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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

Dec 31, 2009

Vimanika Comics - Moksha | The Sixth | #2 | 2009

It’s been long, since we last reviewed an Indian Comics initiative in detail. If you count-off the old classics like Tinkle and ACK, it’s indeed been quite a long time since we reviewed one such. In fact, it was exactly this same month, a year back, and it was about an initiative from the new kid on the block, Vimanika Comics, talking of their debut release (#0 & #1).

So, it is fitting that, when we thought of reviewing another title to close out the year 2009, we choose the #2 set from their stable, which was released early this year. So, without further adieu, here is the Moksha and The Sixth, with their second instalment.

Vimanika Comics: Moksha #2 Moksha #2 CoverMay 2009 | 32 Pgs | INR 40 | B5 | Color | Paperback

If you recollect, Moksha #1 detailed the re-entry of Lord Hanuman in the timeless valleys of Hindukush Mountains, as he saves little girl, Indi, and turns the guardian angel for her.

The issue also previewed the arrival of Parashuram, the other central character of the series, as he got a pupil Vimanika's depiction of Hellish Hellhimself, as he saves the Ashram from the clutches of evil forces.

Issue #2, picks up from the plot, where a Darker force re-enters the forbidden valleys, trying to stake its claim as the new master of underworld.

His first target, a place where the tortured souls lay rest, Hell ruled by Yamraj. And his goal, the incredibly powerful scythe.

By the time Yamraj knows about this hideous task, the darker force seems to have wasted the guards and retrieves his crown jewel, and makes way for its exit.

Indrajit Enters When the reserve guards try to unsuccessfully stop him on his course, the dark force is revealed as the Indrajeet, the son of demonic warlord Ravana, who was considered killed for good in the battle depicted in the Ramayana epic.

Meanwhile, distant memories haunt the Hanuman, as the visions of Sita’s Hanuman's Vision of Sita's Trialtrial on the court of Rama, flashes on his mind, as he witnesses the remains of Indi’s father, go up in flames. Hanuman promises that he would be the saviour of Indi, no matter what befalls on her.

Elsewhere, confusion reigns at the deserted plains where the Ashram of the Bhargawas (a sect in Brahmins) is located. The war of  words breaks out between the Brahmin sheers, and Parashuram, who has put an halt in there, on his voyage. Brahmins clearly don’t approve of Parashuram’s bloody ways, and call him as a threat to their teachings.

Parashuram defends his waysParashuram defends his methods, and warns them that the growing unrest Troubled clowds gatherwith Veesachs (a demonic group), is something to be faced with stiff action.

Just as he walks out of the ashram, he witnesses a sudden change in the weather, which forecasts evil. The same is witnessed by Hanuman too from the other side of the plain. Moksha #2 comes to a close, as the untold danger approaches.

Clearly the Moksha #2, is one of the best initiatives to have gone on the Graphic Novels class of India, 029in the past year. Eventhough, it can’t be termed as a GN, considering that it’s supposed to be a bi-monthly issue, spanning only 32 pages, the concept and the delivery are top-notch.

Guided under the watchful eyes of Karan Vir, the chief visionary of Vimanika, the script of little known Arnab Das, has been vivaciously brought to real life with the art of Dheeraj Verma. No wonder he was rated highly, when he joined Vimanika’s crew.

For examples, look at the depiction of the Hell by Dheeraj, which adorns the first page of the issue. Or the lavishing page, bringing the Court of Rama. The richness shows on the characterizations too, for instance the look of Yamaraj, has been given a touch of class.

Vimanika's Indrajeet DC's The Spectre At the same time, you can’t help but notice the similarity of Indrajeet’s look, with DC’s The Spectre. But, then again, even if it was intentional, don’t they say “Imitation is the best form of Flattery”? But the core lies, in the way, the character has been given a overhaul, with an Indian panache. Something, which has made it stand-out from the rest.

Golden Cursor Animation Awards 2009

The creative team has to be commended for mapping a whole new style of story-telling for Moksha. Now only time will tell, whether they would be able to keep the tempo and quality for the further instalments, which are due in the new year.

Recently Moksha was also in the news, as they received the newly constituted Golden Cursor Awards, for the year 2009. So, they have really set some balls rolling with their creation. Let’s hope the momentum is maintained, if not bettered.

