Friday, September 08, 2006

Virus-X!!!

In the recent times there was an increased interest in the Philip Corrigan stories. Many of our old fans have requested for a Corrigan special. And all of them mentioned Virus-X as their most wanted Philip Corrigan story, along with Madalaya Marmam. So I thought it would be appropriate to take up this issue for my review.

After completing the publication of Fleetway issues from UK, starring Maayavi, Lawrence & David and Johnny Nero, the publishers have turned their attention to US for more adventure strips.Most of the heroes who have appeared during this time from the other side of Atlantic were from the well known publishers, King Features Syndicate. First to appear from the non-fleetway was Rip Kirby(Issue 28 - Pudhayal Vettai), followed by Modesty Blaise(Kazhuku Malai Kottai), Wing Commander George(38 - Otran Vellai Nari), Buz Sawyer (39 - Kurangu Thediya Kollayar Pudhayal). Next one in this series was Philip Corrigan. His first appearance was in issue number 45(Madalaya Marmam). The next issue was also a Philip Corrigan issue. And that's Virus-X, released in dated Jan 76, issue number 46.

See what Mr Vijayan has to say about this landmark issue in his column in the Muthu issue 300, which featured his top 10 stories.



Originally known as Secret Agent X-9, Philip Corrigan was created in 1934 by Dashiell Hammet and drawn by Alex Raymond(Same artist who handled Rip Kirby). Initially Corrigan did not even have a name or the agency, he was simply known as X-9. In the early stories he was called as "Dexter" on few occasions. Only after few years he was assigned to FBI and was given a full name. Though the strip was around many years, the golden period of the strip was definitely between 1968 and 1980, when Al Williamson handled the art work. After Williamson's departure, George Evans has taken over the art work. Most of the popular stories that have appeared in Muthu were drawn by Al Williamson. For those of you familiar with Al Willamson's style of art work, I strongly recommend you to buy Star Wars series drawn by Williamson. You'll find striking resemblance between Corrigan stories and Star Wars stories. In fact, if you compare Muthu issue number 102, Parakkum Thattu Marmam(Philip Corrigan story drawn by Williamson) with Rebel Storm (Star Wars), it will look as if he has used the same art work for both the strips.

Coming back to Virus-X, the story was superb thriller. Though you would have seen many movies with this theme, this one was quite something in print form.A disgruntled employee from an American reserach facility, Dr Reeper steals the glass vial contaning Virus-X, which is a prototype of a deadly chemical which can remain in the air for 12 hours and can kill anyone who inhales the contaminated air. The Virus in the glass vial can effectively kill all the people of any big modern city in no time. Corrigan's job was to find who has stolen the vial and to retrive it immediately before it reaches the wrong hands. Unfortunately for Corrigan it reaches the wrong hands even before he could come near it. It reaches the leader of a bike gang known as "Viking". He wants to take over the Borderville town, from where he was chased out by the residents and sheriff. Can Corrigan reach there in time to save the town? Well, I do not want to tell the whole story here, as there is a possibility that this story may appear in the proposed Corrigan special.

Take alook at the cover of this fantastic issue.



And few pages from inside the story.







And here is the credits page.




And the back cover which has the calender for year 1976 with the pciture of K Kamaraj, former CM of Tamil Nadu.



Big thanks to ERB, Chennai for helping me out with the cover scan and sample page scans.

Additional Info 1 : I have missed out what Mr Vijayan has said about Kazhuku Malai Kottai in my previous posting. Read what he has said about KMK, in his column in the Muthu issue 300, which featured his top 10 stories. As the page 3 of this article is already posted in this blog above, I'm posting the remaining two pages of his article titled "Ninaivil Nindravai".






Additional Info 2 : (For those who have missed out the comments section))In my Jan'06 posting about Aaviyin Geetham I haven't mentioned about the reprint of this story in Muthu. It was reprinted in issue number 176, Summer Special(Year 1990/91/92?). Thank you Dr Sathish, Kovai for this info.

