Sunday, November 06, 2005

What do we have for this week? Its all about the Muthu/Lion's English editions!!!

Prakash Publishers(or should I say Muthu Comics' publishers) made another attempt to get established in the Indian English comics market in the 90s(First issue was released in Aug 92). They have tried their hand briefly with English comics in India in 70s with the publication of Steel Claw(Maayavi). However apart from the Tamil market they were not able to penetrate the other Indian language markets.I do not have the Steel Claw published in 70s with me, but the proof that there was indeed an English edition, is available in the back pages of the Muthu comics released in late 70s, which shows that the English edition is for sale at Rs 1.50. Take a look at one such ad, which appeared in issue number 94, dated 15 May 1979.

I believe this story is same as the Fleetway Super Library issue number : 1 (original Fleetway cover is shown below, story is titled "The Raiders of the FEAR"):

When I have met Mr Vijayan in Dec'04, he mentioned that, they have tried out in other South Indian languages as well. However due to distribution problems, they couldn't continue. I do not have any further info about this language editions, except this reference in wikipedia, which mentions that it was published in Malayalam by Regal Comics. If you have any more info about the Indian English editions and other language editions please let me know. Lets now get back to the original discussion!!!

In late 90s Prakash Publishers came out with the English edition of the Lion Comics, featuring the characters appeared in the Tamil edition of Lion Comics. It was started as a single story issue, following the popular Fleetway Super Library format of 132 pages. First issue featured Spider, under the title "Child's Play" in Aug'92.

This one was originally published in Fleetway Super Library issue number 26, in Jan 1968.

The same cover was used when it got published in Tamil under the title "Sirupillai Vilayattu", issue number 54.

However a different cover, similar to the cover of Fleetway Super Library number 2 was used for this Indian edition. Fleetway Super Library cover number 2 is shown below:

This issue has an ad for the forthcoming Steel Claw issue. Look at the similarities of this ad and the ad in the back cover of Fletway Super Library issue number 2.

This Steel Claw story never got published, however Steel Claw made a brief appearence in issue no:4.

Second issue featured Robot Archie, released in Sep'92, titled "Robot Archie inthe Island of Death".

Robot Archie was not published by Fleetway in the Super Library format, but there are some references about Robot Archie published in Lion Picture Library as a single story. Follow this LINK, if you want to know more about Lion Picture Library. The cover design used was same as the Lion Annual cover of 74. Take a look at the cover.

The story featured in this issue was already published in Tamil edition under the title "Marma Theevu"(Lion issue number : 13).Back cover of the Tamil edition is below:

This story was originally published in Lion Annual 73 in United Kingdom. Cover of the Lion Annual 73 and the first page of the story are below:

Third issue featured a Spider story, titled "The Chessman". This was originally published as Fleetway Super Library number 10 in May 1967 in UK. Take a look at the cover of the Indian edition and the Fleetway cover.

This story appeared in Lion under the title "Sathuranga Veriyan", issue number 12.

From issue number 4, publishers have moved to multiple(small) stories. And in my opinion this made the English edition stories less interesting, though many of these pages were in full color. Number of pages is also reduced. Fourth issue featured about 10 stories, including one Steel Claw story, which featured as "Vibathil Sikkiya Vimanam" in Muthu(issue number 117). This story also featured in the CC edition number 17. Cover scan of the issue 4 is below.

First page of the steel claw story from this issue is below:

If you want to have the complete story(in English) drop me a mail and I'll let you know, how to get the scan of the complete story.

Fifth and final issue featured about 10 stories. Many of the characters appeared in issue 4 and 5, also featured in the Mini Lion & Junior Lion published by Prakash Publishers. Some of them are, Billy Bunter(Gundan Billy in Tamil), Sporty(Vichu Kichu in Tamil), Zip Nolan(Nolanodu Thuppariyungal), Phil the Fluter(Kuzhaludhum Kannan), Tatty Mane(Parattai Thalai Raja). And it even had a story of Johnny - Thupparium Computer(originally known as Number 13 Marvel Street).

Sadly it ended with issue number 5 and with that, the hope of seeing Maayavi in single Indian English edition also died. With this short run, it will remain as a small chapter in the history of Muthu Comics.

Size of these issues were similar to the current size of Muthu/Lion.

You would have notied, that, I use lot of scans. I do this deliberately, because visuals have got a better way to convey a message strongly, than words and also it has the power to bring the nostaltic memories. And in any case, looking at the scans is better than what I blabber about them. Right?

Post your comments or send mail about this article.



Saleem said...

I was looking for this post all week. All the posts you have done so far on this blog are so interesting that every time I read them, they increase the curiosity about something else.

You mentioned Vibathil sikkiya vimanam, issue #117. I read this again recently in comics classics, and it is a very short story. Would you know what other stories were included in the original issue.

The fleetway issue cover you have posted resembles the cover scan of the very first muthu issue, the article and the image of which appear on your website. Was the original fleetway issue of Raiders of FEAR the same as "Irumbukkai Mayavi".

And finally, will you please post your name and some info so that we know who is the person that provides all this excellent information.

RAMG75 said...

Hi Muthu Fan

Once again an interesting article about the English version of the Lion Comics.

Infact i remember, seeing few titles still with the publishers as back issues, which we can buy now. Once i sent M.O for buying them, but i didn't get any response, instead i got some other books, not the English Digest.

Best thing i enjoy is the cover scans and at any cost, don't try to avoid scans in your article.

Take care

Rafiq Raja said...

Hi Muthufan,

Another wonderful article from the desk of yours. We all share a mutual knowledge about Lion publications, but your knowledge exceeds us all by able to link up to every single publishing from all around the work to support your article. That's very informative, and a chance to match up to the originals too.

Obviously, the English editions didn't gather much interest among Comic Fans, as I see. The very reason is that the market approach to sell the same. I still remember purchasing the 1st English title on the bookshop, at the time when I hardly use to understand a full length english book. I bought it for the pure passion I had over lion publications. But how many would have really made such an effort. The market focus of trying to sell an english edition through local bookshops also wasn't good, when it should have been made it to the multi-purpose bookstalls like HigginBothams, Landmark etc. That would have caught some attention of avid book readers.

I personally felt very sad when I saw the 4th issue turning out as a multi-digest one. That itself foretold the doom of the project, which happened with the 5th one. I still have all the 5 titles and always hope that Lion would bring back the classics in original format, this time through a paid subscription offer for the exclusive readers.

Muthu Fan's Comics Blog said...

Hi Saleem,

Following stories have appeared in issue number 117 of Muthu.

Page 2 to 31 - Vibathil Sikkiya Vimanam.
Page 32 to 59 - Rainbow Viduthi(Rip Kirby).
Page 60 to 64 - Vichy Kichu.

Yes, the first issue of Fleetway is same as the first issue of Muthu Comics, under the title "Irumbukkai Maayavi".