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

Mar 31, 2010

Siruvar Malar – Faceache | Survival #12-22

Have you heard about Ponzo Illusion, introduced by an Italian psychologist op_illusion_6who lent his name to theory? Well, it says that “a human mind, judges an object based on its background”.

I hope to weave the same magic, to hide my on and off presence off late, by bringing back a post series started way back at Comicology, in fact at the start of 2009. Yes, I am indeed talking about the longest running Children’s weekly in Tamil magazines, Siruvar Malar, and the longest ever comic series published during its golden run (more about it in the later part of the post).

We had seen the legacy Siruvar Malar enjoyed during its golden run, in our Intro post, and also had noted about some of the changes it went through during that famed period, notably a successful conversion to a 32 page supplement, from a 16 page one, which was then considered a luxury for a free issue, like Siruvar Malar.

Siruvar Malar Latest LogoSiruvar Malar’s sudden change from a 16 page supplement to a 32 page supplement, meant that they  needed much more material to fill up their pages. Their deal with Rang Rekha Features comics syndicate, which owned the stories copyrighted by ACK & Tinkle, was getting redundant and too stereotypical, and they were never the one to trust the local artists to create their own stories, especially considering that theirs was a free supplemental issue.

So they naturally turned onto their existing tie-up’s with the British genre, which had much to offer from their olden goldies, quite notably from their famous humour series, which made the kids and the young ones from the Queen’s country in that era, to laugh their heart’s content.

To mark the April Fools Day, let’s look into one of the mischievous characters from that famed stable, who decorated the Siruvar Malar’s editions week after week.

Faceache: One of the first humour strips they managed to feature in Siruvar Malar, was Faceache, which Faceache in transformationhas its origins dating as back to 1971. Faceache followed the funny Reid's Faceacheepisodes of a boy named Ricky Rubberneck, who was a student at Belmonte School.

Rubberneck had a weird gift, using which he could shape his face to  any form, aided by the stretchable skin, which works as if its is made out of Rubber, and bendable face bones.

Most of the original strips of the series, were shown as him using his weird gift, to escape the punishments from his headmaster, Mr.Snipe, and to get to safety from the angered ones, most likely by his antiques.

Faceache was created by one of the talented British Comics writer and artist, Ken Reid, for the erstwhile Jet magazine, published by Fleetway, decorating its first issue, released on May 1, 1971.

Ken ReidCreator’s Corner: Ken Reid (1919-1987), was a born artist. He had a natural flare towards drawing right from his toddler age. Hailing from Manchester, one of UK’s biggest city, he lived a typical British kid’s childhood, drooling over the Comics which were available freely in the market, such as Funny Wonder and Illustrated Chips.

Right near to his completion of studies in the Art school, the artist in him refused to wait any longer, as he left his institute, and started a freelance studio, at a age of 17. By his own admittance, he never saw his dream of the publishers running to him into fruition, and he was forced to go to the streets and meet the publishers instead. After numerous unsuccessful attempts trying to penetrate the huge walls of publishing offices, he eventually met his erstwhile employers at Manchester Evening News (MEN).

It was a pure lucky, as right at the same time MEN was planning on launching a children section in Fudge Annual 1939their newspaper, and Elf in ColorReid was also asked to submit his own idea. After numerous attempts, Reid created his first comic series, and arguably his most famous one, in The Adventures of Fudge the Elf.

Reid never failed to acknowledge that his creation Fudge was inspired by Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse (you can see the similarity in the face). Fudge made its appearance in Evening News on April 7, 1938, and Reid was a proud owner of a comic strip series even before his 20s.

Fudge was an instant success, spawning 6 annuals, and numerous branded representations from Dolls, to kids wear. It continued to appear uninterrupted until Reid was drafted into the World War in 1941, like many other artists of his time, in the process suspending the series until 1946, when Reid eventually returned.

Post World War, Reid went to discover newer horizons, from illustrated work to full fledged comics, through Amalgamated Press (more famously known to us as Fleetway), the legendary comic book publisher of his era. Before he could establish himself in their comic magazine Comic Cuts, AP folded their business, and Reid found himself in the rival company, DC Thomson, by the fag end of 1953.

Roger the Dodger DC Thomson, that time had just started to fill in the vacant spot left by AP, and Reid was placed along with a host of newly acquired artists talent pool, shaping their comic magazine, The Beano. It turned out to be a master stroke, as The Beano turned DC Thomson’s fortune, becoming their most selling magazine ever.

