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

Nov 14, 2007

Muthu Comics #307 - The Saint | John Steel | Sep '07

Finally, we have another release from Prakash Publishers. Expecting a release from Lion-Muthu Publishers have become a rarity of sorts, and that has become a self-designed-trademark - a dubious distinction among other comics publishers.

Muthu Comics #307 – The Saint | John Steel
Muthu 307 c1
2 Stories | 100 Pgs | INR 10 | B6
B/W | Laminated/Paperback

What we have in this release is two classic stories from 1960's, as stated by Editor, Roger Moore starring "Kaatril Karaintha Kathaanayagan (காற்றில் கரைந்த கதாநாயகன்)", and Agent John Steel starring "Kolai Koodam (கொலை கூடம்)", meaning 'Disappearance of Actor' and 'Slaughter House', respectively.

I guess Roger Moore stories were just an imitation to try copy the James Bond fame actors name and make money with it.  It fails miserably and doesn't contribute to a good storyline.  The artwork doesn't help the matter either.  I tried goggling any good source related to this piece of work, but with no success, until I came to know of The Saint Series.

THE SAINT: A fellow comic friend alerted me on the probable Saint TV Series (c) comicrelated.comSwedish origin for the Comics character christened as Roger Moore by Editor S.Vijayan in Muthu Comics  With that info, I could collect some background details about the series, and hence this update.

It was indeed an attempt to cash in the popularity of Roger Moore.

But instead on his James Bond rendition, it was originally based on his earlier successful stint reprising the role of Simon Templar, a British fictional character, also known as the The Saint because of his initials (ST), in the British Television series, screened from 1962 to 1969.

Leslie Charteris (c) saint.orgThe origins of the Saint can be traced from the early works of Leslie Charteris in his novels, in 1926.  Saint was portrayed as a thief, whose origins are unknown. He is known for his many disguises, where he uses the initials ST often referring to different names like, “Sebastian Tombs" or "Sugarman Treacle".

But even before the TV Series, Saint made its debut as a Comic Strip in 1948, written by Charteris, and drawn by Mike Roy initially.  Mike Roy had a classic style, which is quite common for the comic strips released during that period. 

The origins of the Saint can be traced from the early works of Leslie Charteris in his novels, in 1926.  Saint was portrayed as a thief, whose origins are unknown. He is known for his many disguises, where he uses the initials ST often referring to different names like, “Sebastian Tombs" or "Sugarman Treacle".

Saint Comic-Strip 1948 (c)

But even before the TV Series, Saint made its debut as a Comic Strip in 1948, written by Charteris, and drawn by Mike Roy initially.  Mike Roy had a classic style, which is quite common for the comic strips released during that period.

Mike Roy was replaced by John Spranger, who took the comic strip into a next level, with his superior and detailed artwork.  Look at a sample from 1952 comic strip, during the partnership between Charteris and Spranger. 

Saint Comic-Strip 1951 (c)

But, does the character look like Roger Moore, anyway.  The answer is clear “NO'”.  Then when did the turn happen?  Actually, it was when the series was introduced in a Swedish Newspaper in 1966.

swedish-comic-1969-08-smThe Swedish Comic Series titled Helgonet (which is Swedish translation of 'Saint'), was eventually started following the comic strip reprints.  The Comic Strips were edited to fit the Comic Book format, and it went on publishing the complete series which appeared originally in the New York Herald Tribune.  But they soon touched the rock-bottom, as the material shortage, prompted them to start their own new series based on the character.

This is when the British TV Series of Saint featuring Roger Moore was widely acclaimed, and Moore was praised for his role as the protagonist. So, to cash in on the popularity, the new Swedish Saint or Helgonet Comic Strips, were drawn with lead character having a striking resemblance of Roger Moore himself.  Have a look at a Sample Cover of the series.

The Saint Series, in Sweden, ran from January 1966 to December 1985.  Due to dwindling sales as a result of less creative artwork, and continuous reprints, The Saint Comics Series was later acquired by Semic Press, who went on a buying spree becoming the biggest series publishers in Sweden, until it wound up business in 1991, for the same reason as Saint Comics.  In 1997, Semic Press was bought over by Egmont, and the name is defunct thereafter.

But, whatever they did, the Swedish Comic publishers, never referred to their titular character as Roger Moore, which our Editor Vijayan, decided to utilise to market the series, which created all the more confusion in exploring the original series for me at Comicology.  Thanks to him :).

