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

Dec 17, 2007

Euro Books - Spirou and Fantasio | 12 Albums | 2007

Well, when it rains - it pours, and that seems to be the order of the day in Comics or Graphic Novels Biz in India at present.  Euro Books, the new-bies in the Biz, have come up with its next venture after Biggles, by introducing the not so famous Spirou and Fantasio characters to Indian Comics Fans.  By the outset, it looked pretty impressive line-up containing 12 titles in the series, at a price of INR 199/- each.

Spirou and Fantasio characters may be new to Indian comic fans, but by far they aren't to the Franco-Belgian or European Comics Genre.  In fact, the history of Spirou dates back to 1938, which is much before the more well-known characters to Indian Comic Fans like Lucky Luke (1946), and Asterix (1959), only overshadowed by the legacy of TinTin (which dates back to 1929).

EB S&F 01 - The Robot Blueprints and Four Other StoriesEB S&F 02 - The Wizard of CuldesacEB S&F 03 - The Black Hats and Three Other Adventures

Robert Velter (c) The series was originally created by Robert Velter (1909-1991).  Spirou, an investigative journalist, was the main character, and later was teamed with his co-adventurer and fellow reporter Fantasio. The series was later brought into mainstream by André Franquin (1924-1997), who took over the reins in 1946 and revolutionized the comic form for the characters, and went on to add another famous character "Marsupilami", to the Spirou series.  In fact the Marsupilami character was so famous that it had its own spin-off series created, and by far was instrumental in many mimic characters created all over the world.André Franquin (c) 

Indian comic fans cannot forget Kabish (a monkey with an ability to grow its tail) stories published in many children magazines across languages, which was a character influenced by Franquin's Marsupilami.  Coming back to Spirou, it shares much of its characteristics with it cousins Asterix, Tin-Tin, etc. in terms of humorous storytelling and plot creation.

The unique attire of Spirou, red bellboy uniform, was initially conceived because he was introduced as a lift operator.  But, he has retained the attire, even though the characterizations were re-written over the time, but has since become a trademark of Spirou series.

EB S&F 04 - Spirou and the HeirsEB S&F 05 - The Marsupilami RobbersEB S&F 06 - The Horn of the Rhinoceros

Franquin was known as a member of the elite club known as Gang Image-Marcinelle-Example (c) Wikipedia.orgof 4, along with Will, Jije, and Morris (Lucky Luke fame).  Together they laid the foundation for what is came to be known as Marcilleni School, which often is considered in parallel with Ligne Claire (which has been discussed in detail on our Blake & Mortimer series review at Comicology) art-form spearheaded by the rival creator-artists from TinTin magazine.

Basically, they both are more common in nature, with the major difference being the representation.  Marcilleni School tries to convey the impression of movement, while ligne claire tends to be more schematic, often relying on traditional way of picture arts with still images and scenes.

EB S&F 07 - The Dictator and the MushroomEB S&F 08 - A Head for CrimeEB S&F 09 - The Moray's Hideout

At one time Spirou series was so popular that Lucky Luke himself made his appearance as a Guest in 1946, in Spirou magazine.  So, it could be safely said that it was the trend-setter for all the Franco-Belgian comics released later. It could be further said that Spirou and Fantasio are the only Comic series which is still in publication (with different writers, and artists), wherein Tin-Tin, Asterix, and Lucky Luke have been reduced to only reprints. A detailed bio of Spirou series could be read in the Wiki link.

EB S&F 10 - Pirates of Silence and SuperquickEB S&F 11 - The Gorilla Gold AdventureEB S&F 12 - The Prisoner of Buddha

While goggling for this blog facts, I came to know that Euro Books, is indeed a subsidiary of Egmont, who are known to Indian Comic Fans with their other publications, notably Phantom series.  This explains how a relative newcomer could suddenly appear into the scene with big releases featuring famous comic characters. 

So, it's good to see Egmont, under their new brand-name, Euro Books, bringing the Spirou and Fantasio to Indian comic fans.  I have just started reading them and found them pretty interesting and humorous so far.  Enjoy Reading !!!

Dec 13, 2007

Tara Press - Lucky Luke | 5 Albums | 2007

Guess what, we have a new player in the Graphic Novel/Comics Biz in India.  Tara Press, a trade imprint of
India Research Press have ventured on bringing Franco-Belgian comics treasure to Indian Comic Fans.  And what a better way to start the proceedings, by introducing our favourite Lucky Luke in English to India. 

Their copyright content states they now have the exclusive English language rights for Indian sub-continent.  Well, there are 7 titles to start of with in this series, but as a first instalment only 5 of them are released. Each one of them priced at INR 195/- each, mirroring the Euro Books pricing strategy.

Lucky Luke  - Dashing White CowboyLucky Luke  - The TenderfootLucky Luke  - Ma Dalton

Morris (c) Lucky Luke is a masterpiece Cowboy story franchise created by Maurice De Bevere (1923-2001), under the pen-name Morris, in 1946 for then comics magazine Spirou,  from the legendary publishers, Dupius.  Morris served as creator-artist throughout the initial run of Lucky Luke, where he is pictured as a solitary cowboy travelling across Wild West, and helping the needy and poor.  He is assisted in his adventures by his faithful companion, Jolly Jumper, the Horse.  The first adventure, Arizona 1880 was released on Dec 7, 1946.

Rene Goscinny (c) arrukero.comMorris was considered as a central artist of Spirou magazine, and often regarded among the elite club known as, Gang of 4, which comprises of other heavyweights like Jije, Franquin (Spirou and Fantasio fame), and Will

Together they laid the foundation for what is came to be known as Marcilleni School, which has been discussed in detail on the Spirou and Fantasio series review at Comicology.

Lucky Luke - Jesse James - 01 The Lucky Luke series, was yet to touch the mainstream, when Morris decided to travel to America, in order to know more about the Wild West, and their arts.  He eventually met, Rene Goscinny (1926-1997), who was an unknown French comic writer and artist that time.  But he eventually, went on to form a formidable partnership with Morris, in the process creating the golden period of Lucky Luke adventures.  Together they were known as Morris & Goscinny, in the 31 adventures they worked in tandem.

The dynamic duo’s run with Lucky Luke came to an end in the late sixties, when Morris left Spirou, and joined Goscinny in his new magazine, Pilote.  But, Goscinny went on to write all the Lucky Luke stories from 1955 to his eventual death in 1977, moving him into stardom, along with his other legendary work on Asterix.

The success of Lucky Luke stories owes much to its plot revolving around the historical events and people, much like the successful Asterix & Obelix franchise.  And we get to see the same with Tara Press's imprints.

Here is a Preview of what's in store for you in these titles:

Dashing White Cowboy takes us to a trail of dacoit mystery linked up to a Theatre crew, and the highlight of the story turns up when Lucky Luke makes his nervous stage debut, as the Dashing White Cowboy himself.

Lucky Luke  - Jesse JamesLucky Luke  - Western Circus

Tenderfoot, takes a hit of the foreigners traverse in the wild-west on a lighter note coupled with humour all along.  The highlight of the story is when the Butler trying in vain to train the Red Indian to his ways, which ultimately turns the other way around.

Ma Dalton features the the foursome Dalton Brothers joining forces with Ma Dalton.  The climax involving a gun fight duel between Ma Dalton and Lucky Luke (with him admitting that he was afraid for the first time in a One-on-One fight) was the highlight.

Lucky Luke deals with mischievous Jesse James in his solo title.

While, Western Circus brings us fond memories of our childhood days of watching the now rare Circus events.  It takes us through the struggles and troubled times faced by Circus companies, and the highlight is the induction of Red Indians in the bigger troupe at the end.

This Lucky Luke series is neatly bound, translation and print quality are good.  So, Euro Books and Tara Press seem to have entered into an encouraging battle (for comic fans) in introducing the Franco-Belgian Comics Treasure to Indian Comic  Fans.

On further news regarding Tara Press, they have also acquired the rights to Iznogoud series, which is another masterpiece of René Goscinny.  So the coming months promises to be great for all Franco-Belgian Comics Fans.

There might be a curiosity among masses, to know how many more Lucky Luke Titles might be in production.  I received a link from Comic Collectors Forum in Orkut, which lists out the number of English editions Lucky Luke stories released so far.  By that records, 5 are only few of the 16 English titles available so far.

UPDATE (11/08): But as it is evident Tara Press, hasn’t released any further titles after this 5 set pack, It looks highly unlikely that they will ever be back in the graphic novels/comics market again.  Surprise, because I couldn’t notice any of these Tara Press titles on the newsstands or bookstores, citing the reason, that they were all would have been sold-out, thus giving enough interest to publish more.  Seems, they were never in the business for a long run from the start.

Recently, Euro Books have made an announcement on their website stating that they are coming up with 12 titles of Iznogoud and 24 titles of Lucky Luke.  So, I guess Tara Press, may not be able to utilize their previous copyrights, as the Publishing rights are mostly based on the First-Print formulae.  Till they materialize, we have CineBook’s
Lucky Luke set, to keep us enthralled. Good days are ahead us, and no wonder I am eagerly looking forward to them.

Junior Lion 1 - Super Circus c1.jpgUPDATE (03/09): (Covers Comparison with Tamil Comics Versions)

Lucky Luke might be new for Indian Comic fans, but not certainly for Tamil Comics fans, as the legendary Prakash Publishers, have published 4 out of 5 of these titles (except Tenderfoot) already in their line-up. 

As promised earlier, here are the covers, from my humble collection, of those 4 wonderful titles, in the order they were published. 

Obviously, the first among the list is the First-ever issue of erstwhile
Junior Lion, which featured a full-color Lucky Luke adventure for the very first time. No need to mention that it is now considered as a “Holy Grail”, among Tamil Comics Collectors.

Anyone, for the Exclusive Review Posts featuring these wonderful titles at Comicology ? :) Please log your comments, in the section below.

Lion 104 - Jessy James - c1    Lion 121 - Medayil Oru Manmadhan c1    Lion 200 Supplement LuckyLuke c1

Nov 28, 2007

Lion Comics #201 - Modesty Blaise | Nov '07

Prakash Publishers | Price: INR 10 | Pages: 100 | B/W | Size: B6 | Tamil | Laminated/HardCover

Surprise, Surprise.... We have the Lion # 201 "Kaateri Kaanagam" starring Modesty Blaise as Nov'07 release. So, it's good to see the Prakash Publishers have tentatively planned to release issues every 2 months, at least going by the current release cycle.

Lion #201 - Kaateri Kaanagam
(காட்டேரி கானகம்)
Lion 201 Cover-1

As far the story goes, there is no denial of fact that Modesty Blaise and Willy Garvin simply steal the show, with an interesting plot of Vampires shielded underworld gang being busted with the help of old Network ally.  I wouldn't be able to judge the quality of original dialogues, but as usual, Editor Vijayan simply is awesome in his translation depicted at various pages.  Tamil at its best.

I am pretty disappointed with the cover art.  At first sight, I was astonished to see the sparkling cover, and only realized later that it has been picked up from Biggles Digests released recently. 

For those who missed the previous post, the link is right here.  Editor seems to have found a way to reduce the production work for this release, with this approach. 

If I am not wrong, I believe this is the first time Lion-Muthu Publishers have resorted to a cover art which isn't part of their line-up.  Only the defunct Ponni, Meghala back in 90's used to feature this poor conceived strategy.  I hope it's a one shot, and we go back to our trademark cover designs.

Editor's HotLine
Lion 201 Hotline
Lion #202 Preview (Lucky Luke)
Lion 201 NextIssues-1

Editor's ever popular Hotline, as usual, and a preview of next Lucky Luke Extravaganza are other highlights.  And it also contains a preview of, what likely seems to be an another, Text Willer Saga in a 3 part series, planned to follow the Lucky issue.

Lion #203 Preview (Tex Willer)Lion #204 Preview (Tex Willer)Lion #205 Preview (Tex Willer)

As usual, it makes up for a good wait. But, let’s hope we get to see them later, if not earlier.

Nov 27, 2007

Gotham Comics #43 - Oct '07

Did anyone hear the term "procrastination".  Well, if it sounds pretty new, as it did for me when I first heard about it, then you might want to have a look at the My Million Dollar Year's Procrastination Flow Chart.  I feel it reflects phases of me in there.  Well, the delay in my posting is purely due to procrastination.