At DC Thomson, Reid created his first prankster based comic character Roger the Dodger. The popularity of the series prompted, his bosses to give him the chance of creating more comics series, and filling in for other long running series too. In this process, Reid found himself drawing for DC Thomson’s another comic magazine, The Dandy. During this phase, he created a number of comic series for DC Thomson, namely Little Angel Face, Grandpa, Bing-Bang Benny, Ali Ha-Ha, Big Head & Thick Head, and Jinx.

Jonah Comic Series This was also the same time, when Reid created his personal favourite, and considered by many of his fans as his biggest achievement - a story about a goofy looking mariner named Jonah, who had the hardest lady luck of sinking any ship he sets his foot-in. Jonah made its debut in The Beano, on 15 March 1958, and was a trendsetter of sorts.

Reid not only used a different humorous art style for the series, he also introduced some of the firsts in the field of humour comics in UK. He enhanced the scripts (which were written by Fearne) and made more elaborate artwork; decided to carry over story of the strips continued from one week to another; added real life caricatures of Beano’s and DC Thomson’s editors as part of its characters. He had the full support of his Editors, as they believed that it’s a direction which would take them to newer horizons.

Reid’s work on Jonah turned out to be his trendsetter for all of his upcoming series, both in terms of art style, and also in terms of humour based storytelling.  No wonder Jonah even toppled Dennis the Menace, for the top spot in UK’s popularity chart, during its famed run.

All the while during these creations, Reid only worked for DC Thomson on per page contract of freelancing, which gave him a chance to move to another company named Odhams in 1964, and later to, what is considered as a comics heaven for all British Comics fans, the IPC Magazines in 1969.

FaceAche Firstever Strip in 1971 Creation of Faceache: IPC was the place where Reid created the comic character, known to all of us, as Faceache. Reid used his famous art style pioneered through Jonah series, to telling effect in Faceache.

Initially Faceache, used to carry his Rubberneck name, but eventually Faceacheknown only as Faceache, to suit the series title. As the series progressed, Faceache’s ability was given a form of shape shifting feature, from a mere a kid who can make funny faces with his bone muscles.

Whatever, the plot it was made out to be, Faceache, enjoyed a successful run, which started from 1971, in the first issue of Jet magazine, and then later on in the merged entity as Buster.

The popularity of Faceache was such that Reid didn’t allow other comics magazines to mimic its success. He instead another comic character in the Marthas Monster Makeupsame lines of Faceache, this time with a female character in the lead, Martha’s Monster Make-up.

But Faceache remained the original and dear to the fans, and it continued its famed run continuously until 1987, when Reid passed away due to a fatal heart attack. It should be noted that during his heart attack, Reid was actually working on another episode of Faceache, says more about this acclaimed artists dedication to his work.

"I admit that sometimes simply got carried away things.  I’ve always had trouble just drawing a script as it is written.  This usually means lots more work on my part, and that’s why I’m not rich. 

I simply like to take what has been sent to me and do the best possible job I can do with it, even if it is a lot more work.

Ken Reid
on why he took more time for his works

After his demise, the series was illustrated by Frank McDiarmid (who has now given Buster Gang: Top Row: Crowjack, Snooper | Middle Row: Val and her Vanashing Cream, Tony Broke, Clever Dick, A ghost from Rent-a-ghost |  Bottom Row: Ivor Lott, Chalky, Face Ache, Scruffy Doug and Shaggy Dog, Tom Boyaway his hopes of illustrating comics anymore), and was scripted by writers Roy Davies and Derek Skinn.

But the series without Reid was never going to be successful, and it was folded with a last episode appearing on October 1, 1988 in Buster.

Ken Reid with his famous creationKen Reid was honoured as the Best Writer and Best Artist by the British Society of Strip Illustrators in 1978. More than the awards he will always live in the hearts of all British comic lovers, for his dedicated work and the weird world fantasies he introduced to them.

For a detailed read on Ken Reid’s work, refer to these wonderfully written articles:

  • An in-depth look into the life & works of Reid on Comics UK website
  • A dedicated website on Reid’s earliest work - Fudge The Elf
  • Fellow blogger and comics artist Peter Gray’s archives of Ken Reid's World-Wide Wierdies 
    (says a lot about Reid’s different take on the monuments of the world)
  • Ken Reid’s Obituary on Manchester Evening News, the magazine which introduced this great artist to the world.

Thanks to them for helping me on this write-up on the greatest humour comic creator from UK, and also for the original images sourced from there.

idea_light_bulb UPDATE (June ‘10): Some more of Faceache’s wonderful adventures from its Buster run, including a rare appearance on the cover of Buster (which incidentally talks about Faceache’s love life), and another 2 page adventure (which breaks away from the traditional 1 page format), are here for your reading pleasure. Courtesy: Scanarama

Faceache on Buster Cover (Rare)Faceache Story1Faceache Story2-1Faceache Story2-2

Now that, we have looked into the legacy of the Faceache, let’s look at its Indian avatar, which was introduced by Siruvar Malar.

