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Showing posts with label Celebrity Comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celebrity Comics. Show all posts

Mar 28, 2009

Celebrity Comics – Ultimate Shower of Love – II

Just in case, if you had forgotten, I did promise to have our second and concluding part of V-Day Special Comicology Post.  So here it is.  In that comic post, we looked at the successful (?!!) attempts on bringing the celebrities into Comics format, but here are the ones who missed out on the bus, and remained only in concept and ill-driven media news.

Kkrish Movie Krrish (2006): It was the first mainstream movie from Bollywood, which featured an Indian Authentic Superhero, in the form of Hrithik Roshan, who is undoubtedly a talented actor.  It was sequel to Koi Mil Gaya (2003), which itself was inspired by the Hollywood blockbuster Spielberg movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).  The movie centres around Krrish, the titular character, who had inherited superhero powers from his father, and creates a secret identity to defend the world against an evil scientist, played by one of my favourite actor, Nasureedin Shah.  The lady love was portrayed by Priyanka Chopra. 

Wonder, does she have a in-ept ability, as having been featured in two movies as lady-love to Superhero.  Well, she certainly has the physique to match up to that reputation. 

The movie was a blockbuster of success, and there were talks of it being merchandised in many forms, which included a series of Comics titles. But the producers then decided to concentrate on the next movie Krrish 2, thus shelving the project, at least temporarily.

This gave a chance for Drona, to hit the stands later as the first Bollywood Superhero to be printed in form of Comics, but the fact remains Krrish was lot better to have owned that credit.  Often, Krrish is touted as the first Superhero of India, but the fact is that Big B, scored ahead of him with Supremo, even though that was never made into mainstream. (Read more about Drona & Supremo, in our V-Day post).

Superhero TendulkarThe Master Blaster (2007): It was time for another Cricketer, to be made as a Superhero, this time another batting legend, Sachin Tendulkar, was touted to be the Superhero.  The series was coined by the erstwhile Virgin Comics, with Sachin’s alter-ego being named “The Master Blaster”.  Sachin Tendulkar was actually brought in as a business partner, to get his involvement to the project, and there was a huge media euphoria, when the series was announced.  Sachin was shown wearing a full body-armour, with a flowing thunderous Bat as his weapon. A real “Bat-Man”, you can say. 

Blaster in ActionBut, what followed was India’s abysmal performance in Cricket World Cup 2007, which prompted Virgin to drop their initial plans, and we were saved from witnessing this ill conceived concept, which even if it had materialized would have met the same fate as Supremo & Supersleuth.

He-ManThe first issue, which was supposedly being drawn by Jeevan J Kang (Spiderman India fame), was scripted as the Blade of the Masters, fighting a villain whose amulet of power holds 11 spirits.  Imagine that, they conceived him to change to his superhero avatar, by simply flashing his bat… eeks.

Doesn’t this characterization resemble much on the He-Man, from the Masters of the Universe animated TV series, back then.  Oops, and they were touting this as an Original concept.  Oh yes, I believed.

Superhero Priyanka

Princess Anamika/Priyanka (2007): After playing lady-love to both Indian Superheroes, it was a chance for Priyanka to make her own foray as a full-fledged Superheroine, or at least it was touted to be.  The publishing house, was again Virgin Comics, who after their failed attempt to create Celebrity comics early in the year, tried to cash in on the popularity of Priyanka Chopra, by touting her as a Wonder-Woman styled Super heroine, to base a series of comics and graphic novels on her.

The quote from the Virgin Comics that time on Priyanka’s supposed Superhero concept was

The superhero in question is an adopted girl who discovers she is the latest in a line of princesses with great mystical power and a sworn duty to take down evil wherever it lurks. 

Well it sounds, more like a Bollywood movie.  Luckily, we didn’t end up witnessing this comic series too, as Virgin Comics started having their own administrative and marketing problems and decided to halt their involvement in India for the time being (which they are yet to come out from).

No wonder they had problems.  They just paid the price for deviating away from their original and niche concept of basing comic series based on Indian mythologies, and tried to imitate and gain the mass-media attention and business by making superheroes out of media celebrities.  The result was there to been seen by all.

