The fresh flutter of comic pages simply made me crazy in my childhood times. For me, comics’ books were everything. I read, enjoyed, lived and breathed comics. From Diamond Comics, DC to Raj, Manoj, Tulsi and Pawan comics I have read all sorts of comic books. My fondness for comic books started with Indrajal comics which were published by Times of India publication.
In 60, 70 and 80’s foreign comics were in full swing – DC and Marvel. Though the foreign comics were available in India, the craze for foreign super heroes wasn’t that in full swing. At that moment, Indrajal comics were selling in large numbers because Indian readers were glad to read about Phantom, Mandrake, Bahadur, Flash Gordon, Rip Kirby, Garth etc. I was a huge fan of Phantom and Mandrake comics. These two heroes were creation of Lee Falk who had succeeded to make his fan base in India through his characters. In that same year, Diamond comics uplifted the comics market with its comic books on Chacha Chaudhary, Billo, Pinki, Raman, Fauladi Singh, Mahabali Shaka, Ankur, Piklu etc. The books were huge bestsellers in 80’s and 90’s time. I had the complete collection of Chacha Chaudhary comics and relished on the stories during summer and Diwali holidays. It was my maternal uncle who used to bring lots of comics for me to read during my childhood days. He encouraged me to take on reading as a hobby which I still cherish. Unfortunately his demise had really left me in tears because it was he who introduced me to world of books. Today I still carry on the legacy of reading which was passed on to me by my uncle. Whenever I am traveling or simply lazing around, books are always with me.
From Indrajal comics to today’s Campfire comics, comics industry has seen lots of rise and fall. In early 90’s Raj comics and Manoj comics entered in the market with their own super heroes – Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruva, Ram-Rahim, Mahabali Shera etc. These comics were popular among readers in Northern sides. Even Tulsi comics were strong contenders in comics industry. Slowly with the times, Times of India stopped its publication of Indrajal comics in early 90’s which was the beginning of end for Indian comics. Later in early 2000, all the Indian publications – Diamond, Raj, Manoj and Tulsi decreased the publication of new comics. Presently, whenever I go to Bombay VT to buy comics, not a single comic book of Diamond is available in market.
Though new comic books like Vimanika and Campfire are available online as well in book stalls, the price of the books are too expensive to buy for a middle class reader. Earlier Indrajal comics, Diamond comics priced around 8 to 20 bucks which was economical for every reader. Sadly, nowadays even Indian comics are priced around 200 to 300 bucks. The emergence of social networking, Whatsapp, mobile technology, Kindle has really sunk the Indian comics Industry. In this tough competition, only Amar Chitra Katha books have managed to survive the market. Whenever I visit some libraries or old book stalls, I do see some old copies of Diamond comics and Raj comics. In a fit of nostalgia, I buy the old copies of these comic books which once ruled the comics Industry. India is a non-reading country where people are crazy about only two things – movies and cricket. Comics are the first step towards reading and encouraging young minds towards books. Can Kindle rekindle the hobby of reading? It is high time that more and more Indian publications should come up to bring up Indian comics back in book stalls.