Jul 10, 2009

Amar Chitra Katha – Mahabharata | 3 Volumes | 2007

One of my favourite Tennis star Roger Federer, has just created history by winning his 15th Grand Slam title. Thanks to Andy Roddick, for making this such an exciting match to watch. Certainly, a match to remember for all Tennis fans.

As with Comicology, our recent post on the Comics Bloggers making News, brought the comics friends from all walks of life to commemorate the achievements of some among us. I hope that we keep progressing through our unique medium of art with the same enthusiasm, and support from comics friends, in the process sharing and celebrating the 9th Art.

To celebrate this occasion, let’s look into one another famous brand from our own Indian genre, which enjoys a fair amount of fanfare among our very friends, the legendary Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), and the most popular title in their ranks, Mahabharata.

The name ACK derives from Hindi, one of the primary languages of India, which means Immortal (Amar) Picture Stories (Chitra Katha).

Uncle PaiACK is known for inspiring a generation of readers through their retelling of mythological stories in picture format, and doing it professionally. Most of the mythological stories and decorated Leaders of India, as I still remember from my childhood, were inspired by what I envisioned through ACK’s picture based stories.

As mentioned during our Tinkle debut post, ACK was the first venture started by the great Anant Pai, known fondly as Uncle Pai. Pai was born on 17 Sep 1929, in Karkala, Karnataka, the Southern Indian state. Even though his major in college was Chemical Engineering, he always dreamt to publish comics for kids, which he incidentally started pursuing right after his studies.

ACK Cinderalla Hindi ACK Pinnachio indi After a short stint with Times of India, where he was instrumental in the launch of erstwhile Indrajal Comics, before leaving them to explore options of starting his own venture.

Pai eventually co-founded ACK, along with India Book House (IBH), in 1967. From then on, he went from strength to strength, by starting the county’s first-ever comics and cartoon syndicate, in the form of Rang Rekha Features in 1969; and then the legendary Tinkle, the children's magazines in 1980, which is still issued monthly, with Mr.Pai serving as the honorary editor.

ACK’s current image of Indian Authentic stories, was not to be seen in the initial 10 editions (which were printed in multiple languages), when it exclusively printed comic albums licensed from Disney, just like many other comic companies in India (For others like LM Comics, Chandamama Classics & Cartoons, who followed the same trend, refer to the page here). The cover-arts seem to have been drawn locally, which could have been done using the originals as samples.

ACK #11 Krishna Issue #11, was the landmark title, where ACK produced a comic album on its own, under the supervision of Anant Pai, who also wrote the script. The title was Krishna, a godly figure from the Hindu Mythology. For many ACK fans, they consider this title as the real number 1 issue of ACK, as that was the trendsetter, which saw it spanning over decades of dominance over Comics industry in India, eventually crossing the 90 million copies sales for the first-time ever. There is an interesting news about this very issue’s multiple versions printed by ACK, to read more about it, refer to this post on HMI blog.

The original run of ACK lasted until 1991, eventually wrapping up with the Issue #436, which featured a story about India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. This was the time when the TV industry was booming, and magazines and children classics, saw a erosion of sales. Prompted by this change of ACK authorities, decided to concentrate on reprinting their legendary series, and avoid adding any more fresh titles to their list.

ACK Collection from a fan on Orkut So from 1991 to 2008, saw the second run of ACK titles which were numbered from #501 (which was incidentally the same title as, Issue #11 Krishna), to #744, this time issued in better paper quality and thick cover. Some 5 issues from this set consisted brand new titles.  Most notable additions out of them were for Tatas, Kalpana Chawla, and Ram Charit Manas.

A complete list of all the ACK titles, published in their entire run along with special issues, could be found on John Thompson’s personal webpage. For someone who is not Indian, his passion towards cataloguing his personal collection, is unseen even among Desi comics fans. Kudos to his extensive effort. (Thanks to Prabhat, for referring to his site)

Just like Tinkle, ACK was also taken over by the newly formed ACK Media Ltd. in 2007, after which we only see the reprint titles from ACK time and again. As it stands, the chance of them producing new titles looks remote, as their current concentration seems to be on digitizing their brand through Mobile Games, Digital Comics, and few animated feature films.

One of the key reasons of ACK’s success was the pool of Artists, whom they had in their famed stable. The likes of Ashok Dongre, CM Vitankar, Souren Roy, MN Nangare, Jeffrey Fowler, VB Halbe combined with the variety of script writers like Lakshmi Lal, Yagya Sharma, Manoj Das, Rajendra Sanjay, GL Chandiramani, Shakuntala Jagannathan, Kamala Chandrakant, Rupa Gupta, Debrani Mitra, GR Naik, Louis Fernandes, Pradip Paul, Margie Sastry, to set the standards for which ACK is renowned over, even today.

Most notably, ACK showcased three of the best Indian Artists to the world, in the form of Ram Waeerkar, Pratap Mulik, and Dilip Kadam. Even though Ram Waeerkar, was the most talented and gifted artist among the three, the chance to be the artist for ACK’s biggest series went to another from the trio. Let’s look more about him and the series, to know more.

Mahabharata No-1ACK’s Mahabharata Epic Series: It’s pretty hard to pick and choose which among the ACK’s line-up is the best one, but there is no doubt in choosing the longest ever series to have been produced by them in the form of Mahabharata. One of the two great epics epics from Indian mythology (the other being Ramayana), which was published over a 42 issue run on ACK.