I have no qualms over Priyanka Chopra, who was Ms.World beauty contest winner for all her figure and charisma, and is one of the best actors in Bollywood at present.  But conceptualising her as a Comic series superheroine, eeks… Good that we were saved from witnessing it.  Euro Books, who later launched Drona Prequel Comics, were also planning to revive this concept which was put in cold store, by planning to make Priyanka in Comics format.  The result of Drona put this plan also into the backburner.

Priyanka Chopra Comics News Mar09 But recently, there was confusing media attention about Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin group, who was also the man behind the Virgin Comics, who then pulled the plug of out them.  It talks about Branson still being interested in casting Priyanka Chopra as a Comic heroine.

I don’t know how this media news came about, as this was originally a concept pioneered by the Indian creators at Virgin, and all those initial concepts are now owned by Liquid Comics.  All the news medias which I read about this new announcement seems to have taken excerpts out of the old news archives which came about in 2007.  

So I believe it is just a mistake by some media goon, as I don’t see Branson starting a comic business just to feature Priyanka in that.  But he is known for crazy things, so I don’t put my money on him. God Please save us.

Shadow Hunter 01

Shadow Hunter (2008): But Virgin Comics, was not to be denied.  Like the unsatisfied evil spirit, they went after their concept of basing comics series on celebrities, this time trying their luck in America, with their newly conceptualised Voices brand showcasing celebrities not linked to comics industry, to also create and pioneer their own comic series. 

There were numerous ones, which came out of that result, but only one of them was truly to be called a Celebrity Comics, because that particular individual decided to create a story in keeping up with the original story of thyself.  It was the Prom Queen, Jenna Jameson, who created a limited edition comic series, with a female superheroine named Shadow Hunter.

This was the official quote from Virgin Comics, that time:

Shadow Hunter, is the story of a provocative superheroine who survives a brush with death only to find herself fighting the legions of hell for her very soul. The story, while provocative and sexy, contains no nudity and is intended for a mainstream audience

Even though, this particular series was not based on any Indian Superstars, it had to find its place in our Celebrity Comics post, to map the freefall which Virgin Comics took ever since the series was published. It ultimately saw them wrapping up their projects, and going for a management buyout, with the resultant product being named Liquid Comics, which at present stands as per its name.

As a mid-post bonus to those who read the post up-till now, here are the covers of that 4 part mini series.  Enjoy !!

Shadown Hunter 02 Shadown Hunter 03Shadown Hunter 04 Shadown Hunter 05

This was not the scenario, when comics publishers like Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), were basing their comics titles on acclaimed national leaders, and successful entrepreneurs.

ACK Mahatma GandhiACK Ambedkar

Now the new breed of comics publishers seems to be toeing the American way, and trying to be one-up over them in bringing commercial characters into comics format.

The question remains, do they really love the Comics business, or do they only aim to see it as a money-making business? I hope normality ensures, and comics publishers take lessons from other publishers ill fate, who toed the line and seen their readers market erode.

As much as we despise, the American influence on commercialisation of comics, there is no denying of the fact that at times they did produce comics on legendary characters, without changing their originality, one such case was the comics based on legendary martial arts superstar Bruce Lee

Kung Fu Series Rani Comics 51 - One of the first Bruce Lee Comics Erstwhile Rani Comics and Indrajal Comics in India, had featured Bruce Lee Comic books in their line-up, which probably might have come from the British Genre.  Taking a cue out of them, American major comics giant Marvel, started a series inspired by Bruce Lee, named “Kung Fu” in 1974.

The series, which was drawn and inked by Superman,Batman fame Neal Adams, featured a series of fictional Martial art superstars, who were led in front by a characterization of Bruce Lee himself.  The series ran for a total of 33 issues, spanning until 1977.

That was not all, in 1994 Malibu Comics, a now defunct independent comics publisher, also ran a 6 issue mini-series featuring Bruce Lee as their titular character. The series was part of their comic series about Mortal Kombat game series.

