Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

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

Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

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

Chennai Book Fair - 2011

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

Lion Comics Jumbo Special - XIII Collector's Edition

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

Showing posts with label Chandamama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chandamama. Show all posts

Apr 22, 2009

News - Disney Comics back in India | Apr '09

It’s time for the Ball vs. Bat, and every cricket fan is tuning into the (NR)IPL Season 2 in Zulu’s Country, which I must admit for its publicity and glamour is not living up to the euphoria set during the previous edition in India. But, if you are not amused with that, then you could always tune-into the anonymous blogger, who is stirring up all the news from behind the scenes. Truth or not, it is something everyone is gunning for at the moment. Enjoy them, I do!

PhantomWalt Disney Mickey MouseComing back to Comicology, I must admit the last post featuring the start of Phantom Series, was one of the ambitious project which I ever undertook at Comicology, both in terms of time and effort put forth. I was pretty much happy for the fact it was received well among the comicologists. In return I vouch to feature the concluding parts in the coming weeks, with fair share of information laced all along, while maintaining the tempo of the series.

What we have as a subject for our current post, is the recent media briefing about Walt Disney Comics entering India, after a long time. If not for others, It brought back all those childhood memories of watching the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge of Disney’s eternal characters, both on animated TV series and in the comic books. Before we look further on the Disney’s earlier Comics foray in India, here is the excerpt from the Media News:

Donald Duck (English)WaltDisney NewsMickey Mouse (English)Walt Disney Company (India), has announced a licensing agreement with Indian publisher Diamond Comics to publish Disney comic books, both in English and Hindi in India, under their Junior Diamond brand.

Roshini Bakshi of Disney said, "The comics offer a story of adventure and fun for every child, and for the child in us all. The launch of comic books in Hindi, reinforces our commitment to localize our stories and connect with the Indian consumers through content, that is appealing and relevant."

Featuring Disney's characters, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, the 32-page comic book will be priced at INR 25. Disney is gunning to reach 10,000 points-of-interest within the first month of launch.

Donald Duck (Hindi) Mickey Mouse (Hindi)"We are excited to promote fun reading through the launch of these Disney comics in India through our nationwide reach," said Junior Diamond’s Manish Verma.

Disney also plans to launch comic books on its proprietary character of Princess, which includes titles such as Snow White & Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella among others. Also on the cards are comic books in regional languages for the south India market. To start with Junior Diamond will be publishing the Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck titles also in Hindi.

Even though Diamond Comics (most famously known for Pran’s Chacha Choudhary, Pinki, among others) has a publishing industry experience of 70 odd years; their newer division Junior Diamond brand is still at its infant state. The last known attempt of Junior Diamond was to base comic books out of the Bollywood movie Roadside Romeo, which both bombed at theatres and newsstands respectively. But it looks the partnership with Walt Disney during that venture, has paved the way Disney Comics deal. (Read more about Roadside Romeo, on our 2008 Movies Round-Up at Comicology, here)

This time around with the partnership of Walt Disney, and the attractive pricing model of INR 25, I hope they turn the tide and continue publishing Disney’s Comic books which were missing out from the all Comic Book scenario in India. But, this is not the first time Walt Disney Comics is making it into India.  In fact there were some well received earlier accounts, and let’s look into some of those, to mark this occasion.

LM Comics Disney Today 8809 150588 Disney & Living Media: Disney Comic Book’s first real attempt to penetrate the Indian Market, was through Living Media, which is still known widely for their long running magazine, India Today. A new title named LM Comics was created for this venture, and it was published as a fortnightly comics magazine, named Disney Today, mainly carrying the Disney’s world famous characters.

LM Comics Disney Today 9115 150891 Not much is known like how long the publication was in business, but their another children's magazine, Target, which was once said to be the only competitor to the evergreen Tinkle Children's magazine, ran from 1980 to 1995. (Read more about Target and its inspiration for Tinkle’s Shikari Shambu in our exclusive post at Comicology, here)

So LM Comics should also have run along the same period, by both feeding out of each others success. During Disney Today’s famed run, it was often referred as the only comics magazine close enough to the popularity of Indrajal Comics. They were both fortnightly, and had a standard 32 pages of A4 size. Disney Today was priced from INR 5 to INR 6 during its run. The issues were assigned a 4 digit number, which comprised of the year and chronological issues number (For eg., an issue released on 1988 as the 14th issue of that year, will be numbered as 8814).

LM Comics was published from its then head office located at New Delhi (Living Media India Pvt. Ltd., 316 Competent House, Connaught Place, New Delhi 110 001). The packaging of the magazine, was top-notch, and the printing with colored pages make them a collectors item even today. I am fortunate hold a few of those issues in my collection.

