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Into The Hindi Comics Verse

Into The Hindi Comics Verse

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Hindi Comic Verse

We share a personal narrative about the author’s experience with Hindi comics, exploring various popular characters and their origins. It discusses the author’s introduction to few of the Hindi Comic characters, as well as their creators and influences.  The passage concludes with anticipation for future developments in the Hindi comic book industry.

For me, Hindi comics meant Chacha Choudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Fauladi Singh, and a few more from diamond comics, till an incident happened in 2000 when I used to work with One fine day, a colleague approached me…

2000. Office, New Delhi

Hey Sid, what are you reading? Comics, huh?

Me: Yeah, Asterix and the Golden Sickle.

Ass terix? Who’s that? Some kind of superhero?

Me: No, he’s a Gaul warrior. Have you never heard of Asterix and Obelix?

Gol(round) The round guy? Abe lix??? Ab yeh saala kaun hai?

Me: Well, Obelix fell into a cauldron of magic potion as a baby, so he’s super strong. Asterix is his best friend, and they have a lot of adventures together. Tu comics nahin padhta hai kya? What kind do you read?

I’ve read a lot of different ones, but my favorites are Super Commando Dhruv, Doga, and Nagraj.

Me: Ab yeh saale kaun hai? Never heard of them. Indian comics?

Yes, not only Indian but Hindi comics. These characters are from Raj Comics.

I made a mental note of the names of these characters that I had not heard of before and thanked my colleague Rupesh Kumar for introducing me to these new characters.

The following weekend, I purchased a few Hindi comics of Nagraj, Doga, and Super Commando Dhruv. All of these characters are from Raj Comics, which began its journey in 1984 but gained popularity with the introduction of Nagraj to the Hindi comic book world.

Super Commando Dhruv, Nagraj and Doga
Super Commando Dhruv, Nagraj and Doga

Nagraj was originally created by Raj Kumar Gupta with Parshuram Sharma as the writer and illustrated by Pratap Mullick. In the mid-1990s, the character was taken over by writer and illustrator Anupam Sinha, who is also the creator of another popular Hindi comic book action hero, Super Commando Dhruv. Super Commando Dhruv debuted in 1987 and quickly became extremely popular among children. I could see this popularity firsthand when I gave some Super Commando Dhruv comics to my friend Rupesh, who thanked me for bringing back his childhood.

Of the three comics I purchased, I enjoyed Doga the most. Even though Doga is inspired by Batman and Parmanu is similar to Firestorm, I appreciated the Indian adaptations of these characters.

Doga was created by Tarunkumar Wahi, Sanjay Gupta, and artist Manu for Raj Comics. He made his debut in the issue ‘Curfew’ in November 1992. Orphaned at a young age and subjected to cruelty and violence, Suraj adopted the alter-ego of Doga, a ruthless and feared vigilante. I enjoyed the plots of Doga comics, which are often quite Bollywood-style. Perhaps that’s why filmmaker Anurag Kashyap once announced that he would make a film about Doga with Kunal Kapoor playing the antagonist.

I also enjoyed several other superhero characters from Raj Comics, such as Parmanu, Tiranga, Bhediya, Inspector Steel, and Fighter Toads. Many of these characters are loosely inspired by DC and MCU characters. For example, Parmanu was inspired by Firestorm and Atom, Tiranga by Captain America, Inspector Steel by RoboCop, and Fighter Toads by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Overall, I really loved my journey to the Hindi Comic Universe.

Raj Comics
Parmanu, Tiranga, Inspector Steel, Bhediya and Fighter Toads by Raj Comics

My love for Indian comic books led me to search for my favorite childhood crime fighter, Bahadur. I would go to the Daryaganj Sunday secondhand book market every month in search of long-lost comic books. I found quite a few issues of Indrajal Comics there, including some Bahadur comics. One of the issues was even in Hindi. I had never seen a Hindi version of Bahadur comics before, as I had only read the English and Bengali versions in my childhood.

