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 23, 2008

Lion Comics #205 - Tex Willer | Nov '08

Lion Comics #205 – Tex Willer 
Lion 205 c1 Yemanin Ellayil [Footsteps of the Demon] - Part 3 of 3
116 Pgs | INR 10 | B6 | B/W | Laminated/Paperback

The 3 months long wait, to the climax of the latest 3 part Tex Willer series, has ended, as Prakash Publishers have landed their Lion Comics #205, on our hands, by the end of the month, which has closely followed last month's Muthu #310.

It's a continuation of Lion #203 & Lion #204, written and drawn by Caludio Nizzi and Fabio Civitelli, respectively, which were covered here at Comicology, when they were released. Explore the links above, if you missed out those posts.

Flash News: To read Editor S.Vijayan’s first-ever response to a debate on Comics blogs, refer to the end of the post.

It was surprising to see a Lion Comics cover-art utilizing the landscape format, as Portrait format had become a de-factor standard or norm since the re-launch of Lion and Muthu Comics. The last time this strategy was adopted was way back - nearly a decade, in the Lion #165: Nijam 1 - Nizhal 2 (நிஜம் 1 - நிழல் 2) exactly on Jan '01. Mr. Vijayan, the editor of Lion Comics, this time has decided to discard the original cover-art of the issue and seems to have utilized a Tex Willer poster from some other source (which is clear from the fact, that the scene doesn't depict the setup of the battle, as described in the inner pages).

I received my subscription copy a day later than the majority, so a delayed post helped me gather requisite materials for a complete coverage, and post with a different style, as they call in Hindi - 'Zara Hatke (ज़रा हटके)'.  So let's took at a little biography of Tex Willer (as it is a trend at Comicology) before we get down to this instalment of Lion Comics.

Created in 30 Sep 1948, in the backdrop of WW II, by writer Giovanni Luigi Bonelli and illustrator Aurelio Galleppini; Tex Willer can be termed as the most successful Italian Comics venture to have known to the world outside.

Giovanni Luigi Bonelli

Originally started for the then famous Bonelli Comics, as a comic strip (just like the other famous European/American classic comic characters), it has far outlived its other compatriots, in terms of longevity.

The story of the Original Italian Comics base and evolution of Bonelli Comics, has its long roots with the World War II.

Aurelio Galleppini

galep_arttexHollywood Movies and American Comics had been embarrassed by many European countries, including Italy, during WW II.  In 1945, when the war finally ended, Italy was among the many European nations anticipating a return to the good life that included great music, fun movies, and excellent comics. But a strange thing happened. When classic American characters like Flash Gordon, Mandrake and Mickey Mouse were returned to their Italian fans, the books proved to be less popular than they had been before the war.

Readers seemed to prefer the smaller-sized magazines that had been published in their absence, and the small print format called "striscia" (strips), that publishers had reverted to when they were hit by a paper shortage. Strips were smaller in size, with more pages and longer stories, and the Bonelli family - owners of a small publishing house in Milan, began printing these for popular distribution.

In 1948, Mrs.Tea Bonelli wished to re-open her publishing house and create new comic series. She therefore called Galleppini, and entrusted the texts to her ex-husband, Bonelli.

texThat's how the character Tex Willer was born.  Bonelli initially planned to name the lead character as "Tex Killer", but due to Tea's strong objection, it was changed to with a 'W' in place of 'K'.  The initial concept of Tex was him as an outlaw, but soon was characterized to be a good Samaritan, as a Ranger (Issue #3).  He is often referred as 'Night Eagle' (இரவுக்கழுகு), due to a costume and mask he wore on one of his earliest adventures.

Kit CarsonTex's closest friend and a part to most of his adventures is Kit Carson, an elderly man (He is older than Tex by about ten years and is drawn in his years of maturity with gray hair).  Actually, even though Tex Willer is a fictional character, Kit Carson is a rendition of the famous American frontiersman of the same name, who had close ties with Navajo's Red Indian Tribe (for which fantasy Tex's character is known for). 

Tamil Comic fans will remember that Kit Carson has regularly featured in the erstwhile
Rani Comics, in many of its cowboy stories.  Well, we can safely say that that Carson and Tex's Carson are two different people, as different comic writers and artists have used Carson in their popular culture in varying roles over the years, and no wonder Bonelli Sr. thought of it to be part in his dream project too.

