We continue our coverage of Chennai Book Fair 2011 (CBF 2011). The first part of the same can be found here, detailing ACK’s Tamil launch.
If NHM was the talk of the Book fair, among Tamil Comic fans, then Vanathi Publishers (aka Vanathi Pathipagam, as its called in the native language) had its own share among the Nostalgic crowd, which grew reading the inspired writings by acclaimed children writer, Mr. V.Krishna Murthy, more famously known among the masses under his nickname, Vandumama.
Being not so regular reader of Literary world, I am not much akin to the various publishing houses which ships out their range of titles every year. That includes Vanathi Publishers, whom I thought that had a tryst with Comics for sometime in the past, but never knew that they still are actively involved in promoting the old classics of Tamil Comics.
Right after the Chennai Book Fair 2010, a fellow Comiker alerted that Vanathi Publishers had released a collected edition of Bale Balu, which was a popular comic strip cum short story feature, published regularly, in the erstwhile Poonthalir magazine during its golden run, when Vandumama worked as its Editor all-in-all.
As I didn’t recollect seeing this edition in the fair, I couldn’t believe that news, up until I saw the book in for real. It was a complete nostalgia reminder to see the comic series, back in quality paper, bound perfectly in good packaging, priced at INR 200.
So, after hearing about further facts that Vanathi and Vandumama, go a long way back in history, with their continuous publishing of his collections all through the years, it was only a formality that Vanathi’s stall made it to a must-to-visit list, for this year’s fair.
Here is a glimpse of them, which have all been published by Vanathi, under their different brand names of Thiruvarasu Puthaga Nilayam (திருவரசு புத்தக நிலையம்), and Gangai Puthaga Nilayam (கங்கை புத்தக நிலையம்), (where Puthaga Nilayam, means Book House).
What I came to know through the people who were managing the stall, was that it was only one part of the Vandumama titles which have come out of their publishing house, and much more can be collected, with a visit to their publishing house, in T Nagar, Chennai.
I did visit them and was amazed to see the lineup of titles, which I all grabbed in pronto. To restrict the length of this post, and to keep it only to the findings of Chennai Book Fair, we could see those titles in a different post, later.
But, what I must say is that if you have spent your childhood reading Vandumama’s stories, then you might not think twice before owning these collections, much of which are very low priced, considering the year in which it’s released.
One of the other advantages of visiting these Book Stalls, are a chance you get to explore some unknown titles from much unsought publishers, time and again. This time around there were two publishing houses, which I had never read or heard about from any Comikers (like Persepolis in Tamil venture discovered during last Book Fair), during my past altercations.
Should we blame the awareness among Comic readers? or should we blame the publicity or marketing done by these publishing houses? is a Egg and Chicken question. So, let’s put that aside and have a brief look at both of them.
First-up, is from a series of Children comics titles released, by a company called Macaw Books, in 2009. As I could gather from the back cover, this issue is part of their Great Heroes of India series, which seems to have 10 titles in the fold, priced INR 50 each.
The artwork reflects that it was purely meant for Children’s literacy, even though it does pose some talented strokes, by whomsoever who worked on them. Maybe he stuck to what was being asked from him, by the publishing house.
I couldn’t source any more details about the publishing house, as their official website, is now no more in operation, as it seems to have given way to Malware and Spybots. The only little information I could source, were from their Profile page on Indiamart.
Seems the publishers never took their business seriously enough, and have folded over the time among competition, to bring more quality titles, to the market. Befits them, if that’s true.
Now to the second one from the Book Fair, which I consider as one of the priced collection to have been picked up from the event.
It’s from Seasons Publishing, based out from Mylapore, Chennai, and known more for their number of Children Activities and Illustrations books.
Have a look at one of the richly drawn inner pages, which is as good as an animated feature. The illustrator of this series, is the wonderfully talented, Gaman.
Even thought the artwork and the book quality might deserve the price tag, back in 2005, that could have sounded big bucks, and partly could have resulted in the unsold venture.
Here is the artist Gaman Palem, in flesh and blood, along with his most famous works. You can read his latest interview, where he talks about his work and Graphic Novels penetration in India. Also check out him in action, in this NDTV feature.