As usual, post your comments using the comments link below my signature or mail me
"muthufan@yahoo.com"

Thats all for now guys!!!

Regards,
Muthufan

16 comments:

d.sathish said...

hi,

read ur wonderful article on virus-x. great post as usual once again. i just finished sending u a very long e-mail about the changing tastes of our comic readers. in that i had requested u 2 post something on comic-strip heroes.since i mailed u b4 seeing this, my prayer has been answered even b4 u heard it. that's divine intervention, & i'm not a religious person by any means. write something on rip kirby next. it's a request.

got hold of this month's lion & cc. both the cc covers r terrific. but the interior printing leaves a lot 2 b desired.choo-mandrakali looks great in color. but will our readers like it? see my mail 4 more on changing tastes of our readers.

recently got hold of kaliman manidhargal. total kadhula poo story. but a mayavi is a mayavi always.

i've another request. write a comparison between saiththaan siruvargal & recently reprinted mega dream spl. story. i know 4 a fact that the pictures used 4 the earlier part of the story was recycled from thihil#3 & pachchai vaanam marmam of muthu besides other mayavi stories. but since i don't have the older issue, i'm unable 2 say more.

also there was a mayavi rip-off called minnal mayavi who appeared in mathi comics edited by mullai thangarasan. if u don't know abt it i'll send some scans in my next mail

keep up the good work.

regards

d.sathish

Saleem said...

I am sure this article will please many many fans who have been eagerly waiting for a write up on corrigan issues.

The cover scans are remarkable. Thanks to you, Mr. ERB and Dr. Sathish.

When I was a teenager reading these comic books, I always wondered if there were any political undertones to the title of Muthu comics issue #9 (It starts with KolaiKara.....), as well as the the name of the organization in CID Lawrence stories Aa.Ko.Thee.Ka which rhymes somewhat with the party led by a famous former actor and actress. Seeing the picture of Honorable. Kamaraj on the back cover of this 30 year old issue makes me think that may be those who ran Sekar press, and Muthu fine arts in those days supported what used to be called the syndicate or the old congress.

Just something that I thought was interesting.

Saleem said...

Just continuing with my previous message, I think Honorable Kamaraj's picture appeared as a mark of respect after his passing.

BN (USA) said...

The Muthu issue #9 was Kolaikara kalaignan. It was a political thriller alright, but the politics was international, dealing with the WWII politics.

Regarding A.Ko.Thee. Ka many other people have expressed the same view in other forums that the name seems to mimic our dravida kazhagams of TN. Even Mayavi stories had a Ka. Ko. Ka Kazhagam (kadathal Kolai Kalavu Kazhagam)....

This month's Lion was the funniest Lucky Luke I have read since that story about that bridge (Forgot the title). However the coloring scheme is not that great. Wherever they use the dark navy blue color, the dark color obscures all the artwork. Why cant Muthu/Lion adopt the Indrajal method of coloring, which was always very neat and beautiful?

BN (USA) said...

I have a comment about this month's CC issue : Thanga Viral Marmam

I had the pleasure of reading the original Fleetway issue of TVM in English. The style of writing in the English issue was very bland and boring and made the story itself a bit unappealing at times, whereas the Tamil translation was spicy and racy and made scintillating reading. There is some kind of magic in the prose written by the Muthu translator that makes the reading thrilling and pleasurable. Muthu-vai padikkayil kaarasaaramaana virundhu saappitta oru unarvu, yEno Aangilathil athey kadhaiyai padikkaiyil varuvadhillai!

The translation that tops even Muthu's translation was the tamil serialization of the Phantom sundays in Kumudam weekly magazine in the 60's. That translation was simply amazing. Hmmm....good old days...

Saleem said...

BN,

I was just mentioning some thoughts I had when I originally read these books in the 70s.

I was talking about the political undertones about the title, not the story.