Siruvar Malar renamed Faceache, as Palamuga Mannan Joe (பலமுக மன்னன் ஜோ), which literally means ’The Multi-faced Joe’, closely rhyming with ‘The Boy with a Thousand Joe on Aug 1990 Siruvar MalarFaces’ subtitle from the original series.

It started with Reid’s run on the series, ably translated into Tamil, by those who were behind the weekly, and then started featuring Frank’s run on the series.

Quite frankly, the charisma you could witness in Reid’s work was not to be seen in Frank’s adventures. No wonder the series moved onto its sunset.

Joe on Oct 1989 Siruvar Malar (Local Art)There was also one episode, where I could witness a totally different art style being used. I wonder whether it was from Frank, or was it created locally by our artists.

But there can be no doubt, in another episode, when Joe eventually takes part in one of our own South Indian festivals, which is clearly a work of our artists. Can anyone name the artist, of this particular episode, based on the style?

Eventually, the stock run out of Joe’s adventures, also pulled the curtains of his Tamil run on Siruvar Malar.

But, there is no doubt, the moment someone makes a fun-face, those who had read the series can easily relate it to the childhood they spent, reading Faceache’s adventures, as Palamuga Manna Joe, aka A Boy with a Thousand Faces.

I am one, and I am not alone. Here is a blog post, by fellow comics enthusiast Limat, on his (and ours) childhood Siruvar Malar superstars.

idea_light_bulb Faceache Mugshot  (Art by Rafiq Raja - 1988) UPDATE (June ‘10): When writing the post above, I ran out of time, and couldn’t possibly add an archive of Pala Muga Manna Joe, aka., Faceache’s appearance through the years on Sirvuar Malar. So, here is a archive across years when Faceache was reigning supreme in Siruvar Malar, often in full color episodes.

As you could see the first 4 episodes listed below, are a trademark Ken Reid’s style, while the next 2 episodes slightly mimic Reid’s style of work (you could see a slight variation in Faceache’s avatar, as he now as smaller tummy, and looks even small than his original self). While the last 2 episodes, as discussed earlier, are a clear out and out work of some other artist (arguably the worst work in the series).

SM [1987-07-24] 08 FaceacheSM [1987-07-31] 25 FaceacheSM [1988-02-05] 24 FaceacheSM [1988-06-03] 08 Faceache

SM [1988-10-14] 20 FaceacheSM [1989-01-20] 32 FaceacheSM [1990-09]FaceacheSM [1991-01] Faceache

Hope you enjoyed these loveable characters appearance in our favourite language.

And just in case, if you were wondering who is the artist of Faceache Mug Shot, at the start of the section, then it’s none other than yours truly. Hold those brickbats! it was an art of the kid who grew up in late 80’s, so the amateurism is visible enough. :)

So, it’s time to look back and continue our review, of the longest and most memorable comic series ever featured in Siruvar Malar: Survival, aka Uyirai Thedi (உயிரை தேடி) in Tamil.

Uyirai ThediIn our last blog, we went over the origins of the Survival Comic series, and also looked at the first 11 episodes of the comic series, which ended with Pinkie nose-diving his car into a River, with an unwelcomed passenger on board.

Survival 2nd Part: Episodes 12 – 22 (in Tamil as Uyirai Thedi):

Episode 12 opens up with Pinkies car drowning in the river, as he manages to swim out of it for the River Escapade surface, closely followed by the mutated adult who took the backseat of his car. Just when he thought that it was gaining over him, two Crocodiles join the party, and the mutated one becomes their target, relieving Pinkie of the danger. Pinkie slowly moves away from the location, as the day gives away to the dark night.

Mysterious TV On his path, he finds a house with light emitting from it. As he gets closer, he finds to his astonishment that the light was from a running TV. He is shocked to see a TV with electricity, as the power supply had long been Mutie gets shotseized since the plague.

He later finds that power was a result of generator nearby, and finally meets an another living kid, by the name of Johnny, who had found his home at this desolate house. Both of them are happy to have met a living being finally, and they start  exchanging their horrific incidents with the mutated adults. Their reciting was cut short by an attacking mutant, who instead gets shot by Pinkie.

Pinkie repents over his changed life, where from a kid who doesn’t even kill mere insects, has been changed to one, Attacking Birdswho kills some of his own, at least in their earlier forms. Johnny consoles him saying that desperate situations calls for desperate measures.

