Friday, December 22, 2006

What do we have in this posting???

We have a guest posting by Dr Sathish about "Mayavi-Ripoffs".

For those who missed it, on 02 Oct 2006 a new 3-D tele-serial called "Maayavi" was started in Jaya TV. It's aired every Saturday. I'm not sure about the response, guess it is not very bad. If this serial is very successful, we may end up seeing even Lawrence David, Johnny Nero, Mandrake in Tamil!!!

Here is what our guest says about the serial. I haven't seen the serial so far, so no-comments from my side.

Ripping-off other people's success isn't new to India or the world for that matter. Stan-Lee, creator of "Spiderman" has himself admitted that he created the character as a parody on "Superman". He deliberately changed a few things like putting a hyphen between spider & man(Spider-Man), made him crawl walls as opposed to Superman who leapt tall buildings in a single bound, etc. I can keep the list going on forever. The earliest version of Peter Parker was looking a lot like Clark Kent for that matter, before Stan realized that since Spiderman wore a mask, he need not hide under a pair of goggles!

In India TV & movies have shamelessly ripped-off success formulas from abroad. Most notable are "Shaktiman-Superman", "Aryaman-Star Wars", "Hatim-Lord of the Rings",etc…But the recent "Jaya TV" serial "Mayavi" has pained me the most. Perhaps it is due to the fact that "Mayavi" is closest to my heart. These guys make tons of money through advertising revenue, while people like our editor are working for peanuts as profit.

I watched the first episode on "Vijayadasami" & was completely taken aback! The hero "Vikram" works for a secret organization called "President's XI" & of course he has a steel hand. He goes to investigate an illegal firearms factory & lets all hell loose. He emits noxious fumes off his fingers, fires shurikens (those star shaped razors you often see in Jet-Li movies) from the steel claw, fires bullets from his index finger, & when things get tough, he unscrews a 40w bulb & inserts two fingers into the socket. Need I say what happens next? He even emits electricity & destroys the factory after that!

My comments : Not sure whether these guys have bought the copyrights to telecast the serial. May be Vijayan/Fleetway will be interested to make some money by taking these guys to court, if they have not paid for the copyrights. Those who are watching the serial, can you tell me whether they mention Muthu Comics/Fleetway in the titles.

I'll write in detail about "Mathi Comics" mostly concentrating on how they ripped-off not only "Mayavi", but other "Classic Muthu Comics" as well. I don't have any back ground information on the comics, as to how, when & why they were published. Hence I'm just giving a review of each comic.

Besides these "Ponni Comics" also had a "Mayavi" of some sorts. I don't remember exactly what his name was & I don't have any books. I'll post the relevant info as soon as I get hold of a comic.

Mathi Comics was published some time around 1979-80. The stories werewritten by Mullai Thangarasan and the art-work is by Chellam, by far thegreatest Tamil comic artist. I've 3 issues with me. We'll take a lookat them one by one.

1. Irumbukkai Maya Mayavan:

Except for the title "Irumbukkai" is nowhere to be seen. Guess anything branded "Irumbukkai" sold those days. Take a look at the cover.

This story was supposedly published in 1979. I wasn't even born then!

The hero is called "Irumbukkai Maya Mayavan" because his fist is so powerful & he appears in crime scenes as if by magic (mayam) & captures the villains! Maayavan is his name, by the way. Confused? You will be! Take a look at the scan of page 20.

Simple story. 3 prisoners are rescued by a mad scientist called Dr.RaiChand. He is working for "Sarvadesa SadhigararKazhgam". Never heard of anything like this, have we? He promises to turn them intoyoung & strong people with different facial features so that they cango out into the world and lead a free life. Only, he turns them intoweird bat-men, who would carry out his evil designs. He also wants toresearch the hero's brain because his is the sharpest one in theworld! Therefore he kidnaps Mayavan as well, though only after some "Dishyum! Dishyum!" sequences. Predictably the bat-creatures get outof control. The rest of the story says how Maayavan stops them. Thestyle of art, layouts & story telling are strikingly similar to all theclassic Muthu issues. Take a look for yourself. Sample pages from the story are below:

2. Minnal Mayavi:

A Mayavi rip-off if there was ever one. The hero Prabhu is a secretagent of the agency called "Mark Bureau". His code name is "Mark–8".Sounds familiar? He is sent on a secret mission 2 spy on their archenemies "Sarvadesa Mosadi Gumbal" whose secret base is at Aanamalai.