Chandamama Classics n Comics 03 Disney & Chandamama: During the Same period, from October 1980, the Chennai based Chandamama also had a publishing deal with Walt Disney in India and had released two titles, starting from the Disney’s Wonder World series in Chandamama’s Classics & Comics (C&C) brand, and later a separate title which carried the adventures of other Disney characters like Zorro, Snow White, etc. under the Chandamama Book Shelf (BS) brand. (Read more about Chandamama’s recent 60 years celebration with their Coffee book Collector’s edition, here)

Chandamama Classics Editorial Refer to this editorial featured in their 3rd edition, which talks a great deal about the Disney and its impact to the Comics Industry as a whole.

Chandamama seems to have started both the C&C and BS series especially to feature the Walt Disney’s Comic books.  I doubt how successful was the series as I couldn’t see any titles dated after 80’s.

The C&C series were numbered like Indrajal Comics, Vol.1-No.1 (prompting they were planned as Weekly), etc. and was priced at INR 2, while the BS series, which was released monthly, were numbered sequentially, and were priced INR 3.50, during its run.

One of the problems with the packaging of these comics, was their idea of waxing the covers, instead of laminating it. As it turns out the Paperback covers with the wax coat, means that they are prone to damage and break through years in storage, making it very hard to maintain it for collection. I own a few titles from these series, and it still hurts every time I turn around to read them and find that some part of it breaks away and spoils the overall collection. Chandamama could have done better to avoid it.

Nevertheless, for the sheer reason that it was part of the 1980’s comics euphoria of India, it certainly deserves a place in your comics collection.  Here are few covers from the series.

Chandamama Book Shelf 08Chandamama Book Shelf 09Chandamama Book Shelf 08-1 

IE Egmont Mickey Mouse 13 1996 Disney & Egmont: Can you talk about American Comics publishing in India, and miss out from mentioning Egmont? Well, Egmont was also in the reckoning during late 90’s, taking up the mantle to release Walt Disney Comics in India.

Denmark based Egmont International, entered India in 1997, with a joint venture with Indian Express group. The resultant company was named Indian Express Egmont Publications Ltd. (IEEPL), and one of their first launches was bringing the Walt Disney Comics titles to India, for the obvious reason that they have a long publishing record in Denmark for Disney titles.

They released two monthly titles named Mickey Mouse and Mickey Mouse Digest. They were of B5 size, and were priced at INR 20 and INR 30 (for Digest with 96 pages. Egmont is known for the re-release and re-prints of the same titles, most evidently noticed with their Phantom editions.
(Phantom editions of Egmont  will be covered in detail in our Phantom series at Comicology soon).

So the reprints were even evident on the Mickey Mouse titles. The original print issues ran from 1995 to 1996, in the process releasing a total of 32 Digests. In 2000, after getting the nod from Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), Egmont bought the complete stake of its Indian arm from the Indian Express group, for a reported sum of INR 2 Crores.

In 2002, under their newly formed Egmont India venture, they published 16 Mickey Mouse Double Digests, which were all reprints from the Original Mickey Mouse Digests released in late 90’s. This time the size was reduced to A4, to go along with other Digest formats in the book shops. The titles were initially priced INR 60, but was later changed to INR 65.

Egmont’s Mickey Mouse Digests and Double Digests, were one of the best format for any comics enthusiastic to add to his collection. The only problem was the pricing, which was way too high for the time it was released. Which could be the very reason why the series never made a long run.

Disney in Tamil: During their run, Egmont also published few titles of Donald Duck/Mickey Mouse in Tamil. The translation was one of the poorest attempts to say the least, so let’s not discuss much into that failed attempt.

When it comes to translation in Tamil, there is no denying the fact that Lion Comics/Muthu Comics Editor S.Vijayan scores all the points. He had his own Tamil version of Donald Duck in his another famous Tamil comics and now defunct brand, Mini Lion, for a short span. More on that while we look at those Mini Lion title in the future at Comicology. Those titles does deserve a special mention for sure.

Diamond ComicsSo the start-stop publishing of Walt Disney’s eternal characters are in for a long haul, with Diamond Comics jumping in the foray to market Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck Comics in India, which makes for an interesting wait. Be assured that you would hear about the titles and their review at Comicology, whenever the hit stands, which is expected to happen in the a couple of months.

Especially, when the New York based Disney’s comic books, which publishes 274 million copies of children’s magazines worldwide, are losing its stature and popularity in its parent country (evident through eroded sales in recent years), India may be a market which they can flourish on. Let’s stay hopeful.

Also in Junior Diamond's Disney review post we will discuss about the author who was never given due credit for all these wonderful Disney comics, which we have come to know of. Talking about him would be the main aspect for the next Disney post at Comicology. Stay Tuned.