It was an instance success, and was the crown jewel in ACK’s line-up, making eager fans to expect it month after month, which was published on an alternative title schedule. The run started with Issue #329, which spoke of Veda Vyasa, who is credited to have dictated the entire Mahabharata epic to Ganesha, as per the Hinduism beliefs. The series was concluded with the 42nd comic album, in Issue #411, thus spanning over for a significant run over years on ACK’s publication history. It is said that the series was originally planned for 60 albums, but it could have been cut short to 42, due to increased work-load or anxiety to see the series completion.

Dilip Kadam was chosen as the only artist to the entire series, which added a semblance of standard to Kadam's Art on Lokmanya Tilakthe artwork. Kadam did lack the classic art style of Waerkar, but he was unique on his own rights. Hi artwork was simple, but yet authoritative, which was instrumental in a series which demanded quick monthly instalments, for a prolonged period.

Moreover, Dilip Kadam, had some real talent to produce historical scenarios with a lively effect. I could still not forget his rendition of Lokmanya Tilak in one of the ACK titles, which I read during my childhood. I even won a low level art competition at the school, by imitating one of his panels. Such was the impact, it left on the young minds, which could not be expressed in mere words. So, it was no surprise that Kadam was chosen as the chief artist for Mahabharata series.

Kadam was assisted in this mega project by a team of scriptwriters like Kamala Chandrakanth, Subba Rao, Nedungadi, Yagya Sharma, Lopamudra, Mohan Swaminathan, Shubha Kandhekar, Margie Sastry. So while the script-writers took turns to contribute in this mega series, Kadam continued to draw then uninterrupted, which shows his dedicated work towards making the series a landmark venture.

Look at some of the Intro Scenes of this Mahabharata series, and witness Kadam’s work yourself.

ACK Mahbarata English Intro  ACK Mahbarata Vol1 Intro2ACK Mahbarata Vol1 Intro3

ACK Mahabharata Gaurava's War Formations One of the attractions of the Mahabharata epic is the intrigued detail at which the battlefield of Kurukshetra was recited, which is considered the biggest war of the world, as per Hindu mythology. So, it was an enormous task to picture them on paper, and I believe Kadam did an incredible work, a sample of which could be highlighted from this piece of panel, where the formations of Kaurava’s, the antagonists' of Mahabharata, are explained in detail.

It’s sorry to state that, I could not add a picture of Kadam to this post, as it is untraceable anywhere on net. Kadam owns a commercial art unit at Pune, India called Trishul Comico Art, where he is assisted by his sons. They don’t have an Internet presence either, thus making the task even more harder. This is a common scenario among Indian creators (especially from the yester-year genre), many of whom are unaware about the riches on offer through the web, and as a result often remain untraceable.

One of the reasons, why I am looking forward to Toonfactory’s Chitrakathaa project, which hopes to bridge this barrier.

ACK Mahabharata 7 Volumes Collection Advt in 1987ACK Mahabharata 14 Volume Collection Advt in 1999Those who want own this biggest comic series released in India, need not go anywhere to locate them hard, and toil at old bookshops, as the ACK’s policy of rerunning their releases with timely reprints, means that this series is available in a brand new format, you could ever hope for.

Contrary to ACK’s reprint policy, the reprints of Mahabharata series were always  made available only on collected format.

The late 1980s saw the first of them with a 7 Volume Library edition collecting the 42 issues, in 6 issues each.

ACK Mahabharata 3 Volume 1999 Edition (The Previous One)ACK Mahabharata 3-in-1 Edition (The Present One)The success of the series, prompted ACK to again reprint a new collection in the late 1990s, this time in a 14 Volume Special Editions.

Not only that, they also printed another collected format in 1998, this time in an hard-bounded 3 volume edition. 

The collection was a huge-sell-out, and prompted a reprint in December 2007, in a newer format, which saw the hard-bound getting even better, with a change in the cover-arts for two other volumes, which reused the version from the original 42 album edition.


Here are the covers of the 3 Hard bound volumes, along with their respective list of 14 titles collected in each of them, for your preview. While the 2nd Volume cover is a re-used from the 42 individual album covers drawn by Dilip Kadam, the rest two were newly drawn, by other artists, which is clearly noticeable from the style.

ACK Mahabharata Vol-1 c1ACK Mahabharata Vol-2 c1ACK Mahabharata Vol-3 c1

ACK Mahabharata Vol-1 ListACK Mahabharata Vol-2 List ACK Mahabharata Vol-3 List

Overall, my only complaints with this package is that the publishers, didn’t add any dedicated pages for the creators behind this incredible series. Everyone knows ACK Mahabharata 3-in-1 Edition 05about Uncle Pai, but not many knew of the numerous script writers and the greatest Artist in Dilip Kadam. It would have been a perfect tribute to the collection, but obviously this seems to be a neglected section often among Indian Comics publishers.

One another miss in the collection, was that the publishers chose not to publish the 42 incredibly drawn covers which decorated the individual albums. Indian publishers should learn from the foreign publications, which often include the original editions cover as an extra feature in any collected editions. I know that it will add up to the cost of a collected issue, but it’s worth the price to see the reprint of these covers, which are quite hard to find at old book shops at present.

I had been eyeing this collectors items for the last couple of years, to add to my collection. The only thing which was keeping me away was the price. The new hard-bound collection of A4 Size is priced at INR 1100. The ACK Media store does give you a 10% discount, but the shipping cost makes up for it.

I finally got a 10% discount in the recent concluded Chennai Book Fair, only to see that it was later available on a 25% discount. Nevertheless, the money spent on this a worthy one. And I am now geared towards completing my Mahabharata individual titles. Can’t miss those wonderfully drawn cover-arts, by Dilip Kadam. If this post doesn’t tempt, to own this collectors piece, then have a look at those hard-bounds for yourself, and make your choice :).

