Comic Con Express – Bengaluru - 2012

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Comic Con India – New Delhi - 2011

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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

Aug 9, 2009

Muthu Comics #312 – Mandrake | Aug ‘09

First of all, I should thank each and every one you who have visited and recorded your wishes on the Second year anniversary of our blog. Needless to say every message of it goes a long way in strengthening my commitment towards our unique hobby. Once again Thanks a Ton and let the Show roll on.

Muthu Comics #312 – Mandrake
Muthu 312 - Mandrake - Mirror People  
2 Stories | 92 Pgs | INR 10 | B6
B/W | Laminated/Paperback

What we have for our current blog post, is the Second issue of Muthu Comics for the year 2009, which has finally been published this month, closely following the Lion #206, released last month. Editor S Vijayan of Prakash Publishers, continues to amaze with his continuous release of classic titles, which I believe he would have long made ready, just waiting to see the daylight.

As advertised in Muthu #311, it features legendary American comics creator Lee Falk’s creation Mandrake the Magician, in a classic story from the 1940’s, where Mandrake goes toe-to-toe with one his fearsome foes, Ekardnam, from the world of Mirror People.

The cover-art once again is a stunning piece of work, which is following the footsteps laid by the recent Lion Comics edition, by utilising the same layout and colour choices. Good to see that the well adorned format, is being retained, adding all the more oomph for the classic stories being featured offlate.

Read on to have a preview of the original cover which inspired our Muthu edition, which will highlight the artistic talent of our locals.

Muthu 312 ComicsTime Editor in his Comics Time, highlights the fact that this Mandrake Story was in their plans right from 1990. There was a widespread fan reaction, which was pretty mixed about the Mandrake stories, with some liking it and others despising its fantasy filled storylines. So, Editor’s apprehension about the future of the Mandrake in Muthu Comics, is understandable. Nevertheless, the story has finally been published after 19 long years, from the date it was originally advertised.

Mandrake the MagicianMandrake the Magician is another creation by the legendary Lee Falk, who is more famous for his tryst with The Phantom. Know more about Lee Falk in our Phantom series, here. 

Mandrake was portrayed as a hypnotist, who used his powers to fight the criminals and enemies of his country, to mend the Wrongs to Rights. Mandrake is often touted as the first costumed superhero, even before Falk invented Phantom a couple of years later. The only reason why he wasn’t given that due credit, is because he wore a Magicians suite in his adventures, unlike other Superheroes who had a costume of their own.

Lee FalkLee Falk (1911-1999) had a childhood fascination towards Stage Magicians, and it wasn’t a surprise that he chose his first Comic character to be based out on one of them, in the form of Mandrake. It is said that Falk conceived the idea of Mandrake in his early age of 19; But only in 1934, he managed to appear for an audition with New York’s King Feature Syndicates, which eventually was his first trip out of his hometown, St.Louis.

His theatrical passion, and good looks (doesn’t he look like the Classic American movie hero of that time?) was instrumental in getting him an audition with the Editors, even though he went there without a prior-appointment, and he successfully brokered a deal to syndicate his first comic strip by the name of Mandrake the Magician, at the the tender age of 21. But at that age he had 2 more years to complete his college education, so he offloaded the artistic work to Phil Davis, an established artist who also lived in St.Louis.

Thus Mandrake the Magician arrived in 1934, the same year which also saw the debut of classic comic strip heroes, in the form of Flash Gordon and Secret Agent X-9 (aka Phil Corrigan). It took 2 more years before The Phantom joined them on the top list.

Phil DavisPhilip ‘Phil’ Davis (1906-1964), had a fascination towards drawing right since he was 6 year old, and it went a long way in him joining Washington University Art School. Along with his studies, he also worked as part-time artist for a telephone company, where he had his first tryst with commercialising his work. By 1928, he had a full-time artist job, while he also started illustrating covers for some magazines.

He eventually met Lee Falk in 1933, and their friendship was instrumental in Falk handing over the art work of Mandrake in 1934 to him, when he was looking out for a replacement for himself. It should be noted that one of Davis’s assistant was Ray Moore, who later became the official artist for Falk’s another creation, The Phantom.

Together, Davis and Falk then started to build a whole new fantasy world filled with incredible characters for Mandrake.

Mandrake the Magician - Daily Strip (1944)Mandrake the Magician - Colored Sunday Srip (1939)Mandrake the Magician - Comic Book Book (1937)

Lothar aids Mandrake with his Power CapabilitiesMandrake and his Hypnotisim Mandrake was pictured as a Magician who learned his art from the College of Magic. He got a hi-fi home by the name of Xanadu, which was sophisticated with all the hi-tec gadgets and securities you can find in the world, with fortified gates, and video cameras all along.

He got a trusted ally, in the form of powerful Lothar, who was an African Prince who befriended Mandrake and decided to follow him in his crime fighting adventures. Lothar is often touted as the Strongest man in the world, with the only exception being Lothar of the Seven LandsMandrake’s Chef and Secret head of International Crime fighting organization, Hojo, who is a renowned Martial fighter of his own.

It is said that Falk initially envisioned Lothar as the slave (or a little over slave) of Mandrake, but later changed that into friendship, due to the increased awareness being Narda Mandrakegenerated worldwide on Black welfare. Lothar can be safely considered as the first Afro-American to have got featured in a lengthy comic series so consistently.

