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Showing posts with label Siruvar Malar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Siruvar Malar. Show all posts

Mar 31, 2010

Siruvar Malar – Faceache | Survival #12-22

Have you heard about Ponzo Illusion, introduced by an Italian psychologist op_illusion_6who lent his name to theory? Well, it says that “a human mind, judges an object based on its background”.

I hope to weave the same magic, to hide my on and off presence off late, by bringing back a post series started way back at Comicology, in fact at the start of 2009. Yes, I am indeed talking about the longest running Children’s weekly in Tamil magazines, Siruvar Malar, and the longest ever comic series published during its golden run (more about it in the later part of the post).

We had seen the legacy Siruvar Malar enjoyed during its golden run, in our Intro post, and also had noted about some of the changes it went through during that famed period, notably a successful conversion to a 32 page supplement, from a 16 page one, which was then considered a luxury for a free issue, like Siruvar Malar.

Siruvar Malar Latest LogoSiruvar Malar’s sudden change from a 16 page supplement to a 32 page supplement, meant that they  needed much more material to fill up their pages. Their deal with Rang Rekha Features comics syndicate, which owned the stories copyrighted by ACK & Tinkle, was getting redundant and too stereotypical, and they were never the one to trust the local artists to create their own stories, especially considering that theirs was a free supplemental issue.

So they naturally turned onto their existing tie-up’s with the British genre, which had much to offer from their olden goldies, quite notably from their famous humour series, which made the kids and the young ones from the Queen’s country in that era, to laugh their heart’s content.

To mark the April Fools Day, let’s look into one of the mischievous characters from that famed stable, who decorated the Siruvar Malar’s editions week after week.

Faceache: One of the first humour strips they managed to feature in Siruvar Malar, was Faceache, which Faceache in transformationhas its origins dating as back to 1971. Faceache followed the funny Reid's Faceacheepisodes of a boy named Ricky Rubberneck, who was a student at Belmonte School.

Rubberneck had a weird gift, using which he could shape his face to  any form, aided by the stretchable skin, which works as if its is made out of Rubber, and bendable face bones.

Most of the original strips of the series, were shown as him using his weird gift, to escape the punishments from his headmaster, Mr.Snipe, and to get to safety from the angered ones, most likely by his antiques.

Faceache was created by one of the talented British Comics writer and artist, Ken Reid, for the erstwhile Jet magazine, published by Fleetway, decorating its first issue, released on May 1, 1971.

Ken ReidCreator’s Corner: Ken Reid (1919-1987), was a born artist. He had a natural flare towards drawing right from his toddler age. Hailing from Manchester, one of UK’s biggest city, he lived a typical British kid’s childhood, drooling over the Comics which were available freely in the market, such as Funny Wonder and Illustrated Chips.

Right near to his completion of studies in the Art school, the artist in him refused to wait any longer, as he left his institute, and started a freelance studio, at a age of 17. By his own admittance, he never saw his dream of the publishers running to him into fruition, and he was forced to go to the streets and meet the publishers instead. After numerous unsuccessful attempts trying to penetrate the huge walls of publishing offices, he eventually met his erstwhile employers at Manchester Evening News (MEN).

It was a pure lucky, as right at the same time MEN was planning on launching a children section in Fudge Annual 1939their newspaper, and Elf in ColorReid was also asked to submit his own idea. After numerous attempts, Reid created his first comic series, and arguably his most famous one, in The Adventures of Fudge the Elf.

Reid never failed to acknowledge that his creation Fudge was inspired by Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse (you can see the similarity in the face). Fudge made its appearance in Evening News on April 7, 1938, and Reid was a proud owner of a comic strip series even before his 20s.

Fudge was an instant success, spawning 6 annuals, and numerous branded representations from Dolls, to kids wear. It continued to appear uninterrupted until Reid was drafted into the World War in 1941, like many other artists of his time, in the process suspending the series until 1946, when Reid eventually returned.

Post World War, Reid went to discover newer horizons, from illustrated work to full fledged comics, through Amalgamated Press (more famously known to us as Fleetway), the legendary comic book publisher of his era. Before he could establish himself in their comic magazine Comic Cuts, AP folded their business, and Reid found himself in the rival company, DC Thomson, by the fag end of 1953.

