9 Vintage Indian Comics We’d Read Way Past Our Bedtime As Kids
If there’s one literary medium that deserves credit for luring naughty kids indoors on a summer’s afternoon to sit down and read, it’s comic books. Be it an issue of Amar Chitra Katha or Chacha Chaudhary, we were a generation lucky enough to grow up reading these vintage Indian comics that beautifully brought together words and visuals to tell the most compelling of stories.
Here’s a walk down memory lane!
Considered to be the harbinger of comic books in India, Chandamama was founded in 1947 by Telugu movie producers, B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani. The magazine published creative adaptations of mythological stories and epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata to help Indian kids learn more about our country’s rich culture.
The Times of India launched Indrajal comics in 1964 and translated international comic series like Phantom, Mandrake, Buz Sawyer, Flash Gordon, and Rip Kirby for Indian audiences.
By 1966, Indrajal was so popular that it was being published in vernacular languages. In 1976, they introduced Bahadur, one of India’s earliest comic heroes who fought the dreaded dacoits of Chambal.
Amar Chitra Katha
In 1967, Anant Pai launched Amar Chitra Katha. After ten poor-selling Hindi translations of western classics like Cinderella and Snow White, the 11th issue, Krishna was released in English. It became their best selling title.
Pai then decided to draw inspiration from India’s rich folklore, mythology, history, and fables for his comic stories.
Chacha Chaudhury, a frail but extremely intelligent old man was conceptualised and brought to life in 1969. He was created for the Hindi magazine Lotpot by Pran Kumar Sharma, a young cartoonist working with a Delhi-based newspaper.
Chacha Chaudhary comics found ardent fans among both children and young adults who identified with the familiar middle-class backdrop and stories of the 70s and 80s.
Pran also created an equally popular comic strip that followed the adventures of a gifted teenage boy named Daabu and his mentor, Professor Adhikari.
The first edition of Champak was released in 1968 and it soon became the most widely read children’s magazine in the country. Published by Delhi Press in 8 languages, the issues were a compilation of short stories, comic strips, puzzles, brain teasers and jokes.
New Delhi based Diamond Comics introduced India’s very own superhero, Fauladi Singh in 1978.
The 80s ushered in the Golden Era of Comics in India. It also marked the launch of Tinkle, a fortnightly comic magazine for school children by ‘Uncle’ Pai. Suppandi, Kalia the crow, Shikari Shambu, and Tantri the Mantri were characters we all grew up with. Their hilarious misadventures kept readers entertained for hours.
For a brief while in the 1980s, even Amitabh Bachchan became the face of a superhero, called Supremo. Published by Star Comics, a subsidiary of India Book House, the series followed his fight against crime in the company of his pet dolphin and falcon.
Raj Comics was launched in 1986 and enjoyed immense popularity for a brief period. The snake-shooting Nagraj, the science-loving Parmanu and gun-wielding Doga became instant favourites, along with Target’s Detective Moochwala and his pet dog.
In 1998, Gotham brought with them the publishing rights of DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Mad Magazine for the Indian subcontinent. The Spider-Man: India Project launched by Marvel in 2004 became the first major release by a comic book company in India.
In 2006, Gotham comics and Virgin Comics collaborated to create an epic series based on Indian mythology and ancient history; some of their most popular titles including Sadhu, Devi, Snake Woman and Ramayana 3392 AD.
Since then, there’s been no looking back.
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