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Into The Comic-Verse!

Into The Comic-Verse!

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Into the comic verse

In his last article the author Sid Ghosh spoke about Feluda, Professor Shonku comic, Continuing his exploration, the author speaks about characters like  Byomkesh Bakshi, TeniDa, and more. He discusses the impact of comics as a portal to another world and the unique illustration styles of artists like Bimal Das, Debashis Deb, Harsho Mohan Chattoraj, Onkarnath Bhattacharya, Arijit Dutta Choudhury, Sankha Banerjee, Uday Deb and Sujog Bandhopadhay.

In my previous article, I explored the world of Feluda and Professor Shonku comic. The story does not end there. However, before delving further into that, let me share an intriguing incident from recent times.

I woke up in a daze and confused state of mind, my head still fuzzy from sleep. The remnants of sleep still clung to my thoughts as I surveyed my surroundings and saw that I was on a lonely beach or was it an island? Rising to my feet, I brushed the sand off my clothes.

And then as I saw the sandy expanse I noticed a partially submerged box appearing like an old trunk. I walked over and proceeded to uncover it from its sandy resting place. It undeniably resembled a treasure chest, complete with a secure lock.

I looked around for a suitable tool to break the lock and found a sturdy rock nearby. I smashed it against the lock shattering it effortlessly.

I opened the chest and found… comics and graphic novels.

I was confused as I grappled with the puzzling discovery before me. How could it be that an island harbored a treasure chest full of comics?

My thoughts had an abrupt interruption as I heard my phone ringing. I reached out to it only to realize it was my alarm, signaling the end of my dream.

I sighed and got up realizing it was already 6 in the morning. As the beautiful morning dream slowly faded away I pondered the frequency with which I had experienced this very same dream since childhood.  Well, I had a trunk full of comics in my childhood days. It was an aluminium trunk originally meant for my Didi’s study books.  After my sister left for Delhi, I claimed it as my own.  I filled it with my own collection of comics, and I would often spend hours reading them in my room.

The comics in the trunk were more than just stories to me. They were a portal to another world, a world where anything was possible. They were a way to escape from the everyday world and lose myself in a world of adventure.

Anandamela, had a profound impact on me, especially its illustrators Bimal Das and Debashis Deb. Bimal Das’s illustrations, particularly the covers of Anandamela, made me question the boundary between art and reality. Debashis Deb, on the other hand, brought humor to all the stories with his vibrant cartoons. There was so much going on in each of his illustrations.

Few Anandamela covers by Bimal Das
Few of Anandamela covers, hand illustrated by Bimal Das
Illustrations of Debashis Deb
Illustrations of Debashis Deb

During my most recent visit to Kolkata, I learned about Beranor Diary, a notebook-sized compilation of illustrations from Deb’s travels around the world. The unique style that has evolved over time has left me yearning to acquire a copy for myself.

"Beronor Diary" a hand painted travelogue by Debashis Deb
“Beronor Diary” a hand painted travelogue by Debashis Deb

On the same trip to Kolkata, I met an amazing illustrator named Harsho Mohan Chattoraj. I have been following his unique illustration style for quite a while now. The first time I saw his work was in 2010 when I was working with a Media House. A book called “When Kulbhushan Met Stockli” had come for a book review there and I was immediately struck by the beauty and originality of the experiment in telling short graphic tales. The book had many stories, and one of them was written and illustrated by Harsho. His illustrations were so eye-catching that I was mesmerized by the details he had put into each frame. I was so impressed by his work that I did some research to find out more about him. I learned that he was a talented artist who had been working in the field for many years.

In my recent visit to Kolkata, I was overjoyed to finally meet the artist whose work I had admired for so many years. He was even more talented in person than I had imagined.

Harsho has created graphic novels that explore Indian history and culture, as well as Indian heroes, literature, and pop culture in both the Bengali and English comic book industries. I’ll come back to that later someday.

Few of harsho's illustrations
Few of Harsho’s illustrations
A few more of Harsho's illustrations
A few more of Harsho’s illustrations

Coming back to my previous article where I discussed the comics of Feluda and Professor Shonku. But besides that, there are two other famous Bengali fiction characters who have also been adapted into comics:

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s Byomkesh Bakshi entered into the comic verse in 2013 when artist Onkarnath Bhattacharya from Howrah began creating comics for Ananda Publishers. He has since then produced 6-7 comics on the sleuth.

Comics on Byomkesh Bakshi by Onkarnath Bhattacharya
Comics on Byomkesh Bakshi by Onkarnath Bhattacharya

Recently, Onkarnath has also released a comic book about his twin children, Chiku-Munu. The comic is based on a daily gossip column that Bhattacharya wrote about his children on Facebook. It was so popular that it was eventually turned into a full-fledged comic book. The series is currently being serialized in the monthly issues of Kishore Bharati.

