The Lost Legends of Indian Comics

Comics Fun Media
Indian comics are comic books and graphic novels associated with the culture of India. Due to widespread use of English language, Indian comics and graphic novels tend to be more stylistically similar to western comics, than the manga, manhwa and manhua of India’s Asian neighbours. India has a long tradition of comic readership and themes associated with extensive mythologies and folk-tales have appeared as children’s comic books for decades, however the industry still remains immature compared to that of America, Japan and Europe. One of earliest attempts was done by comic magazine Chandamama, started in 1947. Initially, the covers of Chandamama were printed in four-colours, while the illustrations inside used line drawings. Each page of Chandamama had an illustration, although in the strict sense of the term, Chandamama was not a comic book, with the exception of the Chitra-katha column. It developed from the adaptations of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in the 1960s, to educational comics for children, caricatures in print media, and adaptations of American superheroes and published in more than 10 Indian languages and English.

       The Golden Age of Indian Comics

In the late ’50s, India started her comic journey by translating and serialising international comics and publishing them in dailies or magazines. They were an instant hit with Indian readers, but readers had to wait for the next print of the newspapers and magazines to finish a story. In March 1964, Indrajal Comics was founded which syndicated, translated, and published western comics like The Phantom, Mandrake and Flash Gordon. For the very first time, Indians could buy an entire comic book, instead of having to wait. When Amar Chitra Katha comics came into existence in 1967 and paved the way for the Golden Age of Indian Comic Books. The Golden Age of Indian Comic Books was as lasting from the 1970s until the late 1980s or early 1990s when the era of satellite television channels and rapid growth of the television in India ended homegrown comics’ golden age. During the Golden Age of Indian Comics, many books were first published and enjoyed a surge of popularity and the most of the known homegrown heroes like Bahadur, Nagraj and Chacha Chaudhary were debuted.

       List of Golden Age Indian Comics Publishers:

1.) Indrajal Comics: India’s first comics started by the publisher of The Times of India, Bennet, Coleman & Co. in March 1964. Later in 1976, it published Bahadur, the first Indian comic hero, created by Aabid Surti.
2.) Amar Chitra Katha (ACK): It is an Indian publisher of graphic novels based on biographies, religious figures and cultural stories. The company was founded in 1967 by Anant Pai.
3.) Raj Comics: It is credited as one of the top leading comic book distributors in India and publishing Indian superheroes comic books through Raja Pocket Books since its foundation in 1984 by Rajkumar Gupta. Top 3 Raj Comics’ most-loved creations are Nagraj, Doga and Super Commando Dhruva.
4.) Lotpot: Two iconic comics characters, “Motu-Patlu” created by Kripa Shankar Bhardwaj and “Chacha Chaudhary” created by Pran Kumar Sharma, are first debuted in Lotpot.
5.) Diamond Comics: It came into existence in 1978 by Gulshan Rai and created Fauladi Singh, a space hero. It has also published Cartoonist Pran’s characters Pinki, Billoo and Chacha Chaudhary.
6.) Tinkle: It was founded in 1980 and introduced readers to Shikari Shambu, Kalia the crow and Suppandi.
7.) Champak: It is a popular fortnightly magazine for children published by the Delhi Press Group since 1969 in India.
8.) Tulsi Comics: It was started by Ved Prakash Sharma in 1991. Angara, Tausi and Jambu were the three main heroes of this publication.
9.) Manoj Comics: Ram-Rahim was the first and most popular characters to appear in it.
10.) Radha Comics: It was an Indian Comic publication in the late 80s and early 90s. Its most known character was Shaktiputra.
11.) Nutan Comics: It was published by Nutan Pocket Books (Later Shiva Pocket Books) in the late 70s and 80s and its flagship characters were Bhootnath, Meghdoot and Mamaji.
12.) Goyal Comics: It was founded by Om Prakash Goyal and published by Goyal Pocket Books and Youngmaster and Chacha Champaklal were its most popular characters.
13.) Chandamama: It was an Indian publisher of mythological/magical stories for children. It was started by B.Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani.

              Golden Age Indian Comics Creators:

Anant Pai: Affectionately known as “Uncle Pai” and he is credited with helping to launch India’s comic book industry in the 1960s with his ‘Amar Chitra Katha’.

Abid Surti: Credited for creating ‘Dabbu ji’ and ‘Bahadur’, India’s first comic book hero.

Pran Kumar Sharma: Better known as Pran, the creator of ‘Chacha Chaudhary’, ‘Shrimatiji’, ‘Pinki’, ‘Billoo’, ‘Raman’ and ‘Channi Chachi’.

Sanjay Gupta: Co-created the characters ‘Nagraj’, ‘Doga’, ‘Bhokal’, ‘Parmanu’ etc along with his brothers Manoj Gupta and Manish Gupta.

Anupam Sinha: Credited as the creator of superhero ‘Super Commando Dhruva’ and ‘Shakti’.

Pratap Mullick: Designed the comic-book character ‘Supremo'(based on movie star Amitabh Bachchan)

Ram Waeerkar: Artist of iconic characters as ‘Suppandi’, ‘Pyarelal’ and many more.

Vasant Halbe: Illustrator of iconic characters as ‘Shikari Shambu’ etc.