As I logged on to my Amar Chitra Katha Comics app on my android smartphone, and started browsing through the mammoth catalogue of over 300 classic titles, it dawned upon me that this series has survived around half a century of Comic book modernization.
The series put its focus on the rich and varied history of India, dating back thousands of years in cases of epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. The issues used to be published on a monthly basis and contained a total of 32 pages. But there also were exceptions when it came to content. Large stories like the Mahabharata spanned over 3 huge hard bound volumes containing more than 1300 pages.
In the age when the Indian comics industry was clouded with foreign superhero comics with characters like Phantom, Mandrake and Flash Gordon gracing the pages of Indrajal Comics, this effort by Anant Pai was something completely different and never tried before.
It didn’t take long for the comics to become popular among the masses and this popularity made sure that the publication didn’t cease even once over all those years. The demand for these comics was such that over the course of those initial two decades, Amar Chitra Katha back issues were being reprinted on a continuous basis.
Our very own Anant Pai, launched this series way back in 1967 after an incident, where he saw children easily answering questions on Greek mythology whereas completely unaware of questions on Indian mythology. This happened on a TV show and was the sole reason behind the birth of Amar Chitra Katha.
As the Indian comics industry flourished with the beginning of the glorious 90’s, various other publications started dominating the market. The most popular ones among them were Raj Comics, Manoj Comics and Diamond Comics. Today, around 2 decades later, some of these publications are defunct, or on their last legs. What has remained constant throughout this period is the Amar Chitra Katha series. Its demand never stopped and even today, parents gift Amar Chitra Katha to their children as it brilliantly depicts the glory days of the Indian culture.
Back in 2015, I was travelling via flight and sitting beside me were a dad-son pair. The son was not more than 6 years and was fluently talking in English with his father. The thing that stuck was the colorful Amar Chitra Katha he was holding. He read it throughout the duration of the flight and it made me smile, knowing that Amar Chitra Katha will never lose its value, no matter the generation.