There are many ladies in Tex's life, but only one is closest to his heart, his wife Lilith, who was the daughter of Red Arrow (chief of Navajo), upon which he succeeded as the leader of Navajo's and their official representation to the US Govt.  There are also Tiger Jack, a Red-Indian and Kit Willer, Tex's son who accompany him in his numerous adventures through the Wild-West, which ranges from Voodoo Magic to pre-historic Dinosaurs. 

The strong bond between Jack & Kit, is identically similar to the one shared by Tex & Carson.  In most of the stories, we see that when the team splits it is normally with the same pair.  It's said that Bonelli had thought about having a spin-off with Kit Willer as the lead, but he decided against it, and had him as the understudy of Tex throughout.

Bonelli wrote the stories of all of the Tex adventures published until beyond the mid-1980s.  And his fellow co-creator Galleppini, matched him up, as a continuous artist of Tex series for more than 4 decades.

tex0400tex0001In fact, all the Cover Artworks were done by him right from the Issue #1 (Oct '58), to Issue #400 (Feb '94).

Have a look at the those covers, and a symbolic representation of Artist change (and probably a premonition of his own death, as Galleppini passed away on Mar '94), with Tex shown waving Goodbye to all.

Eventhough Gallepinni was chief artist for the series for a long tLion 140 c1ime, he was ably assisted by a team of artists due to his illness, and volume of work.  But, until 1980's Tex was credited and signed only as "text by G.L.Bonellï and drawings by Galep", as the Editor feared reader reactions to the change in the successful pair.

Long-time Lion Comics fans will remember that the Tex #400 cover was re-used for Lion Comics #140 (1998), although it featured a different story (Yerintha Kaditham - எறிந்த கடிதம்).

Bonelli continued to supervise the production of Tex until he passed away in 2001.  After Bonelli Sr., his son Sergio Bonelli, who is also a comic book writer (he is the creator of Zagor, another popular Italian Comic Character, the costumes and trademark signs closely reminds us of Tex's), then took over the reigns of publishing Tex Willer Series.

The current publishing company which owns Tex and other famous Italian characters is named after Bonelli Jr., Sergio Bonelli Editore (Editore meaning Publisher in Italian).

Tex All Stars, their longest running Comics series has crossed over Issue #550, with a regular monthly release.  There are some other series too where the olden goldies are reprinted from the original Tex Series.

Let's come back to the current month instalment from Lion Comics, the story opens up where the Part 2 was left off.

Carson & Co. approach the shed where the egoist Major Wellman, and his partner in crime, Overend, discuss about their master strategy to ignite a war between Red Indians and US Military, and get benefited out of it in terms of power and money.  But Carson, and Kit intervene, and spoil their evil plans

On the other end, Tex battles a life or death situation, in a Wild Challenge issued by rebel Orso Vellace, who tries to salvage his damaged prestige among their tribe.  By which the premonition of Red Clout in the 1st Part to Tex Willer, about a Fast Bear and Black Eagle battling on top of a Peak, turns out in reality. As usual, Tex Willer comes on top and puts an end to the egoistic maniac, thus bringing the mini series to an end.

The writer doesn't forget to re-emphasize the human touch, by referring to the romantic interlude of Alicia (Sydor), and her untold love to Tex Willer, when the story concludes.

Italian Original: Tex No.477
Sfida selvaggia (Wild Challenge)
Jul 2000


Overall, it's another Tex Willer Classic, and leaves us gasping for more such stories in future.

Kudos to Mr.Vijayan for hand-picking the stories among the huge Tex Series (which does contain some goof-ups, like the one mini series which had a Dinosaur appearing suddenly), and translating them to Tamil without losing the original context

As far as the other main topic, which was highlighted in the Hotline, and has been going through a huge debate on blogs elsewhere, my vote is to the Increasing of Price and retaining the current form of Lion and Muthu Comics.  Which seems to have been the universal choice of 90% of our comics readers.

I don't share Editors view that rising the price to INR 12, will lead to an issue of tendering change at the vendors.  Because, our comics are available mostly in Petty Shops, and Railway Station Book shops, who all are known to have an adequate stock of Coins for change, and do their business on top of it.  As far as the subscribers goes, they wouldn't mind a small change in the prices, as that could easily be adjusted in the subscription amount.

