Those who have grown up without comic books, we feel your loss. Comics could tell stories in the most visual and succinct way possible, basically without boring anyone. It was what got most of us through long train journeys in the pre-mobile, pre-internet, pre-cheap airfare days. Whether it was the yearly trip to the hometown or a local picnic the school forced us into, every comic lover will attest that they never travelled without a book in hand. The ritual would also involve exchanging comic books for several second-hand versions (a phenomenon that the kids of today would not know of). When pocket money allowed it, I would proudly buy a comic book or two and slowly the make-shift wooden rack which was meant for shoes transformed into a comic bookshelf.
From Chacha Chaudhary solving those mysteries ‘computer se bhi tez’ to the fantasy high-school of Riverdale that most of us really wanted to attend, here are the comic books from our childhood:
- Chacha Chaudhary: Mr. Pran’s genius creation was an all-pervading old uncle who solved mysteries. The desi detective, in cahoots with Sabu, the adorable giant and his pet dog Rocket, was a genius whose brain worked faster than the computer.
- Archies: The comic book was a dream world that kids in India could only hope for such a quirky school and the gang of friends that Archie had was one that everyone desired to have.
- The Adventures of Tintin: Created by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi who wrote under the pen name Hergé, Tintin was the epitome of adventure and thrill. Every comic book came with a new voyage and another mystery that Tintin would solve with his dog Snowy and friend Captain in tow.
- Tinkle: The Indian periodical was a favourite at my school as people indulged in comics, quizzes, games and short stories. Kalia, the Crow was my personal favourite. Suppandi’s amazing tales were another highlight in the Tinkle comics. Shambu and the Man-eater managed to scare a lot of kids in my class.
- Champak: This was probably the largest read children’s magazine in the country. The compilation of short stories was based on morals that rode high on the values in Indian society. This was probably the most recommended comic by parents for children.
- Doga: The character lives in Mumbai and has mastered the art of imitating the cruelty of the city in his methods. Hell-bent on curing crime, he did not hesitate from breaking the legs of an occasional thief and fighting off criminals and terrorists.
- Nagraj: The one action superhero who was perhaps the strongest contender in India. Created by Sanjay Gupta, the character went through many variations from being the world’s greatest criminal to pledging his life to end crime and terror in the world.
- Pinki: Diamond Comics managed to produce a spin-off from the Chacha Chaughary series. Pinki was the naughty little girl next door that everyone could associate with. She managed to create a lot of trouble for her neighbour Jhaptji, whom she managed to annoy on a daily basis.
- Shrimatiji: This was perhaps the oldest character created by cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma and probably the most relatable one too. An average middle-class woman in her thirties who attended kitty parties, juggled her two children and went to beauty parlors frequently.
- Super Commando Dhruv: The hero with swag, or at least what the 90’s kids considered swag. He had some blades, a few acid capsules and signal flare, this guy was pretty badass for his time. Dhruv tackled bad guys with his excellent motorcycle skills, and acrobatics. No, seriously.
- Bankelal: Forget your everyday comic book hero, Bankelal was a skinny character who was humorous and smart. He encountered Gods and demons from different worlds while managing to create evil plans on the side. Though his intentions were always bad he always ended up doing good for the people.
Each of these heroes and non-heroes had relatable characters that we saw in our day-to-day lives. Even from the fantasy world, these characters managed to create a believable environment that every child enjoyed.
Which of these comics was your favorite?
For more interesting content, visit YouTube.com/InUthdotcom