ACK Mahabharata 3-in-1 Edition 02 ACK Mahabharata 3-in-1 Edition 04 ACK Mahabharata 3-in-1 Edition 03

Poonthalir Amar Chitra Katha (PACK): In South India, Poonthalir an erstwhile children’s magazine (which was started in the late 70s, and had a popular run during 80s), had also licensed a regional deal with ACK, and were regularly publishing their line-up of titles translated into Tamil. The translations were performed by the incredibly talented children’s writer of that time, late VK Murthy, more famously known among fans under his penname Vaandumaama. Vaandumaama is always credited to have a pulse of children’s mindsets and interests, and was very popular among them with his wonderfully written articles and translated stories.

Here are few covers from the series, which were also published in alternative schedule, much like ACK (once every month, while the PACK/ACK series was published fortnightly):

PACK Mahabharata Vol-7 c1 PACK Mahabharata Vol-35 c1 PACK Mahabharata Vol-41 c1

PACK Mahabharata Vol-3 c2 PACK Mahabarata Foreword Look at the introduction to this series, from the very words of Vaandumaama, and also an advertisement which talks about PACK and Poonthalir as the two flagship children magazines from their publisher Paico, with subscription details for the same (as it was in 1985).

It is said the PACK, was continued until the Mahabharata series was completed, before closing shops.

Needless to say Poonthalir and its sister publications were one of the chief contributors to a generation of Tamil children and young adults during 80’s, which were instrumental in them learning our culture and heritage with innovative articles and artwork. We will learn more about Poonthalir and their other ventures in detail, soon at Comicology.

With that we have reached the end of the post for today, and hope you liked them as much as I did writing it. Have a Happy Weekend Ahead Comikers, and I will meet you all again with another post pretty soon. Adios Amigos !!

References: Wikipedia, Uncle Pai’s Website, HMI India, Comic World, and John Thompsons ACK Research Page 
Image Credits: (non-watermarked)  HMI India, Comic World

50 ComiComments:

I am one of the lucky people who own the real #11 Krishna and the original Mahabharatha series. It was planned as 60 comic series but in the end was brought down 42.

Of course the Mahabharatha is such a vast canvas that it cannot just be brought out completely in 60 comic books let alone 42.

BTW, Rafiq, I think I have not mentioned what a wonderful site you have as also a wonderful job you do.

Please do continue the good work. Will try to talk with you when I come down to India.


அமர் சித்திர கதைகளை நான் படித்ததில்லை, இருப்பினும் உங்கள் பதிவின் மூலம் அதன் பிரபல்யத்தை உணர முடிகிறது.

மகாபாரதத்தை காமிக்ஸ் வடிவில் படிப்பது வித்தியாசமானதொரு அனுபவத்தை தரும் என்பதில் ஐயமில்லை.

காமிக்ஸ் உருவாக்கத்தில் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட கலைஞர்களை புறந்தள்ளுவது என்பது அவர்களிற்குரிய அங்கீகாரத்தை புறக்கணித்தல் என்பதாகவே நான் கருதுகிறேன்.

நல்லதொரு பதிவு உற்சாகத்துடன் தொடருங்கள்.

@Rafiq Raja: Great post as usual. :)

New pack looks beautiful; I’ll like to buy too. Converting longest epic of world in pictorial story is really tough job. Thanks Uncle Pia & all artists!

John dedication to collect Amar Chitra Katha is really amazing. His list is best, not any other site even ACK –Media (copyright owner) are providing a complete and perfect list.

He is missing in collection:
74. Ahilyabai Holkar (not reissued in the new series)
407. Kohinoor (not reissued in the new series)
424. The Clever Dancer (not reissued in the new series)
428. Napoleon Bonaparte (not reissued in the new series)
430. An Exciting Find (not reissued in the new series)
434. The Chosen Bridegroom (not reissued in the new series)
433 "The Quick Witted Birbal" (new series #602)
435. Pierre and Marie Curie (not reissued in the new series)

And Ram Charit Manas only.

He prefers to collect old prints. Since April 2009, he is India. If anyone can help to complete his collection, we would be helpful, pls contact me. Some of these Ajay will gift him.

@Venkitachalam Subramanian: Really you are very lucky. There is news, 3 versions of Krishna were printed. Two versions we saw. Do you comic different from 2 versions – check oldest available at http://hmindia.blogspot.com/2009/03/special-post-krishna-first-original.html

In same post JOHN attracted attention towards 3rd version: http://www.hvk.org/articles/0607/38.html

If I say -"Superb Post" it will be an understatement RR. U simply rock!!! Such a detailed post on ACK is just mindblowing.

@ Prabhat - Prabhat bhai I guess I saw one copy of Kohinoor at Blossoms Bookstore, Bangalore sometime back...I'll try to get that for him.

PS. Did you notice even though the inner art work was international but the Cover art was done by Indian Artists for ACK Issues 1-10?

Rafiq Bhai,its indeed a great post by you,congrats for adding another jewel in hat of comicology.Also its a welcome decision by you to focus over far popular and widely scoped Hindi comics.
You have presented all major details but i would also like to add some inputs,no
doubt 'Mahabharata' was a popular series but the decision to choose a pretty ordinary talent 'Dilip Kadam' over far superior 'Pratap Mullick' and 'Raam Waeerkar' for such a important and long epic tale of Indian Mythology was a surprising one.
Later,during one inerview Anant Pai himself admitted that Pratap Mullick or Raam Waeerkar would have been a better choice over Dilip Kadam considering the historical value and importance of the series.
The same did i felt as Dilip Kadam's background description were quite stale,lacking details and repetetive,also his description of human faces was lacking a wider range of variety thus merging resembleness of different characters together.All this was supported by pretty ordinary inking and use of limited colors.
It seems that this epic series was given a second preference by its publishers keeping their best artists reserved for other regular titles.
'Mahabharata' epic has impressed me a lot and i am a enthusiast reader of it as this epic contains flavours of a majority of human nature and instincts.
Fortunately,i am having this complete series of individual issues in both English & Hindi of old edition.