Mandrake got a girlfriend, and later wife in the form of Narda, who is a Princess of her own for an European nation. Lothar’s girlfriend, Karma was also an African Princess, thus making Mandrake’s extended family a Royal one :).

Leon Mandrake (1939)Resemblance with Real-life Celebrity: It is often touted that Falk initially envisioned Mandrake’s appearance, keeping him as a role model, which Falk himself did admit in few interviews. But, it should be noted that he had lot in resemblance to then then famous Stage Magician, Leon Mandrake, who was often referred in full as Leon Mandrake the Magician.

Mandrake's Show on Oympia Theatre (1949)He also was known for his top hat, scarlet lined cape, and boasted a pencil line moustache, which you can prominently find in the comics form Mandrake too. The real Mandrake was performing over 10 years before Falk envisioned his comic character. So, it is all likely that he would have taken some inspiration from him for his creation.

Though Falk never admitted this resemblance, the comic strip lead to a strong friendship between Phil Davis and Leon Mandrake, when they eventually met during one of Mandrake’s Magic show tours. They remained good friends throughout their entire life, ever since.

Mandrake in King ComicsMandrake in Marvel ComicsDavis and Falk continued to pen and draw the Mandrake stories, which were Mandrake -Lothar Art Panel signed by Falk and Fredericks (from a Fan's collection)syndicated across the globe in newspaper dailies, Sunday colour comic strips, and Comic book formats.

The partnership was broken in 1964, when Davis died of a heart attack.

Falk then recruited Fred Fredericks, to don the artistic role, who continues even today, for the longest tenure spanning more than 45 years. When Lee Falk passed away in 1999, he also took over the writing for the Mandrake script.

Fredericks brought the modernization to Mandrake script, to base him more on the Science Fiction fantasy stories. It was during Fredericks tenure that Narda & Mandrake finally got married in 1997, during one the stories. Frederick also modernized the look of Lothar, into the modern day dress code, which even though retained the Panther texture, this time on a close fit shirt. Lothar was also shown to have got well-versed with the American lifestyle and command over English language.

Mandrake campaigns for Earth Day If you want to follow the daily strip which Fredericks works on, follow this link to King Feature Syndicates, which is updated on a weekly basis with an archive from last month.

Here is a Preview of it, where Mandrake campaigns for Save Earth.

Fellow comic enthusiast, and one of Mandrake’s greatest fan, Sagnik, provided this TimesUnion website, where you could enjoy a month load of Mandrake archives, until today. Enjoy, and thanks to the Mandrake Dude. 

Indrajal Comics - MandrakeRani Comics - MandrakeOverall, while Falk-Davis Mandrake stories were classic art of work, Falk-Fredericks duo made the series contemporary in style, making Mandrake fans to accept both forms of work as the true tribute to Falk’s legendary creations.

In India, Mandrake was published in multiple languages by erstwhile Indrajal Comics. In South India, it was published regularly by erstwhile Tamil Comics magazine Rani Comics in their line-up, and has been occasionally featured in the long running Tamil Comics magazine, Muthu Comics, one of which is the current month release.

Muthu 312 Mandrake Story - Narda sees her NightmareMuthu #312 - Nizhal Ethu? Nijam Ethu?
(நிழல் எது? நிஜம் எது?): Reality of Shadow

Have you ever wondered, what if everything we known all along as the Rights and Wrongs, were all false, and it is the other way around? No one would like to imagine that weird situation. But, Lee Falk dared to dream of a world mixed with different set down, in this Mandrake adventure.

Muthu 312 Narda confronts Adran The story starts with Narda having a strange incidence of seeing her mirror image behaving differently and talking to her in a strangely scripted language. The mirror image of her, named Adran (reverse of Narda) claims that they are the real people, and gets into a confrontation with her. The mirror image strangely seem to have powers to enter our world, and along with Erkandam (reverse of Mandrake), and Rathol (Lothar), they abduct Narda into their Mirror world.

Narda detours the Wierd world of Mirror People What Narda witnesses there is a whole new world, where policemen do day-time robbery, dacoits help people, Army generals serve as Security Guard, and Lift Operators, and the military is run by Privates at the Office. Narda comes to know of a threatening plot in which the Mirror world is staging a plan to capture the real word across the mirror, with the help of a new discovery made by Erkandam.

How does Narda get saved in the end, and manage to save her world makes up the rest of the story, where more than Mandrake, Narda plays a huge roll. There are some interesting pieces where Erkandam and Adran always tries to run down the people they see on the road, and Narda intervening in their hideous stuff to save the passerby's.

We would have hoped to see a real showdown between Mandrake vs Erkandam, who is touted to have the same powers of Mandrake, only differing from the cause they use it for. But, the confrontation is cut short, in this episode prematurely, leading the readers to expect more on the Mirror People saga.

Editor S.Vijayan has tried his hands on a new model of utilising reverse texting, exactly as it appears in a mirror image, which is pretty different method from what was adopted in the original, which simple change the order of text. There was some difficulty in the method, where the names didn’t have a meaningful reverse order, where Editor chose to rename it to suit the language in which it has been translated to. For eg., Narda’s (நார்தா) mirror image is called Daarna (தார்நா) and Mandrake’s (மாண்ட்ரேக்) mirror image called as Greatnaam (க்ரேட்ணாம்). A great work, indeed.

