Tuesday, October 23, 2007

During my recent India trip, one of my comics friend has presented a set of Phantom comics published in Tamil. I thought I have seen all the Phantom comics that were published in Tamil, but the sighting of these issues made a big dent to that confidence. I have three books with me now and I have seen the fourth issue as well. Also from the ad in the third issue, I could figure out that the publishers have also relased some Tarzan comics as well, in Tamil. Take a look at the damaged back cover.

Just like many other Tamil/Comics/Indian publishers, no forward from the editor or dates in these issues. In the absence of the publishing dates, I have to rely upon something else to guess the dates. In the back cover of the first issue, someone has written the date(9/8/75). And the stories that appear in these issues were created and published between Jul 1972 and Aug 74, so these issues were definitely release after this dates. So I guess it is safe to assume that this is the actual release date(9/8/75). The book looks old enough to have come from this period. Take a look at the back cover with the date scribbled.

This series was published from Kottayam, Kerala. Take a look at the credits page.

First story in this series is titled "Raththa Pei". Here is the cover and the first page of this issued.

This story was originally published as "Vampires of Koqania". This Daily story(No:121 originally titled "The Things") was written by Lee Falk and art work by Sy Barry. Looks like the story was edited heavily to fit into this format. Take a look at the first page of this story and the original pages below which makes this first page. Almost five pages from the original story was compressed into one page.

And one sample page from the middle.

The second story was titled "Kappal Killadigal". This daily story (No:117, titled "The Tanker Jackers") was also created and drawn by the same team. And once again the first page of this issue and the original page.

This issue is reproduced at its best. Pages were used as it is. And last page from this issue and the equivalent from the original story.

The third story was titled "Uyir Vangum Silai". This daily story (No:124, titled "Llongo Luck" a.k.a. "The curse of the Sacred Image") was also created and drawn by the same team. And once again the first page of this issue and the original pages that make up this first page. Contents of almost nine pages were compressed into one page in this issue.

And last page from this issue.

I did see the fourth issue with my friend. However it was damaged so badly, I did not want to take it with me. I really do not know how many more issues were published by Vidyarthi Mithram. In any case, it does not deserve to be in circulation for long for the atrocious translation and editing. Refer back how the rank "Colonel" is pronounced in the first page of the first issue.

All the issues are of 24 pages long and A4 size, like Indrajals, except that these are in Black and White.

If the cover scans are looking good, it is thanks to the technology. I have done a bit of digital restoration. Particularly the third issue was damaged very badly. First issue cover is given as it is.

As usual post your comments below my signature using the "Comments" link or by mail to muthufan@yahoo.com.

Happy reading!!!


Friday, August 31, 2007

Just couple of things...

If posting of the latest Muthu Cover comparing it with old Fleetway covers has conveyed the impression that I was critisizing the editor for copying, it is not the intention. It is a trivia just like the earlier covers comparison for Comics Classics. As he holds the copyright for printing the stories, I guess he holds the copyright to use the covers as well. So I do not agree with the view that it is called "Copying". By using the old fleetway covers the issue only looks Classic in all sense, just like the good old Muthu golden days. Yes, as pointed out by Chezian and BN, Devil's Secret is published as "Malai Kottai Marmam" and The Mind Machine is published under the title "Microalaivarisai 848" in Muthu respectively.

Take a look at the covers once again. The difference between the lady's costume in Muthu and Fleetway cover. This is what the editor has meant in his article in Comics World, published in 2002. In his own words "In many ways MUTHU COMICS was a trendsetter for Tamil Comics. It provided clean fun – (scantily clad women in the stories were even given a modest covering-up by staff artists!!), excellent translation in Tamil and was always low-priced. Every other comic that came on the scene after MUTHU COMICS tried imitating this style."

As we are in the covers topic, take a look at the latest CC cover and its original.

Second thing is about the inner page scans of Pudhayal Vettai. I forgot to mention that those were provided by our friend Dr Sathish(Kovai). In fact, he has also done the proof reading of the posting for logical errors(!!!), which is, of late, becoming a habit for me.