Bruce Lee Malibu Issue 1 ArtBruce Lee Comics - Malibu 01Bruce Lee Malibu Issue 1 CreditsHere is the Credit page, and a sample of the Inner artwork, which proves that the quality of the comics was at the top level. Especially the close-up shots of Bruce Lee and detailed fighting scenes, which seems to have been inspired by the legendary Bruce Lee movies.

Here are the covers of 4 other titles from the series. Don’t they give an impressive look, I would love to own this series in my collection. (Pics:

Bruce Lee Comics - Malibu 02Bruce Lee Comics - Malibu 04Bruce Lee Comics - Malibu 05Bruce Lee Comics - Malibu 06

The reception to the series, which is now considered as a Collectors Item, does say that comics enthusiasts and fans always been receptive about comic series created with original and legendary personas from the past, and not the commercially motivated ones dished out by the likes of Virgin Comics.  It’s now left to the publishers to decide, what they make out of the reality.

Now that we have looked into the comics publishers attempts to build comic characters out of commercial personas, it will be good that we end the post by talking about some of the other attempts in our own Bollywood movie industry, which saw some famous comic characters like Superman and Tarzan, being brought in with a Indian touch. Obviously, without proper permission or copyrights.

Tarzan IndiaAdventures of Tarzan (1985): The plot of the movies goes like this.  Ruby Shetty, a beautiful and attractive young woman, lives a wealthy lifestyle with her widowed dad.  His dad ventures on to the deep jungles of India to find a fabled tribe in the Shakabhoomi region, where others have gone - but never returned.

Ruby also decides to follow her dad, and meets up with him near the jungle's edge, where she is introduced to a man named D.K., who her dad like her to get married to. The following few days Ruby has a number of misadventures and is rescued by an ape-like man who is called Tarzan, and both fall in love with each other. Tarzan cannot speak any language but is intrigued by Ruby, much to the chagrin of D.K., whose task is to capture Tarzan and take him to work for Krishnakant Verma, who owns Apollo Circus. Before Tarzan and Ruby's romance could take wing, Tarzan is captured, chained and taken to the circus. But by the help of the wild animals who attack the city, Tarzan gets freed, and marries Ruby and lives happily ever after.

Kimi Katkar 2Kimi Katkar 1Almost a complete ridicule,  of the legendary Tarzan character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which simply borrowed the original plot, and added Bollywood of Masala Mix, and oomph factor.  One saving grace of the movie was the Ruby (Jane Porter equivalent) character portrayed by Kimi Katkar.

A little know actor that time, she was propelled to star fame, with her dare bare act, and smooching scenes in the movie. No wonder the movie was a hit, just because of her presence. Movie frantics would remember, that at the top of her career, she even played lady love of Amitabh Bachan, in the 1991 Bollywood blockbuster movie Hum, which had a star cast of Bollywood Comedian Govinda, and South-Indian Super Star, Rajinikanth. One of the popular songs of the movie was Jumma Chumma De De (and arguably part the reason for the success of the movie), which had Bachan & Katkar dancing to the tune of a music inspired by an African musician.

Superman IndiaSuperman (1987): It was time for Superman to feature in a Bollywood movie, again unofficially.  In this Indian take on the classic superhero story, a young baby from the doomed planet Krypton is sent to Earth, where he is adopted by an elderly couple in India who name him Shekhar. The role of Shekhar, was played by Puneet Isaar, who is more famously known as the actor who played the character of Duryodhana in the famous Mahabharata TV Serial, aired on Doordarshan (DD) from 1988 to 1990.

After growing to an adult and learning about his origins and powers, Shekhar goes to the city in search of his school sweetheart, Gita, who has become a newspaper reporter. At the same time, Verma, Shekhar's rival for Gita's affection in their school days, has gone on to become a crime lord and general super-villain. Verma has hatched at plan to become rich by devastating part of India with natural disasters, then buying up all of the abandoned land. Will Superman/Shekhar be able to put a stop to Verma's evil plan? Will he win Gita's heart? Will he keep his double identity a secret? well, those are answered in the rest of the movie.  No surprises, because it is a same plot of the original Superman character.