Even in Dhinamalar - Siruvar malar also I have seen some Mahabharata stories. Is it the translated version of ACK or from some other sources?

I think Vimanika comics & Virgin comics also published some Mahabharata series. What is their result in international market? What happened?

ரஃபிக், அதற்குள் இவ்வளவு விடயங்களை இணைத்து பதிவை மீண்டும் ரசித்துப் படிக்க வைத்து விட்டீர்கள். தமிழில் பூந்தளிரில் இத்தொடர் முழுமையாக வெளியாகி நிறைவடைந்ததா?

உற்சாகத்துடன் தொடருங்கள்

Great Post Rafiq.
ACK has defined how I think of our mythology. If it was not for ACK I would not have known lot of Indian mythology stories.


Great info on ACK and Tinkle. Thanks!

P.S. You have been tagged!

Check out my latest post: "More tags... One down, 2 more to go!" for further info...

One word: WOW! What a wonderful post.



@ Venkit: #11 Krishna, oh, then it adds all the more worth to your ACK collection. For me, I just get satisfied seeing the digital version alone. :)

Thanks for confirming the 60 album original plan. I did see some of the earlier advertisements saying that the series was supposed to be a 60 album version, but seems the long run and number of issues, made the publishers to think on cutting it down to 42. But, as you said, even if they would have attempted, covering the entire Mahabharata is always going to be a dream :)

Thanks for those nice words about the blog, VenKIT Walker. There is no doubt that the interest shown by comics friends like you, is what keeps me enthused to share a common platform to discuss our favorite hobby. I am also looking forward to talk to you when you are here. :)

@ Shankar: அமர் சித்திர கதைகளை படித்து வளர்ந்த ஒரு பெரும் கூட்டம், இப்போது வாழ்க்கையில் தங்களின் ஒவ்வொரு கட்டத்திலும் அதில் இருந்து கற்று கொண்ட நல்ல விஷயங்களை பிரயோகித்து கொண்டிருப்பார்கள் என்பதில் எனக்கு எவ்வித ஐயமும் இல்லை. அமர் சித்திர கதைகள் கற்றுக் கொடுத்த பாடங்கள் அப்படிபட்டது.

உங்களுக்கு இரண்டு மூன்று புத்தகங்களை அனுப்பி வைக்கிறேன்.. நீங்களும் இந்த இன்ப வெள்ளத்தில் சற்று திளைக்க அது உதவும் :)

இந்திய காமிக்ஸ் நிறுவனங்களுக்கு மகாபாரதம் மற்றம் ராமயணம் அச்சயபாத்திரங்களாக உதவியது உண்மை... அதன் மூலம் அவைகள் வெகுஜன குழந்தைகள் மத்தியில் நம் கலாசாரத்தை உணர்த்தி இருப்பது இன்னும் சிறப்பு. இன்று கூட புதிதாக தொடங்கபடும் பல காமிக்ஸ் நிறுவனங்கள் மகாபாரதத்தை மையமாக கொண்டு தான் தங்கள் கதைகளை நவீன காலத்திற்கு உருவாக்கம் செய்த கொள்கிறார்கள். உதாரணம் சமீபத்திய விமானிக்கா காமிக்ஸ்.

கலைஞர்களை புறந்தள்ளுவது ஏனோ இந்திய பதிப்பகத்தினரின் வழக்கமாகவே ஆகி விட்டது.. காலம் மாறும் என்றே நானும் நினைக்கிறேன்.

பூந்தளிர் அமர் சித்திர கதை 42 மகாபாரத காவியங்களையும் வெளியிட்ட பிறகுதான் கடையை மூடினார்கள். இல்லையேல் ரசிகர்களின் கோபத்தை அல்லவா அவர்கள் எதிர்கொள்ள வேண்டி இருந்திருக்கும் :)

பதிவை இரண்டு முறை படித்தேன் என்று கூறி, அதற்கு உழைத்த நேரத்தை இனிமையாக மாற்றி விட்டீர்கள். நன்றி நண்பரே.

@ Prabhat: New Pack looks indeed pretty beautiful, with their color choice, and hardbound package. It's really a nice collection to have. Uncle Pai & Kadam really deserve all the accolades for working on such a big project to convert Mahabharata into such a length comic series.

John's dedication is really superb, and I am thankful to you for giving a reference to his blog. I hope that ACK acknowledges his contributions, and mention him in their website too.

I would see if I could grab him his missing copies, when I visit the bookshops next.

I also remember Ajnabi's splending Krishna project. True contribution for any Comics fan. I hope someday we also witness the 3rd version of Krishna title too, if it is actually available. ACK remains such a mystery and treasure even now, it's amazing.

@ Toonfactory: Thanks much Toonfactory. I should also Thank Zaheer and Prabhat's blog from which I was able to collect some of the covers listed here. Thanks to them for their selfless sharing.

I also noticed that the initial 10 editions, eventhough of international licensed titles, the covers were all done by our local artists. Seems Uncle Pai wanted to have a indian face for their titles. Any news on those artists would be a welcome information. Hope your documentary would cover that too :)

@ Comic World: Zaheer Bhai, thanks for those kind words. It's true the moment we talk about Indian Comics and our tradition rich brands, which have a nostalgic feeling among many comics fans, they add all the more value to any blog. So Comicology is no different in that aspect.