Mandrake's D033 in Magic Comics (Full color) Original of Mirror Mystery: The weird world of Mirror People was originally published first in the 33rd episode of Mandrake strip, which ran from Oct 1944 to Dec 1944 for 10 weeks, under the partnership of Davis and Falk. It was later reprinted in full colour by Magic Comics (which is an imprint of King Features Syndicates, collecting their famous comic strips like Secret Agent X-9, Blondie, along with Mandrake), in a sequence of their titles. A soft copy of which you could obtain from a Mandrake fan’s comics blog, here.

D126-2nd Mirror mystery It took another 2 decades, before the second episode of Mirror People appeared in the 126th episode of Mandrake Dailies, titled ‘The Return of Mirror People’, from Aug 1964 to Jan 1965, spreading over a lengthy 19 weeks. There was no further episodes of Mirror People then in the Davis-Falk partnership.

Our Muthu Comics (#312) edition of this current month, features this second story of Mirror People.

When Fredericks took over the mantle of Mandrake strip, he along with Falk brought back the Mirror People one final time, as the 210th Mandrake Daily strip, titled The Mirror Mystery, which ran for 22 long weeks between Nov 1991 to Apr 1992. Mandrake fans consider this as the best story of Mirror People so far, where Fredericks brought in a lot of change and innovation into the storyline envisioned by the former duo. Sadly, further episodes featuring Mirror People was never published.

Mirror Mystery (D033) on Magic Comics Mirror Mystery (D210) on Diamond Comics (Hindi version)Indrajal Comics, the most loyal publisher of Mandrake stories never managed to print any of Mirror People episodes. By the time the 3rd album was released in 1991, IJC had went out of business. (Thanks to Sagnik for the IJC info)

Diamond Comics of India, who had published most of the 1960-1992 Mandrake Daily strips in full colour, then published the 2nd and 3rd episodes of Mirror People during their run-up.

So, at present, Muthu Comics is the only publisher in India (and probably in the world) to have published a full fledged Mandrake story. Good to see the legend of Lee Falk’s living on.

Muthu 312 - Robot Archie Filler Muthu #312: Extra Features: This edition of Muthu Comics was not only a treat for Mandrake fans, but it also features a short story one of Lion Comics' evergreen superhero, Robot Archie.

It’s one of those short stories where Archie plays his typical saviour role, this time in the cause of Pearl divers, by diffusing the mystery of a strange sea animal, which is causing a havoc among the sailing community. It was originally featured in one of the Annual Specials of erstwhile UK based Lion Comics, from the Fleetway Company.

As per the tradition, the Issue also contains an advertisement about the next two forthcoming Muthu Comics editions, which features:  

  • Yet another American classic comics hero from the stable of King Feature Syndicates, Johnny Hazard (who is christened in Tamil Comics as “Wing Commandar George”) in an issue titled ‘Vinnil Oru Kullanari’ (விண்ணில் ஒரு குள்ளநரி), meaning “A Fox in the Sky”; and
  • Franco-Belgian comic star Ric Hochet (who is christened in Tamil Comics as “Super Reporter Johnny”), in a issue titled ‘Maranathin Nisaptham’ (மரணத்தின் நிசப்தம்), meaning “Silence of Death”

So, it’s going to be two more classic issues from the stable of Muthu Comics, which brings back the fan-favourites Hazard & Hochet from two different genres of comics world. I am eagerly looking forward for them.

Muthu 312 Johnny Hazard Issue Preview Muthu 312 Ric Hochet Issue PreviewMuthu 312 XIII Collector Edition Preview

The other advertisement is about the XIII Collector Special, which has become a prominent one to be featured in recent times. If you would have noticed these XIII advertisements in the past and present, you would see that Editor hasn’t used any of the images from the previous 10 albums of XIII, which were printed by them. Doesn’t it make for an interesting wait?

Martin More than the other advertisements, I am more interested about the announcement of a Martin Mystery 2 part story which has been hinted in the Comics Time of Editor. When Muthu Comics #310 carrying Martin Mystery story was published, we had discussed the situation where Editor Vijayan had utilised all of the Martin stories which were released in English so far. So, we had even wondered whether he would now touch the Italian version of the same.

Even, during the Comics Time of Muthu Comics #311, Editor had hinted of the improbability of Martin appearing again in his future plans. But finally, he has decided to continue the much famous Italian comic hero, which is only good for all fans of Martin Mystery, including myself :)

King Comics - Mandrake Issue Cover Muthu 312 - Next Comics Classics Preview (Steel Claw)The back cover of the Muthu Comics issue talks about the next Comics Classics edition, which once again features a golden oldie of Steel Claw, in his Superhero avatar. If you want to experience a dose of it, have a read on our last Comics Classics edition which featured him in his superhero form.

And as promised at the start of the post, here is the original cover upon which our present edition Muthu Comics cover was made-out. It was one of the covers from the 10 issue Mandrake series published by King Comics in United States.

