Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

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

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

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

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

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

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

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

Sep 28, 2008

CineBook - Childrens Category | 2007

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 50 | Size: A4 | Laminated/HardCover

Well it's long since we reviewed the last batch of CineBook editions released in India this year, as back-issue sale from the UK based CineBook.  Since we have a lot more issues to cover, I have gathered all the Children titles they released in this batch as a single post.  They are a bunch of unknown comic characters, we have never read or heard in India before.  The popularity of these titles also doesn't make them to be covered separately.  All the batch of comics are created in Belgium, and many of them are still being published with new titles every year.

First-up, is Ducoboo, famously termed as the 'King of Dunces', created by Zidrou and Godi in 1992.  The series follows the adventures of Ducoboo, and his mischief making acts.  It typically consists of assortment of small acts, which generally spans one or two pages.  The stories are hilariously portrayed, and Cinebook have come up with 2 volumes of Ducoboo.  Each volume depicts a full year in School with the last gag always ending up as portrayed in Summer Holidays.

When you browse through these books, you can identify that the header of each storyline will eventually be based on the plot of that particular act, depicted in few simple pictures.  That's the amount of detail Zidrou and Godi have concentrated on while making these comics.

Ducaboo 1: King of the Dunces
ISBN: 978-1-905460-15-1
Ducoboo 2: In the Corner
ISBN: 978-1-905460-26-7
Ducoboo 01 Ducoboo 02

Melusine is a story of kind-hearted young witch.  She is touted to be 119 years old, as explained in the first album.  The character and the plot was created by Clarke and Gilson in 1995.  The stories typically features short, and humorous comic strips based on the life of Melusine.  The plot sometimes seems heavily derived upon the Harry Potter series, as Melusine also studies at a Witches school.  Cinebook have released two volumes of Melusine with this batch.

Melusine 1: Hocus Pocus
ISBN: 978-1-905460-20-5
Melusine 2: Halloween
ISBN: 978-1-905460-34-2
Melusine 01 Melusine 02

Papyrus is a comic book series, written and illustrated by Lucien de Gieter.  It's about a young peasant in Ancient Egypt, called as Papyrus.  It was originally published in 1974 in the famous Spirou Magazine.  As the story takes place in Ancient Egypt, the users are taken down back in the history with the plots revolving around the famous landmarks, temples and monuments found from the original Egyptian Era.  Ramases Temple, Saqqara, the ancient Egyptian funeral complex, are all breathtakingly drawn with detailed structural explanations, while closely tying  them to the storyline of each album.  As could be construed, the Papyrus stories involves its fair share of Magics and Miracles.  Overall, a good historical comic series for children.   Again we have two volumes of Papyrus with this batch.

Papyrus 1: The Ramases' Revenge
ISBN: 978-1-905460-35-9
Papyrus 2: Imhotep's Transformation
ISBN: 978-1-905460-50-2
Papyrus 01 Papyrus 02

Yoko Tsuno is a comic book series created by Belgian writer Roger Leloup, an arden follower of Ligne Claire.  It was originally published in 1970, making it the oldest children comic series in this batch.  The story follows the adventures of Yoko Tsuno, a female electrical engineer of Japanese origin, accompanied by her friends.  They travel across the globe and even reach the outer space in this 24 volume series.  The highlight of the story is that they are based on technological concepts, with Robo Dragons, Time Travel and others; which were a thought way ahead during its initial years.  We have two volumes of Tsuno with this batch.

Yoko Tsuno 1: On the Edge of Life
ISBN: 978-1-905460-32-8
Yoko Tsuno 2: The Time Spiral
ISBN: 978-1-905460-43-4
Yoko Tsuno 01 Yoko Tsuno 02

Yakari is the most famous Children magazine character in this batch of Cinebook editions.  It is a series which was created in 1973 by Job and illustrated by Derib.  Yakari is a young Sioux Native American who has an unique ability to understand and speak animal language.  With this unique ability he meets many North American animals in his albums, by which the readers are introduced to the life and customs of these animals.  Yakari is so popular that it has so far been translated to 17 languages, from French.