Roger the Dodger DC Thomson, that time had just started to fill in the vacant spot left by AP, and Reid was placed along with a host of newly acquired artists talent pool, shaping their comic magazine, The Beano. It turned out to be a master stroke, as The Beano turned DC Thomson’s fortune, becoming their most selling magazine ever.

At DC Thomson, Reid created his first prankster based comic character Roger the Dodger. The popularity of the series prompted, his bosses to give him the chance of creating more comics series, and filling in for other long running series too. In this process, Reid found himself drawing for DC Thomson’s another comic magazine, The Dandy. During this phase, he created a number of comic series for DC Thomson, namely Little Angel Face, Grandpa, Bing-Bang Benny, Ali Ha-Ha, Big Head & Thick Head, and Jinx.

Jonah Comic Series This was also the same time, when Reid created his personal favourite, and considered by many of his fans as his biggest achievement - a story about a goofy looking mariner named Jonah, who had the hardest lady luck of sinking any ship he sets his foot-in. Jonah made its debut in The Beano, on 15 March 1958, and was a trendsetter of sorts.

Reid not only used a different humorous art style for the series, he also introduced some of the firsts in the field of humour comics in UK. He enhanced the scripts (which were written by Fearne) and made more elaborate artwork; decided to carry over story of the strips continued from one week to another; added real life caricatures of Beano’s and DC Thomson’s editors as part of its characters. He had the full support of his Editors, as they believed that it’s a direction which would take them to newer horizons.

Reid’s work on Jonah turned out to be his trendsetter for all of his upcoming series, both in terms of art style, and also in terms of humour based storytelling.  No wonder Jonah even toppled Dennis the Menace, for the top spot in UK’s popularity chart, during its famed run.

All the while during these creations, Reid only worked for DC Thomson on per page contract of freelancing, which gave him a chance to move to another company named Odhams in 1964, and later to, what is considered as a comics heaven for all British Comics fans, the IPC Magazines in 1969.

FaceAche Firstever Strip in 1971 Creation of Faceache: IPC was the place where Reid created the comic character, known to all of us, as Faceache. Reid used his famous art style pioneered through Jonah series, to telling effect in Faceache.

Initially Faceache, used to carry his Rubberneck name, but eventually Faceacheknown only as Faceache, to suit the series title. As the series progressed, Faceache’s ability was given a form of shape shifting feature, from a mere a kid who can make funny faces with his bone muscles.

Whatever, the plot it was made out to be, Faceache, enjoyed a successful run, which started from 1971, in the first issue of Jet magazine, and then later on in the merged entity as Buster.

The popularity of Faceache was such that Reid didn’t allow other comics magazines to mimic its success. He instead another comic character in the Marthas Monster Makeupsame lines of Faceache, this time with a female character in the lead, Martha’s Monster Make-up.

But Faceache remained the original and dear to the fans, and it continued its famed run continuously until 1987, when Reid passed away due to a fatal heart attack. It should be noted that during his heart attack, Reid was actually working on another episode of Faceache, says more about this acclaimed artists dedication to his work.

"I admit that sometimes simply got carried away things.  I’ve always had trouble just drawing a script as it is written.  This usually means lots more work on my part, and that’s why I’m not rich. 

I simply like to take what has been sent to me and do the best possible job I can do with it, even if it is a lot more work.

Ken Reid
on why he took more time for his works

After his demise, the series was illustrated by Frank McDiarmid (who has now given Buster Gang: Top Row: Crowjack, Snooper | Middle Row: Val and her Vanashing Cream, Tony Broke, Clever Dick, A ghost from Rent-a-ghost |  Bottom Row: Ivor Lott, Chalky, Face Ache, Scruffy Doug and Shaggy Dog, Tom Boyaway his hopes of illustrating comics anymore), and was scripted by writers Roy Davies and Derek Skinn.

But the series without Reid was never going to be successful, and it was folded with a last episode appearing on October 1, 1988 in Buster.

Ken Reid with his famous creationKen Reid was honoured as the Best Writer and Best Artist by the British Society of Strip Illustrators in 1978. More than the awards he will always live in the hearts of all British comic lovers, for his dedicated work and the weird world fantasies he introduced to them.