Muthu #307 Stories: Coming back to our this month instalment, the second hero of the issue, Agent John Steel's instalment does have a good detective storyline, but the artwork makes it more painful to get attached to the storyline.  I am not trying to be critic, but the fact cannot be ignored that 1960's also housed the golden comics like Spider, Barracuda (Lawrence & David), which boasted superior artwork.

Muthu 307 story2Muthu 307 story1So, the way these arts are drawn, only shows that these stories were never given the importance or was never intended for mass media.

The Front page scans of both stories given here, should substantiate that claim related to artwork, the fact that Muthu & Lion follows the low quality paper for all their printing (which doesn't help the matters either).

I am not against reading classic stories in Muthu Comics, In fact it can be said that is the unique differentiator of Muthu Comics all along. 

But I strongly believe that the amount of time which is spent on waiting for new releases should be substantiated with a proper storyline.  With this release, that wish is not fulfilled.

Muthu 307 Comics TimeMuthu #307’s Extra Features & Facts: Eventhough Editor, S.Vijayan, time and again re-iterates that he does consider Muthu and Lion Comics as equal, the fact remains that Muthu Comics has always played second fiddle to Lion Comics. 

This is quite evident, when we look at the release statistics of both the comics since their re-launch in 2002.

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Lion 6 8 6 4 4* 3*
Muthu 5 5 4 4 4 2
Total 11 13 10 8 8 5

The numbers with * denotes that there was a special issue in that year which is included with the count.  Both instance being Lion's INR 100/- special issues.

The numbers should speak for themselves.  This year being the worst that we have only 5 releases put-together on a whole.  It seems Editor is content with releasing one special issue a year, followed by one or two releases here and there.

Muthu 307 next1Muthu 307 next3It would be better if Editor publicly announce that Muthu and Lion Comics would only be published in alternative months, thus at least giving some semblance to keep waiting for the releases.

One of the bright spots of Muthu Comics is the Comics Time feature from our Editor, through which we get to understand what's in for the coming releases, and also a foreword from a great comic fan.

As per the norm, we get to see a preview of upcoming releases lined up in Muthu. Going by the trend they will be the only 2 releases for 2008.

Being the only Tamil Comics alive at the moment, we only have to hope that they do get released early.

SA21 The Mind Machine(Micro Alaivarisai 848)SA03 The Devil's Secret(Mali Kottai Marmam)Since, Editor Vijayan utilized the Fleetway library covers for this The Saint edition (as briefed in Muthufan's blog and refurnished here), I wasn't able to exactly pin-point on the original edition.

As it turns out that we have a huge set of Saint Series to tap-into, if Muthu Comics decides to continue this franchise in Tamil Comics.  Would they? is a Million Dollar Question.

By the way, if you want to read and know more about The Saint Series, visit the exclusive website: Saint.Org. Adios Amigos!

Oct 18, 2007

Gotham Comics #42 - Sep '07

Commitment is the Buzzword in Comics World.  And who else other than Gotham, can do it better than any other.  We have Gotham #42 released this month.  While other comics business (especially in Tamil) don't come up with any announcements, even forget releasing, Gotham continues to amaze.

1. Superman #42: Intermezzo
Writer: Dwayne McDuffle | Artist: Renato Quedes
2. Batman #42: Stalked
Writer: Paul Dini | Artist: Joe Benitez
Superman 42 Batman 42

By and large, I should say that this issue set only disappointed me a lot.  For Instance, the flagship series of Superman, Batman, have now been reduced to a single story edition, wherein they should be concentrating on releasing a storyline which should run issues.  The single story editions clearly lacks the bite.

Obviously, Gotham is trying to woo all the readers to buy issues and forget about continuity factor, to keep the marketing aspect afloat.  But, that doesn't help the Comic Lovers, like myself, who would like to read comics as it is currently in the market.  Hopefully, Gotham will turn to the old formats again.

Talking of the releases, The Teen Titans, Wolverine, X-Men, Avengers seem to be currently boasting good continuity storyline.  While others don't impress much.  That should be said to the Virgin Brand too.

