Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kazhugu Malai Kottai!!!

The one and only Modesty Blaise story to appear in Muthu Comics was released in 1975(?). With the Fleetway stories featuring Steel Claw(Maayavi), Barracuda(Lawrence & David) and Johnny Nero were fast running out, Muthu turned its attention to strip stories from US/UK in 1974/75. First to appear from this list was Rip Kirby in issue number 28(titled Pudhayal Vettai) and after a brief break, next non-fleetway hero(ine) was introduced. It was Modesty Blaise in Kazhugu Malai Kottai, issue number 32.

Fantastic cover design and very imaginative title. I can't imagine what would have been the reaction from the fans, if the title was something like "Naraka Manithargal", which would have been the nearest translation I can imagine of the original title "The Hell Makers". (Nalla kaalam ennidam peyar vaikka ketkavillai:-)). Take a look at the cover of this landmark issue.



The story-line goes like this. Willie Garvin goes missing and Modesty receives a blackmail note with the information that Garvin will be killed, if she does not help them with their espionage activities. In a rage of anger, Modesty kills the messenger and decides to stage a road accident to cover the messenger's death. After that, she sets out to secure the release of Garvin, who is kept under the influence of drugs. She manages to penetrate the hide out, which is on top of a steep, unapproachable hill. Though she kills all the enemies, the problem was far from over. Willie Garvin, under the influence of drugs was unable to recognise Modesty and tries to kill her. Modesty decides that only a shock treatment will cure him from the drug effect and stages another drama with the help of a war veteran called Fletcher, who accompanies her to the hill top, though he initially refused to go with her, as he hates all women. She takes sedatives and fakes bloody injury. She asks Fletcher to tell Garvin that she was hurt during the fight and needs medical attention immediately. He tells Garvin that the only way to reach the bottom was by the same rope Modesty used to climb up. Unconscious Modesty was tied to the back of Garvin and the climb down begins. Garvin becomes unconscious every now and then during the climb down. He loses grip with reality due to the drug effects. Slowly he manages to do the impossible task of bringing Modesty down to the plains with the help of Fletcher. By the time he comes down to the hill bottom, he is completely cured from the drug effects. Very gripping story. And superbly illustrated by Jim Holdaway.

Even the domesticated eagles of Fletcher in the story play a very significant part. I used to imagine how nice it would be, if i had two eagles like that. Once i realised it was difficult to catch and train eagles, for many days i seriously thought i'll atleast catch a crow and train it to do something like that. Ippothu ninaithal siripputhaan varukirathu. Is it just a coincidence that I'm now living in a country where Falconry is a popular sport?

As mentioned above, the original name of this story was "The Hell Makers". This was created in 1969. The strip story has appeared in the London newspaper "The Evening Stadard" between 24.03.69 and 16.08.69. See the English pages 1, 16 and 32(sorry, no scan of Tamil pages).








This was reprinted in the 80s by Muthu again, with a different cover. See the reprint covers. Sorry about the quality of the cover.



Though this story was printed by many publishers, for those who want to buy this book(in English, of course), Amazon is the best source now. Take a look at the cover of the latest editions from Amazon.



Follow the URL below, if you want to buy this issue.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1840238658/104-8818818-8576764?v=glance&n=283155

Eventhough the drug culture was relatively unknown in India during 70s, I guess the response for this issue was fantastic. Many of the old timers, with whom I have spoken to, very fondly remember this issue. Mr Haja Ismail, Saudi Arabia told me that this is one of the favorite stories of his mother(who may be in her 60s now). It seems, even now she re-reads this book, time permitting.

See what Mr Vijayan has to say about this issue in his first part of the "Singaththin Siruvayadhil".



What surprised me was, why the publishers have not followed up with any more Modesty stories after this issue in Muthu. Only with the entry of Lion Comics in 1984(after a gap of almost 10 years), Modesty has started appearing in Tamil again. Any idea, whether this particular story was published in Rani Comics?

Sorry for the huge gap guys. And also sorry for the lack of scans from the Tamil issues. I've just moved to Middle East(again!), on employment. This place is not so well connected by the modern means known to mankind, like phone and internet. Though they are available, they are expensive. I'm just settling down here.

And one request guys(and gals, if any). Please do let me know what you think about this posting and this blog as a whole. Depending on your feedback I'll decide whether to continue with more articles or kill this blog. It is really dishearening to see that not many have bothered to post any comment(though the page statistics say the number of hits is about 35 per week), though it is now possible to post comments anonymously. It typically requires about ten to twelve hours(over a month) to make one post possible, and when I don't see encouraging feedback, I really wonder whether it makes sense to anyone, or I am just blabbering something which is of no interest to anyone? You can hope to see more postings soon, if I get encouraging replies for this post.