The second one from Vimanika is The Sixth, which is supposed to hold the bigger brother status among the two. Did it really live upto the billing? is something which we will judge, after looking into the instalment.

The Sixth #2 continues the adventures and exploits of Karan Vir, as he tries to explore his roots, in order to know the reason behind his mysterious survival, from a terrorist attack on his life, which took place in Chicago Airport (Sixth #1).

Vimanika Comics: Sixth #2 The Sixth #2 coverMay 2009 | 32 Pgs | INR 40 | B5 | Color | Paperback

The exploration brings him to India, to the state of Punjab, and on his way to visit his childhood home, he faces a group Dev Daljit Singh in actionof men blocking the road, with a Sardar named Dev Daljit Singh, in the midst of action.

The well-built Dev, was about to massacre one of his attackers, as Karan intervenes to try restoring some peace.

Upon knowing that the conflict, was a result of a unpaid rent by Dev, Karan immediately volunteers to pay, to put the things to rest. Despite Karan’s help, Dev stays apprehensive about his money wielding habit.

Karan is denied access Moving on to his childhood home, an old mansion, located in the outskirts, Karan is denied access to enter the place, from an elderly figure. Karan knows that his long lost family still is located in there, but Divya, his secretary, consoles him that it could be because of his long absence.

On his road trip, Karan is haunted by a mysterious figure in his dreams, which reminds him again about his Karan is haunted by  Illusionsgoal, of Dev makes a Bollywood Stuntfinding who he really is. Karan is awaken by a road block, which brings two hooded  characters, who are hell bent on teaching him lessons for his intrusions in their land grabbing plans.

He gets an surprise aid from Dev, while despite the injury suffered on the attack, Karan suddenly shows phenomenal strength by stopping a barging tractor. Karan then decides to hire Dev as his bodyguard, and they leave Singhania entersenroute to Bihar, a place which Karan terms as the city of Knowledge and Wisdom.

As the Sixth #2 closes, the scene shifts back to New York City, as a business tycoon, and a supposedly gang lord, named Kuru Pratap Singhania, is introduced as the chief conspirator, behind the land acquisitions happening in the places, where incidentally Karan finds himself.

Frankly speaking, Sixth #2 is a great disappointment to me as a reader. The script certainly, is a big let-down, as there is no connectivity between plots and characters which are interwoven, with a lot of emphasize on action, then storytelling. A Bollywood style entry for Dev, and Singhania, doesn’t help the matter either. Arnab Das, really could have worked harder.

Dheeraj's Editorial To make things difficult, the artwork of Dheeraj Verma, who did a remarkable work on Moksha #2, fails to live up-to the expectation. Some panels are better illustrated, but the consistency is lagging, throughout this 32 page adventure, which at some places is clearly goes begging, for improvement.

In the end, it seems the overwork of Dheeraj, as he simultaneously had to illustrate both Moksha and Sixth’s instalment, had put the artwork of Sixth wanting (which he admits in his editorial). With the jumbled script, it couldn’t have gone worse.

Neither Arnab or Dheeraj no more work for Vimanika, but, it isn’t the end of the road, as Karan promises that the next issue of Sixth, is going to be a better product. In fact, it would be a full blown Graphic Novel, by the name of Legend of Karna, or LOK, as he likes it to be called.

The issue is currently out, and I had the chance to experience it, and should agree that it’s a phenomenal achievement, way better than any of Vimanika’s earlier attempts. But then again, it’s a topic for a different post, so we will see about that in the new year.

"Vimanika is pretty careful in not diluting the mythological legends, while devising their plots. In short, they stay close to the source, and invent within a rigid boundaries."

While taking an overall check, Sixth and Moksha #2, are indeed a way better instalments, despite their shortcoming, then the #1 set which came out last year.

There are some remarkable improvements, especially in the editorial, as the spelling mistakes, which was quite a sore sight in #0 or #1 issues, has now been taken care of, as renowned former Marvel editor, Nel Yamatov, freelanced for Moksha #3 LOK #1the #2 set. But, still those glaring spelling mistakes could be found in the other feature pages, which I am sure wouldn’t have passed Yamatov’s care :).