Unlike Tarzan, this didn’t have any saving grace, even though Bollywood star Dharmendra donned the role of Superman’s father.  It was a total failure at the box-office, and till date remains the worst example of a Bollywood parody, and continues to be a butt of joke on all foreign movie review sites.  A best example of them is on, who have given a complete review with the hilarious touch, for the so called Indian Superman. 

Superman 1960 HindiSuperman (1960): But this wasn’t the first ever Superman takedown in Bollywood. Yes, indeed there were two attempts earlier as way back in 1960 itself, even before the official Superman film released in 1978. Surprising as it may sound, its indeed true, even though on a worst quality.

Return of Mr SupermanManmohan Sabir directed this 1960 feature, but he had a competition from another director named Mohammad Hussain who also was making a movie on the same DC character, with the film simply titled as ‘Superman’. Thus, Sabir decided to name his movie as ‘Return of Superman’, without any meaning to the word ‘Return’, as both of them had the same story of Superman’s Origin bundled with Bollywood Masala Mix.

But there was a connection indeed, as both movies had then famous actor Jairaj, playing the protagonist. Obviously, the second movie is much more famous (?!) then the first one, so here is a VCD cover for the movie. Make what you want out it.

Now, who is out there who says that Superman is American…  You only have to laugh looking at the Superman costume, but if you still insist, here is a complete review of this movie, from a blogger named TODD.  Enough Said.

Dariya Dil (1988): No Indian Superhero movie would be complete, without mentioning about a ultimate cross-over of DC & Marvel, in our own Indian version.

Dariya Dil (1988)

It was a movie featuring Govinda, and Kimi Katkar (again), which actually didn’t have a plot revolving around Superheroes. But one of the songs in the movie, saw Govinda in a Superman Suit, and Kimi Katkar in a Spider-Woman costume, dancing to a Bollywood tune. I must say more than Govinda, Kimi seems to be a good fit for the costume :). Here is a YouTube video featuring the legendary (?!!) song. Isn’t that Funny :).

SupermanvsSpider-Man 1976 (c) I only wonder what would have been the reaction of DC & Marvel, had they seen this less talked about movie song.  I agree they wouldn’t care, but the fact remains that they took more than 4 decades since their inception during the Golden Age of American Comics, to have agreed on common terms to have a first ever superhero cross-over in form of Superman/Spiderman in 1976.

But, it took only a dream song in the minds of the lead cast and a couple of costume stitches, to get this concept into fruition in our sweet old Bollywood. :)  As funny it may sound, It’s time we start respecting the copyrights held by the publishers. If only there any listeners, to this morale in the free world.

Arkin Comics Arkin Customized Comics Advt And what’s more there is a new comic publishing company in India, in the name of Arkin Comics, who seem to have copyrighted a new concept, where we could get to feature as a hero in a Solo Comic title on our own.  They call it Customized Comics, and few titles are currently online, at a price close to INR 1000. At least, this is something new, from the celebrity comics junk, we have been dished out earlier.  This could really serve as a good gift for some kids or teens, on their birthday party.  You could learn more about this on their corporate site.

IrithTalks are also on about another pioneer Comic series from the same publishers, titled IRITH, featuring a Hi-Fi Anti-Terrorists Super Squad, on the backdrops of 26/11 Mumbai attack.  The first title is scheduled to be on stands in April this year, which is billed as a product out of a team of 20+ artists.

Even though, it is a sensitive subject to take your bets on, I am much more hopeful, because that has Ramayana 3392AD comic series fame, writer Shamik Dasgupta, on the cards.

Even though, the series reminds me a lot on the lines of The 99 Series from Teshkeel Comics, discussed over here at Comicology earlier, I hope it will be different in content as it involves a modern day menace, than the former.

Talking of which, there is a comic post pending on the further issues of The 99 Series, soon at Comicology.

And that brings us to the close of our V-Day Special 2 part comic posts.  Hopefully, you would have found this post useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it. Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another old comics review post shortly. Adios Amigos !