Look at how the colour choices have been improved, even to the last minute detail of removing the sweat on the face of Mandrake from the original, which couldn’t go well with the Rose power makeup style of our Comics artists :). Also note the transformation of Lothar from a worried sober looking man, to a Bollywood sidekick, which comes with an added bonus of eye-brow makeover Winking. Creativity on show. :) 

For buying this comic, contact Lion/Muthu Comics Office @ +91 (04562) 272649. or mail them on

Mandrake in other Media: It will be good that we end this Mandrake post, by looking at the other Media appearances of Mandrake.

Mandrake Movie Serial (1939)Movie Serial: Flash Gordon and Secret Agent X-9 Comics strips, who debuted along with Mandrake in 1934, rose to immediate fame, and they had the Movie Serials made on them in 1936 and 1937 respectively. So Mandrake didn’t lag much, as he joined that elite  list, when Columbia Pictures made a 12 Mandrake TV Episode (1954)chapter movie serial in 1939, which was aired in consecutive weeks, made famous in first half of 20th century.

TV Series: In 1954, NBC made a TV series Mandrake, without further episodes. It was followed then by another TV movie in 1979.

Defenders of the Earth (1986-87) Animated Series Mandrake then had a major role in the newly formed Defenders of the Earth team, which was portrayed in animated series, which saw King Features prominent comic strip heroes, forming a group to defend earth from the mischief makers. The series was aired from 1986-87, and is still very popular on DVDs, among comics fans.

Original MandrakeSoft Logo MandrakeSoft: In 1998, when I had started my career in the Information Technology, there was a huge euphoria around Linux based Operating Systems. Many a companies were formed, among which one company attracted my attention, due to its name.

It was a French company called MandrakeSoft, who had named their Linux version as Mandrake Linux. I used to wonder, whether they had sought necessary permission to use the comic character name, because their logo was clearly resembling the comic version. But I never bothered to check further details.

While working on this post, I came to know that in 2003, there was a legal suit launched by King Feature Syndicates on MandrakeSoft, alleging copyright infringement, which the later ultimately lost. The company then changed their name as as Mandriva, after the court ruling. Seems publishers aren’t budging even a bit on aspects, which may demean their command over the world famous comic brand names.

Feature Film: In 2007, it was announced that Omega Entertainment, had acquired the rights to make a new move on Mandrake the Magician, and it was touted to be a 2009 release. Jonathan Meyers was drafted in as the lead actor, while Chuck Russell has been given the directorial duties. The movie is currently on hold, and the reasons for them are unknown, but it might be linked to Meyers history of addiction to alcohol and his legal run-downs. Hopefully, the movie would come out as planned, and honour the legendary creation of Lee Falk, which has long been pending for a reasonable movie credits. Does anyone remember that pathetic Phantom movie?


Old Mandrake and Lothar (Donalid Soffriti)And that brings us to the close of our lengthy Mandrake post. And before we close, I hope there are many of us who would have thought what would happen to our dear old comic characters, when they reach the old age (even though it would never happen as far as the fantasy world is considered)?

Well, here is a humorous take on our very own Mandrake & Lothar, by the cartoonist Donald Soffiritti. He has quite a few of those funnies on other comic characters on his weblog. Have a look, and laugh your guts out Tongue out. Adios Amigos !

References: Mandrake’s Wikipedia Article | Lee Falk’s Wikipedia Article | Phil Davis Lambiek Profile | Leon Mandrake’s Angelfire Article | Deepwood’s Mandrake Daily Strip List

Aug 1, 2009

2nd Year Anniversary & Comics News

2nd Year AnniversaryWell, it feels just like yesterday, when I sat down and thought about giving some form to my long standing ambition to start an exclusive website devoted to one of my long cherished passion over Comics. What came out of that thought, was the blog which has come to be known as Comicology.

And what we have here, is the Second Anniversary of our Blog. Time does run fast, isn’t it? I will save you of my blabbering for the end of the post, but before that, just like our 1st Year Anniversary post, let’s look into some of the most happening news around Indian Comicosphere, to mark the occasion.

A glimpse of Modern Indian Comics (Ramayan - Virgin Comics) On the Indian Comics front, the past year was one of the best in terms of more players joining the Comics field, meaning to its true essence. Ever since Virgin Comics closed shops in 2007, which previewed a whole new face of Indian Comics, there was a dearth of fresh air in the Indian Comics space. Finally, the call seems to have been answered by a host of new start-ups, which are vying to fill up the void left by Virgin/Gotham.

Let’s look into some of those who were recently in the news for their newer endeavours. The list includes only those brands who are still in active publishing, thus steering past the forerunners Indrajal Comics (which had its run from 1964 to 1990, amassing 803 titles in total), Amar Chitra Katha (started in 1967 and running till 1991, amassing 436 titles, and since have been reduced to just reprints. Read more about ACK, here), and the recent casualty Gotham Comics (which never made a long run, through its entire start and stop publishing. Read about their last set release, here).

Donal Duck - Junior Diamond Diamond Comics: From a publishing house which has it roots earlier to the Indian Independence (which dates back to 1907), Diamond Comics, which was started in 1978, remains the most sold comics brand in India, which continues even today. Despite being the forerunner of Comics biz in India, comics fans were always apprehensive about their restrictions into evolving the comics beyond the Chacha Chowdhary, Pinky faces (most commonly referred to as Pran Era), to move to an evolved Graphic Novel format. But, Diamond Comics continues to remain on the same foothold, where they feel themselves more comfortable at.

