Monday, November 16, 2015

Graphic novels - down memory lane

Recently, I asked a question on an FB group for readers like us, what books came to their mind on saying the word 'childhood'. Almost all the answers included a variety of Indian and non-Indian graphic novels. I have memories of reading these - we called them comics, then - I remember smuggling these to and from school, and reading them when I was supposed to be studying. I did not have many of my own, but plenty of my friends and classmates bought them, and I remember trading many of my Enid Blytons for them, and devouring them,

So while we, at Saffron Tree, in this CROCUS dedicated to graphic novels, write about so many of the graphic novels and comic books of our children's childhoods, I would like to speak about those of my childhood. Though there were a glut of these, I shall include here only those that I really enjoyed. Ah, nostalgia!

I recently saw a bunch of vintage Phantom issues at a used book store, and wanted to pick them up, Ghost who walked (do click on the link to take a look at the other characters whose stories we loved then - there is a strip scrolling at the bottom) were my absolute favourites, along with Mandrake the magician, both created by Lee Falk. The Indian editions were published by Indrajal Comics, and often had stories featuring different characters - Phantom, Mandrake, Garth, Buz Sawyer, and sometimes even the Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Marvel Comics's Spiderman and Ironman, and DC Comics's Superman and Batman came much later in my life, when I was already in college. I might be wrong, but I don't think they were available easily in the subcontinent then.

As a teenager, I remember that we loved the Archie comics. The various escapades of Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, Jughead Jones, and Reggie Mantle were stuff of teenage legend - a more innocent time, surely, than teen tales nowadays. Again, these were not there at my school - the school encouraged us to read 'serious literature' - those were the times when your reading was supposed to 'improve your mind'! Reading purely for fun was considered not quite right.

Amar Chitra Katha
But I digress. As I was saying, Archie comics were the rage, and fortunately, now that I had pocket money, I had joined a library which had books that the school library considered below its dignity to stock. Other than Archie comics, here I encountered the delights of Tintin, Asterix, Dennis the Menace, and Calvin and Hobbes - the latter two I had already been introduced to in the form of the comic strips in the daily newspaper.

Then there were the Amar Chitra Katha books, which is a big part of most Indian childhoods. They have a very large part in introducing Indian mythology and folklore to us in childhood. My only grouse with them is that they also introduce children to patriarchal values - something the next generation can do without.

And there are of course, the delightful Suppandi and Shikari Shambhu whom we encountered in the old childhood favourite - the Tinkle digest. These magazines, along with Chandamama, made for a large part of my childhood reading.


ranjani.sathish said...

What a lovely post Sandhya..evoking such fond memories of my childhood and my library then !
Phantom used to be my favourite comic then :-)

Sheela said...

Fond memories, Sandhya - Phantom, Mandrake, Zorro, Tin Tin, Asterix, Archie, Harvey comics like Hot Stuff, Richie Rich, Sad Sack, Popeye... so many that opened a new world to me when I was young... Amar Chithra Katha was the familiar ground and all these others were a totally different yet marvelous experience altogether!

Swapna said...

Classics indeed!

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