Feb 14, 2009

Celebrity Comics – Ultimate Shower of Love – I

valentines-day We are back with another Special post at Comicology, which is right in time with the event at present, the V-Day.  With tons of news floating around with the so called Moral Police, and their crazy scenes flashing on screen disrupting the peoples lives, it should be said that India is yet to come to terms with the changing global order.  All said and done I strongly feel that Love, also applies to the good feelings you share with your nears and dears, and need not always be your love interest.  If some decide to showcase their love by marking a day in calendar, what’s the harm?  So, my principle is give them their personal space, and get a life of your own.

DC's Love Stories DC's Falling In Love Just in case, if you are wondering what does Comicology has to do with this topic, hold-on, as I here we have a topic which is going to toe closely with the V-Day concept.  If we had been living in Western worlds (and esp. in 80’s), then I could have used some Love based Comics to mark the occasion (like the ones next, not that I like them).  Since, we live in a more conservative and cultured country, our topic for the post, is a different take on V Day, with Comics based on Celebrities.  Isn’t making Comics based on living celebrities is actually a way of expressing love towards their real persona? Well with that context let’s move on to the post.

Fellow comicologist Aalok, also adds that a comics named “Fort” had published one shot romantic stories in India.  I should admit I have never seen any of those issues so far, probably intimating that it was not wide-spread.

Using Celebrities in Comics, have long been in practice.  Obviously, the American Genre, which introduced new themes and concepts to Comics as a whole, have had made quite a few comics on the living celebrities, and continue to do so.

Mohammad Ali Vs SupermanPrincess Diana awakens as a MutantTV Host Jay Leno with Spider ManSpider Man Saves Obama's Inauguration

Even though they claim to have conceptualized only as a spoof, and in some cases parody, some of them were in poor taste,and in most cases they were intended to cash on the popularity of the celebrity. But, there was a clear line; in the fact that, they were all mostly one-shots, and weren’t planned as a full-blown series (at least to start of with).
(Pics Courtesy:

But, here in India, we are so generous that we consider our Celebrities, especially the Movie & Sports stars, as something bigger than life. So, there was no surprises that a handful of initiatives, were taken on to immortalize few of those loved ones into Comics. Let’s look at some of those famous(?!) attempts in that process.

Supremo's 1st Issue (c) (c) Supremo: The Adventures of Amitabh Bachchan (1982)

Supremo in Second Ever Issue (c) TCPThe Bollywood Super-Star Amitabh Bachchan (or Big B as he is fondly called), at the peek of his acting career, was conceptualized as a Super-Hero in disguise, named Supremo, in his own comic series, by Gulzar, another Bollywood celebrity himself, known for his songs and poems.

Gulzar wrote the scripts for the Supremo comic series, which was published by India Book House (IBH), under their Star Comics banner.  Pratap Mulik managed the artwork, by heading a team of artists who worked on the scripts together.

Supremo wears a skin-tight Costume in Pink, with a Air-Marshal like face goggles, to hide his original identity.  To top it all, the initial page even carried a personal hand-written request from Mr.Bachchan, requesting the readers to keep his identity as a "secret".

One saving grace, though was that Supremo didn’t have any so-called super-powers. He had the combination of strength and agility to defeat his human adversaries, and intelligence to get out of traps laid for him.  So there was never a chance for him being shown stopping Trains, carrying Aeroplanes.  We were saved, at least to that extent.


Supremo in Action

Amitabh with 1st Ever Supremo Comics (c) At over 6 feet, Bachchan was indeed a subject worth to talk about, but did he deserve his masked hero status? especially when everyone knew his real identity.

That’s one for a worthy debate.

In short, even if the Big B fans were not made happy, with this short-lived comic series, at least Mr.Bachchan himself would have been a happy soul to see him being pictured in Comics.

The picture where he holds the comic, was when the owners of the cherished collection met him on a production set. Read more about it from their own account, by clicking here. And also another post over here, which talks about how the duo found this issue. Talks much about the craze this Bolly star, had during the peak of his career. No wonder he had a comic title on his name.

