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Showing posts with label Max the Computer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Max the Computer. Show all posts

Feb 2, 2009

Thigil Comics #56 – The Thirteenth Floor | 1992

Thanks to all the Comicologists, who loved our special Republic Day post last week, covering Indian based comic characters from the stable of Tinkle.  I enjoyed every comment registered in the post, and my replies for the same could be found at the end of the post. To say the least, Jan 2009 was the best month for Comicology, second only to Aug 2007, when I started blogging regularly. It meant, that I had to sacrifice a lot of family ties in blogging about our passion through the month, which I am not planning to do so regularly.

But the number of visits and comments recorded last month, shows that the Comicologists are always appreciative on the effort put-forth, which makes me feel fulfilled. Thanks to all the passionate followers who choose to leave their relative and meaningful comment, to record their presence at Comicology. You are my source, keep me afloat.

Thigil Logo Moving on to this week, it is another attempt to rekindle the old memories, by bringing up erstwhile Tamil Comic series from the stable of Prakash Publishers (known for the long running Tamil Comics Lion & Muthu, in South India), Thigil Comics (திகில் காமிக்ஸ்).  It was the brainchild of Editor S.Vijayan, who originally intended it as a medium to publish Horror, and Creepy series (famous in the 80’s British Genre), targeted for mature audience. 

The Tamil series was introduced in the late 80’s, and it ran for a total of 60 issues, stretching till 1993.  Apart from the British Genre, it also touched based on the famed Franco-Belgian Genre, in the process introducing some famous comics characters to Tamil Comics fans like, Ric Hochet (as Reporter Johny), Batman, Bernard Prince, and XIII.

Even though, the series was more heavy on Thriller genre during its later run, the initial issues were full of Horror stories, and I should admit that I was at times scared to collect these issues in tender age, fearing the elders irate at home.  I managed to sneak some issues here and there, heavily during its last run, so I obviously missed out on many of these collectible issues.  Going by which, our first review of Thigil at Comicology, will be the creepy series ‘The Thirteenth Floor’, issued during its end-run.

13th-floorcover The Thirteenth Floor, was originally published in the British Horror Comics Scream! from Mar ‘84.  Unlike other comic characters which are largely in human form, the plot-hero of 13th Floor, is an indigenous Computer (Artificial Intelligence, AI, for computer geeks) named Max, which was deputed in the Maxwell Towers, to look after the residents of the tower block.  His Mainframe was located in the penthouse of the Towers, with an adjacent flat where its controller Jerry Knight resides.

As it is a common practice in high-rising buildings, Maxwell Towers also does not have a 13th floor (which is just numbered 14, after 12th), due to the superstition associated with the number 13.  But unknowingly to its controller Knight, Max had the ability to create a virtual reality in the form of Thirteenth Floor where he could lure anyone who threatened the good of his residents. 

Most of the times these troublesome goons are caught when they use the elevator, where Max creates a series of illusions mostly through hypnotism, bringing the innermost fears of those who are tested. 

While its intentions are mostly to correct the corrupt individual, there were instances when the mental tension, leads to forced heart-attacks resulting even in death.

Max IllusionMax defecting the Wrong-Doers with its Illusional 13th Floor

This often puts Max in question, with the local police finding it hard to disassociate the list of co-incidental deaths, with the crime scene often in and around Maxwell Tower’s Lift. To avoid such incidents, Max had hypnotically controlled an inmate named Bert, to do his works like moving people from lifts, or in some cases bringing some forcefully to it.  The entire series is told from the first person account, with Max being the narrator himself.  Despite its scary nature, 13th floor was indeed a fun strip, where there is no stopping to the imagination laced with humour all along, which made this one of the famous series ever published in Scream.  The series was continued in Eagle magazine, after Scream was acquired by them. 

There were a total of 15 episodes of 13th Floor, with each episodes spanning around 4 pages (A4 Size), with the end of an episode typically being carried over as the start of the next episode, thus keeping the users intrigued by following them passionately every week in Scream Magazine.  The Scream series is now a collector’s edition, drawing a high premium price at eBay.  I have a tendency to get a cold feet being in auctions, so it’s clearly not my forte.

Now let’s look at our Indian debut of Max, in Thigil Comics.

Thigil #56: Marma Mandalam (மர்ம மண்டலம்) – Jun ‘92 – INR 3 – Size: B6 – Pages: 68 – B/W – SoftCover

Thigil 56 c1Front Cover of Marma Mandalam

Max was officially unveiled to the Tamil Comics fans with Thigil issue #56, titled Marma Mandalam, which carried 9 of the original 15 episodes of The Thirteenth Floor series from Scream.

The series was largely edited panel by panel to fit it into the B6 size of Thigil, as the original was of an A4 Size.  Due to which, an episode which ran only 4 pages in its original form, was actually reproduced in 8 different pages, in Thigil.  Editor should be commended for his work on maintaining the story tempo, even after the heavy work which he had to do for restricting the content in a budgetary size (obviously since B6 was the most commercially successful size, due to the lessons learnt from Lion Comics' past success).

The initial pages introduces Max, as an obedient maintenance computer of the residential towers, as narrated in his own words.

His first act in protecting its inmates is shown when he steps in to protect a new tenant from the evil hands of Money Launderer.

He is eventually lured into the illusional 13th floor, where Max plays his own money game with him, in a Computer game of Maze, where he considers himself physically partaking as.  The emotional trauma, which the guy truly deserves, causes a seizure resulting in his death.  Editor’s remarkable translation is shown where he has replaced the texts from the original, with meaningful sentences, in line with the target language.  Look at the two scenes, to see the power of Mr.Vijayan’s translation, when compared to the original text.

