Indian comics
Earliest publications1960s

Indian comics (known as Chitrakatha[1]) are comic books and graphic novels associated with the culture of India published in a number of Indian languages.

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.[2] Indian comics often have large publication. The comic industry was at its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s and during this period popular comics were easily sold more than 500,000 copies over the course of its shelf life of several weeks. Currently, it only sell around 50,000 copies over a similar period.[3] India's once-flourishing comic industry is in sharp decline because of increasing competition from satellite television (children's television channels) and the gaming industry.[4]

Over the last 6 decades Diamond Comics, Raj Comics, Tinkle, Balarama and Amar Chitra Katha have established vast distribution networks countrywide and are read by hundreds of thousands of children in a wide range of languages.[5] Famous comic creators from India include Pratap Mulick, Chandu, Harvinder Mannkar, Sukhwant Kalsi, Anupam Sinha, Aabid Surti, Uncle Pai and cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma, Neerad and famous characters are Chacha Chaudhary, Bahadur, Meeku, Motu Patlu, Detective Moochhwala, Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruva, Doga, Suppandi and Shikari Shambu and many more .[1] [3] Anant Pai, affectionately known as "Uncle Pai," is credited with helping to launch India's comic book industry in the 1960s with his "Amar Chitra Katha" series chronicling the ancient Hindu mythologies.[6]

History

India's comic industry began in the mid-1960s when the leading newspaper The Times of India launched Indrajal Comics. The industry evolved later in India. Up until the late 1960s the comics were only enjoyed by the children of wealthy parents. But from that time until the early 1990s they established themselves in the market.[4] The evolution of Indian comics can be broadly divided into many phases. Around 1950s saw syndicated strips like The Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Rip Kirby being translated to Indian languages. The success of such comic books was followed by a swarm of publishers trying to emulate these titles. The second phase in the late 1960s came in the form of Amar Chitra Katha (literally translated as "immortal picture stories"), comics with hundred percentage Indian content.[1]

The Indian adaptation of Spider-Man, Spider-Man:India, was mainly bought by collectors
The Indian adaptation of Spider-Man, Spider-Man:India, was mainly bought by collectors

In the 1970s several indigenous comics were launched to rival the Western superhero comics.[4] The superhero comics in the early '80s marked the third wave, with creators and publishers hoping to benefit from the success of the superhero genre in the West.[1] However, one of India's earliest superheroes is Batul the Great, was created during the 1960s by Narayan Debnath.,[3] whose early comic strip Handa Bhonda, inspired by Laurel and Hardy, had been launched in the magazine Shuktara in 1962.[7] In the 1980s, at least 5.5 million copies of comics such as Heroes of Faith series were sold in India.[4] Dozens of publishers churned out hundreds of such comic books every month, but this trend nosedived in the late '90s with the advent of cable television, Internet and other modes of entertainment in India. However, publishers like Raj Comics and Diamond Comics along with comics like Amar Chitra Katha (with characters such as Suppandi[4]) have been able to sustain their readership. After a lull, new publishing companies such as the level10, chariot comics, arkin comics, Nila Comics, Yali Dream Creations, Fiction Comics Comix Theory, Green Gold, Jr. Diamond etc. has appeared on the market in the last few years.[1] Comic publishers meanwhile have been accused by critics of lacking innovation in the face of digital competition.[4] But counter to the claims many innovations had been introduced where Indian publishers have tried many innovative ways to promote comics such as animation, film and short films, and tv serials and ecomics, VHS films, audio films and mobile apps by Raj Comics, Diamond Comics, Amar Chitra Katha. And a very innovatively attempt was done by indian publishers which is reaching out to 236 Indian Rajya Sabha members through sending postcards with request to promote reading books and comics by world record holder sri Niand Jadhav ji in conjunction with Indian comics publishers Comix Theory and Comics Byte, and also comics art workshops, massive comics giveaways programs, Pulp Gulp Talk Show made by Comix Theory to promote comics digitally,[8] and a dedicated news portal by Comics Byte[9]

Webcomics have been a popular medium in India since the early 2000s. Indian webcomics are successful as they reach a large audience for free[10] and they are frequently used by the country's younger generation to spread social awareness on topics such as politics and feminism. These webcomics reach a large amount of exposure by being spread through social media.[11]

Nagraj based on design by Manoj Gupta illustrated by Pratap Mullick.
Nagraj based on design by Manoj Gupta illustrated by Pratap Mullick.

India hosted its first ever comics convention in February 2011.[12] According to 2012 estimates, the Indian comic publishing industry was worth over 100 million dollars.[13] Raj Comics is the most popular Indian comic book company right now after Amar Chitra Katha and Diamond Comics, though no census or data for popularity is available for such claims. For superhero genre Raj Comics is the most popular publisher having its success due to this genre. Comic characters like Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruva which are India's most popular comic book heroes, are the gift of comic creators like Pratap Mullik and Anupam Sinha. Raj comics has gained immense viewership and fan following from 1980's. The popularity of manga and anime in India has led to Japanese manga-inspired comic books, such as Mythology a comic book based on Hindu mythology that has been released in India, Singapore, Malaysia and Europe.[14]

Notable Indian comic publishers

Notable figures

Annual events

See also

Lists

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Shweta Sharma (13 November 2011). "Documentary homage to comics Gods". Sunday-guardian.com. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  2. ^ Patel, Atish. "Graphic novelists shake up world of Indian comics". Reuters. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Business Line : Features / Weekend Life : Homecoming for the superheroes". Thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "BBC News – Changing habits illustrate decline of India's comics". Bbc.co.uk. 27 November 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Comic, Dead Serious | Samit Basu". Outlookindia.com. 3 May 2004. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  6. ^ The Associated Press – Fri 25 February 2011 (25 February 2011). "Indian comic book pioneer 'Uncle Pai' dies at 81 – Yahoo! News India". In.news.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  7. ^ D. Ghosh Dastidar, “Prospects of Comic Studies in India,” Gnosis 3 (2019), 113–128 (116).
  8. ^ "Comics Initiatives". Comix Theory. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  9. ^ "Comics Byte". Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  10. ^ Arora, Kim (5 September 2010). "Strip tease: Indian webcomics make a mark". The Times of India.
  11. ^ Verma, Tarishi (26 April 2015). "Laughing through our worries: The Indian web comics". Hindustan Times.
  12. ^ "India gets its own Comic Con". Telegraph. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  13. ^ "How social media is boosting comic industry". The Times of India. The Times Group. 3 January 2012. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Japanese Cultural Influence Grows in India".

Bibliography