I should admit that Kadam could have been replaced by Waeerkar or Mullick for such a mega event. But, I believe that Waeerkar was more over used for his unique talent of even serving in funny comics like Suppandi, and other folk tales. So, they wouldn't have risked him to be locked up in such a huge project. Mulick could have been a better bet, but I believe that they chose Kadam, so as to keep him occupied, as he rarely worked on other host of titles. Anyways, I believe that if not upto the other two's work, at least he didn't make the series look pretty bad, even though some of the panels the people look like Some Androids moving in a swift style. :)

You are so fortunate to own the complete original series. I would love to own them, let's see if I get a chance ever :)

@ Siv: Siruvar Malar that time was totally dependent on ACK. So we witnessed some awe-inspiring artworks, and wonderfully translated series, that too for free ever week. Back those days, when I didn't see an ACK title, I thought that Tamil Comics industry did have such talented artists :) Nowadays, Siruvar Malar completely focuses on some other brands comic series, most notably of modern Chandamama, which certianly is way below par. But I believe they are doing it to avoid high licensing cost from the new ACK Media who own ACK and Tinkle titles.

Virgin's Mahabharata was a complete retake on the series, so eventhough it had an initial euphoria in Western, they never dared to release it in India, fearing that it may attract the ire of our people. So, India never witnessed those stories. Since, Virgin has closed shops, we may never see them. Frankly speaking I loved their artwork and different storyline, for a change.

Vimanika Comics are coming up with more titles, but the gap in their release cycle makes them a less sought after venture. I hope they be more regular in future. I read couple of their issues, and loved the artwork in some, while in others it was little off-mark. The plot also has some creative work, so I suggest you to pick one and experience yourself. You won't be much disappointed for sure :)

@ Vishal: True, much of the mythological stories I still remember, were inspired by what I read through ACK. Good to meet another one sharing the same feeling. :)

@ Roshmi: Thanks, would definitely take part in your tagged sooner.

@ Comicos & Spider: Thanks for the visit and comment, friends :)

We do have the effect of Amar chitra katha in our blood, as we grew reading these heritage comics. The availability of these comics at that time was so huge that I did not have interest in collecting them. But now, i have started collecting them again. I have some first editions also. It is indeed difficult to review as each single title has been published several times reprinted with a new cover or atleast a new price tag. I found the link of listing of amar chitra katha, which was a good compilation. A child reading ACK would be better knowledgeable in history.
During my comic days, i collected the tamil version of ACK from the first issue. It was printed in 2 color in small size at Rs.1.50. There was a showroom for paico at mount road, where there is VST showroom now. I used to get 10% discount there and buy these ACK tamil. I liked them very much then. I lost most of the collection of tamil ACK when one daring cow entered my house and opened my cup-board where i kept the comics, and ate the comics. I beat the cow to my capacity but my anger did not subside. BUt still i have a decent collection of these 110 odd books. All the 42 episodes of mahabaratha was published in tamil and once the series is completed, they stopped.

Rafiq Bhai,the lone illustrator having the unique quality of excelling equally well
in both funny as well as serious art work was none other than 'Ram Waeerkar',though he was
utilized mostly for funny art work rather than serious illustrations.For reference one can analyze his serious art work
for 'Padmini' or 'Birbal' stories where a single shortcoming is hard
to point out.
So,speaking about epic Mahabharata ideally Pratap Mullick would have been the best choice,
after which next henchman should be Waeerkar,but surprisingly the least talented among three,
'Kadam' was chosen.
Kadam's Trishul comico arts was acceptable most of the times due to flashing and impressive
inking only which unfortunately was also pretty ordinary in this epic series thus leaving
the series quite ordinary if talking of art work alone.

Hello rafiq,
First of all,congrats for owning that 3 mega volumes of epic Mahabharat!! :-)

What I've noticed,the newer version's ACK are wid better page quality etc,but the appeal of old/original series somewhat missing!! I missing only few issues from that 42-individual titles and MOSTLY I've collected in bengali only - THIS IS ONE THING I ALWAYS LOOKING FOR,i.e. while reading Western heroes like Phantom/Mandrake/Flash etc I prefer to read in both Bengali/English or simply in English,BUT for our own heroes/mythos,I just LOVE to read in my own tongue i.e. Bengali, like for many Hindi or Tamil etc...

Allthough old ACKs are hard to find,but I always looking for those original individual titles over current volumes...also old versions of many tales were NEVER re-printed later and made them even rarer!!I am fortunate nuff to got those...along with other titles.

And for my personal collection,I've earliest ACK #2 onwards till #10(some missing in btwn!) and then from #11(Krishna)onwards - all in Bengali only(except few English)...
One thing,you will find in ACK site,it starts from #11 only as first 10 were NOT Indian tales/mythos and they gave those a miss! :-)

@ ERB: True, ACK has shaped what we envision as our Heritage, Culture, National Icons, for our entire life. I can definitely say that I wouldn't have had this much interest in exploring our History, had I learned them only through our School subjects. I am only happy that these wealth is still being made available to the generation of kids, even now. Kudos to ACK Media, even though they haven't added any new titles for a long time. Their line-up of issues, is saving them to stay afloat by issuing reprints.

Inspired by you, I also have started collecting some of the First editions, along with deluxe reprints. It's so good to even see and hold them in our hands, which is unmatched by the digital copies scattered across the web.