The next morning, the duo travel to a nearby city, to collect their groceries and some gun power to defend them against the muties. But, as they were about to leave, a crowd of blood-thirsty birds start attacking them. The duo find their asylum  back inside the closed shops, as they watch over the birds hovering outside, and decide to spend the night inside.

A moment of PlayThey find a Table Tennis board inside, and to relieve themselves of the pressure they start playing a game, only to be confronted by a blood thirsty eagle, which finds its way inside the store, followed by the hoards of birds running after them for a share of their own. Pinkie & Johny decide to use their guns to find their way back to their Truck, eventually reaching their hideout safely. Shocked by the incidents they decide to leave their setup, and move down south to France, hoping that the mainland Europe might have some survivors like them.

Another attackThey decide to travel through the villages, to avoid trouble, but their curiosity pushes them to visit a city on their way, for one last time. As in the case of their struggle life, a mutie attacks them, whom they evade and reach a Supermarket on the way, to stock some more food on their en-route. Unknowing to them, the Supermarket security who caught the deadly plague, had installed an automatic gun, to save the property, at his absence.

Hoard of Muties UndergroundJohny’s swiftness saves both of them from the danger, and they decide to pursue a different store, fearing that there may be more problems laced inside the store by the erstwhile security man. While at the other store, Johnny decides to chance his shooting skills, by freely shooting at the antiques of the store. Unknown to them, that store had some muties too, who were awakened by the sound and start advancing at the friends.

But, Johny’s wayward shooting had pierced one of the gas pipe, which explodes Snake Biteat the same time, and kills the muties, with the kids barely managing to get away from the blast. Further through, they encounter a pack of Rhinos, which looks unharmed by the virus, just like other animals. But, a frightened Rhino, attacks the Duo’s vehicle, toppling it, and landing them inside a Snake Farm. The friends have a hard time getting out of the area surrounded by deadly snakes, one of which also bites Johny during their escapade.

Unlikely saviour Pinkie saves Johnny by sucking the venom laced blood from his hand, but Johnny loses his conscience, which prompts Pinkie to drag him to a safe house nearby, for the much needed rest. Pinkie leaves Johnny at the desolate house for rest, and goes in search of some food for him, to feed him when his conscious returns.

But a returning Pinkie, finds to his astonishment, the weakened Johnny is missing from his bed, where he left him. On a quick search, he finds that he is being piggybacked by a mutie in a distance, and in desperate attempt to save Johnny, he shoots the mutie. Later he comes to know through Johnny, that they mutie indeed saved him by offering food and shelter.

Pinkie understands that not all muties, or the disfigured ones, are their enemies, and repents for his mistake.

Friends console each other, and they set about their mission of finding more survivors, and reach a desolate army camp in their en-route.

In their curiosity to try out a Battle tank, they find themselves engulfed by wildfire, which surrounds them to burn them alive.

Did they escape out of the fire? What more dangers await this unlikely duo, who go for search of life?

Would they ever find another living human in their misadventures, or would they lose their only companion in each other?

Answers to these will be continued in the next blog post, where we will explore further episodes of Survival aka Uyirai Thedi, along with some other gold comic series which found their place in the golden years of Siruvar Malar.

So, Stay Tuned Comikers.

And just in case, if you thought, I broke my earlier promise to provide the digital scans of the Survival Episodes, here are the second batch, as reviewed in this post. Happy Reading, Comikers. Adios Amigos !!

Note: This post was originally made on March 2010, which was further updated on June 2010, with some vintage archives of Faceache’s adventure. The new updates can be tracked with contents over here and here.

Feb 28, 2010

News – Return of Indian Superheroes | HT | Feb ‘10

Those who are passionate about Comics among us would all agree that Comics in India, is largely an industry, which never got its due credit, compared to the ones which its counterparts in Americas, Europe, and Japan enjoyed.

Did we not have the talent, or the interest, or the creativity?, what pushed us in the back corner of the alley, when other industries flourished?

Much was to do with the way the then Indian comics publishers perceived the market, who instead of relying on the wealth which had to be nurtured within, were instead eager to tap to this business medium, by bringing in the foreign content for local publishing. What they did in the process, was to cut out the creativity, and uniqueness of Indian comics creators, who failed to get the necessary backing. And evidently, the success of such publications over test of time, remains the best lesson learnt.

But, not all players followed the suit, as exhibited by a handful of publishers, who stood different and were ready to go any miles to promote local content. Only a handful of them survived the TV and Internet era, and they remain to tell the story.

The Return of Indian Superheroes - Hindustan Times 02152009This month’s Hindustan Times newspaper carried a thought provoking account of the same, with inputs from Comics publishers, who belong to the later category - the legendary Diamond Comics and Raj Comics.

