Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Isn’t it comical!

‘Comic books helped me to define myself and my world in a way that made both far less frightening. I honestly cannot imagine how I would have navigated my way through childhood without them.’ – Bradford W. Wright, Comic Book Nation

A lot of us would vouch for that statement!

My first encounter with comics was the glossy Sunday Times of India. It felt so good to touch that paper, almost rich.
I loved ‘Beetle Bailey’ and the sarcastic humour of ‘Garfield’ who personified laziness. At times I hated the droopy eyelid cat which I guess was probably out of my dislike for cats. ‘Hagar the Horrible’ was also fun. I loved the conversations between him and ‘Eddie’ and the regular bickering of his wife ‘Helga’. Poor Viking! Reading Sunday Times was a ritual with the entire family. Each one waited for his/her turn or an opportunity just to snatch the paper when the other wasn’t looking. Our animal instinct bubbles at times.
‘R.K Laxman’s’ humour on politics and current affairs were my only updates on the subject J
As kids, we used to subscribe ‘Champak’ because it was just Rs.5 and had more stories than ‘Tinkle’ which used to be Rs.10. The middle class mentality usually takes over in these cases and we’d prefer ‘Zyada aur Sasta!’ any day (even today J). ‘Tinkle’ was borrowed from our neighbour who always insisted that we read the book in her house and not take it to our home. We weren’t too fussy about the place where we read, as long as we did. J 

Most of the ‘Champak’ stories revolved around ‘Cheeku’ (Rabbit), ‘Meeku’ (Monkey), ‘Appu' (Elephant) and other talking animals. Each of the story had its moral contribution to the kids (like me!) reading them. Believe me, never once did it felt like preaching. It was so good and entertaining! The best part was the values were instilled without much effort.

I could never get over ‘Shikari Shambhu’. He was the luckiest chap! I don’t ever recollect any picture of him where we could see the colour of his eyes. And oh! I loved the adorable and stupid ‘Supandi’ screwing up things and being foolish because of his sweet and simpleton nature.
Revelled each time ‘Tantri the Mantri’s’ plan of getting rid of ‘Raja Hooja’ was foiled and it backfired on him!

I occasionally read ‘Chandamama’ and ‘Panchatantra’. ‘Chacha Choudhary and Sabu were good enough for an International acclaim. These were the only comic which I read in Hindi. My favourite line from these, ‘Jab Sabu ko gussa aata hai to Jupiter pe jwalamukhi fat-ta hai!’ I’m sure ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ had a hidden computer under his ‘pagdi’. His logic was super!

From there on I went international and took to reading ‘Indrajal’ comics which featured ‘Mandrake’ and ‘Phantom’. This was my first interface with jam-packed comic digests which went on and on.
‘Mandrake’ and ‘Lothar’s’ magic tricks did not quite interest me and hence I moved on to ‘Phantom – The Ghost Who Walks’ and fell for him instantly. ‘Devil’ and ‘Hero’ remained my all time favourite hero buddies.
‘Richie Rich’ who owned awesome stuff was always a like a dream. A theme park, lot of gadgets, an entire toy house to himself! Wow! ‘Casper’ and ‘Wendy’ would feature as guests in these books. And both adorable too!
Well, isn’t there a similarity between ‘Richie Rich’ and ‘Casper’? If I were to shed Richie’s clothes and hair, he would look exactly like Casper!
I read ‘Harvey Comics’ and ‘Indrajal’ comics during the period I was admitted in hospital for various illnesses. About three or four times during my secondary school. I know, it sounds unbelievable, a lot of my colleagues did not believe it too till I made them hear my mom. Being admitted so many times is not something I’m proud of but I guess that was the only time I began reading ‘Indrajal’ and ‘Harvey’ comics.
And I’m happy that I read!