The only good news heard from them recently, was their foray into bringing Walt Disney back to India, under their sister brand “Junior Diamond”. Read more about it over here. But for the sheer fact of being one of the forerunner of Indian Comics, much more is expected out of them.

Raj Comics Superheroes Raj Comics: The only other brand which could rate up to Diamond to claim their share of the longest in the business; is the 1984 starter Raj Comics. They truly deserve every bit of the accolades, which is reflected by their slogan ‘The Home of Indian Superhero Comics’.

Raj Comics picked up the area which was mostly untouched by Diamond, to base their storylines on in-house created Superheroes, Raj Comics Nagraj & Dhruvamost famous of them being the Raj Comics trio of Nagraj, Doga, and Dhruva.

The superior artwork went hand in hand with the wonderfully written plot, to make their series one of the most recognised ones, very close to the fame enjoyed by DC/Marvel characters in India. Till date, their line-up consists of an amazing 3500+ titles.

The only complaints over Raj Comics, was their ever standing image of being a regional language player (For starters, Raj Comics is predominantly published in Hindi), which long deprived them of the international recognition, which they thoroughly deserve for their splendid work on the Indian Comics front.

Incidentally, there was a recent announcement from the publishers, on them reaching out to more languages (which I presume should include English too) with their brand, which should put them right on with the elite in the business. I am staying hopeful. For details, refer

Karna PreviewVimanika's Karna GN

Vimanika Comics: The only comics company which can claim to have picked up from where Virgin left-off. A brain child of Mumbai based Karan Vir, which was started with much fanfare in 2008. They have two series, in their line-up, namely The Sixth and Moksha, which have so far been released in 3 issues each (including the #0).

The artwork is clearly of the highest standards, you can find at present in India. The plot-work is mostly based on the Indian Mythology, with a retake on some of the forgotten heroes from the myth. (Read more about it, here)

Vimanika's Dashaavatar GNDashaavatar PreviewIn 2009, Vimanika Comics have planned to release their first two Graphic Novels, in the forms of The Legends of Karna (which talks about the life and times of Karna from the Mahabharata epic), and Dashaavatar (which talks about the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, as per Hindu Mythology).

The two will become the first volumes, of a series which would run for a couple of years, as per Karan.

Here is a preview of both of those Graphic Novels, which is sure to draw attention towards those incredibly drawn and colored panels. I am eagerly looking forward for them to hit the stands. For details, refer 

Campfire: Another new start-up from the publishers Kalyani Navyug Media, based out in New Delhi. Their initial concentration is totally different from the original Virgin or new-gen Vimanika, as they decided to license out the famous classic novels known to one and all, and present them in a whole new package.

In late 2008, they came up with a host of these classic titles, decorated with new artwork from a number of Indian artists. Not much I could say about the venture, as I am yet to buy them, which I would do shortly, for a review at Comicology.

Campfire - Land Time Forgot Campfire - Alice Campfire - Moby Dick Campfire - Houdini

As far as I have previewed the series, even though the artworks were of varied quality, and some were real breath-taking, the sheer focus on recreating the olden classics, which were read and experienced by majority of the readers bunch, is a little let-down, as it doesn’t allow you to enjoy the title to the fullest, let alone the interest of experiencing something new.

Their company website, says that they are also in the process of creating some Original titles, along with comics based on Mythology. So, I will reserve my verdict, after experiencing their titles. As per the sales, goes I still see much of Campfire titles available on shops, which were released way back in 2008. They must think about more aggressive marketing strategies, if they want to make themselves know among the masses. For details, refer

Arkin Comics Preview Arkin Comics: Is an aspiring comics company, started by Rohan Kapadia, IRITH #1 Preview based out in Pune. Their primary objective is to create custom comics, and also venture on 3-D comics, which they tout as the first ever in India.

Their current concentration is on releasing a line-up of comics consisting of a new superhero team, by the name of IRITH, which they pronounce as India’s First Anti-Terrorist Superhero Task Force. A huge difference from their other contemporaries, who all seem to be relying their titles on Indian mythology.

We had previewed their planned series during our V-Day post here, where the creators behind the series had expressed their concept on the direction of their dream venture. Refer to the interesting discussion on Comments section at the end of the post.

Their first issue is due in the mid of August, so do look forward for them at your local newsstands. For details, refer

M4 Comics - One M4 Comics: Another aspiring comics company, from the recently started M4 Media, based out in New Delhi. Dheeraj Verma, co-founder of M4 Media, and former veteran artist of Raj Comics, who recently also had a stint with M4 Media - Kids MagazineVimanika, has said that they are working on a new series, titled as One, which will be a take-down again from the Mahabharata epic.

Seems that the epic Mahabharata, is the hot property among all the new comic start-ups in India at present.

Apart from the Comics, they are also planning for a host of magazines targeted at Kids and Young adults.