Both Moksha and Sixth #2 issues are currently available on sale in newsstands, with a bonus free #0 issue accompanying the package. So, pick them up if you would like to catch up on the action, before the #3 issues hit the stands.

Here are the Previews, for Moksha #3 and Sixth #3 (which would incidentally be LOK #1). I will leave to make your call, on the breathtaking Cover arts. I love them, and eagerly looking forward for the same.

With this I end our Vimanika #2 set review post, which had been long pending. I now feel a shy of relief, as I had to come up with a lot of excuses to Karan of Vimanika, for the post’s whereabouts. At the end of the day, whether he would a pleased man, with this review, is something which only he could reveal to all :)New Year 2010 FireworksAnd before I close, Tinkle Happy New Year 2010Wish you all a Happy New Year 2010, my friends.

New Year 2010May more and more comics shower at your doorsteps, and you be richer by more wealth and joy at your disposal :). Remember to spend quality time with your family, but also remember to chase your own dreams, at your own rights.

Here is a Tinkle Greeting, which I received today, and thought would be a nice way to share the joy, with some of the favourite characters, who made our childhood memories sweeter. Adios Amigos !!

Dec 25, 2009

Amar Chitra Katha #10003 – Jesus Christ – 2008

We are back into a seasoned time, lit up by smiles and joy abound on the faces and hearts of one and all. Yes It’s that time of the year, when the religious barriers take a back seat, and people know only one way to spread their joy, by sharing it with others. The Christmas eve.

In staying with the spirit of the occasion, here at Comicology, we are going to review a title which owes much to the celebration. And there is no surprise, that we eventually had to choose one of the legendary issues to have been released by the golden oldie, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), retelling the life and struggle of Jesus Christ.

By 1978, after being in business for nearly a decade, ACK had established themselves as the leading comics brand of India, with as many as 200+ titles to boast of a incredible line-up, which covered as many genres as possible, ranging from the Historical Legends, Warriors, to National Leaders, and Folktales.

But they weren’t the one to sit on the achievements, as they realized the need to try out newer horizons, and in the process break-away from the mould of 30 odd pages per release, which had become a de-facto standard for all International comics businesses. This restraint, was even evident in their longest running series Mahabharata, which incidentally was broken over 42 single issues.

Amar Chitra Katha #10003 – Jesus Christ 
ACK-10003 Jesus Christ c1 
June 2008 | 96 Pgs | INR 80 | B5 | Color | Paperback

So, they decided to start a special series, leaving their monthly issues intact, which saw them releasing two titles eventually in 1978 - Dasha Avatar, retelling the 10 Incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and Valmiki’s Ramayana.

But, this change wasn’t a pretty successful one, as more number of pages in a single issue meant, obviously a higher price tag. Since, much of the readership of ACK that time was built on by targeting the younger readership, who relied on their parents to get these issues for them, they had to be content with the regular issues, as the middle class family life, didn’t allow the parents to honour the steep price increase.

But, ACK Management, under the governance of India Book House (IBH), weren’t going to let their Special issue concept die down. They eventually followed up with another Special release in 1980, which this time touched another sect of people of India. This special issue, was the eventual first publishing of Jesus Christ.

We don’t know how successful this special venture business turned out for ACK that time, as after this release they never ventured on a special issue again until the 21st century. (The only contradiction was the 3 set volumes collecting the entire Mahabharata series.)

But, it was no doubt a cherished issue among comic collectors, which brought the incredibly talented artist Pratap Mulick, into more limelight. In June 2008, under the newly formed management, ACK republished this special issue, which is the version we are going to review in our post.

Title opens up with Christ's messageMulick's rendition of the God The script for the title was written by a scholar,
Dr. Drakshathota Aruliah, which was brought into life by Pratap Mulick, under the guidance of Anant Pai.

The story starts with the year 740 B.C., revisiting the God’s appearance before Prophet Isaiah, and directing him as the messenger to foretell, the coming of God’s own son, to the earthlings.