It talks about the survivors from the Dark Ages of Indian Comics, a period highlighted by Diamond’s Gulshan Raj, as between 1997-2003, when TV and Internet medium took over from traditional print runs.

The article talks about the current plans of those surviving publishers, in order to better align with the changing times.

One another interesting reference, in the article, is Raj Comic’s Sanjay Gupta’s acceptance that his creation, Nagraj, created in 1980’s and arguably one of the first and better known Indian Comic heroes, failure from establishing himself in the bigger league. In Gupta’s own words, a stature similar to Superman/Batman.

Superman #1 sells for $1m Batman #1 sells for over $1m Only recently, Superman and Batman’s first ever appearances in Comics, made headlines as they were outbid each other to a tune of $1 million, on comics auction sites.

Eventhough, the real scenario under which these overshot money, could be attributed to the poor economy, and the need for newer investment fronts, the fact remains that the thought of Nagraj breaking grounds with Superman or Batman, cannot be realistic, keeping in mind the difference in the comic market as it was and is available in US, with the one we have/had in India, which are poles apart to say the least.

As much as we could mock the dream for all its ambitions, we couldn’t ignore that the intent was there, when the Nagraj character was envisioned. But was their equal weight of effort in planning to reach the big league? Let’s accept Superman/Batman evolved during time, mainly because that it was born in a language, which had a universal reach, and was contributed by the fact, they were the first of its kind.

On the contrary, Raj Comics concentrated its market only for Hindi speaking sect, thus, apart from the Hindi speaking states in India, it was never popular in the other states, and sometimes even unheard in some among them. If it could not break the Desi language barrier, did it stand any chance at the International stage?

At least, their present focus to reinvent the characterisation, and their increased focus on reprinting the older issues, in better paper quality and print techniques, should bring them into mainstream, and hopefully this time they would do it sans the limited language focus.

The best quote I can draw from the recent media article, was Karan Vir of Vimanika Comics’s assertion on the same quality lines.

..Someday I hope to make Vimanika the DC or Marvel of India. We may not be able to replicate their success in the print runs but I'm sure we'll get there in terms of quality and art.

Comic Punch - Hindustan Times 15022009That isn’t all. Hindustan Times, also carries another Comics article, aptly titled Comic Punch, where it looks in detail the present comics market, and then the future as it is being planned by the new and established players in the field.

Staying with the article, the current comic market in India, is said to be around 300 Crores mark, with an estimated print run 12.5 crores every year. Industry experts also believe that the market is expected to grow by 40% over the next few years, pooling in all those aspiring companies, to join the frenzy.

Diamond Comics, Raj Comics, Amar Chitra Katha (under it’s new ACK Media avatar), all seem to be gung-ho on taking their comics ventures, to the next level, in terms of animated and full-feature films, DVDs, Mobile and eComics.

On a reality check, there is no harm in comics publishers trying to tap into newer mediums, which is the need of the hour. But hopefully, they would realize the importance of staying true to the roots of print medium, which eventually opened up all these frontiers.

For reasons, they can always look back at another promising venture like Virgin Comics (now Liquid Comics), suffered at the hands of dreaming big, and losing their forte. Even though, they keep making news (including this very article in reference), it’s long time since they came out of hibernation, to prove that they still stand a chance in the industry. I hope I am proven wrong, but the Omen is strong enough, considering Virgin’s past track records. All izzz Well or hopefully will be :)


I guess this article, did turn out to a pretty serious mode, and to keep the Pran the Man - Hindustan Times 02152009comic spirit up, here is another article in the same newspaper, talking about the Walt Disney of India, Mr. Pran, the legendary creator of Chacha Chaudhary and umpteen other desi cartoon characters, which have been entertaining the kids and teens alike, for near 4 decades.

Well, I must admit, that I have outgrown most of what Diamond Comics throws at us off late, but the fact remains Pranji, is still considered one of the greatest icon in comics medium, as highlighted by the fan following he enjoys among kids, even today.

No wonder Diamond Comics, which still publishes Chacha Chaudhary and other Pran characters, into comics format, is easily the biggest comics publisher until today. But they can’t sit on their laurels, as other players including the newer ones, are going to take the fight to them. Comics readers are in for a treat, for sure.

1970s Lotpot Cover by Pran In keeping with spirit of current times, here is a Pran designed cover art on occasion of Holi, which decorated the cover of yesteryear Lotpot, a magazine in which Pran’s legendary creation Chacha Chaudhary originally appeared in.
(Courtesy: Comic World)

Wish you all a Happy Holi, dear friends. Adios Amigos!!

Hindustan Times, Steve on Superman #1 Sale, Yahoo on Batman #1 Sale, Comic World on Lotpot, Rediff’s Interview with Karan.