The pace at which Gotham releases its monthly issues, is way far to my pace in blogging about its activities. What we have here is another instalment from Gotham Comics, set #43, as its October 2007 release.

By far, this month editions turns out to be the best since their re-launch, with almost all major titles featuring the acclaimed writers and artists (Adam Kubert, Grant Morrisson, Geof Johns, you need not wish anything bigger than this), with some innovative and contemporary storylines, and with that Gotham has answered to the critics who disposed their last set as under-par story selection. Hope the trend continues.

1. Superman #43
Last Son : Part 1
Writer: Geof Johns & Richard Donner | Artist: Adam Kubert
2. Batman #43
Batman & Son : Part 1 : Building a Better Batmobile
Writer: Grant Morrisson | Artist: Andy Kubert
Superman 43 Batman 43
3. Wonder Woman #4 4. Teen Titans #15
Beast Boys and Girls : Part 3 : Changelings
Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Tom Grummett
Wonder Woman 04 Teen Titans 15
5. Ultimate Spiderman #36
Hollywood : Part 4 of 6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Mark Bagley
6. Incredible Hulk #32
Peace in our Time : Part 2

Writer: Daniel Way | Artist: Keu Cha
Ultimate Spiderman 36 Hulk 32
7. Wolverine #17
Agent of Shield : Part 2 of 6
Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: John Romita, Jr.
8. Astonishing X-Men #14
Writer: Joss Whedon | Artist: John Cassaday
Wolverine 17 Astonishing XMen 14
9. Fantastic Four #24
Writer: Mark Waid | Artist: Mike Wieringo
10. The New Avengers #27
The Sentry : Part 2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis | Artist: Steve McNiven
Fantastic Four 24 Avengers 27
11. Batman Adventures #37
Writer: Bill Matheny | Artist: Christopher Jones
12. Fantastic Four Adventures #8
It's Slobberin' Time!
Writer: Jeff Parker | Artist: Manuel Garcia
Batman Advts 37 Fantastic Four Advts 08
13. Justice League Adventures #36

Writer: Adam Beechen | Artist: Ethens Beavers
14. Spiderman Adventures #8
Doom with a View
Writer: Sean McKeever | Artist: Mike Norton
Justice League Advts 36 Spiderman Advts 08
15. Devi #7
Sandeha : Part 7
Writer: Samit Basu | Artist: Aditya Chari
16. Snake Woman #7
Writer: Zeb Wells | Artist: Dean Hyrapiet
Devi 07 Snake Woman 07
17. The Sadhu #7
Writer: Gotham Chopra | Artist: Manikandan
Sadhu 07

As I write this review, Gotham since their re-launch have missed their first monthly issue set this November. There seems to be some kind of issues which the Editorial team is facing at the moment, which is clearly evident the way the October release was delayed until the last week of the month, and the same has continued to swallow away the November release all together.

Gotham Officials weren't available to make a comment on the delay, and we could only hope that they come back better and stronger. Indian Comics Fans deserve better than what is currently in offer.

UPDATE (Dec '07): It looks Gotham has purposefully withheld the Nov & Dec Set releases, as they are contemplating on a price rise coupled with some more value add to their existing line-up, and plan to launch them in the new year.  So, what's in store for us could only be unveiled in the Jan 2008.  Let's hope it's better than what's currently in offer.

UPDATE (Sep '08): I thought that I would provide another update, as the older was nearly a year old. So as to keep those visiting fans abreast of the latest developments in Gotham Comics front. To say more, it's completely bleak since they last stopped publishing. Gotham officials, both at their subscription or marketing department, have declined to comment on a possible return date for Gotham Comics in India.

The New Subscribers who received less than two sets, have been returned their subscription amount, citing that they will be re-announcing the subscription plans after re-launch. For those subscribers, like me, who have received more than two sets, it was instructed that we continue to wait for the re-launch. As of this date, there are no announcements or plans. With the increased attention towards the Virgin Comics venture in US of the Gotham Studios, It looks that it will take eons for them to refresh their enthusiasm to Indian market again. Let's hope for the best.

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!


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