A scene from Onkarnath's Chiku-Munu
A scene from Onkarnath’s Chiku-Munu

Another popular Bengali fiction character, TeniDa, created by Narayan Gangopadhyay, was adopted into comics by highly skilled artist Arijit Dutta Choudhury. Just like the original books, the TeniDa comics are full of action, humor, and suspense, and they have been enjoyed by readers of all ages. Arijit’s illustrations are full of detail and energy, and they perfectly bring the stories to life. The TeniDa comics are a classic example of Bengali comics at their best. They are funny, exciting, and full of heart.

Arijit has worked on several comics for Amar Chitra Katha, including the popular series “TeniDa” and “Feluda.” He has also recreated the new Chacha Chaudhary comics, the character originally created by Pran, the pioneer of the Hindi Comic Book Industry.

Teni Da and Chacha Chaudhary comics by Arijit Dutta Choudhury
Teni Da and Chacha Chaudhary comics by Arijit Dutta Choudhury
A few more illustrations of Arijit Dutta Choudhury
A few more illustrations of Arijit Dutta Choudhury

My love for mythology began with comics, specifically Amar Chitra Katha. I remember the Dasavatar digest that I had. I also had comics on Krishna, Durga, Tales of Shiva, Elephanta Caves, Ganesha, Ramayana, and individual comics on characters from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, such as Karna, Duryadhana, Tales of Arjun, Bhima, and Hanuman, Draupadi, Bhishma, Valmiki, Hanuman to the Rescue, Ravana, Sons of Rama, and a few more. I still have the Amar Chitra Katha version of the Gita.

A few years back I came across an interesting graphic novel called “Vyasa -The Begining” by Sibaji Bandyopadhyay the author and the illustrations were by Sankha Banerjee. I was captivated by the intricate detail of the work. Sankha’s s stunning artworks, full of cinematic effects, cuts, and intercuts, breathed life into the book. I felt the same thing when I got “Panchali – The Game of Dice”, the sequel to Vyasa. I feel the artwork of these two books has taken Indian comics to a different league altogether.

Sankha has worked on a number of comics as well. His work is known for its detailed illustrations and its engaging stories. One of Sankha’s most popular Bengali comic is “Kirat-Arjuna.” that was first published in Saradiya Ei Samay in 2015, and it has been praised for its beautiful illustrations and story telling. Sankha has also collaborated with Sibaji Bandyopadhyay on two projects – “Kano Juddho,” and “Nishan O Nished,” both being published by Ei Samay

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In addition to his own work, Sankha has also illustrated the famous “TunTunir Boi” by the legendary Upendra Kishore Roy Choudhury. This book is a classic of Bengali literature, and Sankha’s illustrations have helped to bring it to a new generation of readers.

Artworks from the book "Vyasa"
Artworks from the book “Vyasa” by Sankha Banerjee

scenes from "Kirat-Arjun" by Sankha Banerjee

Scenes from “Kirat-Arjun” by Sankha Banerjee

"Kano Juddho" by Sankha Banerjee in colaboration with author Sibaji
“Kano Juddho” by Sankha Banerjee in collaboration with Sibaji Bandyopadhyay

Whether in individual comics or newspapers and magazines, Indian illustrators are using their art to address a wider range of issues, including gender, caste, and religious discrimination.

New generation illustrators like the brilliant Uday Deb who has not been able to publish any comic book so far but his comic strip “Busai” which ran in for 3 years with “Ei Samay” and was welcomed wholeheartedly. His single-frame cartoons say a lot of things where even words fail. His cartoons are not just entertaining; they are also a powerful tool for social commentary. I have been following Uday Deb’s work on Facebook for a long time. I am a fan of his illustrations and cartoons, which are often witty and insightful.

"Busai" by Uday Deb

Busai comic strip by Uday
“Busai” comicstrip by Uday Deb for “Ei-Samai”
Few Cartoons by Uday Deb
Few Cartoons by Uday Deb

Uday is also the creator of “Wooden Doll Caricature,” a series of wooden figurines that are created in his own signature style. His wooden figurines are also beautifully crafted, and they capture the essence of his characters in a way that is both humorous and endearing.

Wooden Doll Caricatures by Uday
Wooden Doll Caricatures by Uday Deb

Sujog Bandyopadhyay is another illustrator and writer who is making waves in the Bengali comic book scene. In addition to his regular editorial illustrations for magazines like Anandamela, he has also created several popular comic series, including “Rappa Ray.”

Sujoy Bandyopadhyay, a Govt art college graduate, always wanted to tell his own story, revolving around the society he lives in. He wanted to create a character who was relatable to people from all walks of life, and who could also offer a unique perspective on the world.

That’s how Rappa Roy was created. Sujoy’s inspiration for Rappa Roy has always been Tintin.

Comics by Sujog Bandhopadhay
Comics by Sujog Bandhopadhay

With this, I come to the end of this article. However, the world of comic verse is vast and ever-expanding. There are countless stories, characters, and talented artists to explore. I hope this glimpse into the world of Bengali comics has piqued your interest and ignited your curiosity. Join me again in the near future as we continue our journey through the captivating realm of comic books, uncovering hidden gems and delving into the artistry that brings these stories to life. Until then, keep reading, keep dreaming, and stay tuned for more adventures in the world of comic verse.

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