Jan 15, 2010

Comics & Chennai Book Fair – 2010

This post was originally published on Jan 6, 2009, and has been further updated on Jan 15, 2009. Jump to the Updates

Gone are the times, when a variety of books and magazines, used to fill my imaginations in those childhood days. The materials available then, which ranged from Novels, Weekly magazines, to Monthly editions, was able to cater to all sects of elders at home. Kids, weren’t left alone in the party, as they had a variety of children's magazines to drool on, in the likes of Indrajal, Amar Chitra Katha, Diamond, Chandamama, and our very own Lion/Muthu Comics, Poonthalir, or Siruvar Malar.

The penetration of TV, and Satellite channels, into our houses, weren’t able to deter the elderly crowd who still loved the print medium, but it effectively diverted the new generation’s interest.

Now, those old family get-together, have moved on to a new home, The Annual Book Fairs. Families throng the event, and do remember to bring their kids along with them. In Chennai Book Fair Entrancea ray of hope that the environment, would give those young ones the right platform to grow their interest.

DSCN2895One such event is the Chennai Book Fair, which celebrates it’s 33rd year of existence, this year.

It was started by Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI), in 1977, mainly  covering the English editions of various publishers. It took until the turn of 21st century, for the regional language publishers to storm this event, and now they clearly overpower their Angrezi counterparts, in numbers.

DSCN2894 DSCN2896  DSCN2905

I have been a regular visitor, since the day I came to know of its existence, through my elder sister. While she thronged the Book Fair, for laying her hand on the Literary works and Novels from famous authors, I used to restrict my visits to only get hold of some issues, from my beloved print medium, Comics. The kid in me, still refuses to look for any other modes of literary work, but, the key is that my love towards Comics, keeps my reading habit intact. So as long as it holds good, I wouldn’t look for a change.

Since, we don’t have the likes of American Comic-Con’s, or France’s Angoulême Festivals, happening in India, these Book Fair's turn out to be our only resort.

Let’s look at some of my recent buys, in this Book Fair, and I hope that it would help those Comics enthusiastic, who would be visiting the fair, which runs until 10th January.

Lion & Muthu Comics Lion/Muthu Comics (Prakash Publishers – பிரகாஷ் பப்ளிஷர்ஸ்)

If it is a comics hunt, that too in Chennai, could you leave out the legendary Lion Comics or Muthu Comics, from the famed Prakash Publishers?

Every year, it has always been a unfulfilled dream for the Tamil comics fans, to see a dedicated Prakash Publishers stall in the Chennai Book Fair. They always had to share the spotlight, by finding their way in some other vendor’s stall.

But, from last year, two of our loyal Tamil comics fans, old-timer RT Murugan, and Arun from Rhythm Infomaps stall and ArunBook Distributors, have made it a point to make the back-issues of Lion and Muthu Comics, be available at their extended stall. This year it is no different, as we have another bunch of those wonderful titles, waiting for you at the InfoMaps Shop, at Stall No.P5.

So, if you had missed any of the back-issues, or wish to buy a set for your closed Look for this Sign on the Stallones, P5 Stall is the place to be. This year, Arun has got a nice gift wrapped set consisting of one title each from the available bunch. So those visiting can simply walk away with one such bundle for their collection.

Here are some more pictures, to tempt you into buying them, even if you already have it with you. I got one set for me, that way :). Look for this familiar sign, in the shop.

Lion & Muthu Comics Assorted Lion & Muthu Comics Gift Pack Lion & Muthu Comics Assorted

Update: And just in case, if you miss out from buying the Lion/Muthu Comics in Book Fair, do remember that a sizeable number of the same is also available in the Chennai’s Koyambedu Bus Terminus at Sai Scholars Book Shop (Platform No.3-4)

Persepolis Tamil EditionsPersepolis in Tamil (Iran - ஈரான்) (Vidiyal Publishers விடியல் பதிப்பகம்)

Coimbatore based Vidiyal Publishers, have their 2005 Tamil edition Marjane Satrapiof Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, for sale in their stall. The Tamil Editions, are in the same format as the original French title, both in terms of paper quality and package, and are priced INR 100 each.

On the first glance, I believe the translation could have been Persepolis Tamil Edition Creditslittle better, but I presume that the publishers wanted the comic to adopt the same colloquial way, in which Marjane expressed her personal story in the original. Persepolis Tamil Edition BackcoverIn any case, I should restrain myself from passing any overall comment, until I read through this Tamil venture.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that, if not for anything else, for the sheer reason of promoting the Publishers intent to bring an International best selling comic title, for Tamil audience, this Tamil comics initiative should find its way in your collection.