Max expressing his love towards TenantsMax expressing his love towards Tenants

Scene 1: Mom says to the kid - “I’ll bet it can’t get you to wash behind your Ears”, while approaching the new building, jokingly points out that the powerful Max can’t do all the work.

Scene 2: The Computer Screen which displays - “Debt Collector” in the Original

The result is right in front of you to take the judgement.

Moms Fun with Kid Scene 1: Moms Fun with Kid Debt Collector in Tamil Scene 2: Debt Collector in Tamil

The other stories which could be found in this Thigil extravaganza,

  • Max confronts two road goons, who arrive chasing a inmate kid of Max Towers;
  • Max Teaches lesson to a troublesome paint can kid, for which he utilises the help of his hypnotized inmate Bret to bring the kid into the elevator;
    (The Cover art seems to have been drawn from one of the scenes in this story where the kid takes a nose-dive into the streets from the Maxell Towers, obviously in his mind not physically. As much, we agree to believe on that aspect, incredibly stunning artwork, implies otherwise. For the original, refer to end of the post)
  • Max decides to punish an arrogant Bailiff, sweetly translated in Tamil as Ameena (அமீனா), who tries to snap the livelihood of an aged couple.  The illusional punishment, he goes through in line with his profession, is a top-pick.
  • Finally, Max punishing an inmate family, which turns out to be a dacoit group.  The climax was little way too-much with brothers killing each other, but don’t say they that ‘What goes around, comes around’.

Again look at what the Trouble Kid is drawing on the outer walls of Maxwell Towers.  The original text was “Cheezy Was Here”, which finds it Tamil form as “சின்ன தம்பி வாழ்க”.  Mr.Vijayan at his best. A lesson to be learnt for the others who think that mere translation of text is enough to get a comics to the target market (as witnessed by the “Junoon-Tamil” used extensively in erstwhile Indrajal Comics Tamil version).

Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 6, 7, 4, 5, of the original episodes finds there place in this issue, in the listed order, due to Editors scissor work (or should we say Computer provess, as in modern way of editing).  Editor has also ensured that he takes out the panels from the original content in these episodes where a Police sergeant suspects Max’s involvement in all the incidents and probes it further, before getting fooled by the computer to think otherwise.

Bret HypnotizedThe Trouble-Kid with Paint Can
& Bret being Hypnotized by Max

Obviously, Editor would have had hard time editing this particular scenario, which was lazed inside 3 of those episodes, so he promptly cut them away to present the 9 episodes in a little jumbled order. But, a first time reader would not notice this editing work, as the story flows superbly right till the end.

Look at one of the end scenes, as it is typical in many episode’s end notes with Police arriving at the scene, and finding the laid bodies of mischief makes often in the lift.  Isn’t it typical like in our movies, where they arrive always at the end.

The Thirteenth Floor, was written by Ian Holland, which surprisingly is a pseudonym for not one but two writers, who worked on it in unison – Alan Grant and John Wagner, who are both known for their thriller works on 2000 AD Series.  The artist for the series was José Ortiz.

Since the size of the post has grown too big, let’s look at the Bio of these “Three Amigos” in our next Thirteenth Floor Comic post at Comicology (Oops, did I leak out a suspense in here?)

Police arrives at ScenePolice arrives at Scene, in the last story of the issue

This Max instalment of Thigil ends with Max re-iterating its stand that he only does these things, to protect its inmates, and to teach the guilty of their sin.  He agrees that there may be some unexpected deaths, but it was clearly not its intention.

Editor further, makes us all in waiting by announcing that there will be another instalment of Thirteenth Floor with Max returning for a different issue of Thigil very soon.  The message from Max also secretly indicates Editors note, saying “If possible, we will meet again”, which is not a text you find in the original version of the same.  Clearly, Editor knows how to add his charm in every bit of piece throughout an issue.

By now, you would have all understood that that eventual issue would be our next Thigil Comics review post soon at Comicology.

End Scene with PoliceThe End Scene with Editor claiming “More of Max”

Supplement StorySupplement Story: Doomcrest Palace and its mysterious inmates

That is not all, as typical to many Thigil issues, we also have a 8 page feature of Doomcrest Palace inmates receiving an audience from another wanderer who tries to impress the Master Hugo of the Palace, with his real-life story, for a bounty.  Does he succeed in that? you can find out by reading the story from Thigil #56.

By the way, could anyone help me by giving a reference to the Original of this series, which is often featured in the Thigil issues? Pls. mail or add your comment, if you do. 

Twilight Zone Dell No-43Overall it’s an issue, which certainly deserves its place in your collection, if you are a Tamil Comics fan, with a different taste.  Looking at the relative recent past this issue was released, I hope everyone do have this already in your cherished possession.  The English Originals can be found on BackfromDepths weblog, if you want to check out.  I initially refrained from providing this link at Comicology, as it may be against the copyright of the said content.  Anyways, we are only providing a link to another site, so there is no harm done.  So enjoy while the content lasts over there.

Before I close here is the a cover from Dell’s 1972 issue, which was the inspiration for this Thigil Comics venture. Mr. Vijayan does have the passion to link up cover arts from different genres to be based on the storyline. All Kudos to him.

And that brings us to the close of this first ever Thigil review at Comicology.  Hopefully, you would have found it useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it.  If so, why not leave your comments to let others know, for which you could use the Comment section below.

Wish you all a Happy Week ahead.  Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another post shortly (about which you would have already had a Preview on the Updated Sidebar). Adios Amigos !.


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