As a Bonus, to all the readers who read the post till its end, here are the covers of the Egmont’s 16 Double Digest Series, from my collection, which were originally on sale in 2002.  Some of them were still available on bookstores, when I last checked.

So use them as a checklist for your next shopping trip, or simply enjoy the wonderfully drawn Disney Covers. Until, our next post, Adios Amigos!

Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 01 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 02 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 03 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 04
Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 05 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 06 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 07 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 08
Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 09 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 10 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 11 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 12
Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 13 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 14 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 15 Egmont Mickey Mouse DoubleDigest 16

Earth Day Save Petrol CampaignTail-Piece: Today (Apr-22) is celebrated as the Earth Day, to save the mother earth. There are plenty of ways in which we could do so, starting with a few things right from our home, and our way to office, to know more follow this link. Let’s do our bit for the good cause.

Now, a fellow comicologist, did ask me If I would contribute to Mother nature, by digitizing the comics archive I hold. Well, as much as I agree with the concept, which saves paper and ultimately the trees, it’s certainly not on my wish-list. I will safely pursue other options. ;)

Not to forget a point that, our own Mickey Mouse and Goofy were once featured in a comic book for Save Oil campaign, and thus save Mother Nature. To go along with the Earth Day celebration, here is the cover of that unique issue. Enjoy Reading. Adios Amigos !

Nov 14, 2008

Teshkeel Comics - The 99 #0-4 | 2008

We have a new entrant to the Graphic Novels Biz, and this time it is neither from the American Stable, nor from the European/Franco-Belgian stables or Japanese Manga.  It's from the Middle-East. Surprising, as it may sound, it's a first worldwide attempt from a comics creator from Kuwait, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, founder and CEO of Teshkeel Media Group.

Naif al-Mutawa with his sonsTeshkeel Comics is the brainchild of Naif al-Mutawa, a 36-year-old Kuwaiti comics fan. He grew up in the US where he fell in love with Marvel and, after training as a psychologist, wrote kids' books on prejudice. He thought up his superheroes during a cab ride across London in 2003, with his sister.

The 99 are a quasi-spiritual version of the X-Men or the Fantastic Four.  The plot of the series, drawing on stories and history familiar to most Muslim youths, involves the great wisdom and learning that characterized the Muslim world at its apogee, when it reached from northern Pakistan to southern Spain in the late Middle Ages.

The writing for the series is at present managed by Naif Al-Mutawa himself, accompanied by Fabian Nicieza, known for his work on Marvel titles such as X-Men, X-Force, New Warriors, Cable and Deadpool, and Thunderbolts.

The 99 #0
Origins of The 99 Series
The 99 #0: BackCover | Pages: 64
Size: B5 | Color | SoftCover | Price: INR 30
99 #00 Cover1 99 #00 Cover2

The epic plot is based, Da Vinci Code-style, on a pivotal moment in Islamic history - the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in the 13th century. The wisdom, tolerance and spirituality of the Baghdad caliphate are coded in 99 gemstones just as the barbarians are at the gate, and in the intervening years they have been scattered around the world. The heroes' job is to find them before the bad guy does.

"To create the new, you have to tap into the old," Mr. Mutawa says of the deep historic connections in the comic. "The real goal is to teach kids that there's more than one way to solve a problem."

Although, as only God is allowed to possess all 99 characteristics, Mr.Mutawa is likely to peak with around 70 caped crusaders (so far 20 characters have been announced for the The 99 series, in which 16 have been revealed in the series released in Middle-East).

Five of "The 99," from left: Mumita (speedy), Dr. Razem (a gem expert), Rughal (mystery powers), Jabbar (expandable) and Noora (sees truth)

The characters in "The 99" are not all Arabs, but Muslims all over the world.  For example, Jabbar is from Saudi Arabia, Mumita is from Portugal, Noora is from United Arab Emirates.  There is even a character which wears Burkha.

But, as explained by Mr. Naif to New York Times, "There is where religion stops and Mythology begins.  I don't expect Islamists to like my idea, and I don't want the ultra-liberals to like it either".  So far, he has managed to get Kuwait's censors to approve the early mock-ups. But to keep the orthodox at ease, he has included women in head-scarves and plays it by the book as far as religion goes. 

The 99 #1
1. Of Light and Dark | Artist: John McCrea
2. First Steps | Artist: Steve Yeowell
The 99 #1: BackCover | Pages: 40 
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover  | Price: INR 30
99 #01 Cover1 99 #01 Cover2

But what gives Mr. Naif the biggest edge is a seasoned team, including writers like Fabian Nicieza, who wrote for X-Men and Power Rangers comics, and a group of managers and advisers who are old hands in the industry.