The first few pages highlight the hero's so called 'sharp brain'. Brace yourself. This is right out of any "M.G.R." or "Jai Shanker" movie. For the younger readers it's a bit like the "Vijayakanth" cop flicks. Someone comes calling at the hero's home. He is Sukhdev, a colleague. The hero immediately guesses that the mission is something important & when he meets the chief, he immediately states the objective of the mission. "Enna? Sarvadesa Mosadi Kumbalai pidikka vaendum, avvalodhaanae?" Worse! He is praised for his intuition, both by his chief & colleague. He comes out of the secret office & is shot at, ran down by a car, chased by thugs & finally captured when he gets into a taxi driven by the villains. He is taken 2 the secret lair at Aanamali, where the villains are busy printingcounterfeit currencies of smaller countries. Don't ask which countries!

This story must have been published some time around 1979-80, but there is no sign of it. Both the author & artist seem to be caught in some sort of a time-warp. No bell-bottoms, no Rajini-style long hair, no long drooping mustaches, ancient telephones in a sophisticated organization, henchmen who seem to pop right out of an old Sean Connery "James Bond" movie, & most strikingly the hero wears a "Elvis Presley spit-curl", the type Jaishanker used to sport. To cap it all, the henchmen have names like Thalaivetti Rangan, Vettukili, Pal Pandian, Pattakathi, Vettu Karuppan, etc…Nambiar used to have thugs named like these in movies! Guess they were still caught in 1960. Or maybe it's due to the fact that all Muthu originals were published in the 60's.

Back to the story, the hero meets the villain "Dhigambaran" (who had aname like this in 1980? I was born in 1980 & had a decent name likeSathish), the leader of "Sarvadesa Mosadi Kazhagam". The hero escapesfrom him. The villain punishes two of his henchmen for letting thehero escape. The hero saves them. The thugs are converted. Plenty ofaction!

Now this is where the story takes a weird twist! An alien space-shipcalled "Sotaang" lands right where the villains are standing, for repairs. Out of it comes "Saamrang, the scientist", a native of "Minnal Graham". Bullets can't harm him when he has electricity running through him. Take a look at the scan of page 34; it is too weird to explain.

This alien is a peace loving fellow, who doesn't want to share his power with earthlings because they would misuse them. The villain cons him into having a cup of tea with him & imprisons him when the electricity running through him is drained & he's vulnerable. The hero tries to save him, but is again captured by the villains who cut of his fingers. Predictable! Something has to happen to get your fingers replaced with steel ones. Note! Fingers, not hand! That's original! The alien scientist saves the day by unleashing his robots on the villains. He gives the hero steel fingers.

Not only that. Take a look at the scans, you'll understand better. Especially the last page(given below). Remember seeing it somewhere?

3. Viral Manidhargal:

This story is on the lines of Lawrence & David classics like "ManjalPoo Maramam" & "Formula X-13" where a novel terror is unleashed upon the people, & governments are held at ransom. The threat this time though is more of a nuisance, than terror. There isn't any life threatening danger. A villain called Ranjan Bose, another mad scientist, who declares himself "Emperor" on the lines of "Nadunisi Kalvan". He calls himself a "Silent Revolutionist" on the lines of Buddhar, Aesu & Gandhi! Viral Manidhargal are his invention. He manufactures them in a machine! They're indestructible and cause a lot of nuisance. A bit like, 'what if a million flies attack you?', actually! How Minnal Mayavi defeats him forms the story.

The story begins in Kovai, my town! Take a look at the first page,especially the owner of "Anjaneya Café". Classic Chellam.