Cinebook have brought 3 volumes of Yakari with this batch.  But they are not released in an order in India.  There are 5 volumes which were published by Cinebook, when these titles were available in India, but we have received only Issues 3, 4 and 5.  So, the collection is incomplete.  The series is translated in English by Erica Jeffrey for Cinebook.  She is known to Comicologists as a surprise visitor during our first Cinebook post's discussion thread.

Yakari 3: Yakari and the Beavers
ISBN: 978-1-905460-09-0
Yakari 4: Yakari and the Grizzly
ISBN: 978-1-905460-16-8
Yakari 03 Yakari 04

We also have an One volume release in this Children's batch, called Scared to Death, which is a new series created in 2000 by Mauricet & Vanholme.  The cover-art is spooky enough to foretell that the series revolves around the strange adventures of two adolescent friends, Robin and Max.  It touches upon all the fantasies, like Sorcery, Werewolves, Ghosts, etc. but somehow the storylines aren't gripping enough.  Maybe because the target audience is Children's again :).

Yakari 5: Yakari and the Stranger
ISBN: 978-1-905460-27-4
Scared to Death 1: The Vampire from the Marshes
ISBN: 978-1-905460-47-2
Yakari 05 Scared to Death 01

Well these titles may not be of the interest to many of us, but as a fan to the Franco-Belgian comics era, I wouldn't leave them up from my collection, when they are available right at our doorstep.

As always, do post your comments and let me know what you think of this different post category.  Next up on the Cinebook reviews, we would jump to the serious titles aimed for grown up audience.  Well, now we are talking.

Sep 25, 2008

Comics Classics #23 - Barracuda | Johny Nero | Sep '08

Prakash Publishers | Price: INR 10 | Total Pages: 244 (122+122) | B/W | Size: Pocket | Tamil | SoftCover

Prakash Publishers continue to amaze with regular monthly releases.  What we have this time around is the Comics Classics #23, which as usual carries two yesteryear blockbuster comics from the erstwhile Muthu Comics;

  1. Kaatril Karaintha Kappalgal (காற்றில் கரைந்த கப்பல்கள்) starring Code Name: Barracuda aka., CID Lawrence & David
  2. Moolai Thirudargal (மூளை திருடர்கள்) starring Johny Nero & Stella

Ardent fans will remember that this was originally advertised to be the Issue #22, last year.  I enthusiastically covered it as a Preview feature in this very blog, only to get outsmarted by Prakash Publishers who released another Instalment in place of that.  But as it turned out that actually worked out fine, as we now have two Comics Classics releases in the same year.

Comics Classics 23 c1
Story 1: Kaatril Karaintha Kappalgal
(காற்றில் கரைந்த கப்பல்கள்) | [Ships Which Disappeared]
Comics Classics 23 c2
Story 2: Moolai Thirudargal
(மூளை திருடர்கள்) | [Brain Thieves]

As far as the story review goes,

Kaatril Karaintha Kappalgal is an action packed storyline.  I only posses a modest collection of Muthu Comics's earlier editions, but remember reading this story in childhood when it was reprinted some years back.  It was one of the instrumental comics which grew my interest towards the style of Picture based storytelling (as it is known as an unique art form: the seamless integration of images and words)

The intellectual thinking of Lawrence and his quick paced action, with David giving him good company, is the highlight.  Suspense was spilled throughout the Storyline, with the ultimate being the Volcano Setup of the Terrorist group.  Back then as a Child, I used to imagine them to a scenario which is only matched in the Hollywood genre at this period. It certainly helped to grow a creative mind back then. Overall, one of the golden pieces of the British Comics era.

Moolai Thirudargal is a typical Johny Nero story, known for his globe-trotting free agent detective style.  I always liked the importance Stella gets in Nero storylines, which makes them an inseparable pair, yet maintaining the professional relationship between them.  European/British Comics stand out from the American genre in that aspect, which makes it right in parallel with the Asian culture. 