For a detailed read on Ken Reid’s work, refer to these wonderfully written articles:

  • An in-depth look into the life & works of Reid on Comics UK website
  • A dedicated website on Reid’s earliest work - Fudge The Elf
  • Fellow blogger and comics artist Peter Gray’s archives of Ken Reid's World-Wide Wierdies 
    (says a lot about Reid’s different take on the monuments of the world)
  • Ken Reid’s Obituary on Manchester Evening News, the magazine which introduced this great artist to the world.

Thanks to them for helping me on this write-up on the greatest humour comic creator from UK, and also for the original images sourced from there.

idea_light_bulb UPDATE (June ‘10): Some more of Faceache’s wonderful adventures from its Buster run, including a rare appearance on the cover of Buster (which incidentally talks about Faceache’s love life), and another 2 page adventure (which breaks away from the traditional 1 page format), are here for your reading pleasure. Courtesy: Scanarama

Faceache on Buster Cover (Rare)Faceache Story1Faceache Story2-1Faceache Story2-2

Now that, we have looked into the legacy of the Faceache, let’s look at its Indian avatar, which was introduced by Siruvar Malar.

Siruvar Malar renamed Faceache, as Palamuga Mannan Joe (பலமுக மன்னன் ஜோ), which literally means ’The Multi-faced Joe’, closely rhyming with ‘The Boy with a Thousand Joe on Aug 1990 Siruvar MalarFaces’ subtitle from the original series.

It started with Reid’s run on the series, ably translated into Tamil, by those who were behind the weekly, and then started featuring Frank’s run on the series.

Quite frankly, the charisma you could witness in Reid’s work was not to be seen in Frank’s adventures. No wonder the series moved onto its sunset.

Joe on Oct 1989 Siruvar Malar (Local Art)There was also one episode, where I could witness a totally different art style being used. I wonder whether it was from Frank, or was it created locally by our artists.

But there can be no doubt, in another episode, when Joe eventually takes part in one of our own South Indian festivals, which is clearly a work of our artists. Can anyone name the artist, of this particular episode, based on the style?

Eventually, the stock run out of Joe’s adventures, also pulled the curtains of his Tamil run on Siruvar Malar.

But, there is no doubt, the moment someone makes a fun-face, those who had read the series can easily relate it to the childhood they spent, reading Faceache’s adventures, as Palamuga Manna Joe, aka A Boy with a Thousand Faces.

I am one, and I am not alone. Here is a blog post, by fellow comics enthusiast Limat, on his (and ours) childhood Siruvar Malar superstars.

idea_light_bulb Faceache Mugshot  (Art by Rafiq Raja - 1988) UPDATE (June ‘10): When writing the post above, I ran out of time, and couldn’t possibly add an archive of Pala Muga Manna Joe, aka., Faceache’s appearance through the years on Sirvuar Malar. So, here is a archive across years when Faceache was reigning supreme in Siruvar Malar, often in full color episodes.

As you could see the first 4 episodes listed below, are a trademark Ken Reid’s style, while the next 2 episodes slightly mimic Reid’s style of work (you could see a slight variation in Faceache’s avatar, as he now as smaller tummy, and looks even small than his original self). While the last 2 episodes, as discussed earlier, are a clear out and out work of some other artist (arguably the worst work in the series).

SM [1987-07-24] 08 FaceacheSM [1987-07-31] 25 FaceacheSM [1988-02-05] 24 FaceacheSM [1988-06-03] 08 Faceache

SM [1988-10-14] 20 FaceacheSM [1989-01-20] 32 FaceacheSM [1990-09]FaceacheSM [1991-01] Faceache

Hope you enjoyed these loveable characters appearance in our favourite language.

And just in case, if you were wondering who is the artist of Faceache Mug Shot, at the start of the section, then it’s none other than yours truly. Hold those brickbats! it was an art of the kid who grew up in late 80’s, so the amateurism is visible enough. :)

So, it’s time to look back and continue our review, of the longest and most memorable comic series ever featured in Siruvar Malar: Survival, aka Uyirai Thedi (உயிரை தேடி) in Tamil.

