Tinkle, Diamond, Chandamama: Where have our comics gone?

·Contributor
·6-min read

Remember those comic books we dug into when we needed some fun? They made our childhood memorable and interesting. While some of them have slipped into oblivion, some have survived the years and in fact have cleverly created digital libraries where your children can access these jewels of comicdom.

indian comics
indian comics

Introduce your children to these timeless classics we grew up with.

Amar Chitra Katha

Amar Chitra Katha was founded in 1967 by Anant Pai and is a household name in India. It is synonymous with the visual reinvention of Indian stories from the great epics, mythology, history, literature and folktales..

Amar Chitra Katha's first original Indian comic book, Krishna, was a big hit. with over five million copies sold; it remains the company's best-selling title till date, and is now more than 50 years old. Today, Amar Chitra Katha publishes more than 400 comics in 20+ languages that have sold over 100 million copies.

Amar Chitra Katha's first original Indian comic book, Krishna, was a big hit. With over five million copies sold, it remains their best-selling title till date, and is now more than 50 years old. Photo courtesy: Amar Chitra Katha
Amar Chitra Katha's first original Indian comic book, Krishna, was a big hit. With over five million copies sold, it remains the company's best-selling title till date, and is now more than 50 years old. Photo courtesy: Amar Chitra Katha

The publishing house has expanded its base beyond the realms of print, with a robust library of digital content as well, over the years, including multiple TV shows, web series, podcasts, board games, mobile apps, and movies. Across its social media channels, ACK has a following of 400,000 people, whereas its app downloads clock in at close to 500,000. Even after 50 years, Amar Chitra Katha is still India’s favourite storyteller. 

Chandamama

The first edition of Chandamama was released in July, 1947. The founder editor of the magazine was B.Nagi Reddy who later became a leading film producer in South India. Chakrapani, a friend of Nagi Reddy, was the man behind magazine.

Chandamama was first published in Telugu and Tamil (as Ambulimama). The Kannada edition first appeared in July 1949 followed by Hindi in August 1949. Marathi (as Chandoba) and Malayalam (as Ambili Ammavan) editions appeared in April 1952 followed by Gujarati in 1954 and English in 1955.

The first edition of Chandamama was released in July 1947. The founder editor of the magazine was B.Nagi Reddy who later became a leading film producer in South India
The first edition of Chandamama was released in July 1947. The founder editor of the magazine was B.Nagi Reddy who later became a leading film producer in South India

In 2007, Chandamama was bought by Geodesic, a Mumbai-based software services provider company. They planned to take the then 60-year-old magazine into the digital era. However, the magazine is currently defunct as Geodesic itself was found defaulting on outstanding loans and was ordered to be wound up by the Mumbai High Court.

In Aug 2017, a website was started by volunteers to preserve the Chandamama culture for future generations. This website provides access to old copies of the comic books free of cost.

Indrajal Comics

Launched in March 1964 by Times of India Publication, owned by Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, Indrajal Comics went on to become a popular comic book brand in India until April 1990 when it shut shop.The first Indrajal comic, Phantom’s Belt (Vetaal Ki Mekhla in Hindi) was released in March 1964. The adventures of Phantom became a rage with Indian readers; he was rechristened Vetaal in Hindi.

The first Indrajal comic, Phantom’s Belt (Vetal Ki Mekhla in Hindi) was released in March 1964. The adventures of Phantom became a rage with Indian readers, he was rechristened Vetaal in Hindi
The first Indrajal comic, Phantom’s Belt (Vetal Ki Mekhla in Hindi) was released in March 1964. The adventures of Phantom became a rage with Indian readers, he was rechristened Vetaal in Hindi

Starting with the adventures of the Phantom for its first 32 issues, the comics also began featuring other King Features characters like Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Kerry Drake, Buz Sawyer, Rip Kirby, Mike Nomad, Garth, Phil Corrigan, etc. with 803 issues published in full colour, generally running for 27 pages, with the Phantom appearing in 414 issues. Indrajal Comics were also published in several Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, and Marathi

The Phantom and Mandrake by Lee Falk were the most published titles, along with Bahadur, a purely Indian comic book hero. Phantom comics are available on Amazon.in

Diamond Comics

Diamond Comics was founded by Gulshan Rai in 1978. The parent company, Bhartiya Bhandar Pustakalaya, was started in 1907 in Pakistan. It was re-established in India after partition in 1950 as Punjabi Pustak Bhandar. Diamond Comics was started with Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd in 1978.

Diamond Comics brought high quality entertainment to Indian readers through the creation of original Indian comic characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Motu Patlu and many more. Photo courtesy: Diamond Comics
Diamond Comics brought high quality entertainment to Indian readers through the creation of original Indian comic characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Motu Patlu and many more. Photo courtesy: Diamond Comics

Diamond Comics brought high quality entertainment to Indian readers through the creation of original Indian comic characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Motu Patlu and many more. The company also started publishing foreign comic books such as Phantom, Mandrake, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, He- man and James Bond in Hindi.

Tinkle

Part of Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle was launched in 1980. The magazine contains comics, stories, puzzles, quizzes, contests and other general knowledge features targeted at school children. Tinkle holds the world record for highest circulation for comic magazines in India, awarded by the Limca Book of Records.

The Tinkle Comics app, available on both iOS and Android, features the complete catalogue of books as well and has over 500,000 downloads as of date
Tinkle holds the world record for highest circulation for comic magazines in India, awarded by the Limca Book of Records

Published in English and syndicated in many Indian languages, Tinkle Magazine is available today via digital subscriptions, traditional retail channels and on digital platforms such as Kindle and Magzter. Tinkle also has a books division, which retails Tinkle Digest, Tinkle Double Digest, Tinkle Collections and Holiday Specials, and sells close to 6.5 lakh units a month. The Tinkle Comics app, available on both iOS and Android, features the complete catalogue of books as well and has over 500,000 downloads as of date.

Om Books

Om Books International (OBI), a 60-year-old company is one of the largest English-language trade publishers in the Indian subcontinent. The company is known for its best selling comic Tenali Raman the famous scholar of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 16th century CE. He had a solution to every problem that emerged in Krishnadevaraya’s kingdom.

Om Books is known for its best selling comic Tenali Raman, the famous scholar of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 16th century CE
Om Books is known for its best selling comic Tenali Raman, the famous scholar of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 16th century CE

How a comic book is made

The writer, using the plot outline as a guide, writes the script for the comic. Following the script-writing stage, multiple artists produce the comic based on the writer’s script. Pencilling happens first - the penciller starts by sketching thumbnails (practice panel compositions) from the script provided by the writer. 

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The dialogues and texts are inserted using balloons (speech bubbles). Balloons are usually convex spatial containers of information that are related to a character using a tail element.

After thumbnails are approved, the penciller illustrates the full comic in pencil.Then the inking happens followed by colouring. Finally, the dialogues and texts are inserted using balloons (speech bubbles). Balloons are usually convex spatial containers of information that are related to a character using a tail element. The tail has an origin, path, tip, and pointed direction.  

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