I still remember those initial James Bond issues of Rani Comics (another South Indian publisher of Tamil Comics, but defunct now), where they were printing the editions as it is from the Original, with Frontal exposures, and all.  I used to be scared those days, to maintain those comics as part of the collection fearing that my family would someday get a hand to that and may misconstrue that I am collecting the "so-so" type magazines too. 

Luckily, they realized the Indian culture, and later started to seal and mask the artwork, where necessary.  Lion/Muthu Comics publishers always have ensured this right from the start, and the reliance on European Comics (Franco-Belgian, British, Italian, etc.) which has a deep roots in quality comic art & plot work kept them in good stead too.

I always loved the foreword of Editor S.Vijayan, and he initially used to do it for the earlier Comics Classics editions, where he used to highlight and share the history behind the featured stories earlier publishing.  Unluckily, We don't see that feature in the recent editions.  So we only have to rely upon Comics stalwarts like Muthufan, to share the nostalgia behind these goldies.

As far the packaging goes, I don't have much to say. Eventhough, the Pocket edition helps in re-igniting the memory of past, it is not a great size by which you could enjoy the comics to the most. Editor Vijayan may argue that it is cost-effective and suitable for the price tag. But, I always believed the Comics Classics should follow the standards of the current Lion/Muthu in terms of cover and size (not the paper quality though :)). Because these are the ones which are expected to help a Collector in maintaining them over a long period. And since Comics Classics is expected to be a Collector's Edition, I don't think there are people who will object to have it priced in higher bracket for a better quality.

Those with prying eyes would be able to see a small damage to the second cover in the above scans.  That's due to the effort of yours truly, while trying to separate the cover from the inner papers which had got stuck accidentally with the package glue.  This is one another reason why you shouldn't use Paper Covers for Comics.  They should be seen as Books (like Westerners) and not Magazines (as they are mostly categorized in India).

At times when some Comics collectors (?!) use the old Lion/Muthu editions to sell them at a premium price nearing INR 1000 (and in some cases, more), and get a sizeable profit out of it; Prakash Publishers who hold the rights for these golden editions are short-sighted to bring those gems in a low quality editions continuously, and miss out on a potentially profitable venture. 

Hopefully, the first comic-enthusiastic of Tamil Comics Industry, Mr.Vijayan, will take a cue from it to improve the packaging for his releases.  Whatever said, there is no doubt that Vijayan has always been the Flagbearer of Tamil Comics Industry, in the past, Now, and in Future.  He should be commended for continuing in a business, where others come and go without a basic interest towards Comics in genre, or the commitment.

To end with, see a small stats for Comics Classics releases over the years right from its inception.  2007 was the only year when Comics Classics was blacked out completely without a single issue.  In total there are 23 issues so far.  A way behind from the original idea, of printing 3 every year.  But that as many know, has always been a throne found in the main brands Lion/Muthu Comics too.  Anyways, 2008 has set things anew, hoping for better years to come for Comics Classics editions.

Year # of Issues Year # of Issues
1999 2 2004 3
2000 4 2005 4
2001 4 2006 1
2002 2 2007 -
2003 1 2008 2

Comics Classics Release Stats
(from its Inception)

That brings us to the close of another Comics review at Comicology.  As usual, please leave your comments about this post and the Comics Classics editions on a whole, in the section below.

Sep 13, 2008

Chandamama - Collectors Edition | 2008

Tinkle (c) Long before Comics or Graphic Novels made their foray to India, there were some Indian brands which captivated the mind of young and grown alike.  They were the so called Children Magazines, which succeeded in guiding a whole new generation in the paths of finding our roots, and imparted learning to differentiate between the good’s and the bad’s, in every day of life. 

GokulamTo name a few of the most popular children magazines from that genre, would be: Tinkle, Balamitra, Gokulam, Champak, Poonthalir, and Ratnabala, which all had a unique set of followers and readers group.

ChampakEach of them also excelled in a specific way in which they originate their stories from, which was experienced by young and adult, during a period when what we see in TV media were controlled by state-owned TV channels, and there were not much other things to divert upon.

Even though, they could not match up to the stardom and world-fame which DC & Marvel garnered with their releases, they enjoyed a fan-fare of its own for decades, eventually falling out of reckoning as their younger readers grew, and India witnessed the growth and varieties of other Sports and TV Media.  Now only handful of them are still in publication, having adopted to live with a small number of readership and changing their content to match the modern expectations.

Chandamama (Ambulimama) 1st Issue (c) ayyampalayam.blogspot.comOne such Magazine was Chandamama, which followed the stories from Medieval India, which comprised of Kings, Queens, and their bravery and wit.  It was founded on July 1947, by B.Nagi Reddy, who is more famously known as a well known South Indian Film Producer, and the person who owned then Asia’s largest Film Studio, named Vijaya Studios, in Chennai.

The cash-rich backing,and the unique selling point of basing stories based on Indian mythology and folktales, took Chandamama to a wider acceptance and it enjoyed a steady growth in sales, with their magazines being publishing in Multiple Indian Languages (12 + 1 English Edition) concurrently. 

Fellow blogger Venki, recently posted an article about the first ever Ambulimama (Chandamama’s Tamil title) which was released way back in July 1947, even before the Indian Independence.  Those who know to read Tamil, can go to this article, to bring back that nostalgic feeling.

Chandamama went on a uninterrupted publishing run which lasted until 1998, when it was stopped due to some labour disputes.  But, they came back within a year, and continue to publish till this date.

Chandamama 60 Years Issue (c) ayyampalayam.blogspot.comThe fame of Chandamama could be exhibited from the fact that Disney, once was looking to acquire it for foraying into Indian Publishing.  Eventhough that ultimately didn't materialize, it was acquired by a Technology Company called Geodisc in 2007, and since has started to concentrate on digitizing its artefacts and old issues of its publication.  This was originally available to be downloaded for free on their corporate website, but now it is only available to be read online at their site.

Instead, Chandamama English Editions have now started giving out a CD containing 12 issues from any of the past years.  It’s a tempting offer for subscribing to the issue, which I have done now.

Chandamama Collection Edition c1 In the same year 2007, Chandamama also celebrated their 60th Anniversary, and recently have come up with a Collectors Edition - Coffee Book, which takes us back to the inception and various stages of publishing scenarios during the Chandamama's Golden Era.

The Collectors Edition contains some breathtaking artwork from the past and photographs of the publishing house and their erstwhile staff at their prime. Eventhough, Chandamama isn't a much interesting proposition at present, this will be an item the collectors and old fans can possess and cherish to share with the loved ones and nears.

The Books is A4 Format, with waxed papers, in a Neatly Bound package, priced at INR 449/-.  It is currently available on Chandamama's website with a 20% discount, for those who cherish to collect this treasure.

Chandamama Collection Edition art1 Chandamama Collection Edition art2 Chandamama Collection Edition art3

Chandamama Collection Edition c1-1 Chandamama Collection Edition c2-1 The Inner-Cover contains some facts about the Edition and an history about Chandamama in a snapshot.  The only qualms about this Collector Edition is that it doesn’t talk anything about the creators who contributed stories and artwork for the 60 year old publishing giant, which one would have for sure expected to read about.  Ignoring them completely, at the hour of celebration has taken the sheen out of this edition, for sure.

As with the other children magazines of its period, Chandamama also fell out of reckoning due to the change in taste and choices of young and modern India.  They are still continuing their publishing legacy by maintaining the same number of language editions, albeit with a limited print run. They also have another magazine called Junior Chandamama, aimed specifically for kids. 

Recently, Chandamama have ventured onto Graphic Novels, a field which they never really concentrated in the past, by tying up with the publishers of The 99 Comics series from Middle-East.  Read more about them, in our The 99 exclusive review at Comicology.

On a late check, I found out that this review of Chandamama Collector’s Edition was indeed the 25th Comics Post at Comicology. I am surprised at my own self, that an otherwise sombre, lazy person in me, was able to continue a passion for this long. Let me enjoy my moment of glory, while you can expect some more great posts in the years to come at Comicology.

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