Saturday, October 29, 2005


This day will be remembered not only as Deepavali day, but also for the launch of a new comics based weekly magazine in Tamil. Muthu Comics Vaaramalar(MCV)!!! Publishing Editor of this magazine was Mr Mullai Thangarasan!!!

MCV was different in many ways. It had everything that a kid can ask for in a children's magazine. It had both the comics section & text stories section. In comics also there were varieties. Science thriller in the form of Maayavi story, fun in the form Athi Methai Appu & Kapish, Action stories in the form of Vanaraja and Inspector Garuda. And half page fun like Ramu & Somu as well. In the text section also there is no dearth for variety. There was a mayajaala thodar kathai, and lot of one page/half page and two page neethi kathaigal. Even a half page puzzles section was there. It is like eating full virudhu, starting from Appetizer and ending with Ice Cream. Even question and answer section was later included. And the best part was, 8 pages were in colour and the size is A4. All this for just 60 paise and 16 pages per issue. See the hotline from the editor in the first issue.

All the text stories were locally created. And most of the comic stories were also locally created. Notable exception was Maayavi story, which was created overseas. Later, another overseas creation, Bruce Lee also joined the party. Inspector Garuda, Kapish, Ramu & Somu were popular creations from North India(from Tinkle magazine). And Athi Methai Appu was locally created in Tamil Nadu, with fantastic art work from Mr Chellam. I'm not sure who wrote the stories??? See the first ever Athi Methai Appu story from the first issue of MCV.

Tail piece, Chellam was the artist for the much popular Jam, Jim & Jack story in Ratnabala as well, after Mr Vivek moved out of this project.

MCV remained as my favorite publication from the Muthu group(atleast till the launch of Lion Comics). It had just everything. You name it, we have it sort of magazine. And to top it all, it was a weekly, so you don't have to wait too long to get the next issue. The only complaint I had about MCV was the use of Color and B&W for the Maayavi story. In every issue, one page of the story was is color and the next page was in B&W. See the Maayavi story from the first issue below.

I still vividly remember the days when I used to visit the book shop(Elango Book Stall in Square Market, Mettur Dam), almost every day to look for the ever elusive new issue. To get the 21 issues from the stands, I would have visited the book shop atleast for 300 times. Part of childhood fun!!! Issue number 2 was not at all available for a very long time as there was a competition based on this issue. In fact I have read the issue number 2, almost after the publication was stopped in 1984. That was much after the release of issue 22. The competition was to find the three mistakes made in issue 2. Prize amount was Rs 100.

As you can guess, there was a huse response for this competition. 175 readers have given the correct answer, more than what the publishers expected. Instead of balloting, prize amount was increased to Rs 350 and Rs 2 was given to each one!!! A big amount in those days!!!

I have managed to collect all the 22 issues by the end of 1984. Some time in 1985, I have given all the books, in exchange for issue number 94(Kaanaamal Pona Vaarisugal featuring Rip Kirby) from Muthu. I was cursing myself for a long time, for doing this kind of stupid exchange as I have realised that it was very difficult to get the MCV issues due to its odd size. When I have got all the 22 issues in my hand few weeks back, which was bought through a friend of mine, I was on top of the world. The condition was also immaculate. It is very difficult to see the issues in this quality now-a-days.

MCV was banking on the popularity of Maayavi for its success. Maayavi story was more than what Tex Willer is for lion and what Captain Tiger is for Muthu, atleast for the first few issues, till it got stabilised.

Bruce Lee story started appearing from issue 10, after much fanfare. See the Ad for this story in the page 16, of issues 8 and 9, which, till then was reserved for the second hero of MCV, Athi Methai Appu. Shifting him to the inner pages was like changing the Metti Oli timing from prime time to some obscure time like 3 PM. After these two issues, Appu was moved back to the prime page 16. My friends circle felt very angry about shifting Appu to the inner pages.

Not sure what was the response for Bruce Lee story, personally I did not like it much. See the scan of the first page from the Bruce Lee story.

Anyway, as with other publications from Muthu group, this one also got into the "Always Late" mode. There was a huge gap between issue 19 and 20. Issue 19 was published on 22.05.1983 and 20 was published on 29.01.1984, a gap of more than seven months. They have barely managed to complete the Maayavi story in issue number 21 dated 05.02.1984. Ultimately this magazine was stopped with issue number 22, dated 19.02.1984. Had it been published weekly, it would have been 67 issues, from 14.11.1982 to 19.02.1984. When it was closed, many stories were left unfinished. Maayavikkor Maayavi was later published in Muthu(issue 152). Scans of both, from issue 22 and Muthu 152 (cover & first page) are below:

Other stories left hanging were, Vana Raja, Bruce Lee and Inspector Garuda. I'm not sure whether these stories were later completed in some other publication??? One text thodar Thanga Mayil Dhevathai was completed in issue 22.