In addition, "The 99" will piggyback on a distribution network Mr. Mutawa is setting up for a parallel project, publishing all manner of other comics in the Middle-East region. Teshkeel has signed on with Marvel Comics to translate and distribute their comics in the Middle East, and will soon begin publishing Arabic versions of Marvel's Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, X-Men and others (Much like the Spiderman-India franchise created by Gotham Comics for the Indian/Asian markets).

The 99 #2
1. No Pain, No Gain | Artist: John McCrea
2. The Origins of Rughal, Pt.1 | Artist: Ron Wagner
The 99 #2: BackCover | Pages: 36
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover  | Price: INR 30
99 #02 Cover1 99 #02 Cover2

Mr. Naif also briefs that he is in talks with Archie and DC Comics for similar deals. He says that Teshkeel has attracted $7 million from investors, based on the promise that he will turn his company into the largest comics publisher in the Middle East.

Last year, Teshkeel also bought Cracked, a defunct competitor of Mad magazine (Indian comic fans will remember that Gotham Comics tried to bring the MAD venture to India, in a failed attempt), which he plans to resume publishing, pitched to a more mature audience in the United States. He hopes those publications will encourage other media companies to take him more seriously and back his Muslim Super-Heroes concept.

The 99 #3
1. Problem Solving | Artist: John McCrea
2. The Origins of Rughal - Pt.2 | Artist: Ron Wagner
The 99 #3: BackCover | Pages: 36
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover | Price: INR 30
The 99 03 Cover1 The 99 03 Cover2

Teshkeel Comics has tied up with Chandamama, to bring their The 99 Series to India, and South-East Asia.  So far there are 4 Issues which have been released in consecutive months in 2008.  We earlier covered the legacy of Chandamama, a well-known children's magazine of India, referring to their Collectors Issue. So this a good attempt from them to establish themselves on the Graphic Novel Biz, which I feel they missed out while being on top of the Children's magazines for so many decades.

The 99 #4
1. Shadowboxing | Artist: John McCrea
2. Baggage | Artist: Ron Wagner
The 99 #4: BackCover | Pages: 36
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover | Price: INR 30
The 99 04 Cover1 The 99 04 Cover2

Overall, I believe that "The 99" offers a different kind of view from the traditional American, Euro/Franco, Japanese storylines, as it tries to break a new ground, with its roots from the untouched Islamic facts and figures, yet not going overboard in preaching or siding with any religion.  Mr. Naif has to be commended for that effort. 

But, all said and done, I still feel that the storyline could be little more interesting if it tries to establish a strong foundation and benefiting out of it, rather than concentrating on action-packed sequences, which are best left for the American genre, which thrives on it.

Also, I couldn't see the great dedication towards the artwork, compared to what was witnessed in the Origins issue.  It could be helped by the fact that there were a team of Artists (including Jeff Jhonson, and Ron Wagner) who were involved for the special Origins issue, and now the artwork is wholly in the hands of John McCrea and Ron Wagner, who have different styles, but fail to complete the background information in some panels.

Credits & Copyright Info Poster-1 : The 99 #0
The 99 04 Credits 99 #00 Posters1
Poster-2 : The 99 #0 Poster-3 : The 99 #0
99 #00 Posters2 99 #00 Posters3

Hopefully, the coming issues would be dealing with that, as they round-up their introduction of Super Heroes.  As of date, they have gone up to #14 with their Middle-East releases, so we are in for a continued release of this series in India, if Chandamama can promote their existence, and make a profit out of it with their Indian releases.  I am planning to cover them in batches, as their monthly release far outnumbers my group blogging regularity :-).

The packaging of the comics, is real value for money.  At Rs.30 INR, with A4 Size; 35+ pages; and waxed paper-quality, where the artwork really stands good; are a bargain.  Though, I would prefer the size of the Origins issue, which is easy to maintain as a collectible, at the same time not sacrificing the luxury of witnessing the artwork.  A4 Size magazines are little difficult to maintain.

The Credit Page lists down the team behind 'The 99' franchise.  It also carries the subscription details for 'The 99' in India.  As of now, they are available in major book store chains across country, like Landmark and Odyssey.  They are also at all places where the Chandamama used to be available, which includes Petty Shops, to small book-stores.  Thanks to the power of Chandamama's Distribution Network (Thanks to Dr.Satheesh for the info).  So catch them to witness a new form in Comics.

Hope you have enjoyed the cover-scans and some of the posters from the Origins issue, found along with this post, which carries some fine-piece of traditional artwork (not the computer graphics generated cover-arts which have become a de-facto standard with American counterparts).  As a bonus, The origins issue could be downloaded for free from the official website of The 99, to get you started with the series.  So grab it while it is still available.


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