Bahadur comics in English, Hindi and Bengali
Bahadur comics in English, Hindi and Bengali

As the saying goes, “Cinema is the mirror of society,” and so are comics. Dacoity was at its worst in India in the 1970s, and the Bahadur comic series by Indrajal Comics focused heavily on dacoits. Bahadur was created by Aabid Surti in 1976, and after he moved on, the task was taken over by Jagjit Uppal. The comic was illustrated by Govind Brahmania and later by his son, B Pramod.

I was thrilled to find these old Bahadur comics because they are a reminder of my childhood. I remember my Baba reading them out to me, and I would spend hours poring over the lovely illustrations, wondering who the creators were behind them.

In fact, Bahadur was created 10 years before Nagraj and 6 years before Bahadur, in 1971, an artist/cartoonist inspired by Chanakya and the elders in every village who use their life experiences to help and solve problems created the most lovable character in the Hindi comic book world – Chacha Chaudhary.

Chacha Chaudhary
Chacha Chaudhary
Pran Kumar Sharma, the creator of Chacha Chaudhary
Pran Kumar Sharma, the creator of ‘Chacha Chaudhary’

Pran Kumar Sharma or Pran not only created Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu but also created other characters like ShrimatijiPinkiBilloo, Raman, and Channi Chachi. Pran began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper Milap with the comic strip Daabu. At the time, Indian comics were largely based on reprints of Western comics like The Phantom and Superman. However, Pran’s work was different. He created characters that were relatable to Indian audiences and that reflected Indian culture.

Maurice Horn, a French-American comics historian, author, and editor, notes in The World Encyclopedia of Comics that Pran has been given the title of “Walt Disney of India.” We’ll talk more about the genius of Pran some other time.

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Lotpot, a bilingual comic magazine that was first published in 1969, introduced not only Chacha Chaudhary but also another famous Hindi comic duo, Motu Patlu. The characters were based on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and they became extremely popular when they were adapted into a cartoon show for Nickelodeon in 2012. My son Agastya was completely hooked on the show, but when I got him the comic books, he didn’t enjoy them as much.

Hindi Comics Motu Patlu in Lotpot Comic magazine
Hindi Comics Motu Patlu in Lotpot Comic magazine

In addition to Motu Patlu, Lotpot also featured many other popular comics, such as Sheikh Chilli & Friendz, Mahabali Vishal, Natkhat Neetu, and Master Uncle. There are two other popular Hindi comics that are similar to Lotpot: Madhu Muskan and Champak. I used to buy the English version of Champak when I was a child. As usual, I enjoyed the comics part of it.

Hindi Comics Magazines - Champak and Madhu Muskan
Hindi Comics Magazines – Champak and Madhu Muskan

Long before Nagraj or Super Commando Dhruv, Fauladi Singh was a superhero who appeared in the Hindi comics world. He first appeared in 1978 with Diamond Comics and was ahead of his time in terms of both concept and execution. The comics were illustrated by Baldev Singh Sandhu, Anupam Sinha, and Jugal Kishore.

Fauladi Singh Comics by Diamond Comics
Fauladi Singh by Diamond Comics

After reading so many Hindi comics, I am fascinated by the names of the superheroes. Doga, Parmanu, Fauladi Singh, Tiranga—these names are simply amazing! They are catchy, memorable, and they perfectly capture the essence of the characters they represent.

I am grateful to the comic book makers for bringing these characters to us and letting us enter into their universe… Comic Verse! The Hindi comic book industry has a rich history, and it is exciting to see that it is still going strong today. I am looking forward to seeing what new and innovative superheroes are created in the future.

The name “comic verse” is a perfect fit for this series, as there are so many comic universes out there. Who knows, maybe these universes are actually real and exist somewhere out there. And there are still so many new universes to explore. See you soon.

To read the previous parts of the Comic Verse series :


Exploring The Comic Verse


Into The Comic Verse

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