Uyirai ThediIn our last blog, we went over the origins of the Survival Comic series, and also looked at the first 11 episodes of the comic series, which ended with Pinkie nose-diving his car into a River, with an unwelcomed passenger on board.

Survival 2nd Part: Episodes 12 – 22 (in Tamil as Uyirai Thedi):

Episode 12 opens up with Pinkies car drowning in the river, as he manages to swim out of it for the River Escapade surface, closely followed by the mutated adult who took the backseat of his car. Just when he thought that it was gaining over him, two Crocodiles join the party, and the mutated one becomes their target, relieving Pinkie of the danger. Pinkie slowly moves away from the location, as the day gives away to the dark night.

Mysterious TV On his path, he finds a house with light emitting from it. As he gets closer, he finds to his astonishment that the light was from a running TV. He is shocked to see a TV with electricity, as the power supply had long been Mutie gets shotseized since the plague.

He later finds that power was a result of generator nearby, and finally meets an another living kid, by the name of Johnny, who had found his home at this desolate house. Both of them are happy to have met a living being finally, and they start  exchanging their horrific incidents with the mutated adults. Their reciting was cut short by an attacking mutant, who instead gets shot by Pinkie.

Pinkie repents over his changed life, where from a kid who doesn’t even kill mere insects, has been changed to one, Attacking Birdswho kills some of his own, at least in their earlier forms. Johnny consoles him saying that desperate situations calls for desperate measures.

The next morning, the duo travel to a nearby city, to collect their groceries and some gun power to defend them against the muties. But, as they were about to leave, a crowd of blood-thirsty birds start attacking them. The duo find their asylum  back inside the closed shops, as they watch over the birds hovering outside, and decide to spend the night inside.

A moment of PlayThey find a Table Tennis board inside, and to relieve themselves of the pressure they start playing a game, only to be confronted by a blood thirsty eagle, which finds its way inside the store, followed by the hoards of birds running after them for a share of their own. Pinkie & Johny decide to use their guns to find their way back to their Truck, eventually reaching their hideout safely. Shocked by the incidents they decide to leave their setup, and move down south to France, hoping that the mainland Europe might have some survivors like them.

Another attackThey decide to travel through the villages, to avoid trouble, but their curiosity pushes them to visit a city on their way, for one last time. As in the case of their struggle life, a mutie attacks them, whom they evade and reach a Supermarket on the way, to stock some more food on their en-route. Unknowing to them, the Supermarket security who caught the deadly plague, had installed an automatic gun, to save the property, at his absence.

Hoard of Muties UndergroundJohny’s swiftness saves both of them from the danger, and they decide to pursue a different store, fearing that there may be more problems laced inside the store by the erstwhile security man. While at the other store, Johnny decides to chance his shooting skills, by freely shooting at the antiques of the store. Unknown to them, that store had some muties too, who were awakened by the sound and start advancing at the friends.

But, Johny’s wayward shooting had pierced one of the gas pipe, which explodes Snake Biteat the same time, and kills the muties, with the kids barely managing to get away from the blast. Further through, they encounter a pack of Rhinos, which looks unharmed by the virus, just like other animals. But, a frightened Rhino, attacks the Duo’s vehicle, toppling it, and landing them inside a Snake Farm. The friends have a hard time getting out of the area surrounded by deadly snakes, one of which also bites Johny during their escapade.

Unlikely saviour Pinkie saves Johnny by sucking the venom laced blood from his hand, but Johnny loses his conscience, which prompts Pinkie to drag him to a safe house nearby, for the much needed rest. Pinkie leaves Johnny at the desolate house for rest, and goes in search of some food for him, to feed him when his conscious returns.

But a returning Pinkie, finds to his astonishment, the weakened Johnny is missing from his bed, where he left him. On a quick search, he finds that he is being piggybacked by a mutie in a distance, and in desperate attempt to save Johnny, he shoots the mutie. Later he comes to know through Johnny, that they mutie indeed saved him by offering food and shelter.

Pinkie understands that not all muties, or the disfigured ones, are their enemies, and repents for his mistake.