3. Wonder Woman #3 4. Teen Titans #14
Beast Boys and Girls : Part 2 : Wild Life
Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Tom Grummett
Wonder Woman 03 Teen Titans 14
5. Ultimate Spiderman #35
Hollywood : Part 3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Mark Bagley
6. Incredible Hulk #31
Peace in our Time : Part 1

Writer: Daniel Way | Artist: Keu Cha
Ultimate Spiderman 35 Hulk 31
7. Wolverine #16
Agent of Shield : Part 1 of 6
Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: John Romita, Jr.
8. Astonishing X-Men #13

Writer: Joss Whedon | Artist: John Cassaday
Wolverine 16 Astonishing XMen 13
9. Fantastic Four #23
Rising Storm : Part 4 of 4
Writer: Mark Waid | Artist: Mike Wieringo
10. The New Avengers #26
The Sentry : Part 1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Steve McNiven
Fantastic Four 23 Avengers 26
11. Batman Adventures #36
Writer: Bill Matheny | Artist: Christopher Jones
12. Fantastic Four Adventures #7
Women are from Venus, Men are from Atlantis
Writer: Jeff Parker | Artist: Manuel Garcia
Batman Advts 36 Fantastic Four Advts 07
13. Justice League Adventures #35
In the Dimming Light

Writer: Adam Beechen | Artist: Carlo Barberi
14. Spiderman Adventures #7
Rush Hour
Writer: Sean McKeever | Artist: Pat Scherberger
Justice League Advts 35 Spiderman Advts 07
15. Devi #6
Samsara : Part 6
Writer: Samit Basu | Artist: Aditya Chari
16. Snake Woman #6
Writer: Zeb Wells | Artist: Dean Hyrapiet
Devi 06 Snake Woman 06
17. The Sadhu #6
Writer: Gotham Chopra | Artist: Manikandan
My Letter on Sharad's Corner
(Highlighted in Red)
Sadhu 06 Gotham - 42 - Comics Corner_HL

Much of the Comics getting released by Gotham are available in digital versions on torrents, and they are at least a year ahead in the series too.  But, I don't find it equally interested to read digital comics, like the physical hard copy ones.  It's so convenient to read it on hand, then staring at Monitors for long.  But, if the quality of the releases don't improve, then we will only be left to buy Gotham for the sake of collection alone.  I would be the last person to see that happening in future.

As per the last news, Gotham is planning to re-launch their Super Specials in a better way.  Hopefully, that should help to satisfy the comic urge in us.

One consolation though with this release, at least for myself, that my letter is featured in Sharad's Corner (see last image).  And I also received the Ghost Rider DVD for the last contest.  Thanks Gotham for making this month that much more exciting (now I don't want to hear those 'selfish' chants, ok ? :) ).  Looking forward for the next (and better) instalments.

PS: Thanks for all those who have been visiting the blog all these days (I can see at least 10 different unique visits every week from the site trackers), and sorry that I couldn't keep the blog updated all along.  If I say the month of Ramadan as the reason, then it would be like hiding the whole truth.  Month of Ramadan was only one of the reasons for an already lazy guy to get onto his shells on his own.  Nevertheless, Eventhough I can't commit of the timely updates, trust me to keep it updated on a regular intervals.  Thanks for all those comments and scraps, and keep them coming to keep the blog up and running.

Aug 23, 2007

Preview: Comics Classics #22 - Aug '07

While the announced Muthu #307 is yet to be released, It seems Prakash Publishers are coming up with the No.22 Issue of the long buried Comics Classics (#21 was released way back in 2005, if I remember correctly).

Comics Classics Preview c1 Comics Classics Preview c2

The Cover Arts looks impressive (Image Courtesy:, hopefully we will get to see both Muthu and Comics Classics before August.  I don't remember reading either of these stories, so it makes for a good wait.

Aug 20, 2007

Euro Books - Biggles | 14 Albums | 2007

Most of the European Comic Book Heroes known to South Indians, are basically the ones introduced by Lion/Muthu Comics from Prakash Publishers.  I am no exception to the list.  What we have in-store for this article is one of those unsung heroes of the Golden Age of European Comics.

There used to be times, when the Comic Hunger was burning hot inside, and the occasional releases of Muthu/Lion and Rani Comics were turning to be pretty less then what was required.  I used to visit all the pavement book shops and second hand book stalls almost every day, trying my luck to find out the old editions with few rupees in my hand.  But even then, I was little selective about choosing only Lion, Muthu, Thigil, Rani, and occasionally Poonthalir and Ratnabala.  So, the world outside was almost unknown.

Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.1: Sky Wars
| The Wotan Sword | The Last Zeppelin |
| The 13th Tooth of the Devil |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1479-8 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol1
Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.2: Super Squadron
| Squadron Biggles | The Lost Oasis – 1 |
| The Lost Oasis – 2 |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1477-4 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol2

When Gotham Comics was launched, it gave me a chance to explore something out of this box.  But, again it was limited only to American based comic heroes, and the European Golden Period still remained a treasure unrevealed to one and all.

Recently, I chanced upon a new initiative by a global company called EuroKids International, who has forayed in the Graphic Novels in India, by introducing few books under the Euro Books brand-name.  They have two limited series editions, the first being Agastha Christies Novels in Comic form, which is not of international standards, and looks to have been aimed for the kids.  But, the other one was real surprise, a 14 title series of Biggles, starring one of the famous European Comic heroes, Bigglesworth.

Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.3: Air Adventures
| The Flight of the Wallenstein | The Yellow Swan |
| The Pirates of the South Pole |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1478-1 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol3
Biggles 3-in-1 Vol.4: Captain Courageous 
| Fire in Province - 1 | Fire in Province – 2 |
| Deadly Snow |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1476-7 |
Biggles 3in1 Vol4

W.E. JOHNS, the creator of this impressive air-pilot hero himself had served in British Air Force.  His experience in many a battles, let him drive the scenario and chracterization for the Biggles character, which were originally released as Novels.

Francis Bergese (b. 1941), a French comic creator who has unique skills of bringing the air combat of planes in comic form with all realistic details, later took up the charge to give a comic form for the Johns’ british fictional hero.

bergese Francis Bergese

It is said that Bergese, was so much interested in flying and exploring, that he once had his license suspended at the age of 17.  No wonder he eventually turned up to re-live his first-love in form of the Comics.  His first chance to draw for a comics was when Jean-Michel Charlier (famous for the Blueberry series) asked him to take the reins for Buck Danny, a series Charlier had co-founded along with Victor Hubinen.  Buck Danny being an Aviation Hero himself, gave a chance for Bergese to try his hands artistic visualisation in paper-form, which went a long way in establishing his great work later for Biggles.

Biggles Single Vol. Edition 13
Chappal Wadi |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1316-6 |
Biggles 13
Biggles Single Vol. Edition 14
Spitfire Parade |
ISBN: 978-81-286-1475-0 |

Biggles 14

The storylines are full of history, with plots developed pre and post World War scenarios, with some dealing with the treasures which went missing during the wars, which adds all the more delight to the comic fans.

Pierre Clostermann, a french flying ace himself, says this in one of his prefaces of Biggles titles:

"In England, for more than half a century, Biggles has delighted the young and old alike.  Having become the national symbol for courage, initiative, selfishness and gallantry, he travels through history and time true to himself.  Noble in his acts and motivations, Biggles can be twenty years old in 1916 in the Royal Flying Corps and twenty five years old in 1940 in the Royal Air Force.  There's nothing unusual about this - creative license is allowed in comic strips.  Francis Bergese's Scenarios, Illustration and Colours means we get to see the all the forms of flying objects you could only read on books."

Bergese artwork inside Biggles Graphic Novel - 1 
Biggles (2)
Bergese artwork inside Biggles Graphic Novel - 2
Biggles (4)

Pierre also adds this this about Francis Bergese:

"The episodes experienced by Biggles and the members of the squadron are perfectly creditable.  This authenticity is reinforced by the exceptional quality of the drawings, the precision of the planes, the combat maneuvers and the perfect reconstitution of the scenes.  With Francis Bergese's Buck Danny, we were used to drawings of airplanes, which "fly" - and the artists capable of doing this are few and far between in the world.  With the Spitfire Parade, I am more than ever a diehard fan of Francis Bergese."

Here is the complete list of Biggles titles released by EuroBooks in India (All in 2007).  All these titles were originally released in French on a year-on-year basis, which were later translated and released in UK by Red Fox as English editions.  So no wonder Euro Books has made sure that they chose from the second lot, to save them of translation duties.