Rajni as SuperheroThis particular series, was imitated and copied over in other States of India, especially in South, where Rajni Kanth, a famous movie star, was portrayed as a Special Agent himself in a Comic series in Tamil Nadu.  While in Kerala, Mamooty, another movie star, was featured in a similar type of comic series.  Poonthalir, which was then a monthly children's magazine, which had its presence in Tamil Nadu and Kerala (as Boombaata) could have been behind this ill-conceived cheap imitation, which did its worst imitation of the Supremo series.  Scripts were poor, Artwork was blunt, to say the least. So they don’t deserve to be included in this list, but just for a complete coverage, here is a small screenshot from the comics, where Rajni played the Super Agent.

Kapil Dev in Comics Ad Kapil Dev: Adventures of a Cricketer (1982)

The next Indian Superstar, was obviously had to be picked up from the second biggest Indian media, Cricket (In India, it isn't merely Sports, for the unknown).  Kapil Dev, who was considered one of the all time great all-rounder in this form of sport, was also tried as a Hero in Comics. 

Although, this was initially made as a Three One-Page advertisement articles for BSA SLR brand Bi-Cycles in India, the plans were there to be featured him as full-fledged comic character, closely following his real-life exploits on the cricketing field.

The one-page advertisements were often featured in the back-cover of erstwhile Indrajal Comics (from the house of Times of India), very regularly.  But the concept never took center stage, and it petered out real quickly. 

So, whether or not it would have become an success, was never known to any Comics fans. But I presume that it would have earned reasonable success, for the reason that Kapil was supposed to be portrayed only with his real-life persona, and his life as Cricketer, unlike the other gimmicks things which were attached to the former Supremo.

Kapil was almost an Ad Exclusive Comic cricket star, as he was involved with another full-length comic issue, this time to promote the Action Shoes brand, for which he was an Ambassador then.  The book was titled Action Grah Ke Waasi (a Hindi title, which literally means “The Citizen of Action Planet”), which was published by Diamond Comics in India.  The book was largely distributed as an Ad feature, so it didn’t reach all sects, so I couldn’t grab any scans for the same.  Thanks again to Aalok for alerting me on this issue.

Sunny The Supersleuth 1st Issue Sunny The Supersleuth: The Adventures of Sunil Gavaskar (1984)

The loss of Kapil Dev, was the gain of another cricket team-mate of his,
Sunil Gavaskar, as it was his time to share the limelight. Gavaskar, who held many batting world records during his lengthy and illustrious career, was feared and respected the world over for his batting prowess.  Especially when the fiery, tall, fast bowling legends walked the face of Cricket, during his era.  He was considered a hero then, so no surprises when he was picked to don the next superhero role, albeit in Comics. (Pic Courtesy:

It was the brainchild of Bharat and Shalan Savur, couples and full-time journalists, who were actually inspired by Bachan’s Supremo act, and wanted to create a Cricket fiction (“Cri-fi” as they named it).  The artist for the series was Prabhakar Wairkar, who was chosen among a list of commercial artists.  They decided to name the character "Sunny The Supersleuth" (sleuth synonyms with Detective).  The series was distributed by erstwhile India Book Distributors (IBD).  I couldn’t get hold of any sample pages of the interior artwork, but going by the cover art I believe they were done with a professional touch.

But what made the 5 ft 5 in persona to be touted as a Superhero, first-up.  To know more, here is an excerpt from an interview with Bharat Savur, by Narayan Radhakrishnan, a new Comicologist from Kerala (who actually suggested me initially to blog on this topic at Comicology, thanks to him, and for his valuable info about Sunny Comics)

“Shalan and I were both into full-time journalism [in the early to mid-80s]; Shalan with Savvy and I with Debonair. So, the comic-book project was, of necessity, an after-office hours one.  Sunil Gavaskar’s consent was obtained first over the phone and then in person. Fortunately, Sunil and I had known each other since our St.Xavier’s College days. And had adopted parallel paths since then. Paths that crossed and blended – Sunil, of course, as a reputed Test cricketer; me, as a sports journalist in print and on TV [Bombay Doordarshan’s Sports Round Up.]. Being in touch on and off must have helped. For Sunil said, “Yes,” immediately. Alongside, Shalan already had a penchant for fiction—contributing short stories for children to publications like Bal Vihar [Chinmaya Trust]; Children’s World and even Eve’s Weekly. Thus, our quest to be the world’s first cri-fi comic book authors had a firm base.”