The current format of Hard Cover/Laminated, B6 Size, is the best format which was ever practiced by Muthu or Lion Comics.  It helps protect and safeguard our beloved comics for a very long time in our collection.  So, my request to Editor is to maintain the current format and decide between pricing the future editions in the range of INR 12 to INR 15.  If Editor decides to make it INR 15, then we can hope that he increases current paper quality to be more whiter, thus letting us an option to witness the great artwork in its truest form.  Also an adoption of B5 as the standard size could be practiced, but that looks a distance dream.

Lion 205 Backcover featuring XIII TeaserLion 205 Editor's HotlineIn short, increase the price to INR 12, if editor decides to maintain the current format; or rise it by INR 15, to improve the size (to B5 preferably) and paper quality if he decides to up it by INR 15 (which looks highly impossible going by the choices Mr.Vijayan's normal preference over the years)

With the inflation, and global economical change, this isn't a price-rise which is going to make much of an uproar, among our comic fans.  Hope the good sense prevails on this topic. 

By talking about the price and other issues, Editor has given a miss for Singathin Siruvayadhil (சிங்கத்தின் சிறுவயதில்), his famous article for a second consecutive issue (பத்த வச்சிட்டியே பரட்டே...).  And, the earlier announced list of Comicologists who have booked for the XIII Special is also missing (பின்ன, என் பேரேல்லாம் எப்படி பாக்குறதாம் !!).

Editor Mr. S.Vijayan's response:

"Hi folks,
This is quite an awesome blog ! The kind of time & efforts that have been put into this website deserves the richest of accolades ! Hats off !
I'd have loved to post in Tamil too..but its no secret that my skills with the computer are pretty much akin to Sheriff Dog Bull's skills at maintaining law & order in Woodcity. So I'll stick to posting in English for awhile..
The interest and passion that you guys show towards comics in general & our Lion Comics in particular, is the tonic that I need quite a lot of times to revive flagging spirits. With a little bit more time I promise I'll have our Lion Comics website up & running again.
As for the dilemma that we are currently faced with regarding the price hike - one thing I've decided for sure is that we are NOT changing the size. Almost all our readers have advised us to continue with the existing size. So the option now is to contemplate : Either a price jump or a cut in pages. I will look at the length of the stories we have planned for the next 6 issues and take a call based on that. You will read about it in the next Hotline for sure.
And yes, "Singathin Siru Vayathil" will be back in business from the coming issue of Corrigan - "Maandavan Meendan". Not too sure if that's good news or bad..!
Have fun guys..I'll drop in again sometime soon."

As advertised earlier, the next issue will be Agent Phil Corrigan or Secret Agent X-9 extravaganza, titled
Maandavan Meendaan (மாண்டவன் மீண்டான்), who last featured in Lion Comics, back in 1995, in the Lion #112, Top 10 Special.  So, it's good that Editor is bringing back one of his popular characters, from the past.

Well, this turned out to be another big post, so let me put a stop to it, and meet you all in the next post.  Adios Amigos !

References: ubcfumetti

Nov 14, 2008

Teshkeel Comics - The 99 #0-4 | 2008

We have a new entrant to the Graphic Novels Biz, and this time it is neither from the American Stable, nor from the European/Franco-Belgian stables or Japanese Manga.  It's from the Middle-East. Surprising, as it may sound, it's a first worldwide attempt from a comics creator from Kuwait, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, founder and CEO of Teshkeel Media Group.

Naif al-Mutawa with his sonsTeshkeel Comics is the brainchild of Naif al-Mutawa, a 36-year-old Kuwaiti comics fan. He grew up in the US where he fell in love with Marvel and, after training as a psychologist, wrote kids' books on prejudice. He thought up his superheroes during a cab ride across London in 2003, with his sister.

The 99 are a quasi-spiritual version of the X-Men or the Fantastic Four.  The plot of the series, drawing on stories and history familiar to most Muslim youths, involves the great wisdom and learning that characterized the Muslim world at its apogee, when it reached from northern Pakistan to southern Spain in the late Middle Ages.

The writing for the series is at present managed by Naif Al-Mutawa himself, accompanied by Fabian Nicieza, known for his work on Marvel titles such as X-Men, X-Force, New Warriors, Cable and Deadpool, and Thunderbolts.

