Rip Kirby, Buz Sawyer, Cisco Kid, Phantom, Mandrake - you know them and you love them. What about Dr Gildare? Heard of him before?
Well, for the uninitiated, he was the hero of the first unusual (common man as hero) comic from Muthu. When Muthu finished most of the Maayavi(Steel Claw), Johnny Nero, Lawrence & David(Barracuda) stories from Fleetway, UK, they have moved to US based strips, starting with Rip Kirby, followed by Wing Commander George(Johnny Hazard), Charlie(Buz Sawyer), Corrigan and Cisco(Kid). Surprise package came out in issue number 48, titled "Visithira Vendhan". This was released in Mar 1976. One-off hero Dr Gildare was the hero in this story. Not sure whether he has appeared in any other strip again. Not able to trace the origin of this story as well. Take a look at the front and back cover.
Story line was very interesting. One world famous surgeon Dr Gildare was kidnapped to a kingdom called Paklas to treat the ailing ruler(Prince Vassini) of that country, who was suffering from "Mudakku Mootu Viyadhi(Rheumatoid Arthritis)" a disease Dr Gildare specialises. But this disease does not sound very life threatening as mentioned in the story(Uyirai Parikkum Kodiya Viyadhi). After realising the purpose, the doctor refuses to treat the ruler despite threats to his life. When sama, pedham, dhanam & dhandam methods did not work, the ruler changes his mind and decides to come to America with Dr Gildare for the treatment. A very different story line, compared to other stories Muthu has handled thus far, which were basically adventure and detective stories. Though this story has its share of fights, action, kidnapping etc, the level is not upto the mark that of a Buz or Kirby or Cisco story. Muthu followed up with two more stories of this type. Issue number 50, titled "Theevai Meetiya Theeran" and issue number 54, titled "Kal Nenjan". I guess the response was just luke warm to these stories, as they have not ventured to one-off heroes again for a very, very long time. Cover scans of both, Theevai Meetiya Theeran and Kal Nenjan are below.
The art work looks like typical American art work, however the hero Dr Gildare's features are more like a cross between Corrigan and Johnny Nero, as if Corrigan artist Al Williamson was asked to work in a Johnny Nero story. Take a look at the few pages from the story.
As were the norm in those days, this one also had 132 pages. The main story was just 93 pages, so two Kapish strips were used as fillers for the remaining pages. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, Kapish is one of my favorites. I liked these two stories, than the main story. The Kapish story in this issue was part 2 and 3. Don't know about the part 1, most probably it would have appeared in the issue number 47, Rayil Kollai(first ever Cisco Kid story in Muthu). Few pages from the Kapish story.
Inside front cover has the ad for the next issue "Kaanamal Pona Kalai Pokkisham" featuring Philip Corrigan.
Inside back cover has the ad for the Muthu Mini "Thapal Thalai Marmam" featuring Puthaka Priyan Prabhu.
Also take a look at the list of books available at that time. One from Page number 93 and another from page number 130.
All the sample scans used in this post are from ERB and a big thanks to him.
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