I was not fortunate enough to collect the Tamil editions published by Poonthalir. Only chanced upon them in Old bookshops, but yet looking for completing my collection on that front. With the increased attention being drawn towards collecting Old Comics, I don't think I would get a chance again to own them completely. :(

Your cow story was hilarious, eventhough I shouldn't laugh at your loss :). I had my own share of problems with White Ants, but as far as 4 legged are concerned, Luckily, my house was so narrow-doored that we barely managed to enter ourselves :) Now, I thank my Mason, the old time architect ;).

@ Comic World: Zaheer Bhai, I second your thought. Waeerkar was simply gifted to have a unique style to serve as an Artist for both forms of Humour comics and classic stories. While, Mulick was the most talented to reproduce any Heritage or Mythological stories with such a knack, which is unrivaled by any of his day compatriot.

I just had a brief look for a couple of days on Mulicks ACK titles, and clearly awed by his style, even after having seen them a lot of times before. I only could dream what would have been the Mahabharata series had he been at the helm.

With that said, if we don't compare Mulick & Waeerkar, with Kadam, we need to accept the fact that he was good on his own rights. The limitation of colors used in ACK could have also contributed to the dull coloring for the series. I like to take a comic or a comic series at its face-value, in that way, I still consider Mahabharata as one of the best ever comic series to have been published in India, both in terms of art as well as script. If you need an example, wait till I review a recent attempt by another big Children magazine brand, which have recently come up with their own re-telling of another Hindu epic. :)

@ MaNdrAke dudE: Hi Sagnik, Actually it is not a big honour to hold the Mahabharata collection, as it is available for everyone on ACK Media's site itself. On the contrary, I only envy on your collection of Individual Mahabharata albums.... Looking at those covers itself is a great feeling to cherish, which unfortuantely our collection pieces miss out from utilizing.

It's true, a person has more comfortable reading, when something is close to their language. I feel the same when I read comics written or translated in Tamil. We were lucky that in our childhood, we had so many comic publishing companies ready to have such a wide array of language editions in their publishing run. In the present world, even if the publishers are ready to do that, I don't know how many current generation kids, would be interested to read them. A fact clearly shown by the Chandamama's present sales, their English Subscription far outruns their regional langauge subscriptions by a far margin.

It seems, English will be defacto standard for kids hereafter. As long as the medium of Comics, is still sellable, I don't have any complaints over that :)

ACK #2-10, #11 to ALL..... Grrr........... Enough is Enough, my feeble heart can't take any more ;)

ohh no rafiq,u miss-read my post..I wrote having 'some' in btwn #2-10 and from #11 onwards(but not ALL)....:))

also,I have NO target/dream to complete my ACK collection,BUT I do have a goal to get ALL of those titles from my WISH-LIST...which I still missing...

And yes,individual titles of 42-Mahabaht is unique...still IF ACK-publisher release Bengali edition of these 3 giant Volume,I'll buy these...

Rafiq Bhai,i didn't meant to say that Mahabharat series was weaker in any respect if compared to 'other' publication.My words expressed my regrets on the selection of illustrator by think-tank of IBH as this series could have been made far-far better if and only if the responsibility of illustration would have delegated upon Pratap Mullick or Ram Waeerkar,i regret that why publishers kept their best artists reserved for comparativley other not so important titles in place of this classic series.

Here is the list of PACK so far published:

No Name Hero Year
1 Ganesa Oct 84
2 Raja raja cholan Oct 84
3 Muruga Nov 84
4 Hanuman
5 Kumbakarnan dec 84
6 Kannagi
7 Vaali Jan 85
8 Harischandra
9 Thyagaraja Feb 85
10 Suriyan
11 Ramana maharshi Mar
12 Ayyappan
13 Krishna & sisupalan Apr 85
14 Indra & Vrudra
15 Vivekanandha May 85
16 Jhansi rani
17 Tenali raman Jun 85
18 Mahiravanan
19 Kaalidasan Jul 85
20 Arjuna kadhaigal
21 Vedavyasar M 1 Aug 85
22 Ravindranath tagore
23 Beeshma sabatham M 2 Sep
24 Bagath singh
25 Guru elavarasarkal thottram M 3 Oct
26 Vikramadityan
27 M4 Nov
29 Dronarin varihai M5 Dec 85
30 Kannapar
31 Karnanin varugai M6 Jan 86
32 Mariyadai raman
33 M7 Feb
34 Krishna deva rayar
35 Thappithal M8 Mar
36 Sakuntala
37 Gadothgajan pirappu M9 Apr
38 Garuda
39 Ekachakrathil pandavarkal M10 May
40 Chanakya
41 Drowpathiyin varugai M11 Jun
42 Tipu sultan
43 Drowpathy suyamvaram M12 Jul
44 Prahalad
45 Pandavarhal hastinapuram M13 Aug
47 M14 Sep
48 Subramanya bharathi
49 Maya maligai M15 Oct
50 Krishna & rukmini
51 Jarasanthan vadham M16 Nov
52 Balaraman
53 Uthishtrar raja suya yagam M17 Dec 86
54 Elephanta
55 Indraprasta elappu M18 Jan 87
56 Parijatha maram
57 Kaanakathil pandavarkal M19 Feb
58 Bahubali
59 Ayutham thedi arjunan M20 Mar
60 Rama kumararkal
61 Indra logathil arjunan M21 Apr
62 Kacha devayani
63 Meendum inaithal M22 May
65 Thuryothanan avamana paduthal M23 Jun
66 Krishna & narakasura
67 12 m andu M24 Jul
68 Ganga
69 M25 Aug
70 Kakavin kottai
71 M26 Sep
73 M27 Oct
75 M28 Nov
77 Krishna thoothu M29 Dec 87
79 Por moondathu M30 Jan 88
80 Paramasivan kathaikal
81 Beeshmarin padai thalaimai M31 Feb 88
82 Thirunthatha arasan
83 Beeshmar veezhchi M32 Mar
84 Iru paritchaigal
85 Dronarin sabatham M33 Apr
86 Mathipattra manikkam
87 Abhimanyu maranam M34 May
88 Kashmira kathaigal
89 Arjunan sabatham niraivetral M35 Jun 88
90 Marainthiruntha puthayal
91 Nalliravu por M36 Aug 88
92 Rajabala Jul 88
93 Narada kadhaikal Aug 88
94 Karnan thalaimai thangal M37 Sep 88
95 Puli vettai kararkal Sep 88
96 M38 Oct 88
97 Raja thesingu Oct 88
98 Porukku pin M39 Nov 88
99 Nov 88
100 Rani ambalika Dec 88
101 Yuthishtrar M40 Dec 88
102 Lava kusa Jan 89
103 Pareekshit Feb 89
104 Ashvamedha yagam M41 Feb 89
108 Rana sanga May 89
109 Swargam sendranar M42 May 89