I was 9 years old when Muthu comics first came out, and this was about the time the famous actor had started his own party. I remember there were some heated arguments that older people were having regarding the title of this book near the petty shops that sold them.

I was a teenager of about 13 or 14 when virus X came out and when I looked at the back cover, I thought oh, the publishers lean towards the congress. That party also splintered in the 70's.

These thoughts came back to my mind as I read Muthufan's article. My post was more about my own thoughts than about anything else.

d.sathish said...

hi all of u,

just a few quips on translation of muthu/lion.

compare any modesty or corrigan or even cisco kid with the counterparts in rani, malaimathi comics or even the lion english edition digests of sadhuranga veriyan or sirupillai vilaiyaattu.

i think the use of "avar" for "him" in our comics lends a touch of dignity.

compare these issues 4 translational differences.

aaviyin geedham (muthu) - pei manidhan (rani)

marma kottai (lion)- marma kottai
(rani)
marana endhiram(lion diwali malar'86) _ pen cid (rani)

Kaanagathil kannamoochi (lion) - vairakkan paambu (rani)

karkala vettai(lion) - Pudhaiyal vettai (rani)

pani theevin dhevadaigal (muthu) - maaya vimanam (meghala)

irandavadhu vairakkal engae (muthu) - engae andha vairam (meghala)

pinam kaatha pudhaiyal (lion) - black mail (meghala)

any raththa padalam with its english counterpart

i might've missed out on some issues, made a mistake (rarely), but this list isn't exhaustive & all of u readers can feel free 2 add 2 this list.

bye 4 now

d.sathish

d.sathish said...

to saleem,

when mgr died our comics paid tribute 2 him by printing an obituary page. hmmm...???!!!

d.sathish

Saleem said...

Dr. Sathish,

It was merely my opinion that prior to Mr. Vijayan, whoever was managing Sekar press and Muthu fine arts probably liked the congress party. Moreover, I had heard discussions in 1972 or 73 when the issue # 9 was released that Kolaikara Komali would have been a neutral title and that the actual title was kind of political. Mr. Vijayan most probably is non political. But of course any publication will have to come up with a tribute to someone of the stature of MGR who passed away in late 1987 when Mr. Vijayan would have been in charge.

Saleem said...

My intention was to narrate an anecdote from 1972, something interesting that I heard at that time.

Anyway, from the list comparing Muthu comics titles and other publications, the quality of translation is apparent.

Also, how wonderful are titles like Panitheevin dhevathaigal, and pillisooniyama pithalaattama and poovilangu. Is there any better way or even a romantic way to describe marriage than a poovilangu. I wish muthufan can do an article on that simple tale of phantom's wedding.

Muthu Fan's Comics Blog said...

Sathish:

1. Would love to know more about the off-shoots of Maayavi. I have read few of them. I think 4 issues were published by Mathi Comics. Can you write a one page article about it with cover scans. I can post it here. I have one book with me(not here with me anyway) titled "Viral Manitharkal" from Mathi Comics.
2. Yes, I'll be writing about all classic characters that appeared in Muthu, but it is not going to be anytime soon. I'm planning to write about each character with the stories in which they have appeared in Muthu/Lion.
3. Saithan Siruvarkal : I have the same problem as you. I have MDS issue, thihil 3 and pachchai vaanam marmam and I have even managed to track and buy the original english issue. But till date couldn't get the first printing in Muthu. So only after i get it in my hands i can do a comparison.
4.About the translation, i think Muthu is the best. Reading any story in Tamil makes you to get yourself immersed with it. Though I have many English editions, i still prefer to read them in Tamil. Maalaimathi comics is next best. Meghala is next. And of course everybody knows where Rani stands in this list.
Saleem :
1. Interesting thoughts about Kaamarajar in the back cover. I also thought that they were Congress supporters.
2. Title number 9 discussion was quite interesting.
3.Poovilangu I think i have this with me now, but without cover. Let me see whether I can do anything with the available resources.