# Title Story Artist Original Title (French)
1. Yellow Swan Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Le cygne jaune (1990)
2. The Pirates of the South Pole Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Les pirates du pole sud (1991)
3. Spitfire Parade Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Le bal des Spitfire (1992)
4. The Flight of the Wallenstein Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Le vol du Wallenstein (1994)
5. Squadron Biggles Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Squadron Biggles (1994)
6. The Last Zeppelin Francis Bergèse Francis Bergèse Le dernier Zeppelin (1995)
7. The 13th Tooth Of The Devil Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte La 13ème dent du diable (1997)
8. The Wotan Sword Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte L'épée de Wotan (1998)
9. Deadly Snow Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Neiges mortelles (1999)
10. The Lost Oasis - 1 Michel Oleffe Frank Leclercq L'oasis perdue – 1 (2000)
11. The Lost Oasis – 2 Michel Oleffe Frank Leclercq L'oasis perdue – 2 (2001)
12. Fire in Provence - 1 Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Feu sur la Provence – 1 (2003)
13. Fire in Provence - 2 Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Feu sur la Provence – 2 (2004)
14. Chappal Wadi Michel Oleffe Eric Loutte Chappal Wadi (2006)

While Bergese has worked on the majority of the titles, drawn and scripted by himself, there were also sizeable titles scripted by Michel Oleffe, with Eric Loutte and Frank Leclercq donning the artist duties on and off.  But, it should be noted that they chose to base the characters layout in line with how Bergese had envisioned them previously, may be as an homage to the legendary creator. 

Eventhough, the great Comic Hunters ERB and Viswa of Chennai, say that they do posses some Biggles comics of Old ages obtained from Second Hand book shops, I wasn't fortunate enough to behold them so far.   Thus far these instalments from Euro Books are the only ones which are in my collection.  I hope some other publishing company in India, dig-in and bring the other titles available of this unsung hero from Franco Belgian Era.  Overall, Biggles series seems to be one for the collectors and comics fans, and thanks to EuroKids for bringing this hero to limelight in India. 

Unfortunately, the Euro Book site doesn't have any information about these books, so the best way to get them would be to reach the chain bookstore like Landmark, Odyssey, or Higginbothams.  Each of the 14 Titles run a lengthy 48 pages, and the are priced at INR 199.  They also have 4 Hard-Bound Compilations containing 3 stories each priced at INR 450/-. The remaining two editions has to be picked from the singles lot. A Little heavily priced, but compared to their original European price, and the quality of the papers and binding, its a good buy, and a good addition to your classic collection.  If you are interested in exploring further, The complete list of Biggles, could be found here.

As always, please leave your comments about this article down below, which will keep me going.

UPDATE (02/09): A new post which reviews the latest Biggles titles released by UK based CineBook, and available in India, is published at Comicology.  Read that over here.

Aug 18, 2007

Gotham Comics #41 - Aug '07

Gotham lives up to its promise of regular monthly issues, by releasing their Gotham #41 set. This month continues from the last month storylines, with the few new ones for Batman and Teen Titans, while the Superman, Wolverine, Astonishing X-Men storyline comes to a closure.

Virgin Comics storylines continues to take amazing turns, and the announcement of Ramayana AD makes for an interesting wait to add to the already sparkling Indian Art.

1. Superman #41
Supergirl from Krypton : Part 6
2. Batman #41
E. Nigma, Consulting Detective
Superman 41 Batman 41

3. Wonder Woman #2

4. Teen Titans #13
Beast Boys and Girls : Part 1
Wonder Woman 02 Teen Titans 13
5. Ultimate Spiderman #34
Hollywood: Part 2
6. Incredible Hulk #30
Dear Tricia
Ultimate Spiderman 34 Hulk 30

7. Wolverine #15
Enemy of the State : Part 6 of 6

8. Astonishing X-Men #12

Wolverine 15 Astonishing XMen 12

9. Fantastic Four #22
Rising Storm : Part 3 of 4

10. The New Avengers #25
Breakout : Part 6

Fantastic Four 22 Avengers 25

11. Batman Adventures #35
The Cat's Prize

12. Fantastic Four Adventures #6
Batman Advts 35 Fantastic Four Advts 06
13. Justice League Adventures #34
14. Spiderman Adventures #6
Vulture Hunt
Justice League Advts 34 Spiderman Advts 06

15. Devi #5
Aagaman : Part 5

16. Snake Woman #5
Devi 05 Snake Woman 05
17. The Sadhu #5  
Sadhu 05

There is a surprise contest for Ghost Rider Movie DVD on this set... so grab them before it runs out of stock.

I am eager to see some more titles like Green Lantern, and would wish they re-launch some of the Ultimate Series, and Super Girl.


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