Indian Comics and its History: Amir Chitra Katha, Tinkle and more…

Indian Comics

There is a great history of Indian Comics and comic book reading in India. For many years, these comic books have incorporated themes derived from the rich mythology and folklore of the nation. Here is a detailed overview of this very topic.

Do check out other related articles if you have enjoyed this one like The History of Manga and everything about it.

Introduction to the History of Indian Comics:

The origin of Indian comics started with Honhar and Baalak which were initially published in 1926, with Baalak’s run extending from 1926 until 1986. Chandamama, another notable children’s monthly magazine, started publishing in 1947 and is still going strong today under several names. 


Over the past 60 years, Raj Comics, Tinkle, Balarama, and Amar Chitra Katha have established substantial nationwide distribution networks and are read by hundreds of millions of children in several languages.

Indian comics
Photo(c): ThePhantom.fan

In the 1950s, Indian consumers began to receive translations of The Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Rip Kirby, and other foreign comics, which were mostly published in Illustrated Weekly of India. However, only children of rich parents could appreciate comics until the late 1960s. Indian comics have seen many stages of development across this period

One of India’s most popular comic book series, Amar Chitra Katha, made its debut in 1967. Furthermore, with more than 400 comics released in 20+ languages and more than 100 million copies sold to date, Amar Chitra Katha was a cultural phenomenon. 

The Birth of Indian Comic’s biggest phenomenon: Amar Chitra Katha

Indian Comics
Photo(c): Amar Chitra Katha Media/Anant Pai

Indian comics and graphic novels were what were primarily published by Amar Chitra Katha. The majority of its comics are based on religious myths, historical figures, folktales, and cultural tales. The company was founded by Anant Pai and is based in Mumbai.

In a strange turn of events, participants in a quiz show that aired on Doordarshan in February 1967 had no trouble answering questions regarding Greek mythology. Yet had trouble identifying Rama’s mother in the Ramayana. Anant Pai was shocked to see that Indian students could easily answer questions about Greek and Roman mythology. But knew nothing about their own history, mythology, or folklore.

Therefore he took it upon himself to impart cultural heritage knowledge to Indian children. And thus, Amar Chitra Katha was born. By the late 1970s, when it was selling 5 million copies yearly. Amir Chitra Katha had a peak circulation of about 700,000 copies each month. By 1975, India Book House was releasing at least one and perhaps as many as three comic books each month. The first few stories were written by Pai alone. But then he quickly put together a core team of writers and editors, including Subba Rao, Luis Fernandes, and Kamala Chandrakant. This was the team who was in charge of the comic books’ attempt at historical accuracy and fair representation.

Tinkle and its success:

Indian Comics
Photo(c): Amar Chitra Katha Media/Anant Pai

Tinkle, was a weekly English-language children’s magazine produced in India from Mumbai. The Tinkle brand, which was once held by the India Book House, was purchased by Amar Chitra Katha Media in 2007. The magazine’s content is mainly geared toward school-aged children and includes tales, puzzles, quizzes, contests, and other elements. Numerous Indian languages, including Bengali, Malayalam, and Hindi, are syndicated along with English, where it is published. Tinkle’s expansion and rise to fame opened a new chapter in the history of Indian comic books and comic book readership in India.

In November 1980, Tinkle’s debut issue was published. The journal includes educationally relevant comics and regular essays. In India, Tinkle is very well-liked; as of 2019, 3 lakh copies of each issue were distributed.   Characters like Suppandi and Kalia the crow, established in the magazine’s early years, have gained widespread awareness among people of all ages and have been an essential part of growing up in India in recent decades.

Indian Comics across the 2000s:

Spiderman India
Photo(c): Marvel.com

Indian Comics in the form of digital media has grown in popularity in India since the early 2000s. The younger generation of the country frequently uses Indian webcomics to spread social awareness about topics of gender equality and so on because they may reach a huge audience at no expense. These webcomics receive a lot of attention when they are posted on social media.

There were other publishers fully dedicated to providing licenced content to the Indian comics business. Gotham Comics served as an example of this from 1997 until 2008. Also made possible were Indian versions of superheroes by Western Media. Like an Indian Spiderman and so on.

The most recent era, however, which we are presently living in, might be the end of the Indian comic era. It is now the time when comic books and graphic novels have slowly lost their popularity and even though they are still being sold in plenty, it is very unfortunate to say that the market is slowly dying.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I would just like to say that I am eternally grateful to have been a part of and have read many comics which were part of the “golden generation” of Indian Comics. Fond memories of reading a dozen or so Tinkle comics in the chilling breeze of my childhood balcony are ones which I cannot forget.

Therefore, I hope that these books never die and the number of readers keeps growing forever. Because a world where there are no longer any comic books in India made by Indians is a world I would not like to live in.

Support Us

If you want to support the webzine, you can go tip us at our Support Us.
Or maybe you want to see your work here on our website. You can easily submit it to us by emailing us at [email protected]

Finally, Join our Newsletter for new content delivered straight to your emails.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.