It was the beginning of summers and we slept on the cots laid out in the verandah when the eyes opened with noise of the paper missile that landed. It was the newspaper vendor who had wrapped the newspaper and the fortnightly comic ‘ Phantom -The Ghost who walks’ by Lee Falk. A fight would break out between the siblings as to who should read the comic first! A long relationship with the new found addiction of getting hooked to the comics had just begun! Every alternate day I would rush to the neighborhood library that stored a huge variety ranging from, Noddy, Archies, Dennis the Menace, Micky Mouse, Tom and Jerry,
I would be transported to a different world and every episode of Phantom comic helped me in learning more about the Denkali jungle and the endless bad men who would kidnap Diana the beloved of Phantom. The friendly Guran would find leads and cure the injured with medicines only he knew. Betty Veronica and Archie would be endless source of entertainment, while the antics of Dennis in testing the patience of poor Mr Wilson, would have a rib tickling effect!The US Postal Services issued a set of 44 cent commemorative postal stamps on 16 July 2010 to honor the Archie characters, sharing a milk shake. More characters kept emerging on the comic scene like Calvin and Hobbs, Garfield, Beetle Bailey and Flintstones.
The Hindustan Times published from Delhi carried a daily strip on ‘Garth’ for years, before it suddenly went into oblivion. Likewise many such comic strips regularly appeared on the leading dailies like the Times of India especially in the Sunday edition. The intoxication of the comics was such that sometimes the teachers in the class caught some students reading them while the class was on invariably ending with the impounding of the comics and a note with warning to the parents of the delinquents.
Another comic strip that held attention was , ‘Mad’. Mad is often credited with filling a vital gap in political satire from the 1950s to 1970s, when Cold War paranoia and a general culture of censorship prevailed in the United States, especially in literature for teens.
There is a Comic Street in Brussels that eulogizes the cartoon characters like Tin Tin and many more that are painted as huge graffiti. Hundreds of visitors come here every year to relive their childhood with these characters, while the gorge the Belgian handmade chocolates and admire the lace work by local craftsmen in the streets in the vicinity.
The Indian comics scene was not to be left behind with stories of ‘Chotu aur Lambu’ , Chacha Chaudhary, Pinki , Billu and Shrimatiji being the hot favorites. My daughter would pester me to buy the latest issues at the railway station when departing for long journeys and reading them till late at night in the moving train. Pran the creator of most of these characters believed that ’if he could put smile on the face of his readers, he would consider his life successful’
When I landed in college it was good to see the Cartoon scene witnessing a change from the times of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge to a makeover to Tales of Mahabharata and Ramayan, Aesops Fables , Tenali Rama, Chhota Bheem and hundreds of other characters from mythology by Amar Chitra Katha
Even today it is always a treat to scan through the comics and admire the creativity of the creators who have enthralled generations of readers and transported them in a ‘make believe fantasy world’. The present generation is lucky to see most of these comic characters on DVDs and dedicated cartoon network channels leaving little to their own imagination!
A few lovely quotes from comics:
- “Words and pictures are
yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either
― Dr. Seuss
- “The world isn't fair,
"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?”
― Bill Watterson
- “Your head is where ideas go to die!”― Dilbert Comic Strip
PS-Images Kind Courtesy Google