Sunny The Supersleuth Last Issue Sunny is shown as a superhero who battled cricketers from Bandookstan (parody?) and England on the field and, between games, took on evil magicians who lived beyond the outer range of the Himalayas.  Wasn’t it little too much for a Cricketer?  While some of his allies in the comics were named on the real Indian crickets, like Shashtri, Kirmani, etc., the foreign players were named differently, like Gotham for Botham, Usman for Imran and Bower for Gower.  Obviously they didn’t have the freedom to represent other cricketers in a commercial venture, without their permission, which wouldn’t have been a problem with understanding locals.  Surprisingly, his another team-mate, Kapil Dev, didn't make any appearance in the Comics. The professional and personal rivalry between them is well documented, so that is understandable too.

There were a total of 3 books released on this series, and after the initial euphoria petered out, the publishers pulled the plug out of the series; the 4th and the last in the series, was serialized in a some newspapers across India.

The only saving grace, on the entire episode, was that despite the shortcomings, the Savurs did have a great love towards the Comics genre, as it is highlighted in the closing notes of Bharat’s Interview.

“Looking back now, must say it was great fun conceiving and creating Sunny the Supersleuth.  Perhaps, we were a generation ahead of our times. We believed then—even more so now—that comic-books are the right medium for India.  Still a semi-literate country with a new ‘instant’ generation with a short attention span, the combination of words and visuals that comic-books bring have an ‘instant’ compelling appeal. We put this concept into practice by creating The World in Pictures.”

ShaktimanShaktimaan: The Adventures of Mukesh Khanna (1997)

If Movie and Cricket Stars can make it into Comics, why not a TV Star?  That what happened when Mukesh Khanna, known for his legendary role as Bheesm Pitamaha in Mahabharata TV Series (which aired on Doordarshan DD1, a state owned TV channel in India, on every Sundays), decided to turn Superhero himself, in the next full blown TV serial on the same channel. 

He brought up the concept “Shaktimaan”, which is actually a imitation over the Superman character itself.  Shaktimaan was pictured as a Superhero having super strengths, fighting the evil of darkness, by harnessing the mysterious powers within a human body, by meditation, and practice.  His alter ego is a Newspaper photographer, and shares a love interest towards fellow Newspaper journalist. 

Doesn’t it sound all the more familiar? Judgment is at your disposal.

Well, despite its copy-cat concept, and the visibly ageing Mukesh Khanna donning the lead role, the series was a hit among children, and generated a huge fan following for the star, among kids, obviously. I remember that one of my nephew actually wanted to get a gift of Shaktimaan costume for his birthday, and we tried hard and long in vain to get the same, as they were out-of-stock always. I still make fun of him (now in his Teens), for having a wish of that sort in his tender days, with his obvious discomfort.

Shaktiman Comics No wonder, Khanna decided to merchandise the brand name he garnered, by introducing Shaktimaan in Comics, under his corporate entity “Bheesm International”.  Probably the first time the Celebrity himself wanted to launch a Comics on him, while the previous two attempts were actually made by other fans and friends of the celebrities.

Shaktimaan Comics in DiamondInitially the Comics were featured in Diamond Comics, but the artwork was so poor that Khanna didn’t like the overall product himself.  The reason given to him by the publishers was that it is not yet mainstream, and this was a possible means to keep the costs in check.  He later moved the series to Raj Comics, known to have some talented bunch of artists and script-writers, who launched a series of special comics, this time around.  The series also didn’t have a long run, though Comics enthusiasts can grab some back-copies still available on the Internet.  Not that, I would be gunning for it either, they are best left to the kids. (Pic Courtesy: Raj Comics)

Fellow comicologist Siv also adds that Shaktimaan was also released in Tamil. Obviously, that would have been from Diamond Comics, who are known to have one of the largest distribution network among comics publishers.  But, it’s long since I remember seeing a Tamil version of any Diamond Comics.  May be they wanted to cash in on Shaktimaan’s popularity, which during its run on DD, was also translated in Tamil in their regional channel.