@ MaNdrAke dudE: Now you consoled me and rested my heart at a normal pace, by revealing that you don't own the complete set :) Hehehehe...

Believe me, I have long lost hope that I can collect all editions of ACK, which have become a rare collector items, with all the blogs celebrating those glorious days. We are the victims of our enthusiasm, atleast in that count :)

I don't think ACK's current management is keen to venture back on the regional languages foray. They seem to have set all their eyes and concentration on only digitizing their current copyrights into bigger plans like animation, and serials, etc. :) Hope they find the Comics is still a lucrative business to rely onto.

@ Comic World: Zaheer Bhai, I share your feeling that an illustrator of Waeerkar or Mulick, then the series would have gone to a superior level than the one which it finds at present. Imagine if ACK would have released a second version, while these giants were still in business. Our dreams and us :)

By the way, loved your recent post with all the 42 covers of Mahabharata original series. Loved them to the core, and with your permission, I will add some of them to this post :)

@ ERB: Thanks for PACK list. I will update the list with all the missing titles once I gather enough information on the releases, for a exclusive post at Comicology.

"While the 2nd Volume cover is a re-used from the 42 individual album covers drawn by Dilip Kadam, the rest two were newly drawn, by other artists, which is clearly noticeable from the style."

The cover art of the title 'The Kuru Princes' is taken from the ACK title 'Enter Drona' (original ACK # 337). The artist is Ramesh S. Umrotkar, who used to illustrate the cover of Tinkle as well during the late '80s/early '90s.

Arvind Iyengar
appu dot iyengar at gmail dot com

this post has taken me back to my childhood.. it was heaven for me to read mahabharatha series..as a child i liked it for the story full of action now i like the whole seris specially for the artwork..dilip kadam...he has done it so brilliantly..actually in childhood i didn't know anything about the artist recently when i bought'kesari the flying thief' i noticed the style of art which differed from other artists i felt the illustrations serious,realistic and highly proportionate..and about colours used, more than the colour it is style of illustration which fasinates me...thank you

Hi Rafiq,
Do you have any idea whether they publish the regional language versions of the Mahabharata series anymore?(I am particularly interested in the Malayalam version).

As a child I enjoyed them immensely and now I want my child to have the same privilege.

Also, I personally believe that Indian epics are better read in Indian languages and the world classics in English!

I feel that it will be still popular outside the metros and big cities where children still read in their native languages.

In case they don't publish them anymore, will you, as a researcher on this subject, be able to impress upon them the need to re-print them again - at least the Mahabharata.

@ sujataiyengar: Thanks for the heads-up news. I will update the post accordingly. If you have more details about Ramesh Umrotkar, please do enlighten us with the same. Would love to read them.

@ sijo thaikkadan : My friend, no doubt Dilip Kadam is one of the brilliant artists to have evolved from our glorious comics industry from the past. All the artists at ACK, especially the league toppers, had an uncanny ability to adapt to whichever medium or genres (humour, horror,myth,etc.) they are drawing their art for, and adapt to the style which will suit the most to the same. But, still those who are passionate to see the intrinsic details, would able to notice that they are from the same artist. Kadam Studios, is still very much active, and Kadam's sons are each excelling in their own style.

I feel happy than ever to have rekindled the memories of our glorious childhood, filled and mixed with these wonderful releases, shaping our imagination and perception to this day. Thanks for your memories and comment, Sijo.

@ Aneesh: Not only Mahabharata, the ACK, under their new management, does not actively publish any of their titles in the Regional languages anymore. Their current focus seem to be only about reprinting the English Editions time again, coupled with concentrating on the initiatives of digitizing them into Animated DVDs, and TV Serials.

So I doubt, whether they would ever venture in Regional language prints again. I agree with your viewpoint that, Indian epics, and history can more easily be understood and stay native, if they are published in regional and national languages. ACK's old management saw the merit in that concept, but the new age one doesn't.

I have tried contacting ACK numerous times in the past, but it seems they aren't ready to invest their precious time, in listening to a mad fan from the old time anymore :)

Let's hope the reality bites them sooner than later :).

Readers of ack,

Please take a look at http://asciimb.com for an 'ascii-line-art' rendition of mahabharata.



Thanks for replying. Yes, hope they will see reason sooner than later..

Readers of ack,

Please take a look at http://asciimb.com for an 'ascii-line-art' rendition of mahabharata.


Hi Rafiq,
Do you have any idea whether they publish the regional language versions of the Mahabharata series anymore?(I am particularly interested in the Malayalam version).