Take a look at the pages 4, 5, 7, 8, 12 &13. Reminiscent of Lawrence &David stories, aren't they?

Take a look at these pages for "Mayavi" type sequences. 20, 30, 53, 54and of course the last page.

As a complement 2 the article on "Mayavi Rip-Offs", here's a very short write-up on "Irumbukkai Agent".


He appeared in only a couple of issues in Thihil. Take a look at the scans.

Thihil #17: Thihil Kodai Malar – Thihil Payanam
(Ad for this issue and the back cover scan of this issue are below-sorry, no front cover scan available as of now)

First page of the first story is below:

Thihil #18: Kadarkottai Marmam + Vinnil Maraindha Vin Kalangal

He was originally published under the title "Agent Iron Hand" in "D.C.Thompson" during the 1970s. He was a toned down version of the "Steel Claw". His hand was made of iron & the similarities end almost there. It was more of a gadget rather than an integral part of the body mechanism like "Mayavi's Steel Claw". He didn't turn invisible at all. But the hand had some cool gadgets, mostly non-lethal. Like for instance he had the index finger doing all the stuff like emitting noxious fumes, laser beams, oil slick, etc…He could even turn the hand into a powerful electromagnet. The hand was strong anyway even without the gadgets. Mostly his stories were of a lighter tone compared 2 Mayavi's grim settings! You could almost say he was a kiddy version of Mayavi. I still wonder whether he merited a place in Thihil. Lion would've suited him better. But maybe our editor felt he was cramped for space already in Lion & filled the vacant slots in Thihil with him. Internet searches about him were fruitless. Only the international superheroes site offers something about him. Not much though. It features all the British comic characters which were published in all forms of Tamil comics.

Well, That's all in this post guys. You can expect the next one very soon.

As usual post your comments and suggestions, by clicking the Comments link below my sign or through email to



Anonymous said...

hi all,

thanx 2 mf 4 first taking time 2 read & then 2 edit & publish this article.

But this represents only the tip of the iceberg. 2 days back i got hold of a load of old tamil comics, like ponni, vasu & priya. i was struck by the amount of abuse the mayavi brand was subjected 2. every second issue had the name mayavi in the titles, even tho the hero never turned invisible & sometimes even was a mannar beema (rani) clone featured in vasu comics.

of particular interest was "irumbu thalai master" from ponni comics, who turned invisible on receiving electricity & wore a helmet which was the only thing visible. he even gets specail mention in wikipedia on steel claw spin-offs.

then there was priya comics whose hero was called thomas corrigan who was not a mayavi, but the artwork was heavily influenced (copied) from classic mayavi art.

besides these mathi comics & mullai thangarasan let loose many other mayavis like theekkaal (fire-legs) mayavi, who wore a costume similar 2 that worn by mayavi in "kaliman manidhargal", "vinveli kollaiyar" & "iyandhira padai". i saw this & a pretty good collection of mathi comics when i visited mr.r.t.murugan, chennai.

the list is endless, but seeing that only the early issues of mathi had terrific artwork by the gr8 chellam, the rest are not worth mentioning.

thats all 4 now, awaiting the next post eagerly,


Sumithra said...

Good post, Dr.Satish. And thanks Muthu fan for sharing it with us. I haven't read too much of Mathi or Priya or Ponni comics. I mostly stuck to Muthu comics .. and Rani for a while - read Indrajal very regularly.. It's really nice to bump into people who grew up with comics and who managed to retain the same passion for them :-)

Anonymous said...

I used to love Chellam's art in the Gokulam series "Balay Balu" in the early 70's. That man is one of the greatest Tamil comic artists. The amount of background details found in his drawings is comparable to the artwork in Asterix.

முத்து விசிறி said...

Thanks Saleem and Sunshine. Sathish - What about an update post to this one?
BN - Yes, Chellam is my all time favorite among the Indian artists. I'm trying to track him to know more about his artworks.

King Viswa said...

Here is a related Post to this: