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

Oct 29, 2008

Muthu Comics #310 - Martin Mystery | Oct '08

Muthu #310 – Martin Mystery
Muthu 310 - Martin Mystery Cover  
100 Pgs | INR 10 | B6 | B/W Laminated/Paperback

Muthu Comics makes its comeback after 3 months, with the edition of Martin Mystery (christened in Tamil as Marma Manidhan Martin-மர்ம மனிதன் மார்ட்டின்) starring, Ponnil Oru Pinam (பொன்னில் ஒரு பிணம்), 'Golden Carcass'. This time the delay is for all the valid reasons.

The compulsory power shedding for residential and commercial establishments, by the state governing body, has hit the Towns and Villages to the worst, which has resulted in delay (this time around).

Coupled with torrential rains, Prakash Publishers have indeed waged war to get this edition on our hands, and they should be commended for that incredible work.

Editor's Comics Time is testament to the fact that this was a comic which was planned before Diwali, as there is no mention about the biggest Indian festival.  Obviously, editor would have reserved his greeting for the Lion Comics, which could have been planned as Diwali release.

Prakash Publishers should be commended for their new-found commitment to get monthly releases for the Tamil Comics Fans, who are now left with only one choice to pick from, with the other publishers doing a No-Show.

But, the delay in the Martin Mystery extravaganza, is sure to have pushed Lion Comics instalment to the end of next month.  Coming back to the Martin Mystery feature, I should say that, Martin, off late has become one of the promising characters among those which were introduced by Muthu/Lion in the last decade. He himself makes a comeback in Muthu Comics, after nearly 2 years.  Since, this is the first time we are covering a Martin story on Comicology, here is a brief about this comics franchise.

Alfredo Castelli

Martin Mystery (or Martin Mystère) is an Italian Comic Series, which was created by writer Alfredo Castelli and artist Giancarlo Alessandrini.  It was first published in the famous Italian Comics Magazine, Sergio Bonelli Editore, in 1982.  Publishers Sergio is a legendary Comics publishing company from Italy, which has some of the famous Comic characters introduced by Lion/Muthu Comics Editor S.Vijayan, including Diabolik, Tex Willer and Nick Raider (christened as Detective Robin in Muthu Comics).

Giancarlo Alessandrini

Have a look at their Official Website to see their vast list of Comics characters

Castelli originally conceived the concept of a New York based explorer in 1978, named Allan Quatermain (named after another famous fictional adventurer), in the weekly magazine Supergulp.  It was the lead character of the magazine from 1978 to 1981, before it closed shops.  Castelli then suggested this idea to Bonelli, which subsequently was approved, and renamed as Martin Mystery thereafter.  Castelli roped in Alessandrini, with whom he worked earlier in the Italian edition of Cosmopolitan, to design the character and draw the stories. In April of 1982, Martin Mysterty (or Mystère) was born, and Alessandrini went on to produce all the covers and many of the specials.

The original character Allan Quatermain, on which Castelli initially developed the concept, is much famous, as he was the lead character in King Solomon's Mines novel.  Many writers adopted this character to their works, quite famously Alan Moore adopted it in his The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, which was later filmed in 2003, with Sean Connery reprising the role.

MartinComing back to our hero, Martin Mystery is said to be the forerunner in Italian Comics, which revolutionized the usage of modern and complex themes, over the traditional adventures type.  Martin is a man of many professions, ranging from Historian, Archaeologist, Anthropologist, Adventurer, Writer, TV producer and collector of Rare objects.

With this kind of passion, the author has a wide array of stories and plot, in which he could wove Martin around. 

Thus, you get to see Martin adventuring his way into some of the famous legends, like who really built Stonehenge (Muthu #304), the identity of the Santa Clause, the man behind the Iron Mask, and also has met King Arthur.  These wide array of adventures combined with a gripping storyline, is what makes Martin Mystery stand out from the other regular comic characters.  Armed with a Unique Ray Gun, he is partnered in his adventures by his confident Java, who himself is a strange Neanderthal man from a hidden kingdom in Mongolian mountains.

Muthu 310 Comics Time I remember those initial days, when Mr.Vijayan introduced the character with back-to-back titles, in Muthu #292:Amaanushya Alaivarisai (அமானுஷ்ய அலைவரிசை) and Muthu #293: Sarithirathai Saagadippom (சரித்திரத்தை சாகடிப்போம்) in 2003. The backlash he received from the regular fans of Cowboy storylines, prompted him to shelve his ideas for nearly 3 years, before he brought back the series again in 2006, with Muthu #303: Pezhayil Oru Vaal (பேழையில் ஒரு வாள்) and #304: Kaalathirkoru Baalam (காலத்திற்கொரு பாலம்).

He literally pleaded with readers in his Editorials to try and observe the new trend, and switch over from the traditional and most liked Cowboy stories. That showed the confidence he bestowed upon the series, and I am thankful for him to have shown the doors to a completely new genre.

There are over 300 monthly titles of Martin Mystery which is available with the original publisher, so Vijayan has tapped onto a market which he could very well print for eons to come.  But, as "Muthufan" Dhayalan pointed out in his comment, it is very clear that Vijayan has so far printed and advertised only the English Versions released by Dark Horse Comics, in 1998-99, serialized as 1 to 6.  You could see a comparison of that at the end of this post.

For the others who still despise the character, my sincere advise is to read the instalments again, and you will see how advanced the thinking of the creator is, who was able to imagine Sci-Fi fantasies even during the early 80's.  Cartoon Network used to feature an animated series of Martin Mystery, which is loosely based on Martin Mystery Comics, Eventhough Martin is depicted in that as a Teenager.

This Martin Mystery extravaganza, is themed around the real-life mystery surrounding the construction Sagrada Família and its architect Antoni Gaudi.  For the starters, the construction of this Catholic Church was started in 1882 and it is still unfinished.  The story starts with Martin's villa which is being refurnished.  Disturbed by his probing interventions to work, his companion Diana devises a plan to keep him occupied with a false note.  But, little does she know that her false note really turns out to be related to a mystery surrounding Sagrada Familia, which takes Martin to Barcelona to explore and find the facts about the incidents surrounding it. 

What we see next is a whirlwind tour back and forth from the past to present, where the plot takes it root from the pre-Christianity era, and the other religions and beliefs, and even touches the Chemical Explorations, which were termed as Black-Magic then.   The creator's unique knack of basing his storyline and plot with the real history interlaced, is evident throughout the story.  Overall, the readers are in for a big treat, and is surely another Martin Mystery classic.

Two of the glimpses from the storyline, where I could relate myself, are:

1. When Martin goes over rearranging his collections, and Diana jokes around with Java on his interest and passion towards those artefacts.  This is what happens at my home, whenever I try to rearrange my Comics/Graphic Novels collection.  My home people are the one who take the role of Java and Diana in real-life.  But then, I don't blame them; Different People, Different Perceptions.

2. When Diana, in order to get rid of Martin's interventions in renovation work, gets down to create a false document on his computer, which she intends to make it written by Martin in 1987.  She achieves it by changing the system date to 14 years back, which makes Martin to fall in the trap, when he verifies the authenticity of the write-up.  In our real life, Many of times people related to Muthu 310 - Buck Ryan - Norungiya Naanal MarmamComputers, adopt this strategy to make their documents relate to a past date, including myself.  But the punch is at the end of the Martin issue, when he reveals to Diana that he was aware of her supposed work all-along, in typical Martin style.

Editor Vijayan, had mentioned that the Story has to be read twice for understanding the plot, but I traditionally have a practice of reading through panels twice for observing the dialogues and relating it to the art panels, so I was able to understand the plot first-up.  But, even then, I couldn't stop myself from reading the story again, which is one of the mysterious plots I have read in a Comics format for a very long time.

Enjoy the cover scans, Editors Comics-Time, and a preview of the next Muthu Comics edition, which also features a comeback hero Detective Julian.  Also as a bonus, are the XIII Teaser Advertisement, with the back-cover featuring the Garfield like Mr. Meow (Original: Mowser - The Priceless Puss).

Lion Comics's XIII Teaser Mowser (Mr. மியாவ்) (BackCover)
Muthu 310 next2 Muthu 310 c2

Here is the Back-list of all Muthu Comics and Lion Comics which featured the Martin Mystery series. I have also provided the respective original cover scans and details. Courtesy, where they are still available for back-order.

Muthu #292 - Sep'03
அமானுஷ்ய அலைவரிசை

Muthu 292 c1
Muthu #293 - Oct '03
சரித்திரத்தை சாகடிப்போம்

Muthu 293 c1
Muthu #303 - Apr '06
பேழையில் ஒரு வாள்

Muthu 303 c1
Muthu #304 - Jul '06
காலத்திற்கொரு பாலம்

Muthu 304 c1_v2
Original: Dark Horse
Martin Mystery # 4 of 6

Original: Dark Horse
Martin Mystery # 1 of 6

Original: Dark Horse
Martin Mystery # 2 of 6

Original: Dark Horse
Martin Mystery # 3 of 6

Lion #195 - Jolly Special
May '06
- பழி வாங்கும் "ரா"

Lion 195 - RAA
Original: Dark Horse
Martin Mystery # 5 of 6

Muthu #310 - Oct '08
பொன்னில் ஒரு பிணம்

Muthu 310 c1
Original: Dark Horse
Martin Mystery # 6 of 6


As you could see Editor Vijayan has maintained an order in the series, except the Muthu's first Martin issue, which was originally #4 of the series.  All of these Lion/Muthu Editions are still available with Prakash Publishers, as listed in their backorder list. So grab them before they run out of stock.

One another hallmark of Prakash Publishers, is that the amount of cover art rework they do on the comics they release, even though they had a freehand in choosing the original ones. The cover-arts are improved with better coloring and even some minute modifications, like  the removal of controversial Swastika symbol in Muthu #303, and lately the addition of the Golden Carcass in Muthu #310 (which almost made me to construe this as the new title out from the English series, when I was first searching for the Original cover scan to accompany this blog post.  Thanks to Muthufan and his prying eyes, for pointing me to the website again).

The other website mentioned by Muthufan (, is the Official website of Martin Mystery's creator, Alfredo Castelli.  but predominantly in his native language.

Muthufan pointed out in his comment that there is only one more English edition pending to be released by Prakash Publishers.  But, as you would have seen from the list that even that has been released as part of Lion #195 Jolly Special, as Pazhi Vaangum Raa, which was then overshadowed by the other prolific stars, so no wonder it was missed out.  Also the popularity of Martin Mystery prompted Editor to ignore him on the cover-arts, thus we were missed out from seeing the reworked cover-art from #5 of the original series.

Now that Editor Vijayan has wiped-off the English Series from his tray, let's see whether he will tap onto the original Italian versions.  The series is promising enough for him to take up that job. But that depends on the plans he has over Lion/Muthu Comics for the future. Let's stay Optimistic, even though the absence of Martin future story advertisements over the years is a worrying factor.

Oct 27, 2008

CineBook – Thorgal #1-3 | 2008

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 350 | Two-Volume Books | Color | Pages: 96 | Size: B5 | Laminated/HardCover

Well, I got behind on my comics reading, and couldn't complete Black & Mortimer series quite in time for a positive review before the long weekend.  Nevertheless, not to disappoint those visiting souls, I took up another great series for review, Thorgal from Cinebook.

Comics stalwarts would remember the Conan the Barbarian (or Conan the Cimmerian, as he is known also) from the Golden Age of American Comics.  We won't be overestimating, if we say that Conan series, single-handedly laid a platform for the sword-and-sorcery fantasy, and later revolutionized its form in a Comics base starting from 1970.  There were even a couple of Hollywood attempts to take the success, to the Silver Screen, an initiative propelled by the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role.  The popularity of Conan is bestowed by the fact that, there are still die-hard fans around the world for this hard-hitting Cimmerian, even when the world revolves around the Sci-Fi fantasy.

Thorgal 1: Child of the Stars
ISBN: 978-1-905460-23-6

Thorgal 01 c1
Thorgal 1: Aaricia (Vol.2)
Published: 2007

Thorgal 01 ic

There were numerous attempts made to cash-in on the popularity generated by Conan in the Comics format, by many writers and authors, but none were as successful as the Conan was.  But, little is known that in the same period, there was another Comics character from the famed Franco-Belgian genre, which was able to match upto to the popularity and adventures of Conan, and our topic of discussion, Thorgal.

Thorgal is a Belgian comic book series created with the blockbuster combination of writer Jean Van Hamme and the Polish graphic artist Grzegorz Rosiński.  Writer Jean Van Hamme is well-known to Southern Indian Fans, as he is the creator of the successful XIII franchise.  A series which is in plans to be published as a Collectors Item from Prakash Publishers,  who own the famous Tamil language Lion and Muthu Comics, being released in South India.

Jean Van Hamme

Jean Van Hamme

It originally started appearing in the TinTin Magazine, but was moved to hardcover volumes starting from 1980.  Since then the popularity of the series has prompted them to be translated into all the major languages in Europe. 

Thorgal series left no stone untouched, with its storylines uniting many legends into one, ranging from Norse Mythology, Atlantean Fantasy, and to an extent Science Fiction too.


Grzegorz Rosiński

Van Hamme is known for is intriguing plots, in his other works.  And that is shown in the way he has put Thorgal's origin and his hurdles growing-up.

Shankar's comment in the blog reminded me that I forgot to mention how the strange name Thorgal Aegirsson.  As per the plot (revealed in the Cinebook 1st album) he was named so by his adopted father, Leif Haraldson, as "Thor-gal Aegirs-son"; after Thor, the Norse God of Thunder (a prominant Marvel Comic Hero too), and Aegir, the ruler of the sea; because he considered Thorgal to be a gift from the Gods.

The punch-line of Thorgal Series 'The Gods Have Put a Man to the Test', is good enough to understand that he is different from his much famous compatriot, Conan. Unlike Conan, He is a guy who despises of wars, fist-fights, kingdom, or supremacy, and wants to settle down as a day-to-day family man, fueled by his unmatched love towards Aaricia.  The story quitely follows their adventures with us being reminded on this underlying family values, which Thorgal rates highly over any other.  The Artwork of Rosinski, is incredible, which adds all the more value to the Hamme's plot.  Have a look at the cover arts, as a testament to the fact. 

The successful combination, has so far published 29 Albums of Thorgal, with the last one in 2006.  So far, the entire volume put together has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide in all languages put to-gether.

Thorgal 2: The Three Elders of Aran
ISBN: 978-1-905460-31-1
Thorgal 02 c1
Thorgal 2: The Black Galley (Vol.2)
Published: 2007
Thorgal 02 ic

Coming back to the topic, Cinebook have brought this much acclaimed French series, to India in their English versions.  There are 3 Editions with this batch, with each one being a Two Volume Editions, which effectively means that they are 6 in total.  The way these volumes are bound are different from their original publication, as the Thorgal 1, in this series, actually encompasses the original volumes: 7:L'enfant des étoiles and 8:Alinoë;, released in 1984 and 1985 respectively.  The chief patron of Cinebook, Olivier Cadic, explains in an interview with CBO, that he purposefully suggested the change to the creators, as he felt that those individual albums, which briefs the childhood days of Thorgal and Aaricia, would serve as a good way to open up a series anew.

Thorgal 3: Beyond the Shadows
ISBN: 978-1-905460-45-8
Thorgal 03 c1
Thorgal 3: The Fall of Brek Zarith (Vol.2)
Published: 2007

Thorgal 03 ic

Likewise, Thorgal 2: encompasses Original Albums 3:Les Trois Vieillards du pays d'Aran (1981) and 4:La Galère Noire (1982); while Thorgal 3: consists of the Original Albums 5:Au-delà des Ombres and 6:La chute de Brek Zarith.  The Original Albums 1 & 2, which introduces us to the characters and location, have been left out from this venture, as Olivier feels that the Origins of Thorgal & Aaricia, are enough to fill-up the introduction rounds.

As to the present, Van Hamme has disowned himself from the Thorgal series.  But Rosinski has teamed up with Yves Sente (whom we will be discussing again when we review the Black & Mortimer series), to continue the Thorgal Saga.  So far they have released two editions, with this new team-up:

  • Album 30: Moi, Jolan - (I, Jolan) (2007) and
  • Album 31: Le bouclier de Thor - (The Shield of Thor) (2008)

in which the plot now hovers around Jolan, the son of Thorgal.  The new series  has so far garnered mixed reactions for the purists and followers of the Thorgal series. I am not going to provide a judgement on them, unless we have them on our hands.

Overall, I liked Thorgal series, as that introduced us to a world different from what we have witnessed in the sword-fighting medieval age described by other stories.  I always felt that no series could match-up to the Conan saga, but now I have been proven wrong

The next album of Thorgal, The Archers, is currently out on print from Cinebook in UK, but it is yet to reach India.  Cinebook have also announced two more two-volume-editions of Thorgal for 2009, showing their intention to continue with this successful series.

As a Bonus to this post, here are the back-covers of these 3 set Thorgal series, which has a small snippet about the supposed storyline, and a sneak preview of next title in the series.

Thorgal 01 c2Thorgal 02 c2Thorgal 03 c2












And before we wrap-up, for all the visitors from India and those of Indian Origin from other countries, wish you all a Happy Diwali.  For the others, its famously called as the "Festival of Lights", and for all proper reasons. Refer to the Wiki link to know more.

அன்பிற்கினிய தமிழ் வாசகர்களுக்கு, இனிய தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள். இந்த பண்டிகையில் உங்கள் வீடுகளில் மகிழ்ச்சி பொங்கட்டும்; உங்களுடைய நெடு நாள் ஆசைகள் நிறைவேறட்டும்.

सब जनो को दिवाली के सुभ अवसर पर, मेरी आर्थिक सुब्काम्नाये |

Flash-Back: RANI COMICS - Tamil - #313 - 1 July 1997

Contrary to the popular opinion that Thorgal series was never printed in India before, I was just alerted by comikers, that it had indeed been printed in India as an one shot, by the erstwhile Comics publication Rani Comics (ராணி காமிக்ஸ்).  Luckily, I had a copy of this edition in my collection and this late-update is to compare it with the original version, released now by CineBook.

For the starters, Rani Comics was one of the famous Tamil Comics magazines in South India, from the house of Daily Thanthi (தின தந்தி).  It had a huge fan-following and had a marathon release for more than 3 decades. 

Though it revolutionized the art of Comics publishing in Tamil Language along with the fellow Super Heavyweights Muthu Comics & Lion Comics, many true comic lovers despised their strategy of editing the core artwork, and spoiling the plot, especially the post-Ramajayam period, as Editor of Rani Comics. Read more about them in our Rani Comics debut post here.

Rani Comics #313 Veera Siruvan
(வீர சிறுவன்) : Courageous Boy
Rani 313 Cover

This one-shot was released in July 1997 as Rani Comics #313, titled Veera Siruvan (வீர சிறுவன்) , which is an edited version of the Thorgal Album 1: Child of the Stars, listed in the main section.  The coverart is also inspired by the same Album.  And surprisingly he retains his original name, although eventually killing it by referring him as Thoragaal (தொரகால்).

The story revolves around the childhood of Thorgal, where he agrees to help the Dwarfs in their challenge with the Serpent King, to locate the Jewel made from a Metal that Doesn't Exist.  Due to Thorgal's secret origin of being a descendant from an alien race from the stars, he does carry an ornament from his ancestors which satisfies the Serpent Kings description.  Thorgal decides to travel to the Dwarf land accompanied by the Dwarf messenger, to gift his ornament and successfully evades the hurdle to claim his destiny.

Now, as is the tradition with Rani Comics, we get to see a lot of twists from the original storyline.  While briefing all them would be a big ask, I will try to keep it short with few prime examples.  To start with due to the size of Rani Comics (half the original), the one page artwork in the original, is actually briefed in 2 or 3 pages in the Rani Comics version, and the Original segregation of Child of Stars into three chapters is missing in the Rani Comics edition.  The story starts without a prologue about Vikings finding Thorgal as an infant.  Instead it is featured as a small snippet into the story when its framed as being told by Thorgal to the Dwarf Messenger.  This could be accepted by the fact that Tamil Comics is still new to a level, with the concept of Epilogue or Prologue may be a little hard to understand by one and all.

And as with the tradition of all Black & White prints, we get to lose the incredible artwork of Rosinski.  See an example from the scene where Dwarf Messenger talks to Thorgal in a Dark Night, with a camp fire.  While the original artwork shows that Thorgal is in picture, the Rani Comics version has completely made him a ghost in the dark.  A little effort from the local artist could have made it look better.  Take your own judgement below.

Original: Dwarf & Thorgal in Conversation
Thorgal 01 pg19
Rani Comics Adaptation of the same panels
Rani 313 pg17

The next up is close to the end of Chapter two, where the Serpent claims that he won the challenge, and is shocked to see the Messenger returning with the jewel.  Elsewhere, Thorgal dies in the battle with the Snake like monster.  But, in the Rani Comics adaptation, the Dwarf Lord himself briefs to the Serpent that the Jewel is here, and it is his portrayed as if that the Serpent in anger kills Thorgal, who actually hasn't reached the location yet (battling with the monster still on the way).  To top it all, in the Rani Comics, the immediate next panel after Thorgals death, is shown as the Dwarves celebrating their victory, while they just portrayed Thorgal being killed by the Serpent, and then they suddenly come to the realisation of him being missing.  Confusion to the core.  Have a look for yourself.

Original: Serpent being briefed on Stone discovery
Thorgal 01 pg30
Corresponding Rani Comics Panels - p56
Rani 313 pg56
Rani Comics - p57
Rani 313 pg57
Rani Comics - p58
Rani 313 pg58

But to top it all, Editor packs a surprise at the end.  In the Original, when Thorgal gets wounded by the Snake like monster, the Dwarf Messenger, sheds tears on his friends death.  But Goddess Frigg brings Thorgal back to life, and briefs that the tears which was shed on him would eventually be his biggest gift, as Tears of Love.  When Thorgal wakes up in his world, he is briefed by his friends that during his absence, one of the tribal leaders was blessed with a baby girl, who surprisingly had pearls in the shape of tears in her both clenched hands by birth.  Symbolic representation, that that is the gift to Thorgal from the Goddess for his courage, a girl who would later become his love for life, Aaricia.

But, we are into a great twist in the storyline, in typical Indian style, here the girl is indeed portrayed as the baby sister of Thorgal himself.  Oops, what a way to end a One shot story.  Editor A.M.Saami at work again.

Original: The Climax of Chapter 2
Thorgal 01 p32
Respective Panels in Rani Comics - p60
Rani 313 pg60
Rani Comics - p61
Rani 313 pg61

Since, this was indeed considered as one shot by Rani Comics Editor, he left out the 3rd Chapter of the Album where Thorgal travels to the sacred mountain to eventually meet his Grandfather, and comes to know of his origin.  Rani Comics adaptation, simply ends with Chapter two.

The idea of this comparison, is not to show Rani Comics under poor light, but only to create the awareness that how a good story could be spoilt in the hands of a wrong authorities. There may be people, who would still justify that Rani Comics was aimed at children, hence it was simplified for common understanding.  I don't buy in that concept, because that cannot be used as a yardstick for chopping of a storyline from its originality and changing it as per the wish of the editor.  They are quite a few publishers who buy-in this concept in India, the notable of them are Prakash Publishers from South India, publishers of the fabled Lion and Muthu Comics.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and as always, please do leave your comments in the section below.

Oct 2, 2008

Graphix - Bone #1-4 | Smith & Hamaker | 2008

Isn't it a long time since we covered a Comics from USA at Comicology? While there was a continuous flow of Euro/Franco-Belgian Comics in India from various publishers, US based comics were a no-show, largely due to the copyrights held by Gotham Group for DC & Marvel in India, which went into hibernation (for the 3rd time since their launch) last year.  Supermans, Batmans, and Spidermans Fone Bonewere reduced to be seen only on Torrent sites as CBRs, or the occasional remainder stock from US found at few book shops.

Well, we finally have the answer to that in the form of Scholastic.  Scholastic-India, a subsidiary of Scholastic Inc, have jumped on to introduce a different US comics genre to Indian Comic/Graphic Novel fans.  And what better way to start their venture, by bringing in the much acclaimed, and credited Bone Series.

Scholastic Graphix: Bone #1
Out from Boneville
Bone 01 c1 ISBN: 978-81-7655-993-5
2008 | 144 Pgs | INR 350 | C5 | Color | Paperback

Bone was released as an underground comics book series in United States of America, originally serialized in 55 irregularly released issues from 1991 to 2004.  Bone was drawn and written by Jeff Smith, who is widely known to the Comic book enthusiasts for his work on DC & Marvel Superhero titles, in the later part of his career. 

Bone 01 BackcoverIt was originally drawn as Black & White, and Smith has admitted that his artwork was inspired by animated cartoons and comic strips.  Cover arts for all those 55 issues could be seen here or here, a testimony the talent of Jeff Smith.

Bone volume 1, comprises of six chapters:
    1. The Map,
    2. Thorn,
    3. Phoney Bone,
    4. Kingdok, 
    5. Barrelhaven,
    6. Phoney's Inferno

The Bone Series has garnered Eisner Awards (10 times) among the various categories it was nominated for, including Best Writer/Artist for Jeff Smith multiple times.

Scholastic Graphix: Bone #2
The Great Cow RaceBone 02 c1 ISBN: 978-81-7655-994-2
2008 | 144 Pgs | INR 350 | C5 | Color | Paperback

As briefed in Wikipedia: “The series centres around the Bone Cousins (Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone), which is composed of Bone 02 c2creatures which talk and act like the humans in the story; but who are white, small, bald humanoids with big noses, who seldom wear much clothing.  Although the three Bone cousins are from Boneville, and it is frequently referred to as the place where they wish to return, the village itself is never shown or depicted in the story.”

Bone volume 2, comprises of six chapters:

    1. The Spring Fair,

    2. The Cave,

    3. The Mystery Cow,

    4. The Great Cow Race,

    5. Lonesome Road & Possum Interlude, and

    6. Up on the Roof

Also, it appears that Boneville is fairly modern, as opposed to the Valley, which, judging by the weapons used and methods of transportation, is little above medieval.

Scholastic Graphix: Bone #3
Eyes of the StormBone 03 c1 ISBN: 978-81-7655-995-9 
2008 | 192 Pgs | INR 350 | C5 | Color | Paperback

For example, Smiley Bone makes two comments, one to Phoney Bone about a failed scheme of his involving a nuclear reactor, and one to Fone Bone while trying to convince him to return to Boneville, referring to CornDogHutTM, all of which are twentieth century achievements.

Bone 03 c2Overall, It's a Lord of the Rings style series, with a humour in-between, yet maintaining the seriousness of the plot all along.

Bone volume 3, comprises of eight chapters:

   1. Watch Duty,
   2. Moby Bone,
   3. Road Trip,
  4. Double or Nothing, 
  5. Eyes of the Storm, 
  6. Mending Fences,
  7. Dreams,
  8. Things that Go Bump in the Night

Starting from 1995, the original series was converted into a series of 9 volumes, last of which was released in 2004.  In 2004, a Special One Volume Bone Collection 1 VolumeEdition of the entire Bone Series, was released as a volume, comprising 1332 pages.

It was originally released to celebrate the end of the series and also to mark the deal they struck with Scholastic Inc, and was supposed to be restricted to a limited print run, so as to allow the sales of Scholastic to prosper,

But Cartoon Books, the brand which is owned by Jeff Smith, renegotiated the deal because Smith said he felt like the comic book stores still needed that edition.  As of now it is priced somewhere around $40, and is freely available in Amazon for order.

I remember seeing this edition in the local bookstores here, but at INR 2000, it's far out of reach for a humble collector, in me.  When will the Indian Book Distribution Agencies learn to get away from a Strict Dollar-To-Rupee Conversion, Geesh.

Scholastic Graphix: Bone #4
The DragonslayerBone 04 c1 ISBN: 978-81-7655-996-6
2008 | 176 Pgs | INR 350 | C5 | Color | Paperback

In the same year in 2004, that Scholastic Inc. began reissuing the individual volumes in full color, which eventually is the topic of this post. 

When compared with the original editions, which were in Black & White, the color editions were incredibly superior, and helped to bring Jeff Smith's artwork Bone 04 c2to a next level, which I guess even he wouldn't have dreamt to become.

Bone volume 4, comprises of eight chapters, along with a Prologue:

Prologue: Stick-Eater,
1. Business,
2. Earth & Sky,
3. Council in the Dark,
4. The Straggler,
5. Deliver Us these Laws,
6. The Midsummer's Day Plan,
7. The Turning,
8. On the Dragon's Stair

The typical examples being the Red Dragon, and the Rat Creatures, while the classic touch surrounding Bone is still retained with White Color theme.  Kudos to the efforts of Steve Hamaker, for his creditable work.

Jeff Smith has acknowledged this effort in many of his articles.  The process of colouring and releasing the books is still not complete, as only 8 out of the 9 have been released so far (at the time of posting this topic).  You could leave a note to Steve, on his weblog or personal website.  There are some good YouTube videos, where he explains about digital colouring, so it's worth a visit. 

For a sample of what Adobe Photoshop and little creative mind (Steve Hammer, in this case) can do, roll your mouse over the sample images below.  This made my long-time wish to learn and explore Adobe Photoshop, even stronger.

BoneSamp1 BoneSamp2

Roll-Over the Bone Sample Inner-Art Images for Toggling Black/White and Color Versions

And coming back to the topic of this post, Scholastic India has now brought first 4 volumes of these Bone Saga to India, as Pack 1 bundled together, and also sold separately.  The Front and Back Cover scans of the same are provided along with this post. 

Jeff Smith Interview in Cartoons by Culture Pulp (Mike Russell) Jeff Smith Interview in Cartoons
Courtesy: Culture Pulp

The back-covers carries some of the famous quotes by various publishers and critics about the Bone Series, which speaks high about it, which the series truly deserves to every bit. Have a look at Jeff Smith's Official website:, for more details on the same, and a chance to hear on the latest works of Jeff's from his own words.

As per the last news, Bone Series is currently in plans to be made as CGI-Animated movie by Warner Bros.  That should make the saga much more famous in other parts of the world. And Jeff Smith has also said he wants to continue the adventures in the valley where the “Bone” adventures took place, with possible appearances by supporting characters. 

These would be chapter books set in the valley, written by Tom Sniegowski and illustrated by Smith.  The book would be aimed at tweens (Oops, I am counted out.  If at all Tweens has the same meaning as in Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, where it refers to a hobbit between the ages of 20 and 32.  I would be called a Tween then.  Again, me and my fantasies).

As with the author, Jeff Smith is currently working on a New Series, again written and drawn by him, titled RASL.  The Preview on his blog, looks all the more enthralling, hope we could get a version to India sometime sooner, with the help of Scholastic's Graphix Imprint.

Staying on with Bone, Dark Horse in 2007 has released a hard-cover issue, named "Art of Bone".  It's said to be a collectors item, going on around with the background information and inspiration of Jeff Smith's Bone artwork, being retold by some of his confidents.  You could see a preview of that in Jeff's blog here.

Overall, I liked the series, and eagerly looking forward for the conclusion with the second pack of 5 issues.  With the Issue 9 still not out on print in US, that looks a long shot as of now.  Hopefully, Scholastic would bring them sooner.

idea_light_bulb UPDATE (June ‘10): As it turned out, Scholastic took a a whole year, to release the final set, regarding which you can read all about, in the new post here:
Graphix – Bone #5-9 | 2010

And that completes our run with Bone on Comicology, but it will never be the last rest assured. As always, please leave your comments about the post, in the below section.  I see 40+ visits to the Comicology everyday from site trackers.  Even though, I appreciate all those visits, I am disappointed from the fact that only 3 or 4 decide to leave a comment over a week long period. 

It takes more than a day's work to construe a topic, gather materials, write and format a Blog post, and with that I would be happy if half the visitors at least take a minute to post their view, reviews, "including criticism" as a comment.  It will let me know how good I am at this job, and will go a great deal in continuing my passion.  This will also help to let other blog readers to know that you have been to this place, where your hobbies meet.

Sep 28, 2008

CineBook - Childrens Category | 2007

Distributor in India: West Land | Price: INR 195 | Color | Pages: 50 | Size: A4 | Laminated/HardCover

Well it's long since we reviewed the last batch of CineBook editions released in India this year, as back-issue sale from the UK based CineBook.  Since we have a lot more issues to cover, I have gathered all the Children titles they released in this batch as a single post.  They are a bunch of unknown comic characters, we have never read or heard in India before.  The popularity of these titles also doesn't make them to be covered separately.  All the batch of comics are created in Belgium, and many of them are still being published with new titles every year.

First-up, is Ducoboo, famously termed as the 'King of Dunces', created by Zidrou and Godi in 1992.  The series follows the adventures of Ducoboo, and his mischief making acts.  It typically consists of assortment of small acts, which generally spans one or two pages.  The stories are hilariously portrayed, and Cinebook have come up with 2 volumes of Ducoboo.  Each volume depicts a full year in School with the last gag always ending up as portrayed in Summer Holidays.

When you browse through these books, you can identify that the header of each storyline will eventually be based on the plot of that particular act, depicted in few simple pictures.  That's the amount of detail Zidrou and Godi have concentrated on while making these comics.

Ducaboo 1: King of the Dunces
ISBN: 978-1-905460-15-1
Ducoboo 2: In the Corner
ISBN: 978-1-905460-26-7
Ducoboo 01 Ducoboo 02

Melusine is a story of kind-hearted young witch.  She is touted to be 119 years old, as explained in the first album.  The character and the plot was created by Clarke and Gilson in 1995.  The stories typically features short, and humorous comic strips based on the life of Melusine.  The plot sometimes seems heavily derived upon the Harry Potter series, as Melusine also studies at a Witches school.  Cinebook have released two volumes of Melusine with this batch.

Melusine 1: Hocus Pocus
ISBN: 978-1-905460-20-5
Melusine 2: Halloween
ISBN: 978-1-905460-34-2
Melusine 01 Melusine 02

Papyrus is a comic book series, written and illustrated by Lucien de Gieter.  It's about a young peasant in Ancient Egypt, called as Papyrus.  It was originally published in 1974 in the famous Spirou Magazine.  As the story takes place in Ancient Egypt, the users are taken down back in the history with the plots revolving around the famous landmarks, temples and monuments found from the original Egyptian Era.  Ramases Temple, Saqqara, the ancient Egyptian funeral complex, are all breathtakingly drawn with detailed structural explanations, while closely tying  them to the storyline of each album.  As could be construed, the Papyrus stories involves its fair share of Magics and Miracles.  Overall, a good historical comic series for children.   Again we have two volumes of Papyrus with this batch.

Papyrus 1: The Ramases' Revenge
ISBN: 978-1-905460-35-9
Papyrus 2: Imhotep's Transformation
ISBN: 978-1-905460-50-2
Papyrus 01 Papyrus 02

Yoko Tsuno is a comic book series created by Belgian writer Roger Leloup, an arden follower of Ligne Claire.  It was originally published in 1970, making it the oldest children comic series in this batch.  The story follows the adventures of Yoko Tsuno, a female electrical engineer of Japanese origin, accompanied by her friends.  They travel across the globe and even reach the outer space in this 24 volume series.  The highlight of the story is that they are based on technological concepts, with Robo Dragons, Time Travel and others; which were a thought way ahead during its initial years.  We have two volumes of Tsuno with this batch.

Yoko Tsuno 1: On the Edge of Life
ISBN: 978-1-905460-32-8
Yoko Tsuno 2: The Time Spiral
ISBN: 978-1-905460-43-4
Yoko Tsuno 01 Yoko Tsuno 02

Yakari is the most famous Children magazine character in this batch of Cinebook editions.  It is a series which was created in 1973 by Job and illustrated by Derib.  Yakari is a young Sioux Native American who has an unique ability to understand and speak animal language.  With this unique ability he meets many North American animals in his albums, by which the readers are introduced to the life and customs of these animals.  Yakari is so popular that it has so far been translated to 17 languages, from French.

Cinebook have brought 3 volumes of Yakari with this batch.  But they are not released in an order in India.  There are 5 volumes which were published by Cinebook, when these titles were available in India, but we have received only Issues 3, 4 and 5.  So, the collection is incomplete.  The series is translated in English by Erica Jeffrey for Cinebook.  She is known to Comicologists as a surprise visitor during our first Cinebook post's discussion thread.

Yakari 3: Yakari and the Beavers
ISBN: 978-1-905460-09-0
Yakari 4: Yakari and the Grizzly
ISBN: 978-1-905460-16-8
Yakari 03 Yakari 04

We also have an One volume release in this Children's batch, called Scared to Death, which is a new series created in 2000 by Mauricet & Vanholme.  The cover-art is spooky enough to foretell that the series revolves around the strange adventures of two adolescent friends, Robin and Max.  It touches upon all the fantasies, like Sorcery, Werewolves, Ghosts, etc. but somehow the storylines aren't gripping enough.  Maybe because the target audience is Children's again :).

Yakari 5: Yakari and the Stranger
ISBN: 978-1-905460-27-4
Scared to Death 1: The Vampire from the Marshes
ISBN: 978-1-905460-47-2
Yakari 05 Scared to Death 01

Well these titles may not be of the interest to many of us, but as a fan to the Franco-Belgian comics era, I wouldn't leave them up from my collection, when they are available right at our doorstep.

As always, do post your comments and let me know what you think of this different post category.  Next up on the Cinebook reviews, we would jump to the serious titles aimed for grown up audience.  Well, now we are talking.