The 99 #0
Origins of The 99 Series
The 99 #0: BackCover | Pages: 64
Size: B5 | Color | SoftCover | Price: INR 30
99 #00 Cover1 99 #00 Cover2

The epic plot is based, Da Vinci Code-style, on a pivotal moment in Islamic history - the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in the 13th century. The wisdom, tolerance and spirituality of the Baghdad caliphate are coded in 99 gemstones just as the barbarians are at the gate, and in the intervening years they have been scattered around the world. The heroes' job is to find them before the bad guy does.

"To create the new, you have to tap into the old," Mr. Mutawa says of the deep historic connections in the comic. "The real goal is to teach kids that there's more than one way to solve a problem."

Although, as only God is allowed to possess all 99 characteristics, Mr.Mutawa is likely to peak with around 70 caped crusaders (so far 20 characters have been announced for the The 99 series, in which 16 have been revealed in the series released in Middle-East).

Five of "The 99," from left: Mumita (speedy), Dr. Razem (a gem expert), Rughal (mystery powers), Jabbar (expandable) and Noora (sees truth)

The characters in "The 99" are not all Arabs, but Muslims all over the world.  For example, Jabbar is from Saudi Arabia, Mumita is from Portugal, Noora is from United Arab Emirates.  There is even a character which wears Burkha.

But, as explained by Mr. Naif to New York Times, "There is where religion stops and Mythology begins.  I don't expect Islamists to like my idea, and I don't want the ultra-liberals to like it either".  So far, he has managed to get Kuwait's censors to approve the early mock-ups. But to keep the orthodox at ease, he has included women in head-scarves and plays it by the book as far as religion goes. 

The 99 #1
1. Of Light and Dark | Artist: John McCrea
2. First Steps | Artist: Steve Yeowell
The 99 #1: BackCover | Pages: 40 
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover  | Price: INR 30
99 #01 Cover1 99 #01 Cover2

But what gives Mr. Naif the biggest edge is a seasoned team, including writers like Fabian Nicieza, who wrote for X-Men and Power Rangers comics, and a group of managers and advisers who are old hands in the industry.

In addition, "The 99" will piggyback on a distribution network Mr. Mutawa is setting up for a parallel project, publishing all manner of other comics in the Middle-East region. Teshkeel has signed on with Marvel Comics to translate and distribute their comics in the Middle East, and will soon begin publishing Arabic versions of Marvel's Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, X-Men and others (Much like the Spiderman-India franchise created by Gotham Comics for the Indian/Asian markets).

The 99 #2
1. No Pain, No Gain | Artist: John McCrea
2. The Origins of Rughal, Pt.1 | Artist: Ron Wagner
The 99 #2: BackCover | Pages: 36
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover  | Price: INR 30
99 #02 Cover1 99 #02 Cover2

Mr. Naif also briefs that he is in talks with Archie and DC Comics for similar deals. He says that Teshkeel has attracted $7 million from investors, based on the promise that he will turn his company into the largest comics publisher in the Middle East.

Last year, Teshkeel also bought Cracked, a defunct competitor of Mad magazine (Indian comic fans will remember that Gotham Comics tried to bring the MAD venture to India, in a failed attempt), which he plans to resume publishing, pitched to a more mature audience in the United States. He hopes those publications will encourage other media companies to take him more seriously and back his Muslim Super-Heroes concept.

The 99 #3
1. Problem Solving | Artist: John McCrea
2. The Origins of Rughal - Pt.2 | Artist: Ron Wagner
The 99 #3: BackCover | Pages: 36
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover | Price: INR 30
The 99 03 Cover1 The 99 03 Cover2

Teshkeel Comics has tied up with Chandamama, to bring their The 99 Series to India, and South-East Asia.  So far there are 4 Issues which have been released in consecutive months in 2008.  We earlier covered the legacy of Chandamama, a well-known children's magazine of India, referring to their Collectors Issue. So this a good attempt from them to establish themselves on the Graphic Novel Biz, which I feel they missed out while being on top of the Children's magazines for so many decades.