Surely, this artist deserves a rich bit of accolade, and I only wish he gets more prominent recognition from the growing Indian Comic scene.
As far as Seasons Publishing, this comics initiative seems to have been their only attempt to explore the medium. Obviously, the results of being darkened by the non-publicity, could have given them wrong signals from proceeding further.
Hope talented artists like Gaman, and newbies like Seasons Publishing in the Comics medium scene, work out of more titles in this wonderful niche medium, as the Indian comic scene, is far better than what it used to be in 2005, when they first tried their trade.
The amount of interest this Comics medium, enjoys at present can much easily by showcased, by the upcoming first ever Indian Comic Con event organized by New Delhi based Twenty Onwards Media (much famously known as the publishing house beyond Random Humour magazine), in their city.
The efforts they have taken to bring this mega concept into reality, which not only involved putting a bigger budget into the mix, but also in the countless hours spent towards bringing a host of publishers, artists and writers, under a single roof. The participants for the event, now is a rare mix of legends, who have established the industry as it exists in India today, as well as the newbie, who are going to shape the Indian Comic scene, for the foreseeable future.
Indian Comic Con, is a much bigger concept which deserves an exclusive post of its own, so we will keep it for the coming days. Now to return back to our CBF 2011 event.
That’s as much as the collection, I managed to gather on Comics in the Chennai Book Fair. There were larger number of publishers who had showcased their new range of titles, but much of them are the Illustrated editions, aimed for kids and young readers. I only wish a handful of them, do get into the Graphical way of storytelling, either in form of Comics or Graphic Novels. They would make up for quite a good showdown, considering the amount of artist talent which is in house in India, and right here in Chennai too.
And now to reserve a place for now customary let-out corner of the blog post, and to detail the events which I had mentioned at the start of the post. Leading up to the Chennai Book Fair, some of the regular trouble makers, masquerading in the guise of Tamil Comic fans, had done enough damage to the those who took pains to bring Lion and Muthu Comics, to be made available, in the fair for the last couple of years. A result of which, they had lost the interest and avoided any efforts to bring up a lost cause again, which didn’t stop the rumor mongers going great guns, to conceal and reinterpret facts.
It was a personal disappointment, as I had been hoping to see the just released Lion Jumbo Special, reaching a much bigger audience through this fair. As it turned, it had to be pushed back to ardent readers, helping each other out to get their copy of the edition. Then again, only if Lion or Muthu publishers decide to make their presence felt officially, in a forum, probably along with a partnership, this is a going to be a recurring scene in Chennai Book Fair. Hope the better light, is just around the corner.
And if that wasn’t enough, I couldn’t help then making a reference to the poor infrastructure setup, which the visitors, are being subjected in Chennai Book Fair, every year. The problems which range from Irregular Parking, Improper Ventilation, Unorganized Stall setup, Inconvenience for Debit/Credit Card customers, to a poor arrangement for much important nature calls, points to the fact, with a slap in a face, that you aren’t expected to be here longer, or that matter be here itself.
All those publishers who claim poor sales, should first push through the right sources, to setup basic amenities for the visiting book-fetish. As everyone knows, a Happy Body reacts with a Happy Mind, which is good for the book sales.
Year on Year, visits to Book Fair are being made with the expectation of seeing some improvements, but the resolve to keep visiting only takes a beating, every time you take the effort. No wonder, more than the book stalls, you find the crowd gathered around the temporary food stalls setup on the ground. They seem to be the only people, happy with the mess. Hope the upcoming Comic Con India, would be better organized, away from the mess happening every year, at Chennai.
As I got to know of them only after the Chennai Book Fair, through another Comiker, and for the sheer amount of quality and work, which has gone down in getting these two titles in such good quality, in a little time - means they need a special post for their efforts. So, that’s reserved for another day.
As this is the first set of post for the year 2011, wish you all a Happy New Year and hope you had enjoyed your Feb 14, with your loved and dear ones. It’s a fresh new year, and fresh start in the blogging effort for Comicology. Let’s hope we have more chance to interact, and cherish our niche reading pleasure for months to come. Adios Amigos !!