Sep 25, 2008

Comics Classics #23 - Barracuda | Johny Nero | Sep '08

Prakash Publishers | Price: INR 10 | Total Pages: 244 (122+122) | B/W | Size: Pocket | Tamil | SoftCover

Prakash Publishers continue to amaze with regular monthly releases.  What we have this time around is the Comics Classics #23, which as usual carries two yesteryear blockbuster comics from the erstwhile Muthu Comics;

  1. Kaatril Karaintha Kappalgal (காற்றில் கரைந்த கப்பல்கள்) starring Code Name: Barracuda aka., CID Lawrence & David
  2. Moolai Thirudargal (மூளை திருடர்கள்) starring Johny Nero & Stella

Ardent fans will remember that this was originally advertised to be the Issue #22, last year.  I enthusiastically covered it as a Preview feature in this very blog, only to get outsmarted by Prakash Publishers who released another Instalment in place of that.  But as it turned out that actually worked out fine, as we now have two Comics Classics releases in the same year.

Comics Classics 23 c1
Story 1: Kaatril Karaintha Kappalgal
(காற்றில் கரைந்த கப்பல்கள்) | [Ships Which Disappeared]
Comics Classics 23 c2
Story 2: Moolai Thirudargal
(மூளை திருடர்கள்) | [Brain Thieves]

As far as the story review goes,

Kaatril Karaintha Kappalgal is an action packed storyline.  I only posses a modest collection of Muthu Comics's earlier editions, but remember reading this story in childhood when it was reprinted some years back.  It was one of the instrumental comics which grew my interest towards the style of Picture based storytelling (as it is known as an unique art form: the seamless integration of images and words)

The intellectual thinking of Lawrence and his quick paced action, with David giving him good company, is the highlight.  Suspense was spilled throughout the Storyline, with the ultimate being the Volcano Setup of the Terrorist group.  Back then as a Child, I used to imagine them to a scenario which is only matched in the Hollywood genre at this period. It certainly helped to grow a creative mind back then. Overall, one of the golden pieces of the British Comics era.

Moolai Thirudargal is a typical Johny Nero story, known for his globe-trotting free agent detective style.  I always liked the importance Stella gets in Nero storylines, which makes them an inseparable pair, yet maintaining the professional relationship between them.  European/British Comics stand out from the American genre in that aspect, which makes it right in parallel with the Asian culture. 

I still remember those initial James Bond issues of Rani Comics (another South Indian publisher of Tamil Comics, but defunct now), where they were printing the editions as it is from the Original, with Frontal exposures, and all.  I used to be scared those days, to maintain those comics as part of the collection fearing that my family would someday get a hand to that and may misconstrue that I am collecting the "so-so" type magazines too. 

Luckily, they realized the Indian culture, and later started to seal and mask the artwork, where necessary.  Lion/Muthu Comics publishers always have ensured this right from the start, and the reliance on European Comics (Franco-Belgian, British, Italian, etc.) which has a deep roots in quality comic art & plot work kept them in good stead too.

I always loved the foreword of Editor S.Vijayan, and he initially used to do it for the earlier Comics Classics editions, where he used to highlight and share the history behind the featured stories earlier publishing.  Unluckily, We don't see that feature in the recent editions.  So we only have to rely upon Comics stalwarts like Muthufan, to share the nostalgia behind these goldies.

As far the packaging goes, I don't have much to say. Eventhough, the Pocket edition helps in re-igniting the memory of past, it is not a great size by which you could enjoy the comics to the most. Editor Vijayan may argue that it is cost-effective and suitable for the price tag. But, I always believed the Comics Classics should follow the standards of the current Lion/Muthu in terms of cover and size (not the paper quality though :)). Because these are the ones which are expected to help a Collector in maintaining them over a long period. And since Comics Classics is expected to be a Collector's Edition, I don't think there are people who will object to have it priced in higher bracket for a better quality.

Those with prying eyes would be able to see a small damage to the second cover in the above scans.  That's due to the effort of yours truly, while trying to separate the cover from the inner papers which had got stuck accidentally with the package glue.  This is one another reason why you shouldn't use Paper Covers for Comics.  They should be seen as Books (like Westerners) and not Magazines (as they are mostly categorized in India).

At times when some Comics collectors (?!) use the old Lion/Muthu editions to sell them at a premium price nearing INR 1000 (and in some cases, more), and get a sizeable profit out of it; Prakash Publishers who hold the rights for these golden editions are short-sighted to bring those gems in a low quality editions continuously, and miss out on a potentially profitable venture. 

Hopefully, the first comic-enthusiastic of Tamil Comics Industry, Mr.Vijayan, will take a cue from it to improve the packaging for his releases.  Whatever said, there is no doubt that Vijayan has always been the Flagbearer of Tamil Comics Industry, in the past, Now, and in Future.  He should be commended for continuing in a business, where others come and go without a basic interest towards Comics in genre, or the commitment.

To end with, see a small stats for Comics Classics releases over the years right from its inception.  2007 was the only year when Comics Classics was blacked out completely without a single issue.  In total there are 23 issues so far.  A way behind from the original idea, of printing 3 every year.  But that as many know, has always been a throne found in the main brands Lion/Muthu Comics too.  Anyways, 2008 has set things anew, hoping for better years to come for Comics Classics editions.

Year # of Issues Year # of Issues
1999 2 2004 3
2000 4 2005 4
2001 4 2006 1
2002 2 2007 -
2003 1 2008 2

Comics Classics Release Stats
(from its Inception)

That brings us to the close of another Comics review at Comicology.  As usual, please leave your comments about this post and the Comics Classics editions on a whole, in the section below.


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