The 99 #4
1. Shadowboxing | Artist: John McCrea
2. Baggage | Artist: Ron Wagner
The 99 #4: BackCover | Pages: 36
Size: A4 | Color | SoftCover | Price: INR 30
The 99 04 Cover1 The 99 04 Cover2

Overall, I believe that "The 99" offers a different kind of view from the traditional American, Euro/Franco, Japanese storylines, as it tries to break a new ground, with its roots from the untouched Islamic facts and figures, yet not going overboard in preaching or siding with any religion.  Mr. Naif has to be commended for that effort. 

But, all said and done, I still feel that the storyline could be little more interesting if it tries to establish a strong foundation and benefiting out of it, rather than concentrating on action-packed sequences, which are best left for the American genre, which thrives on it.

Also, I couldn't see the great dedication towards the artwork, compared to what was witnessed in the Origins issue.  It could be helped by the fact that there were a team of Artists (including Jeff Jhonson, and Ron Wagner) who were involved for the special Origins issue, and now the artwork is wholly in the hands of John McCrea and Ron Wagner, who have different styles, but fail to complete the background information in some panels.

Credits & Copyright Info Poster-1 : The 99 #0
The 99 04 Credits 99 #00 Posters1
Poster-2 : The 99 #0 Poster-3 : The 99 #0
99 #00 Posters2 99 #00 Posters3

Hopefully, the coming issues would be dealing with that, as they round-up their introduction of Super Heroes.  As of date, they have gone up to #14 with their Middle-East releases, so we are in for a continued release of this series in India, if Chandamama can promote their existence, and make a profit out of it with their Indian releases.  I am planning to cover them in batches, as their monthly release far outnumbers my group blogging regularity :-).

The packaging of the comics, is real value for money.  At Rs.30 INR, with A4 Size; 35+ pages; and waxed paper-quality, where the artwork really stands good; are a bargain.  Though, I would prefer the size of the Origins issue, which is easy to maintain as a collectible, at the same time not sacrificing the luxury of witnessing the artwork.  A4 Size magazines are little difficult to maintain.

The Credit Page lists down the team behind 'The 99' franchise.  It also carries the subscription details for 'The 99' in India.  As of now, they are available in major book store chains across country, like Landmark and Odyssey.  They are also at all places where the Chandamama used to be available, which includes Petty Shops, to small book-stores.  Thanks to the power of Chandamama's Distribution Network (Thanks to Dr.Satheesh for the info).  So catch them to witness a new form in Comics.

Hope you have enjoyed the cover-scans and some of the posters from the Origins issue, found along with this post, which carries some fine-piece of traditional artwork (not the computer graphics generated cover-arts which have become a de-facto standard with American counterparts).  As a bonus, The origins issue could be downloaded for free from the official website of The 99, to get you started with the series.  So grab it while it is still available.

Nov 13, 2008

News: Comics Hobby - Times of India | Nov '08

Well, it's first for us at Comicology, to talk about a news-article published in Newspapers. But, this particular article released in Times of India edition today, in it's Chennai special: Chennai Times, was related to the growing interest among young readers, to channel their source from the traditional novels, to other forms, including our interest, Comics.

Times of India - Chennai Times - Pg1 13 Nov 08I was never a great fan of Novels, and continue to be one till now.  Somehow, reading through pages and pages of literary work, despite being about any genre, was never my cup of tea.  That used to remind me much on my school day subject syllabuses, which could be a best alternative to your bed pillow, by the sheer size of it.  The much acclaimed Harry Potter series, I prefer to follow only in visual media, through their Movie franchise.

At times, I used to wonder, why not the nuances of Physics, Chemistry, Biology or History,  could have been best told if they are laid with pictures in between.  Didn't we understand history and its leaders much more through the great Anant Pai's Amar Chithra Katha (ACK), then they were told to us in our school History classes? At least, I did.

The best example of which was the type of picture based learning, exhibited in the recent Bollywood movie, Tare Zameen Par (Stars on Earth), which garnered huge recognition among the masses.  The movie is now designated to be the Indian entry for the Oscars this year, and its a worthy of every bit of accolades it gets, for re-emphasizing the importance of the change in our learning system.

So I was equally amused to see the growing interest of Comics among the younger generation, and the change of thoughts among elders, in the way they looked towards this interest, as exhibited in this article (have highlighted the passages with reference to Comics). 

Hopefully, they will boost the Comics Industries in India in the coming years.

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.


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