Please post your comments by clicking on the "Comments" link below my signature here or through mail to muthufan@yahoo.com.

Thats all for now guys. See you later.

Regards,
Muthufan

12 comments:

srini said...

hi,
i regularly visit your site and read the articles. quit interesting.
i personally having a site dedicated to muthu comics. and i already gave a link for your site in my page....
if u come to http://lioncomics.tripod.com and click on the link page you can see your site is mentioned over there. actually u r doing a great job.... please keep posting.......
35 hits for a week says that people are reading your site..howcome without interest they visits ur page regularly.....if u post atleast once in a week people will come frequently.......the sad thing is i visit regularly and see the blog is not updated at all. so i return back with out reading.......

Saleem said...

Muthufan,

"Kazhugu Malai Kottai" was a gem of a comics book, and thanks for this wonderful article.

I would like to reiterate two things that I have said before. Your posts are so amazing and so well researched that this collection of your write ups deserves a ph.d in literature.

Second, there are only a few dozen comics fans visiting even the lion comics site, this I know from the visitors count on the first page. It is sad that all the good work that you do is not visible to most of the fans.

I will tell you how your work has helped me. I have been searching for Muthu comics issue #5, flight 731 for years. When I first came to know of lion comics website in 2003, the comics classics reprint of that book had already come out and sold out. I tried through different avenues to get some of this old books. I visited India twice since 2003, and I went to many old book stalls and spent hours searching, but none of them even had comics classics reprint, let alone any old comics.

Finally, a comics fan from Bombay offered to sell some of the old issues. But that deal did not go through. Subsequently another collector contacted me and offered the original Flight 731 for Rs 10,000. He seemed to be very decent and offered to let me or my friend inspect the book before purchase. But he did not accept my offer for Rs. 3000 for just that one book.

Finally after seeing your article on the english versions of muthu issues, I started looking at ebay. Using your list of Muthu/Fleetway cross reference, I have so far been able to buy a dozen of the rare issues, and the ones I have received are in very good condition.

The climax of my quest came day before yesterday when I bought on ebay the fleetway original of flight 731 for five and a half pounds. It will arrive next week, and I have to thank you for this.

Your articles may be known only to a lucky few people, but those who read it know that your blog is wonderful is one of a kind.

Anonymous said...

Dear Muthufan

I am a regular reader of your postings. Also I am visiting daily and checking for your posting in your blog. You are doing a wonderful job. I really like your postings. Keep it up.

I am sorry for not commenting your postings. I will mail or comment you in future.

Thanks and regards,
Sankar C.
asc_shankar@yahoo.com

Basant Nanda said...

Modesty appeared in the "Madras Mail" evening newspaper in the 70's after the James Bond strips were completed. "Brethren of Blaise" was the first strip to appear in this series.

Muthu had published Kazhugu malai kottai a few years before the advent of Modesty in the Mail paper though...

By the way, our spammer friend seems to have struck this page as well with his phentermine spam messages. To the spammer: What kind of pleasure can you possible gain by doing this "service" to us poor comic fans? Haven't you had enough "fun" locking up our lioncomics.com forum already?

Anonymous said...

Since there is no way to contact other Lion readers via the lion forum due to the spamming idiot, I am posting this here:

Maybe we can use an alternate forum to communicate and exchange views?

Or if possible someone should contact Vijayan and tell him to close the lion forum for new posts and vijayan alone should post there with his new announcements (if any).

BN_USA said...

Oh, by the way, the above anonymous post regarding the spam problem in the lion forum is mine. I forgot to click on "Other" rather than "Anonymous".

Suresh said...

Hi Muthufan,

Your Blog is the only good thing about comics now. Dont stop your postings. When ever I visit this and read It takes me my childhood days.

Keep posing and keep the good work.

Yours
Suresh

Anonymous said...

Dear MF,
Your blog is simply amazing!Some ppl don't know how to leave comments,that's all but everyone likes ur blog!Keep it up.
Shaw.

Anonymous said...

finally i decided to sell this comics. Kazhugu Malai Kottai!!!
wishers can contact me at +919886683623

siva said...

Your postings are really interesting. Grate job for tamil comics world.
But we have to expand our activities other than 'Enjoying old memories'.
Espicially no one is taking care of expanding the readers circle.
There should be some activities planned for accuring young readers.
I requested to Mr. Muthufan to consider this issue. sivakumar2827@yahoo.co.in

siva said...

Your postings are really interesting. Grate job for tamil comics world.
But we have to expand our activities other than 'Enjoying old memories'.
Espicially no one is taking care of expanding the readers circle.
There should be some activities planned for accuring young readers.
I requested to Mr. Muthufan to consider this issue.

vinod said...

wow super please continue your job its very exciting to all of our family we have more collections in our house library will try to up load if possible vinod