Imagine if you get to read those tinkle’s, spiderman’s, Naagraj’s and chacha chaudhry’s again, all spread out before you! The old world charm is always oh-so fascinating and captivating, more so ever when they bring back a slice of your childhood and this weekend it is time travel to those childhood summer at the Comic Con with Vintage Comics’ Show by Arun Prasad.
For the first time in Mumbai, rare vintage Indian comics will be displayed at the Comic Con on 20th and 21st October 2012 at The World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade. These comics are from the personal collection of Arun Prasad, a Bengaluru based history researcher, freelance journalist and pannapictagraphist. Arun’s proud collection stands at a mammoth 10,000, most of them rare and original comics that are living testimony to the evolution of comics culture in the country.
At Comic Con we will have a glimpse of the very first issue of Indrajal Comics, The Phantom’s Belt published by The Times of India in 1964 and the first comics of super heroes. The highlight of the show includes Amar Chitra Katha’s rare 1st original edition issues of 1967 including Krishna along with comics featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Sunil Gavaskaras super heroes.
Arun says, ‘Through the show I have tried to create a timeline of Indian comics. One can have a real feel of the rarest Vintage Comics and its cover art. Unlike that of today, old comics were all hand drawn. Present day comics are all of dark and graphic in nature. There is very less of white space left on pages. I hope this show would rekindle some interest in everyone who wishes to go back to his or her childhood and revisit their favourite comics of their bygone days.’
We caught up with Arun for a quick chat and he let us into his unique and rare world and passion. An excerpt:
That is a very interesting and rare collection you have. Tell us what was the trigger to this passion?
As a history buff, I am passionate about anything that connects the past. I collect rare and out of print books, magazines, comics, photographs, old litho prints, Vintage Print Ads, Photo negatives, picture post cards, hand written letters, and maps. Collecting and preserving comics is a childhood passion of mine. Of the 10000 plus comics in total, I do have some of the rarest Indian comics in my possession.
Ofcourse the rarest one I have and the most in demand among Indian comic collectors is the first issue of Indrajal Comics, ‘The Phantom’s Belt’ published by Times of India in 1964. The other rare ones I have in Indrajal comics are the first appearance comics of super heroes like Mandrake the magician, Flash Gordon, Bahadur, Buz Sawyer, Lt. Drake, Mike Nomad, Rip Kirby, Garth, Phill Corrigan, Bruce Lee, Aditya and some special issues like Robin Hood, Mickey Mouse, Zorro, Tulsidas’s Ramcharit Manas, Bahubali, Mahabharata etc.
Among other comics I do have Amar Chitra Katha’s 1st original edition issues (1967)including ‘Krishna’ ,Comics featuring Amithabh Bachan and Gavaskar as super hero, Tinkle Issue (1980) No. 1, India’s first 3D comic published by Star Comics and the 1st issues of Adarsh Chitra Katha, Chathurang Katha, Chitra Bharati, Chiranjiv Chitra Katha, Gaurav Gatha, Goldie Comic – Detective Series, Prajapitha Brahma, World in Pictures Comics, Bible Comics, Times of India’s Spectrum Comics, Dum Dum Diga Diga, Space Age Comics which featured Inspector Vikram and Inspector Azad, Dalton Comics, Spiderman, Egmont Phantom, Diamond Phantom, Falcon Comics etc..
Tell us what was the trigger to this passion?
I am not able to precisely retrace when my interest in comics started.. but from my childhood i was more interested in cartoons and comical charactors. Tom and Jerry was my favorite( even today i get stuck when i see tom and jerry in tv).i always preferred to watch a cartoon than a superhit bollywood movie.
From my childhood i got a habit of reading a magazine from the back as most of the magazines carried comic strips towards the last pages..
i remember when i was 9 after a long cry for about 2 months my mom finally gave nod for subscribing Balarama, published by manorama the most sought after comic book in kerala. i used to read comics like Balamangalam, Poompatta, Bobanum Moliyum, tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha. Mayavi, published by Balarama was my favourite comic strip. The story evolves around the protagonist Mayavi, the ‘cute little chubby devil hero’ who helps to keep the forest safe from villains and evil wizards… i owe a lot to its creator Mohan, whom i always wanted to meet to take an autograph. I am fond of ‘Bobanum Moliyum’ , the most celebrated cartoon strips created by VT Thomas (popularly known as Toms).
Phantom is my all time favourite Super hero, Perhaps it was Phantom, the super-hero without any super powers who pulled me to the serious hobby of comics collection. A normal man who has developed his natural abilities fully. He is known more as a patrolman whoz dedicated his life for the jungle welfare. He uses his gun invariably to drop off another pistol or to scare sombody, not to kill. He fights against evil and always stood for honor and truth.
Your collection surely takes us to our childhoods because we have grown up on these comics’ characters but what is the lure for the kids who have not grown up on these? What will they take home from your collection?
I hope this show could rekindle some interest in every kid and adult alike to cultivate a habit of preserving the treasures of our childhood. Through my show on vintage comics the kids can truly enjoy the hand drawn cover art works of Indian comics unlike that of todays comics which are more of graphic and computer generated images. Vintage Indian comics always depicted a comic hero as one among ourselves. Todays comics heroes are more of dark in nature. Simple humble punchline is missing.
Tell us about your first exhibition of your wonderful collection?
My first show was in September 2012 at Comic Con, Bangalore. It was Indias first ever vintage comic show and it was a grand super hit among the vintage comic lovers of Bangalore. I really cherished every moment at the show. Perhaps this show is the first one in Mumbai. I hope this show with be much more grand than in Bangalore.
Why did you choose Mumbai to showcase this wonderful treasure of yours?
As far as Mumbai is concerned the youth here are with more of energy and enthu. there are very many vintage comic lovers in the city. Among my collector friends I have the most in Mumbai. There are very many serious collectors in Mumbai whom I regularly swap extra comics with my missing ones. Infact more than me some of my Mumbai friends wanted to have a show in the city.
I am planning for another Grand show of my whole collection of 803 Indrajal comics in Mumbai in the coming year.
Do catch up on some of comics history that Arun gifts us at Comic Con this weekend.