I really do not know why it was stopped. Was it because they couldn't cope up with the weekly schedule(in that case, they should have converted this to a fortnightly or monthly!!!) or lack of response from readers(I doubt it!!!) or is it something else. I'm not sure whether this stoppage has got anything to do with the departure of Mr Mullai Thangarasan. The last issue was dated 19.02.1984 and Mr Mullai Thangarasan started the short lived Mehta comics in May 1984 as a direct competition for Muthu comics. That means, he should have started working on Mehta comics from early 84, immediately after leaving Muthu. Just a coincidence or something to do with Vaaramalar's closure??? Just my speculation!!! See below, what Mr Vijayan has to say about the difficulty he has faced with the publication of the first issue of Lion Comics in 1984, because of Mr Mullai Thangarasan. Not very charitable!!!!

When I have realised that MCV was stopped once for all, I felt very sad. It was like losing your long time friend. However Lion comics compensated for the loss of MCV soon!!! More about Lion Comics later!!!

Thanks for the comments about my previous posting. If you want anything, please drop a mail or post your comments!!!

Saleem: I do have atleast the cover scans of the issues you have mentioned. Don't worry, they will all get featured in this blog, sometime soon. My next posting will cover your question about English edition of Maayavi.

Rafiq: Please let me know, how I can help you to get going with your web site.

BN: Yes, "The Phantom Captain" is "Thisai Mariya Kappalgal". "Kollaikkara Pisasu" Was "The phantom Pirate". Sorry for the goof-up!!!

Next posting will feature about the English language publications from the Muthu Group. If you want to see any other topic, please let me know!!!

Stay tuned!!!



Saleem said...

I think the difficulty of finding Muthu comics varamalar issues now is as high as finding the original "Volai"s that "Tholkaappiyam" was written on. So this latest post from you is a sheer joy.

I have a question regarding these issues. I do not recall seeing any announcements in Muthu comics itself about the vaara malars. Also the petty shops that I used to buy Muthu comics from never sold these vaara malars. This post is the first place that I have seen them. So this was really a pleasant surprise. The question I have is whether Mr. Mullai Thangarasan was still with Muthu comics at the time the vaara malars were started, or was he using the name to launch his magazine. My recollection is that his name stopped appearing on Muthu comics covers some where around 1976 or so. By the way, do you know more about him.

RAMG75 said...

Muthu Fan

This is another great stuff from you. As i was very young that time when Muthu varamalar was released, i partially remember seeing some of the issues. Appu, Kabish, Garuda are well known characters to me.

I remember one muthu varamalar in which the first page was colorful. It was a Mayavi story ( i guess), inthat some insects try to invade the land. Those insects were robots i guess. I am not sure which story that was. But i remember this page of the varamalar.

My request was Mini Lion, Junior Lion issues. As these two comics were not carried for very long time, i hope it wouldn't take much time for you to write about these 2 comics books. The size and color of these 2 books made them remember for very long time.

Btw, is it possible for you to scan all the varamalar and made it as a downloadable in this blog (I am not sure about the copy right and other issues in doing so. Anyway if no legal problems, would expect this from you).

Continue your great work !!! Lot of Fans are waiting for your work in this blog.

Take care

Muthu Fan's Comics Blog said...

dear ramg75,

thanks for your comments!!!

mini lion and junior lion comics will soon come to this page. yes, i do agree. junior lion with 8 issues and mini lion with 40 issues(out of which 4 issues are common to both) is relatively easy to scan and upload.

by the way, one maayavi story was running for 21 weeks out of 22 weeks. in issue 22 a new story was started, but then it was published as a separate muthu issue. and the plot you remember is correct.

scanning and posting the issues are not possible, because i do not have the copyright for it. sorry!!!


Anonymous said...

Once again a timeless masterpiece of a posting.Only people like you keep on kindling the passion for our comics.Pls keep the good job!
Ahmed Shaw.

rEdshiFt said...

Hi there, keep up the good work :)

i've been a longtime fan of lion/muthu

Recently i created a Frappr map where all lion/muthu fans can mark their location on a world map

Do check it out and mark yourselves

chanakyan said...

I am really happy to find someone who still remembers the Muthu Vaara Malar. When it was introduced, i think it was 75 paise per issue. The same old Kapish, Garuda and all were the heroes. But it was stopped abrubtly. Corrigon, and Rib Kerby were the favorite heroes in those days for Muthu comics. Thank you for your blog. Keep posting.

Ganapathy Subramaniam said...

Wonderful Post !!!
Artist Chellam, Muthu comics weekly, bravo!! for all this recollection. you are a lucky person to have the MCV copies.

It was great time indeed waiting "forever" for the weekly. We used to do the same ..running to the magazine shop every day until the next release.

This Jam Jim what a series by the great Chellam! Chellam's art work is unique and original. threse is a simplistic charm in his art much like Herge's if not better. wonder where abouts of this great artist now?

karpaga vinayaga said...

I am very much surprised to see that you have all the collections.can you send me a scan copy of all these books which i lost in my childhood days .....but now i am interested to read them but i dont have them .can you please send .....

karpaga vinayaga said...

I am very much surprised to see that you have all the collections.can you send me a scan copy of all these books which i lost in my childhood days .....but now i am interested to read them but i dont have them .can you please send .....