Drona CoverDrona: The Adventures of Abishek Bachchan (2008)

If Amitabh Bachan decided to have his own comic series, why not his son, Abishek Bachchan, an actor himself?  So, he was the recent addition to the Celebrity Superhero list, when he was cast in the Bollywood movie, Drona.  Unlike any of its predecessors, this time the Comic book form was launched as a prequel to the movie, obviously to generate a fan base.  The concept which was originally pioneered in the American genre, was introduced in India by Euro Books, who Comicologists would know from their comic series launch in India like Biggles, Spirou and Fantasio, etc. which were detailed and discussed at Comicology before.

Drona is a different superhero, who is shown in an Artwork embodied Dhoti as a costume (isn’t that different?), but possesses supernatural powers, like coming back to life, even if killed during battles.  His lady love in the movie was Priyanka Chopra (more about her later in our Part II), who also dons the role of the bodyguard to the superhero. Isn’t that new trend too? a Bodyguard to a Superhero himself. Well, Bollywood and its atrocities at times, deserves a special post on its own :)

Drona Artwork 1

Drona Artwork 2The one-off comic was scripted by Jaydeep Sarkar, and artwork was done by a team of artists, which is symbolic by the richness in the resultant output. 

Enough said, the movie was a far cry for the wannabe superhero type, which was poorly scripted, and badly acted.  Abishesk was a never a good actor (he continues to improve at snails pace), even though media’s promote him left, right, and center for being Big B’s son. His acting showed its true colours in the movie, where he was often seen like a man lost.

The movie went on to be the biggest flop-show of the year, and the comic franchise died along with it, with only a Prequel edition, to its credit.  Thanks to Almighty, that we were saved from witnessing the flop concept in our beloved Comics.  For those of who would like to collect this edition, for the sake of it, it is now available at all leading bookstores, and priced at INR 50, consisting of 32 pages.  I own one for the same reason, but don’t expect others to follow the suit :).

In the age of graphic novels, it’s now belatedly obvious that the Savurs, and Gulzar, were pioneers in giving Comics a Contemporary Indian context. But at times, they were a whole lot of groups and individuals who were not impressed on these Comics, like myself at present.

The Best review about which could be exampled by Angena Parek in the Sunday Express in 1984 about Sunny and Supremo, while noting like: “These personality-oriented comics are a retrogressive step”.  She further adds - 

“The Indian psyche is very receptive to the personality cult and to make heroes out of ordinary people is not a difficult task in this country. These comics are reinforcing the tendency to attribute superhuman qualities to ordinary humans, in the same way that commercial Hindi films do.”

And with that closing note, we come to the conclusion of our post on the Indian based Superhero comic franchises. But, that wasn’t all.  In between Shaktimaan and Drona, there were a host of other attempts to make Indian Super Heroes in Comics form.  But, they were either shelved or delayed for various reasons.  Let’s look at each one of them in our next Celebrity Comics Post.  Bonus to that post will also be Indian Superhero Movies released in India in the past.  Stay tuned as it will be On, very soon over at Comicology.

Just for a Preview of what’s in store for you in that post, here is a glimpse:

UPDATE (03/09): The 2nd and concluding part of Celebrity Comics Post, is now online at Comicology. To read that, click here.


Hopefully, you would have found this post useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it.  If so, why not leave your comments to let others know. Also, please do let me know if there was any other Super Hero Comics, which were missed out from this list.  You could mail me or post it as part of your comment.

The Original post at this place was supposed to be the Muthu Comics latest issue review (I received my copy this Friday), but since to blog something in line with the V Day occasion, I hurried up this post in its place.  The Muthu Comics review will be posted shortly.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post very soon. Adios Amigos !


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