Friends console each other, and they set about their mission of finding more survivors, and reach a desolate army camp in their en-route.

In their curiosity to try out a Battle tank, they find themselves engulfed by wildfire, which surrounds them to burn them alive.

Did they escape out of the fire? What more dangers await this unlikely duo, who go for search of life?

Would they ever find another living human in their misadventures, or would they lose their only companion in each other?

Answers to these will be continued in the next blog post, where we will explore further episodes of Survival aka Uyirai Thedi, along with some other gold comic series which found their place in the golden years of Siruvar Malar.

So, Stay Tuned Comikers.

And just in case, if you thought, I broke my earlier promise to provide the digital scans of the Survival Episodes, here are the second batch, as reviewed in this post. Happy Reading, Comikers. Adios Amigos !!

Note: This post was originally made on March 2010, which was further updated on June 2010, with some vintage archives of Faceache’s adventure. The new updates can be tracked with contents over here and here.

Mar 3, 2009

Siruvar Malar – Survival #1-11 | 1988

Number50 When I started Comicology few years back, I wondered would I be able to keep up the tempo and the same energy level to continue it for long?  Well, I believe that question is now partly answered, as I am proud to announce that this our 50th Comic post at Comicology.  The 25th Comic Post at Comicology was only achieved in September last year.  So, with all your permissions, let me pat myself for being more active up recently.   

Siruvar Malar It is certainly a time to cherish, and what better way than posting about a comic series announced at the start of the year 2009, featured in one of the beloved Tamil Children’s magazine in South India, Siruvar Malar (சிறுவர் மலர்).

We have spoken enough about Siruvar Malar, in the post here.  So, let’s move onto the longest comic series ever published in that magazine, named as Uyirai Thedi (உயிரை தேடி), which literally means In Search of a Life.  The Series captivated children's and teenagers for over a year.  Me being one of them, can talk you through a first-person account.

Eagle Logo The Series was originally featured in erstwhile UK Young Boy’s magazine, Eagle, which had a publishing run from 1950 to 1994. Eagle is best known as the comic magazine which debuted Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, comic series.  In 1980s, immediately after the completion of  “The Thirteenth Floor(about which we spoke in detail during our last Thigil Comics review at Comicology) the Eagle started the Survival Comic Series, which spoke about a horrible future, where the entire population on earth is wiped out by a mutating Virus.

Survival (c) You would wonder that the series has its similarities with the George Romero’s Living Dead film series, but there is a difference in Survival.  The Killing Virus as portrayed in Survival, had only killed all the adults in the world.

The plague had spread throughout the Earth, the only survivors were a handful of children (who have a rare blood group) and a few adults who had mutated into fearsome creatures. The strip followed one boy, named Pinkie, as he gradually contacted more of the surviving children.

Typical, to the golden age of British Comics, the Survival also was serialized as 4 or 3 pages per episode, where the end panels usually puts the characters in seemingly dangerous situation, and the following episode’s opening panels gets them out of it.  This makes the readers glued to the comic series as they follow episode after episode.

Survivors TV Series (c) The series is said to have been originally inspired by the then famous British TV Series, Survivors, which aired during 1975.  Recently, the Survivors series has been re-booted on BBC, which has completed Season 1.  As expected, words are that, the series is no way compared to its original version. 

If you look closely at the Logo of the TV Series, then you can detect that the same was also used in 28 Days Later, and 28 Weeks Later post-apocalyptic science fiction UK films, where the former was directed by, recent Academy Award winner for Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle.  I wonder, why there was never a mention about the similarity, or who copied whom. Even though the concept of deadly virus in both medium were totally different.  I especially liked those two movies, as they had a complete different plot than the Living Dead Series by Romero (which I should admit I was a never a fan of).

I am LegendThere was also another Hollywood Movie named I am Legend, in 2007, starring Will Smith, which was also about a Virus ravaged future, but had close resemblance to the concept of the Survival Comic series, in terms of rare blood type as a reason for survival. 

The Movie is actually an American take on the 28 Days Later, but it did have its fair share of Thrill.  Especially the scene where Smith is cornered by his own tricks, and thrilling minutes when the Zombies approach him in the shades of darkness.  Thanks to fellow Comiker ShankarV, for reminding me of the movie.