Not much, I could say about them, as their plans are still on an early stage, and much depends on how their final products turns-out. For details, refer 

Devashard Book 1 India Cover Fluid Comics: Well, as it turned out, the wealth in offer with Mahabharata epic, or Indian mythology as a whole, is not only restricted to aspiring Indian start-ups. Fluid Friction Comics, who are based out in Hong Kong, and specialises in the Manhua (which is the Chinese art version, of Japanese Manga), have come up with a new title Devashard, which also is a take-down from the characters represented in Mahabharata.

Devashard Book 1 Original CoverThey have so far released two titles, in Hong Kong and Internationally. Out of which, the first edition was distributed for sale in India through IDB. It was priced around INR 195, which was way over cost, for a brand new comic in Indian market.

As expected, their sales weren’t as promising, and the second issue of Devashard, is yet to make it to India, which I doubt it will never be.

I had picked up the first title (which was available in late 2008), which featured a new cover from their international version, to mark their Indian entry and make it more aligned to the Indian readers (The Sun god centric cover-art).

Bhumi Map - DevashardTo say frankly, I wasn’t impressed to a great extent, either in the artwork or the storyline. The only bright aspect of the series, was the depiction of Earth, which is termed as Bhumi, and was detailed into such minute reference and geographical distribution of lands and uninhabited places, which was an entirely different takedown from other comic series I have read based on Mahabharata.

May be a second issue in the series, with reasonable pricing would have given an opportunity to re-experience the series and take a final call. But with that looking improbable at the moment, the verdict is reserved on the series. We will see more about the series, during our review of the first title, which is been pending for long time at Comicology.

For details, refer,, and their official blog (which has some inside details about the characters and the world of Devashard. Definitely, deserves a visit and read)

Celeberations for 2nd YearFireworks for 2nd Anniversay And that brings to the end of the Comics News exclusive to the Indian domain, covering all the happenings around the Indian Comics Industry. Now, for a little chit-chat on our occasion of celebrating the 2nd Year anniversary at the blog.

It has indeed been a long and fruitful journey so far for us at Comicology, especially to me. From a humble beginning when the blog was frequented only by a handful of friends, it has blossomed into a website which garners more than 200 hits a day on an average, from over 120 countries.

Comicology Stats (Dec 2007) Comicology Stats (July 2008) Comicology Stats (July 2009)

It speaks volume about the contribution of readers, who cherished reading about one of our unique passion towards Comics. From my side, I have always resolved to the determination, that I wouldn’t be using this blog either as a medium for making money, or to drift away to things unrelated to Comics or its sub-genre Animation.

On this sweetful journey, I also garnered a host of friends, which I believe was the biggest achievement of this whole initiative. The journey also brought some bitter pills to swallow, but they only helped me to grow more determined, and focus on evolving the content offering, day-in an day-out. In return for all those true love and support, you can take my words that we are here to stay and together will enjoy the richness in offer out of the “The 9th Art”, for years to come.

And just before I close, I often come face to face to few of the nears, who keep asking me the same question –“Do you feel your time is well spent on this childhood passion?”. Well it’s hard to explain to them on your likes and dislikes, but I simply want to leave them with some of the famous words uttered by T.S.Elliot:

“Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time”

Wish you a Happy Friendship day, my friends, aka fellow Comikers. Have Fun and nJoY Star

Jul 22, 2009

Comics Classics #24 – Steel Claw | Jul ‘09

Comics Classics #24 – Steel Claw
Comics Classics #24 - Steel Claw - Front Cover  60 Pgs | INR 10 | A4 | B/W | Paperback

Prakash Publishers and their chief patron, Editor S.Vijayan, is really back in Business, as they have published their second consecutive title (after Lion Comics #206) in as many weeks, in the form of Comics Classics #24, reprinting a classic story from yesteryears Muthu Comics editions, and their flagship hero.

Comics Classics is an offshoot from the main two Tamil Comics brands of Prakash Publishers, Lion Comics & Muthu Comics; which reprints some of the classic stories which were printed in either brands in the past, and have become a rarity to be seen on second hand book shops, often in better shape and with a variant cover. Thus giving a chance to cherish the memories of old-timers, and to introduce the golden age comic characters to the newcomers.

Steel Claw LogoThe last Comics Classics issue was released way back in Sep-08. And what better way to come back with a bang, by reprinting a classic featuring the Superstar of British Genre Comics, Steel Claw.

Steel ClawSteel Claw, was not only the flagship character of the British Golden Age, but also was a great hit among the Tamil Comics fans, with the legendary Muthu Comics printing the entire line-up of Steel Claw stories during their 70’s and 80’s.

Valiant First Edition (1962) The concept of Steel Claw was created by a host of Editors of IPC Media, as one of the characters to appear for their newly created Valiant Comics brand. The concept was then given the final form at the hands of  The Steel Claw's First Adventure writer Ken Bulmer, who had a knack of writing Science fiction stories, and the talented Spanish artist Jesús Blasco.

He eventually appeared on Oct 6, 1962, in the first ever edition of Valiant, as Louis Crandell, a laboratory assistant, who was caught in an accident and had lost his right hand, which was replaced with a Steel Claw by the lab chief, under whom he grudgingly worked.

But, Blasco didn’t stay long drawing for Steel Claw. So, when he left the comic-strip, the artwork was carried by Rosi Studio. We will look more into the creators behind this golden age series, when we come back to update this post with the story review.

