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.