Kids Rule OK (c) Coming back to our topic, the Survival Comics series had a same plot like another comics series, titled Kids Rule O.K.,featured in Action Comics magazine during 1976.   The series was Written by Jack Adrian, with Art by Mike White.  It was different from the Survivor series, in the way that it was depicted as Children's Vs the surviving Adults, with some gore in its panels.

But, the continual and senseless violence depicted in the comic series eventually led to parent comics magazine Action being banned in Britain. Luckily, Survival series didn’t meet that fate, as it involved far more appealing plot than the former one.

Survival comic series was written by D. Horton and wonderfully illustrated by Jose Ortiz; the same artist who did the works on the previous episode The Thirteenth Floor.  Little is known about the writer, but about the artist, we will see more on our next pending post on The Thirteenth Floor.

Uyirai Thedi Siruvar Malar, started featuring the Survivors comic series, translated into Tamil as Uyirai Thedi (உயிரை தேடி), as a weekly feature starting from 29-Jan-88.

The first episode was of 4 pages, while the rest were a standard 3 pages per episode.  The Original series in Eagle was full Black & White. But, Siruvar Malar back then was following a colour scheme of alternative colour pages in its weekly.  So, we witnessed some breathtaking coloured pages once in a while, during Survival’s run in Siruvar Malar.

Uyirai Thedi - Survival Colored Uyirai Thedi - Survival B-W Uyirai Thedi - Survival Bi-Colored

Since the Survival Series was featured over an year, with 61 episodes in Siruvar Malar, I am planning to review them over a series of posts at Comicology.  So, for the first part, let’s discuss the storyline as depicted in the first 11 episodes of the series.

The scene opens up with images of a dying world, with streets and hospitals in total chaos, ravaged by a killer virus.  Scientists who try to find a cure, are also impacted by the deadly virus, virtually rendering the whole humanity, helpless.  People die in bunches, all the places, and we reach the epicentre of the storyline, in a city named Barancoat, in Britain.

Pinkie, a survivor, walks across the desolate streets, filled with the remains of mutated bodies by the killer virus.  Apparently, he survived the virus because it had no impact on children's with a rare blood group.  But, Pinkie finds no other survivors in his locality, and decides to pursue his search by walking through and beyond the locality. 

In his journey he initially witnesses a Prison, whose gates were opened up so the in-mates could flee for their life.  But it had little impact as mutated bodies laid in and around the desolate place. Pinkie is then attacked by a mutated adult, but before it does any damage, the virus puts it out of its misery.

On further through, he is attacked by a Tiger which escaped from the erstwhile Zoo of the locality.  But, he is saved by an Elephant, whom Pinkie finds as a good friend to travel along with.

Pinkie then decides to spend the night in an abandoned Airfield, but wakes up in the middle of the night, with the humming sound of flying aeroplane.  But, his joy of finding a survivor, at last, fails again.

The kid who was driving the aeroplane crash lands it, and dies on the hands of Pinkie.  Pinkie repents on his fate, and wonders would he ever see another living human being.

What follows him then is the attack by blood-thirsty dogs, rats, and even a man like Gorilla.  He finally manages to find a Car which he plans to drive out of the city, little does he know that there is an unwanted passenger as a fellow rider in it, as Chapter 11 ends.  Does he manages to get away, or does he find any survivors? or then detailed in the next episodes.

Now here is a surprise for you, as in celebration of 50th post, I planned to upload the complete Survival series at Comicology.  Here are the first 11 episodes as discussed in our review.

The Original publication is no more in business, and there are some sites like backfromdepths which also has few episodes of XIII & Survival at their web space.   So, I believe as a matter of promotion, this might be allowed.  Anyways, this is a One-Time-Only too for Comicology.  So, enjoy the episodes, for which I eagerly awaited every Friday, and hopefully there are more with the same feeling. We will continue further episodes in our next Survival comic post at Comicology.  So, Stay Tuned.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and also the first 11 episodes of Survival aka., Uyirai Thedi. If so, please leave your comments to mark your presence. I will meet you all again with another comics review over here at Comicology.  Adios Amigos !!


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