But before wrapping up our Preview blog post of this Comics Classics edition, it’s good to point out a subtle difference in the stories appeared in Steel Claw series, as there were three different genres of stories, in which the Steel Claw had its run.

Steel Claw as RogueTriple Dose of Steel Claw: The initial and the first run, being his angry Outlaw version, where he used his newfound ability to turn into wanted vigilante, spreading Steel Claw as Secret Agentterror across the queen’s land. The power to observe the electricity and disappear into thin air, except the Steel Claw being visible to others, was introduced well at this time.

The second run, talked about his character where he toned-down his attitude, and turned into a Secret Agent serving under a government operative, putting his powers in for a good use. This saw his Steel Claw, turning into a true weapon, consisting of Mini Revolvers, Poison Gas, and even a Radio, all contributed by the secret organisation he worked for.

Steel Claw as Superhero The third run, was completely an overhaul of his character, where he donned a Superhero role, which was mostly instrumental during the time when the Batman, Superman movies and TV serials were running rampant, and was creating a huge amount of interest among comic and non-comic fans over Superhero fantasy.

So, it was obvious that the creators behind Steel Claw also chose to turn their comics character into a Superhero, to cash-in on the euphoria. The Steel Claw, already had the power of a Comics Classics #24 - Steel Claw StorySuperhero in form of the invincible Steel Claw, and he had also established his reputation of battling extra-terrestrial characters from the outer space :).

So, what needed more was a secret identity, which saw Crandell turning into a Taxi Driver, and a full covered Superhero suit, with Antenna’s on the Head, and the costume carrying a Flash like symbol on the chest.

What you get to see, in this edition of Comics Classics, is Steel Claw in his 3rd Form, in the story titled Vinveli Kollaiyar (விண்வெளிக் கொள்ளையர்), as a Super Hero clad in full covered supersuit, battling an alien invasion from an outer space, to save our very earth.

I don’t remember whether I read the story before, but after it was announced as the next Comics Classics edition, in Muthu Comics #311, I took a loan from a close comic friend to witness the story, first-up. It was a fantasy filled storyline, with Crystal shaped aliens, and their variety of ray guns, confronting Steel Claw in his Superhero form.

The logical glitches, which you get to see in Steel Claw stories are laced throughout this story too, but some interesting aspects in the storyline, somehow makes up for it. More of which we would see in our detailed review, in a couple of weeks, so as to allow other friends who collect this comics from news-agents to witness the storyline, first-up.

More reviews to follow.

Valiant - Steel Claw Adventure - 1967 (Original)

The Crystoids, original of this story, was serialized in Valiant, as a 2 page story every week, running from Aug-67 to Feb-68 for a total of 30 weeks.

Muthu Comics #144 - Vinveli Kollaiyar (1985)As per the long-timers and Tamil Comics historians like Murugan, and ERB; this story was originally published by Muthu Comics, in Issue #144, as a Diwali Special in 1985.

So, the reprint for that story has been published after a gap of 24 years. A fact also to be noted, was that this was the second ever Steel Claw issue, where readers witnessed his Superhero avatar.

Preview: Next Comics Classsics starring Steel ClawWhat’s more, guess what is the next Comics Classics Edition? As previewed by Lion/Muthu Editor, it is the first Superhero Steel Claw story ever published by Muthu Comics in Issue #138 as Kaliman Manitharkal (களிமண் மனிதர்கள்), The Men of Clay. It was released way back in 1982. So another classic in the remake.

Seems editor has decided to utilise the Superhero Steel Claw version of stories as the main theme for the Classics reprints. I don’t know what would be the reaction among this to the newcomers to Tamil Comics, who have witnessed far superior sci-fi fantasy stories through the modern age Batman, Superman, Spiderman sagas.

Comics Classics #24's Cover Inspiration (A Fleetway Steel Claw Issue)But, for old-timers, this will be a chance to relish the golden times, in a supersized format. I am eagerly looking forward to read the next story, which I have slight memories to have read from a friend’s collection.

Comics Classics #24 - Steel Claw - Back CoverAs for the package goes, I am little disappointed with the Cover of this Classics Edition. Even though it was inspired by one of the Fleetway originals, the idea of seeing Steel Claw, who has a inbuilt revolver fit inside his master weapon, holding a normal gun, was clearly a big let-down. The original Fleetway cover-art was done by the Italian artist, Carlos Jacono (Courtesy: Bear Alley).

Our local artists have done enough to reignite the color choices of the original, but the outcome looks little out of a movie from the 70’s or 80’s, with Crandell looking to have used a Lip-Stick and Rose Paint make-over. :)

More than the front-cover, I really liked the back-cover, which seems to have been locally colored, by picking out a collage of panels, from the Crystoids story.

Sports & Sydney One page FillerLion XIII Collector Special TeaserAs with the norm, we get to see a teaser of the XIII Special, and there were also two Sports & Sydney stories, on the inside pages, who were renamed in Tamil as Vichu & Kichu (விச்சு & கிச்சு).

Long-timers would remember that S&S, debuted as early as Muthu Comics #10, in 1973, and has always been part and parcel along with the legacy of Muthu Comics. So, it’s so good to see some reprints from that golden genre, along with the Comics Classics. Here is a preview of the one story found in our Classics edition.