Worried Joseph confronted by Messenger The scene then shifts to Palestine, which was then ruled by the tyrant Roman king, Herod.  In a town called Nazareth, a young maiden, Mary, is visited by the holy messenger Gabriel, conveying to her that she will bear the God’s son. A Birth of the Childconfused Joseph, to whom Mary is betrothed too, is also visited by Gabriel, upon which he decides to adopt Mary and her unborn child.

Visited by MercenariesWhile Mary was still pregnant, they had to visit Bethlehem, where after failing to find a place to stay, they decide to spend the night at a stable out of the town, where eventually Mary gives birth to a child. Mary decides to call the child as Jesus, touted to be the Hope of Israel.

Soon after, a hoard of shepherds visit the stable, having come to know of the divine The wrath of Herodbirth, who are then joined by three messengers, who followed a star, which was to lead them to the future King of Israel.

These new uproar, turn the the tyrant king Herod restless, and after his misattempts to find the sacred one, he orders to kill all infants, aged less then two years, in and around Bethlehem.

This makes Joseph and Mary to flee the town, and escape to Egypt, but the Jesus shows his Knowledgepoor souls of Bethlehem, had to face the wrath of the king, by being witness to their newborn murdered right in front of their eyes. Some years later, after hearing upon King’s death, Joseph and Mary settle back in Nazareth, where Jesus grows up to be a studious boy.

Jesus Baptised Jesus shows incredible wealth of knowledge, even in his tender age, and is respected among one and all. But he continues to remain restless over a bigger things awaiting him, having sensed his divine birth.

He continues his father’s carpentry business, and the age of 30, he was  Jesus returns Devil's OfferBaptised by a new preacher called John, near the river Jordan.

Before his gathering Having filled with the holy spirit, he visits the nearby mountains, where he is coaxed by the Devil, but returns with his holy self to preach about the coming of the Kingdom of God. Where he also finds his first 12 disciples, which includes Simon, Andrew, and others.

Problems starts Followed by his disciples, Jesus visits town after town, where he showcases his divine power, by raising the dead, and possessed, back to life. This makes more poorer souls to come to him, to whom Jesus preaches the way of true happiness, and the importance of Faith and Prayer.

During this time he also promises to his followers that he will rise again as the king Jesus declares the Arrivalof the world, obviously referring to his origin. These preaching's irate the other Priests, who feel that their teachings and way of life, are being put to shame, by this newcomer, whom they feel his trying to make himself as the Judge of the whole world.

This growing unrest, and division of ranks, results in the irate Priests, to Judas betraysdisallow all of them who follow Jesus, from entering the sacred temples, governed by them. And Jesus starts preaching to his disciples, that the day won’t be far when he would be buried by them, due to their hatred, but promises to rise back from grave, as promised before.

Jesus and his TestsAs suspected, the council of high priests, decide to arrest Jesus, for his preaching's against their beliefs, and they bribe Judas, one of his  disciples, to identify Jesus for the lawmakers do their job. With Judas’s betrayal, Jesus is finally arrested after a supper, which he pre-called as the Last one.

Father and Son reuniteJesus is then led by the high priests to the Roman Governor, Pilate, who fears that the divine presence bestowed on him, would make him a sinner,  if he does punish him as per the High priests. So he lets the public decide on his fate, whom, having been coaxed by the Priests, orders a severe punishment, which sees Jesus being scourged and then finally led to his crucification.

The Awakening The madness finally come to the end, with Jesus leaving his holy body, after being crucified. He is put to rest in a tomb, where the Priests manage to put guards on duty to block his disciples from stealing the body, to prove that he has risen from death.

Heavenly Bound But his premonitions, come true, as Jesus comes back to life from his tomb, and visits all his disciples, and advises them to spread his preaching and message to all the world. He promises that he will be with them till the end of time, before leaving for his heavenly home.

His disciples are then shown to travel the world and beyond to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, and show them the path to holy living.

Thus ends, this incredibly drawn, retelling saga of Jesus Christ. ACK’s professionalism, and the belief to stay true the legends and common beliefs, was best explained in the way in which they portrayed the life of Jesus Christ within this 90 and odd pages, which were only brought into reality, with the sketches of talented, late Mulick sahab.

The issue is more significant, as since the days I first read it, I am yet to see a Jesus Christ graphic novel, which even filled 10% of what was told in this ACK issue, leaving aside the quality of the artwork in those attempts, which is best left rather than being talked about.