As there is one more blog(http://comicology.blogspot.com/ by Rafiq Raja) which is covering the new issue releases, I'm not too keen on reviewing the new issues, atleast for the time being. So the review for Lion 200 is not going to happen any time soon. May be, just may be possible, when the issue number 250 is due for release.:-)

With this we come to the end of this short update.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

No comments!!!

Pudhayal Vettai!!!

That's what we have for review in this post.

I'm talking about the first time ever Rip Kirby has appeared in Muthu, who continue(d) to thrill the Muthu comics fan many times over. Anyway their first appearance merits a special mention. We will do more than just "mention" in this post.

As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, as the the Fleetway issues featuring Maayavi, Johnny Nero and Lawrence & David were fast running out, the Muthu publishers have have turned his attention to USA for the comics sourcing. Here is what Vijayan has to say about this in his article written for the Comic World issue 2, published in 2002.

The first issue had THE STEEL CLAW – a secret agent with an artificial steel hand with extraordinary powers of invisibility. Dubbed “Irumbukkai Mayavi” – he was a smash hit and to this day remains “Numero Uno” for the Tamil comics fan. Numerous indigenous creations on the lines of THE STEEL CLAW flooded the market – because putting a guy with a hand of iron on your comic’s cover page seemed to be a recipe for instant success! Such was the popularity of the THE STEEL CLAW!!!

Several more action heroes from Fleetway’s stable followed with equal success. A dashing pair of secret agents BARRACUDDA & FROLLO, a James Bond like JOHNNY NERO with a pretty secretary, were prominent hits.

Some popular heroes from King Features Syndicate in America – in the form of PHANTOM, MANDRAKE, RIP KIRBY, BUZ SAWYER, SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN, CISCO KID joined the fray.

However basically all the stories that MUTHU COMICS published dished up detective stories laced with action (PHANTOM & MANDRAKE being exceptions). So once Fleetway’s popular detective stories were exhausted - MUTHU COMICS found itself in a vacuum of sorts. War stories, western cowboy action, cartoons, sci-fi stories were hardly tried and naturally there was an ebb of interest.

First non-fleetway hero to appear in Muthu was Rip Kirby. It was issue number 28 Pudhayal Vettai, in Jul 1974. Rip Kirby was no stranger to Comics fan in India/Tamil Nadu by then. He was appearing regularly in Malaimathi Comics and in Indrajal Comics. So it was sort of "Plug & Play" him into Muthu without much problems. And he was a instant hit with many readers.

Here is the cover of this memorable issue.

And here is the back cover.

And the story line is simple. Desmond, Kirby's butler takes a daring bet with him in the game of Golf, though he doesn't know anything about Golf. And surprisingly he wins the game, with minor hiccups. Kirby learns that it was due to a band(Thayathu) Desmond got when he went for diving. The girl, Tommy, who gave the band to Desmond tries to chase anyone who comes near her diving site. Kirby learns that she is looking for a sunken treasure based on a map. She was closely watched by Muttai Kannan James(villain, of course you need one in every adventure story right?). When Tommy finally manages to get the bounty, which is nothing but drugs hidden in the sunken boat's life buoy, James moves-in to take hold of the catch. However a hurricane destroys James' boat as well as Kirby's boat. Kirby manages to survive along with his companions, where as the villains minus his girl friend get killed. Bad people gets punished, and good people live happily ever after!!!!

Sample pages from the story are given below.

The main story was only 101 pages long. As all the earlier Fleetway issues had minimum 122 pages, I guess the editor has decided to maintain the same length with lot of filler pages(in fact with 20 filler pages). Take a look at couple of filler pages.

To know more about Rip Kirby, follow the Wikipedia link below:


Surprisingly, none of the stories featuring Rip Kirby appeared in the Top Ten list of the Editor in his article in Muthu issue 300. Roja Maaligai Ragasiyam, Moondru Thoon Marmam, Vazhipari Kollai are some of his best stroies.