BN:
1. You have rekindled my urge to track the old kumudam issues. it is going to be additional work(but enjoyable) during my next india visit.:-)
2. Indrajal printing was good. As you have mentioned earlier the modern printing methods are really killing the art work. Or may be the paper could be the reason. Indrajal was printed in thin paper compared to our present day Muthu/Lion. Compare the quality of latest lion with the MDS lucky luke story(on a good quality paper). i think even the Jolly Special free book looks better than the choo mathirakaali.

Regards,
Muthufan

d.sathish said...

to saleem

sorry if i've offended , i understand that u only were stating ur opinion. i'm a non political person myself. still i appreciated ur thoughts. they were interesting.

to mf

abt the mayavi spin-off article, i'm right now trying 2 mail u a 12mb mail, in which i give info about mayavi spin-offs & batman. hopefully i should be able 2 finish in an hour! look out for my g-mail id (sathish.devarajan)

read poo-vilangu again just now in both indrajal & muthu. the muthu version is heavily censured in the manner that the kissing the bride is censured & first-night isn't called mudhal iravu but thirumana iravu. guess that was considered bad influence in those days. anyway the article with scans could be more enlightaning.

sorry but i too don't have the cover of poo-vilangu.

d.sathish said...

anyone saw the tralier 4 the new 3D tele-serial "mayavi" in jaya-tv? the hero has a silver or steel hand, i'm not sure, turns invisible with only the hand visible & fires bullets from his index finger. sounds familiar?

to mf

just suffered a power failure in the net-cafe. so the mail goes kaput. will send by tomorrow

BN_USA said...

Saleem,

I just read your comments regarding my post and was taken aback by the misunderstanding that I seem to have created inadvertently. I did not mean to be offensive nor did I mean to criticize you. Your post had evoked a train of thoughts of my own and I was just expressing them out loud, on this page.

Please accept my apologies if I had in any way offended you.

Muthufan:
I do not think it will be easy to track down those kumudam issues. Kumudam had serialized a few Phantom sundays under the title "Mugamoodi". The first one they serialized was "Sendhaadi" which was the tamil version of the story "founding of jungle patrol". When I was a little boy I had cut those pages out of the Kumudam issues and kept them. Easwari lending library had also cut those out and had bound them for lending. Easwari in those days had the practice of cutting the "Thodarkathai"'s from kumudam, vikatan etc. and binding them and keeping them in their shelves for lending. Around 1984 I had left my house in Madras to go to B'lore to do my engineering. When I came back, i found that my family had given away to the "pazhaya paper kadai" my entire collection of Muthu/Indrajal/malaimathi/gold key/dell comics I had collected since 1969 and also all the comic strips like James Bond, the kumudam phantom series were gone as well! I lost interest in comics at that time and only recently did my comic interest revive (when I heard that muthu was reprinting old mayavi stories as CC).

The Kumudam stories that I had were "Sendhaadi & Chekkulakku" (founding of JP), "The Highjackers" and "Missing Link". Also Kumudam was the first translation which gave respect to the hero as "avar", "ivar" etc. The tamil Indrajal that was coming out at the same time used to call the phantom as "vEdhaalan" and "avan", "ivan" etc..

The first time that I ever read a Phantom strip in English, I was surprised to find that they called him "Phantom" rather than vEdhaalan!:)

Saleem said...

To Mr. BN and Dr. Sathish,

Both of you, along with Muthufan and a few other readers actually enrich our comic reading experience with the valuable information you provide, and you have not said anything at all to offend me.
I received an e-mail from another reader who added another dimension to the title and the time of Muthu comics #9. He states that Mr. Mullai Thangarasan whose name appeared as the publishing editor in early issues of Muthu comics was most definitely a supporter of MGR who started his party around the time of issue #9. He states that prior to Muthu comics, Mr. Mullai Thangarasan edited a few issues of a different comics with MGR as the hero. Does anyone know anything about this.
With this I am wrapping up my prolonged and now probably boring anecdotes on this.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, excellent idea and is duly