember reading those comic strips back when I was a kid, and always felt that I never took enough care to collect those comic strips for safekeeping, as the artwork of J was one top class not to be missed.
Recently, after hearing about the availability of one such comic, as published by Manimegalai Publishers (Courtesy: Siv), I wanted to get the same for my collection, badly. So, I landed up at the stall in the Book fair, and was lucky to find that the comic was still available, at a price of INR 10.
The inflated price was not only because the book was of smaller size with 52 pages, but also because of the year in which it was published, which is 1997 (as a second reprint, with the original dating back to 1993).
This comic edition follows the adventures of Appusami and Seetha Paati (his betrothed wife), on their quest to buy a Color Television set for their household. Look at the cover art which comically denotes this very concept. Typical J style.
I wonder, why such a good comic edition, is still left unsold after nearly a decade? Could the marketing have been faulty? as not many would have known that the comic is still available on sale with the publishers, let alone leaving the fact that anyone knew of the existence of such comic at first place.
To know more about Artist Jeyaraj, read his Interview here, with some artworks to spice up his profile :).
Turok in Tamil (Taara - தாரா) – Manimegalai Publishers (மணிமேகலை பிரசுரம்)
After a long hiatus, Manimegalai Publishers, seem to have ventured back into the comics field, by publishing the world famous Turok comic series, originally published by Dell Comics of US.
After hearing about this venture, through Siv’s blog, I was on the lookout for the same, during my first visit to the publishers stall in the book fair. It was in vain, as it was out of stock then. But, was able to lay my hands on the same on my revisit.
The classical series is renamed as Taara in Tamil, and the Book is priced INR 50, in a size similar to A4, with hard covers.
Where it actually lacks the punch, is in the translation. Malaysian born Rajathilagam, fails miserably in that account, as the sentences seem to be abruptly ended, or continued, without any context. Having witnessed the works of Mullai Thangarasan, S.Vijayan, and Ramajayam, in the Tamil Comics field, this sub-standard work is quite unacceptable.
The quality is further degraded with a printing, which looks as if that it has been watershed on all pages. The reason seems to be a low quality adoption from the color originals, which could have been better, if they had done some color correction, before going into print. (The artwork page, given at the right is a result of some color correction in Photoshop, from the scanned version)
I only hope that Manimegalai publishers, will improve the print and translation quality with their further instalments, which we can only hope for. The classical note of the comic character Turok, deserves a better presentation, for sure.
Abdul Kalam in Comics – Prodigy Comix (கிழக்கு பதிப்பகம்)
The New publishing sensation in the Tamil publishing field, New Horizon Media (NHM), have also joined the bandwagon in the Comics field, by releasing their Prodigy Comix series, starting with the pictorial representation of the life of, Dr. Abdul Kalam, a living legend, and former President of India.
The artwork is quite sub-standard, with the saving grace being the coloring work, which adds some semblance to the overall effort.
Badri, the cheif convenor of NHM, explains in his comment on Siv’s blog that, it has been drawn manually, and digitally colored for publishing. He further adds that it currently on a trial run, with the expectation of improving the quality with the forthcoming issues.
Comics business in India, and especially South India, have always faltered in recognising the true stature of Comics medium. They often restrain themselves from instigating an international standard in their artwork or script writing, by calling it as a Children magazine. What they fail to understand is that, even if it is for targeted for younger audience, the westerners never fail or compromise on the quality of the work. For example, see Yakari, Yoko Tsuno, etc. Such was the professionalism on the display.
|"Comics business in India, and especially South India, have always faltered in recognising the true stature of Comics medium... Unless, we ape the success factor of Westerners, Tamil comics will always live in the substandard quality."|
That’s the reason those supposedly ‘Children’ Comics, were able to live upto the test of time, to be classified as a Classic, and be rated with the greats of the Comics from those golden age.
Unless, we ape that success factor, Tamil comics will always live in the substandard quality. Given the financial backing NHM enjoys, and a serious management which looks into their publications with pride, I sincerely hope that they would be able to bridge that gap in near future.
Mathi’s Adade Cartoons – New Horizon Media (கிழக்கு பதிப்பகம்)
New Horizon Media, did not stop with their Prodigy Comix venture alone. Under their most famous Kizhaku Pathipagam imprint, they have collated Artist Mathi’s cartoons, which was originally published in 2003. Mathi is most famously known for his witty political and social cartoon strips on Dina Mani (தின மணி), a regional newspaper.
The last I remember of such an effort, was when Vikatan group of publications, collated such type of cartoons, with the work of their chief cartoonist Madan.
This volume consists of 176 pages in B6 size, and carries one cartoon per page, with a price of INR 80. I don’t know how many parts in which these books are segregated into, but I picked up one for the collection, which was Part 3.
I also saw that there was a jumbo collection available, collating Mathi’s cartoon in a bigger hardcover sized edition, which is priced at INR 450.
I would personally not shell out such a huge price for a collection, but then everyone have their own opinions and choices, and I presume Badri, would have gambled on with a plan.
Russian Revolution Comics – New Century Book House
Also was on sale in the Book Fair was New Century Book House’s comics based on Russian Revolution, published in early 2008. The book was by a team of Russian artists and script writers, which was originally published by Progressive Publishers.
The artwork quite frankly resembles the one which was used by the old Ponni Comics, but the credit pages says that they are of a Russian artist, by the name of Anatoli Vasileov (I hope I spelled it correct).
But, even then the style quite frankly fits the old school thought way of retelling the historical significance of Russian revolution.
There are no credits given for the Tamil translation, but it looks of a top quality work, at phases.
The issue which is titled in Tamil as Rushiya Puratchi (ருஷ்ய புரட்சி) is of B6 size, with 150 odd pages, priced at INR 75. ISBN: 81-234-1238-X
Definitely, a comic worth to be in Tamil comics fan’s collection. And I hope that this comic venture by New Century Book House, will turn out a successful affair, so that we see such international comics be translated to our language, for the coming years. Thanks to Siv, for introducing this comic venture.
Somu in B.C. (கி.மு.வில் சோமு) – Narmada Publications நர்மதா பதிப்பகம்
Lastly, I picked up, present Tamil movies director Simbu Devan’s 1999 humour comics, titled Keemuvil Somu. This was a 2004 reprint of the original edition, which collected the series which ran in Ananda Vikatan, a Weekly magazine, for a total of 25 weeks.
It’s a hilarious account of a character named Somu, who finds himself in the pre-historical era, with the aid of his Time Machine. He befriends a Jr. Dinosaur, enroute his adventures and misadventures, which are a total laughter package, for sure.
It was good to know that the series which I enjoyed during its weekly run, was also available in a complete comics format. It’s in a B6 size, consisting of 100 odd pages, priced at INR 40. Surely, a comic for keeps.
Surely, Simbu Devan’s loss to comics field, is a quite noteworthy, but considering that he is able to weave his comic magic in his Silver screen ventures, it does bodes well.
Apart from these, the old Gotham Comics issues, and the back issue titles of The 99 Series, could be found on many stalls. I hope that this Book Fair provided all those book readers in general, and comics geeks in particular a well deserved shopping experience. Happy Reading, Comikers. Adios Amigos !!