Considering the higher priced Originals in the same format, a price tag of INR 100 justifiable. A friend in the Book fair told me that a Sri Lankan national who occupied a next seat to him, was coming over to Book fair, all along to find this edition. It’s a pity that such a publication, is unknown to us, when other nationals know about it even before us. Is it a problem with ourselves ?

Appusami ComicsManimegalai Publishers (மணிமேகலை பிரசுரம்)

Appusami ComisAppusami is a famous comic character, among Tamil readers, more famously among those who have Appusamiwitnessed his wittiest adventures, in various Tamil magazines, all through the past decades.

Created by Ja.Ra. Sundaresan, under his pseudonym Bhakkiam Ramasami, Appusami’s many stint in a variety of magazines, also involved some comic strips, where the artwork was handled by one of the able and most stylist artists from South India, Jeyaraj (who signs his artworks, with his initials as J.The character Appusami is so famous that, there is still a running domain, under his name (

I remember reading those comic strips back when I was a kid, and always felt that I never took enough care to collect those comic strips for safekeeping, as the artwork of J was one Appusaami Comicstop class not to be missed.

Recently, after hearing about the availability of one such comic, as published by Manimegalai Publishers (Courtesy: Siv), I wanted to get the same for my collection, badly. So, I landed up at the stall in the Book fair, and was lucky to find that the comic was still available, at a price of INR 10.

The inflated price was not only because the book was of smaller size with 52 pages, but also because of the year in which it was published, which is 1997 (as a second reprint, with the original dating back to 1993).

This comic edition follows the adventures of Appusami and Seetha Paati (his betrothed wife), on their quest to buy a Color Television set for their household. Look at the cover art which comically denotes this very concept. Typical J style.

I wonder, why such a good comic edition, is still left unsold after nearly a decade? Could the marketing have been faulty? as not many would have known that the comic is still available on sale with the  publishers, let alone leaving the fact that anyone knew of the existence of such comic at first place. Artist Jeyaraj

Bhakkiam RamasamiNevertheless, I am going to  cherish this collection, and only hope that some other  publisher would start collecting all other adventures of Appusami in comics format, very soon.

To know more about Artist Jeyaraj, read his Interview here, with some artworks to spice up his profile :).

Turok in Tamil (Taara - தாரா)Manimegalai Publishers (மணிமேகலை பிரசுரம்)

Tamil version of Dell's Turok (Cover)After a long hiatus, Manimegalai Publishers, seem to have ventured back into the comics field, by publishing the world famous Turok comic series, originally published by Dell Comics of US.

Turok (Dell Comics)After hearing about this venture, through Siv’s blog, I was on the lookout for the same, during my first visit to the publishers stall in the book fair. It was in vain, as it was out of stock then. But, was able to lay my hands on the same on my revisit.

The classical series is renamed as Taara in Tamil, and the Book is priced INR 50, in a size similar to A4, with hard covers.

Where it actually lacks the punch, is in the translation. Malaysian born Rajathilagam, fails miserably in that account, as the sentences Turok in Tamilseem to be abruptly ended, or continued, without any context. Having witnessed the works of Mullai Thangarasan, S.Vijayan, and Ramajayam, in the Tamil Comics field, this sub-standard work is quite unacceptable.

The quality is further degraded with a printing, which looks as if that it has been watershed on all pages. The reason seems to be a low quality adoption from the color originals, which could have been better, if they had done some color correction, before going into print. (The artwork page, given at the right is a result of some color correction in Photoshop, from the scanned version)

I only hope that Manimegalai publishers, will improve the print and translation quality with their further instalments, which we can only hope for. The classical note of the comic character Turok, deserves a better presentation, for sure.

Abdul Kalam in ComicsProdigy Comix (கிழக்கு பதிப்பகம்)

Prodigy Comix  Kalam (English) The New publishing sensation in the Tamil publishing field, New Horizon Media (NHM), have also joined the bandwagon in the Comics field, by releasing their Prodigy Comix series, starting with the pictorial representation of the life of, Dr. Abdul Kalam, a living legend, and former President of India.

Prodigy Comix  Kalam (Tamil)It’s a 32 page, A4 Sized feature, priced INR 35, which is also available in the regional language, Tamil.

The artwork is quite sub-standard, with the saving grace being the coloring work, which adds some semblance to the overall effort.

Badri, the cheif convenor of NHM, explains in his comment on Siv’s blog that, it has been drawn manually, and digitally colored for publishing. He further adds that it currently on a trial run, with the expectation of improving the quality with the forthcoming issues.

Prodigy Comix  Kalam 01Comics business in India, and especially South India, have always faltered in recognising the true stature of Comics medium. They often restrain themselves from instigating an international standard in their artwork or script writing, by calling it as a Children magazine. What they fail to understand is that, even if it is for targeted for younger audience, the westerners never fail or compromise on the quality of the work. For example, see Yakari, Yoko Tsuno, etc. Such was the professionalism on the display.

"Comics business in India, and especially South India, have always faltered in recognising the true stature of Comics medium... Unless, we ape the success factor of Westerners, Tamil comics will always live in the substandard quality."

That’s the reason those supposedly ‘Children’ Comics, were able to live upto the test of time, to be classified as a Classic, and be rated with the greats of the Comics from those golden age.

Unless, we ape that success factor, Tamil comics will always live in the substandard quality. Given the financial backing NHM enjoys, and a serious management which looks into their publications with pride, I sincerely hope that they would be able to bridge that gap in near future.

Mathi’s Adade CartoonsNew Horizon Media (கிழக்கு பதிப்பகம்)

Mathi's Adade Cartoon CollectionNew Horizon Media, did not stop with their Prodigy Comix venture alone. Under their most famous Kizhaku Pathipagam imprint, they have collated Artist Mathi’s cartoons, which was originally published in 2003. Mathi is most famously known for his witty political and social cartoon strips on Dina Mani (தின மணி), a regional Mathi's Cartoonnewspaper.

The last I remember of such an effort, was when Vikatan group of publications, collated such type of cartoons, with the work of their chief cartoonist Madan.

This volume consists of 176 pages in B6 size, and carries one cartoon per page, with a price of INR 80. I don’t know how many parts in which these books are segregated into, but I picked up one for the collection, which was Part 3.

I also saw that there was a jumbo collection available, collating Mathi’s cartoon in a bigger hardcover sized edition, which is priced at INR 450. 

Mathi Cartoon Jumbo Collection (Inside)Mathi Cartoon Jumbo CollectionQuite frankly, I don’t know whether such a market exists in India. Such ventures which are mostly adopted by the English Newspaper giants in our country, remain largely a marketing failure.

I would personally not shell out such a huge price for a collection, but then everyone have their own opinions and choices, and I presume Badri, would have gambled on with a plan.

Russian Revolution ComicsNew Century Book House

Also was on sale in the Book Fair was New Century Book House’s comics based on Russian RevolutionRussian Revolution Comics, published in early 2008. The book was by a team of Russian artists and script writers, which was originally published by Progressive Publishers.

The artwork quite frankly resembles the one which was used by the old Ponni Russian Revolution Comics 01 Russian Revolution Comics 02 Comics, but the credit pages says that they are of a Russian artist, by the name of Anatoli Vasileov (I hope I spelled it correct).

But, even then the style quite frankly fits the old school thought way of retelling the historical significance of Russian revolution.

There are no credits given for the Tamil translation, but it looks of a top quality work, at phases.

The issue which is titled in Tamil as Rushiya Puratchi (ருஷ்ய புரட்சி) is of B6 size, with 150 odd pages, priced at INR 75. ISBN: 81-234-1238-X 

Definitely, a comic worth to be in Tamil comics fan’s collection. And I hope that this comic venture by New Century Book House, will turn out a successful affair, so that we see such international comics be translated to our language, for the coming years. Thanks to Siv, for introducing this comic venture.

Somu in B.C. (கி.மு.வில் சோமு)Narmada Publications நர்மதா பதிப்பகம்

Kimoovil SomuLastly, I picked up, present Tamil movies director Simbu Devan’s 1999 humour comics, titled Keemuvil Somu. This was a 2004 reprint of the original edition, which collected the series which ran in Ananda Vikatan, a Weekly magazine, for a total of 25 weeks.

The series was drawn and scripted by Simbu, who has Kimoovil Somu 01a uncanny knack of a cartoonist, in his art style, which quite adds up the uniqueness of this venture. 

It’s a hilarious account of a character named Somu, who finds himself in the pre-historical era, with the aid of his Time Machine. He befriends a Jr. Dinosaur, enroute his adventures and misadventures, which are a total laughter package, for sure. 

It was good to know that the series which I enjoyed during its weekly run, was also available in a complete comics format. It’s in a B6 size, consisting of 100 odd pages, priced at INR 40. Surely, a comic for keeps.

Surely, Simbu Devan’s loss to comics field, is a quite noteworthy, but considering that he is able to weave his comic magic in his Silver screen ventures, it does bodes well.

Apart from these, the old Gotham Comics issues, and the back issue titles of The 99 Series, could be found on many stalls. I hope that this Book Fair provided all those book readers in general, and comics geeks in particular a well deserved shopping experience. Happy Reading, Comikers. Adios Amigos !!


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