As a child I enjoyed them immensely and now I want my child to have the same privilege.

Also, I personally believe that Indian epics are better read in Indian languages and the world classics in English!

I feel that it will be still popular outside the metros and big cities where children still read in their native languages.

In case they don't publish them anymore, will you, as a researcher on this subject, be able to impress upon them the need to re-print them again - at least the Mahabharata.

"While the 2nd Volume cover is a re-used from the 42 individual album covers drawn by Dilip Kadam, the rest two were newly drawn, by other artists, which is clearly noticeable from the style."

The cover art of the title 'The Kuru Princes' is taken from the ACK title 'Enter Drona' (original ACK # 337). The artist is Ramesh S. Umrotkar, who used to illustrate the cover of Tinkle as well during the late '80s/early '90s.

Arvind Iyengar
appu dot iyengar at gmail dot com

Hi Rafiq,
Is there a way we can contact ACK. I am looking for mahabharata and amar chitra katha malayalam version.

how can I get Mahabharata in malayalam?

yes anoop..me tooo insearch of mahabharath malayalam...thank god ihave collected some of them in Malayalam...i around 150 episodes i have....malayalam from poombatta and balaram amarchithrakatha...collecting from my childhood

Hi All,
CAn anyone tell me, how to get the 'monochrome-print' of Mahabharata?
(the older one, single color)
pls mail me to adarshpeter@rediffmail.com
Thank you

Hi Vishnu
Great to know you have that older collection
It is done in monochrome and great line art
How can I have that copy of the book
Can I get it scanned?
pls reply me on my mail or you can easily contact me at 9495359879


Hello,i would like to have entire mahabharata for our village library. Are there any sponsors you know who can help us,Thnks. Pratima

This is an amazing team work to bring down the great epic mahabharatha as a comic and making the story available to everyone...! Hats off to you guys! I enjoyed reading them thoroughly...

Hi guys,

I am looking for these ebooks or pdf if you have to complete my amar chitra katha collection.

Could someone email me at theaspirant01@yahoo.ca

I would really appreciate that. Thanks in advance

# Mahabharata 1: Veda Vyasa (329)
# Mahabharata 2: Bheeshma's Vow (331)
# Mahabharata 3: The Advent of the Kuru Princes (333)
# Mahabharata 4: The Pandavas at Hastinapura (335)
# Mahabharata 5: Enter Drona (337)
# Mahabharata 6: Enter Karna (339)
# Mahabharata 7: The Conspiracy (341)
# Mahabharata 8: The Escape (343)
# Mahabharata 9: The Birth of Ghatotkacha (345)
# Mahabharata 10: The Pandavas at Ekachakra (347)
# Mahabharata 11: Enter Draupadi (349)
# Mahabharata 12: Draupadi's Swayamvara (351)
# Mahabharata 13: The Pandavas Recalled to Hastinapura (353)
# Mahabharata 14: Arjuna's 12-Year-Long Exile (355)
# Mahabharata 15: A Hall of Yudhishthira (357)
# Mahabharata 16: The Pandavas Conquer the World (359)
# Mahabharata 17: Yudhishthira's Rajsooya Yajna (361)
# Mahabharata 18: Indraprastha Lost (363)
# Mahabharata 19: The Pandavas in the Forest (365)
# Mahabharata 20: Arjuna's Quest for Weapons (367)
# Mahabharata 21: Arjuna in Indraloka (369)
# Mahabharata 22: The Reunion (371)
# Mahabharata 23: Duryodhana Humbled (373)
# Mahabharata 24: The Twelfth Year (375)
# Mahabharata 25: The Pandavas at Virata's Place (377)
# Mahabharata 26: Panic in the Kaurava Camp (379)
# Mahabharata 27: Sanjaya's Mission (381)
# Mahabharata 28: Duryodhana Refuses to Yield (383)
# Mahabharata 29: Krishna's Peace Mission (385)
# Mahabharata 30: The War Begins (387)
# Mahabharata 31: Bheeshma in Command (389)
# Mahabharata 32: The Fall of Bheeshma (391)
# Mahabharata 33: Drona's Vow (393)
# Mahabharata 34: The Slaying of Abhimanyu (395)
# Mahabharata 35: Arjuna Fulfils His Vow (397)
# Mahabharata 36: The Battle at Midnight (399)
# Mahabharata 37: Karna in Command (401)
# Mahabharata 38: The Kurus Routed (403)
# Mahabharata 39: After the War (405)
# Mahabharata 40: Yudhishthira's Coronation (407)
# Mahabharata 41: The Ashwamedha Yajna (409)
# Mahabharata 42: The Celestial Reunion (411)

Tales of Arjuna -
Tripura -
Raja Raja Chola
048. Tarabai
062. Tulsidas
074. Ahilyabai Holkar
092. Sakshi Gopal -
098. Pundalik and Sakhu (Sukh-Bai)
104. Rani Durgavati -
123. Ekanath
132. Ranak Devi
150. Tales of Narada -
166. The Rani of Kittur
184. Aruni and Uttanka -
208. Jayadeva
223. Baladitya & Yashodharma -
229. Shankar Dev
292. Chokha Mela -
298. Damaji Pant and Narhari
336. The Fearless Boy -
398. Chennamma of Keladi
414. Mahatma Gandhi "The early days"
416. Mahatma Gandhi "The father of the nation"
830. Ganesha and the Moon
836. Thanjavur
839. Kubera
840. Saraswati
Dyan Chand
Mahatma Gandhi
The Golden Mongoose
Krishna And Shishupala
Samudra Gupta
Maharana Pratap

Where can I buy tamil mahabharatham

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