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Comics from Around the World – India

A PBS commentator once remarked that India has always been a land of vision, of the eyes. It can be seen in its 3000 year old history, in its carvings of gods and demons as well as its present day multimillion dollar Bollywood film industry. The visual medium occupies a high degree of respect in India and this has translated into India being one of those countries that has a great number of comics.

The reason for the profusion of comics is simple. First, it is the history in India of visual art – almost all of Indian epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are depicted either through drama, play or drawings. Sculptures and idols are enormously popular, mostly due to the influence of Hinduism, India’s indigenous religion. The second is the great amount of young adults in India – India has one of the youngest population in the world. Because of this demand, entertainment in India is targeted towards children. Children are also great consumers of comics. Third is the strength of storytelling in India and the budding comic industry.

India is very much a traditional country and globalization has not affected its indigenous comic industry. Most of the comics tend to be mediocre with low production values but the most famous comic, the Amar Chitra Katha (translated into Eternal Stories) are the most famous as their production values are good and their stories are absolutely amazing.

The stories in Amar Chitra Katha are specifically Indio-centric, dealing with the neverending yarns and tales in Ancient India which are tremendously entertaining. India might be one of the only countries where traditional stories have not died but are played out through modern visual mediums like graphic novels.  They mostly deal with Hindu/Buddhist/Jain tales that end before 9th century BCE though they also deal with the saga of “Akbar and Birbal”, the story of a Mughal emperor and his smart Hindu courtier, set in the Mughal era. They avoid the contempary era with a vengance and usually the contempory era stories tend to some of the most weakly plotted.

Here is an example of Amar Chitra Katha’s Akbar and Birbal series.

Here is also a comic that I found with a Chinese character. Comics that star non-Indian characters are usually extremely rare in Indian comics.

There are several comics in India – Tinkle (that focuses on contempory issues, on children’s issues specifically), Amar Chitra Katha (focuses on Hindu/Sikh/Jain mythology, Akbar/Birbal, usually past history), Panchatantra (a morality tale with animals) and Chacha Chaudary (the oldest and the most inane Indian comic). I will update as soon as possible and try to increase your International knowledge, even a little bit.




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Filed under comics, india, mythology, william and mary comix club

UN gets Spidey’s help

So now the UN has paired up with Marvel, yes Marvel the comic book company Marvel, on comic to show Spiderman fighting alongside UN peace keepers and aid workers. So what is this supposed to accomplish? That the UN peace keepers and aid workers are heroes too.  A lot of people seem negative about this calling it desperate in the case of John Bolton, former US envoy to UN, and maybe it is but it sounds like good propaganda to me.  Show the kids that the UN is cool and heroic and that they could possibly one day do these jobs is the goal.  The kids that were asked in the article seemed upbeat about it except for the one little boy who claimed he didn’t believe in any superheroes and so didn’t like them.  The artists seem upbeat too because a lot of them are willing to work on this without pay.

So how much influence does Spidey have? We’ll have to wait for 2009 for the comic to come out.


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Othello (Review)

Hey Everyone,

The shoujo manga Othello is a really good, although I admit it is a bit silly, but then isn’t everything. The title comes from a board game with black and white pieces, not the Shakespearean play. Its done by the manga artist Satomi Ikezawa who has also drawn Guru Guru Pon Chan which is also hilarious.

Othello is not as long as some mangas (Some seem to go on forever don’t they?). It has seven volumes and an actual storyline. It isn’t one of those manga in which the characters don’t change and the plot doesn’t move along. Throughout the whole manga Yaya, the main character develops and so does her split personality, Nana. Yaya’s split personality is so different from her and the way she gets out of situations is really hilarious. Although the manga is really funny, there a certain sadness and fear that accompanies it. Yaya has a split personality because she feels pressured not to be herself. Also, a lot of the people she comes across are so mean that that I was fearing for her life and well-being at times.

There is a lot of gothic-lolita worn and a lot of rock music is played. Yaya’s crush is in a band called Black Dog which is from a song sang by Led Zeppelin (which any fan would know).

The manga is really good. It’ll have you laughing outloud at the silliness of the situations and cheering with Nana for getting rid of Yaya’s foes. It’s a fun read that’ll have you wondering if and how people can possibly be this mean.



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