Overall, it was such a good release, and a chance to witness a classic story in a full blow A4 version on a price of INR 10, as it was first printed way back in the mid of 80’s for INR 4. I would have loved to see a Preview from Editor on the story and the fact behind its first print, just like his editorial on Lion Comics birth and growth. He used to have this as a regular feature in the early Classics editions, but decided to cut that feature on later issues.

Also I would have wished to see the Cover to have been thicker like the recent past Muthu Comics #300 (Released May ‘05), which was also printed in the same A4 Size. Comics Classics #9 (Released Jul ‘01), was the only other Classics which shared the same size, which eventually carried another Steel Claw reprint in the form of Kollaikaara Pisasu (கொள்ளைக்கார பிசாசு), aka Killer Ghost.  Since, that time around, Editor had complained that the sales of the issue was not that good compared to the Pocket sized editions, I wish that we sail in normal waters this time, and strengthen Editor’s aim to bring in these Classics always in A4 Size, and preferably in a Thicker Cover, for safeguarding it in our collection for a long time.

And another humble request to Editor, to please send the subscription copies which have a size of A4, without folding it into two. I presume that it is done to avoid extra postal charges, but I am so sad to see the book getting damaged due to the center-fold. The same issue was faced during the CC #9 and Muthu #300, which shared the same fate. Hopefully, we won’t get to see the next CC edition, following the suit.

Updates to follow, meanwhile Happy Reading, Comikers !!

Jul 12, 2009

Lion Comics #206 – Phil Corrigan | Jul ‘09

Lion Comics #206 – Phil Corrigan 
Lion 206 Corrigan Cover
2 Stories | 92 Pgs | INR 10 | B6
B/W | Laminated/Paperback

Lion Comics has finally made its way back, with their latest issue, the first in 2009. The title also marks the completion of the brands 25th Anniversary. Lion Comics #205, was released way back in November last year, so it was a pleasant surprise to see this latest title arrive home.

Phil CorriganAs advertised it features two brand new adventures of Agent Phil Corrigan, carrying a stunning cover art, which should be rated as one of the best covers of Lion Comics in recent times.

Offlate, there is an increased focus on the cover-art, where they seem to be using the latest technologies in photo editing to improve them tri-fold, from the originals which inspire them. Look at the burning fire at the background, and the Corrigan badge on the top-right, along with the stylist lettering used for the title.

It’s so good to see the legendary Lion Comics utilising the tools available in the modern era, to keep them up with the international standards.

Lion 206 Editor's Hotline Editor in his Hotline, highlights the delay factor, (He also managed to find a link between that and the title of the present issue, in his typical humorous style) and cites the difficulty in the sales, and dealing with the news agents, as a backdrop for the long miss-out, yet again. But he also conveys that this will be a new innings for Lion Comics; and his intention to unveil a new plan, to reach the readers directly, instead of relying on the news-agents.

Let’s hope that as per his promise, we would get to see more regular issues, which will enthuse the readers to agree to his plans once he finds the right time to reveal it to all. Editor for instance has promised  Modesty, Chick Bill, and another 3-part Tex Willer story in his future line-up, and claims that we will be seeing a lot more Coming Soon advertisements in the forthcoming issues, just like the good old times.

Seems that the recent comics fanfare witnessed through the releases of Euro Books and CineBook in India, have really boosted Editor Mr.S Vijayan to jump-in on the bandwagon himself.

Editor also announces that the XIII Collector Edition is still hanging in balance, as the advanced booking has still not reached the magic number of 900. To keep up the tempo he has released the list off 100+ early-bid readers, who have booked their copy in advance. So, those who are staying back from booking your issue, the time is now, to see it in fruition by the year end. Somehow my name is missing out from the list, which looks like I would have to reconfirm, again :-(

Lion 206 - 2nd Corrigan Story Lion 206 - 1st Corrigan StoryFor those who are waiting to pick up your copy at local bookshops, it’s time you start checking out for the issue. I will hold on the review of the stories at Comicology, so as to let other readers experience the issue first-up.

As a preview, here are the first-page of two Corrigan stories which decorates this month Lion issue.

The two stories are:

1. Maandavan Meendaan (மாண்டவன் மீண்டான்!), meaning ‘Dead springs back to Life’

2. Raajyathirku Oru Rani (ராஜ்ஜியத்திற்கு ஒரு ராணி!), meaning ‘A Queen for the Kingdom’

You could notice that the artwork for both the stories totally different, about which we will see more Lion 206 XIII Advtalong with the background details about Phil Corrigan aka Super Agent X-Muthu's Mandrake Issue Preview9 comics series, when we go down reviewing this Lion comics title, in a couple of week’s time.

So, if your are not a subscriber, then don’t miss out from grabbing your copy, at your news-stands. :)

To wrap-up, here is the inner-cover, which once again features a teaser to the XIII Collector Special, while the second outer cover previews the upcoming Mandrake issue on Muthu Comics, titled Nizhal Ethu? Nijam Ethu? (நிழல் எது? நிஜம் எது?), which is a translated version of the original Mandrake adventure titled ‘Mirror People’. Makes for an interesting wait.

Updates to follow, meanwhile Happy Reading, Comikers !!


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