It’s really saddening, to not find much details about this greatest artist, which is a similar story for all the Indian creators of this medium in the bygone era. One of the reasons, for which I am eagerly looking forward to the long planned Chitrakatha Documentary project, which is sure to set things straight, by bringing these creators life into limelight.

Till then we can only hope to celebrate this talented artist, by buying this ACK edition. For which you only have to reach out to your nearby bookshop, or order them through the ACK store. One advantage, of ACK has always been their reprints, which makes these classic titles immune, to run out of stock.

But talking of which, it’s the same strategy which also leads us to a position where the golden oldie ACK, always remains only in our memories, as they never venture on adding any new titles to their stable. If only the visionaries like Anant Pai would have been at the helm of the business, things could have been much different.

Original: Even though this ACK title, Jesus Christ, was published in June 2008, as noted above, this edition is a reprint of the one originally published in 1980. As you Ack #3 (1980)could see, the cover has been digitally re-mastered for the 2008 edition, which has resulted in a better presentation, celebrating the artwork, of the talented Pratap Mulick.

ACK 10003 Foreword (2008)ACK Special #3 Foreword (1980)There is only one change from the original, a carefully removed reference of India Book House (then owner of ACK brand), in the Foreword written by Cardinal Lawrence, the then President, of Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s Indian chapter.

The foreword by such higher authority of Christianity, boasts well on the fact that, ACK hasn’t compromised any of the legitimacy while retelling the life of Christ. Something for which, the ACK brand is renowned even now.

SM-19881125  Yesunaathar AdvtJesus Christ in Tamil: My first encounter with this remarkable issue, was not in its original form, but as a serialized feature in the South Indian Tamil weekly for kids, Siruvar Malar. As discussed during our Flashback post on Malar, it then had a long running business deal with ACK, through their Rang Rekha Features syndicates. This deal allowed them access to their wide variety of classical series, among which Jesus Christ was one.

So, it was first advertised in their weekly issue, dated 25-Nov-1988, and SM-19881202  Yesunaathar covereventually started in their next issue, cover dated, 02-Dec-1988, as a 4 page feature. The entire issue was then serialized into 24 weekly episodes.

Look at the cover of the Siruvar Malar, which started the series. Malar generally reserves their cover for publishing the “reader sent” kids photographs, but the significance of such a big series meant, that Christ duly took his place on the cover. I believe the artwork was done by the renowned local artist, Aras.

The series was titled as Yesunaathar (இயேசுநாதர்), and boasted one of the best translations you could see in Tamil language, a fact for which Siruvar Malar had garnered a huge reputation among the children's, including myself. The present state of which, is something best left to remain in the backburner. It’s a poor shadow of its glorious past, and I am only sympathetic towards the current generation of kids, who have to witness this sub-standard quality of magazines, thrown at them. No wonder, they despise them for the Video games, and TV movies.

Nevertheless, here is the first episode as it was published in Siruvar Malar, to witness the translation on your own.

SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p01SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p02SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p03SM-19881202  Yesunaathar e01p04

The only difference to the entire series, was the last page which was published in the 24th episode, SM-19890512 Yesunaathar e24p04which I haven’t seen either in the 1980 or 2008 edition of ACK. Could it have been created by our local artists ? I doubt, since the details of the panel are pretty professional. If you know, please share your findings with us.

The Passion of Christ The only rendition in the bigger screen, I remember to have seen, close to this ACK venture, was Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ. The torture scenes portrayed in the film, especially the one charged on Jesus in the trial court, is something you would never forget in your life.

But, the fact that those real sufferings have shown the Path of Light for so many ardent followers, emphasizes the significance of Christmas eve. Those sufferings didn’t go vain.

With that note, I conclude my post on this ACK title, which I hope would have been a good read, for those who spent their valuable time, in browsing through my blah-blah :).

Before I close, here is wishing you all a Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays, along with your nears and dears. I leave you with some of the artworks, which garnered my attention in the local newspapers, in spirit of the occassion. Adios Amigos !

Jesus 00 Jesus 01 Jesus 02Jesus 03

References: John Thompson’s ACK Index

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