And tips on preservation for those who are new to Comics Collection.
1. Never alter the state of the book in anyway.
2. Do not tear the price from the cover(tell this to the book shops from where you buy the back issues regularly)
3. Do not bind the book
4. Do not paste cello tape on the cover(however damaged the book is).
5. Do no use glue to paste any pages.

Here is the list of do's on preservation.
1. Keep the comics in a plastic cover, if possible with a card board back up and store them vertically(never horizondally, as the book tends to curl up when stored this way). Do not remove from book from the plastic cover unless required.
2. Store the comics away from Sun light or bright light.
3. Use book marks when reading, instead of folding the corners.

For the nth time this blog is behind schedule. Sorry guys, tied up with work and personal matters.

As usual please post your comments or mail me muthufan@yahoo.com.


Monday, June 04, 2007

As we are waiting for the arrival of the Cowboy special, which also will be the issue number 200 of Lion Comics, I think it is appropriate to recollect a Hot Line published in the 50th Lion issue Dragon Nagaram. Particularly read the letter from R Amutha(also known as Chinnanchiru Gopu). As per schedule, 200th issue would have got released sometime in 2000. However we are in 2007 and still waiting for the 200th issue. Better late than never.

Take a look at the hot line and the cover of the 50th issue.

Let us recall one more landmark issue. Take a look at the hot line of the issue number 150 and cover of the issue.

Though the issue number 200 was not released in 2000, issue number 157 will remain as a milestone of this period. Titled as the Millenium special, this was the highlight of the year 2000 as far as Tamil comics is concerned. I'm not going deep into this issues as most of the readers would have read the book very recently. So only the cover scan of this landmark issue is posted here.

I'll do a review of issue number 200 as and when it is released.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sirai Meetiya Siththira Kathai!!!

I'm sure many of the old timers have very fond memories about this story.

This was the second ever Buz Sawyer(Charlie) story to appear in Muthu. Issue number is 42 and the book was released in September 1975. First Buz story was Kurangu Thediya Koolaiyar Pudhayal(issue number 39, Jun 1975).

This is one of the top ten stories of Mr Vijayan, Editor, Lion Comics. In the Muthu issue 300, he has the following to say about this issue.

In my opinion the cover is one of the best that has ever been published by Muthu. Take a look at the front and back cover of this memorable issue.

The story unfolds in Asia. Assuming that Muthu has used the original names as used in the English original, the country is something like Nepal. In the story it is called Malya, (people refer Nepal as HiMALAYAn Kingdom). And the capital of Malya is Singmodu in the story (capital of Nepal is Kathmandu) and the news paper which is used for drawing strips is called as Bangkok Post(capital of Thailand). After escaping from Malya they reach Calcutta(Kolkata now) in India. And most of the characters look like chinese. So we can assume that the setting is somewhere near India.

Americans Kelly and Booby visit Malya as tourists. When Kelly sits on a statue to take a photo,(without realising that it is their most respected king) she gets arrested and thrown in the jail. Kelly's father, who wants to please his artist son, so that he can join him in the family business, hires Charlie to rescue Booby from jail. Charlie takes the help of a circus family who reside next to the jail. The plan was to make a rope link from the jail complex and carry Booby out of the jail. To explain the plan to Booby, Kelly draws the entire escape sequence in a news paper which is delivered to the jail warden, which is also read by Booby. How they manage to escape from the jail and the country is the rest of the story. A gripping story.

This issue was reprinted in Muthu number 192. This time, with a different cover. This cover does not have anything to do with the story. If the cover was a let-down, size is even bigger disappointment. The reprint was printed in less than pocket size. Gross injustice to one of the golden oldies.

I don't have a clue about the English original of this issue. I guess this was printed some time between 1956 and 1975.

Some sample scans from this golden issue.

Well, regarding my previous post about Visithira Vendhan and my goof-up about not mentioning "Kal Nenjan" as Kildare issue, my brave defense is "SORRY". No excuses for the goof-up, but please hear my part of the story. Though I have the sample scans from Kal Nenjan, it never occurred to me to cross refer them before posting. As I have not read the full story so far, the story never got registered in my mind. Nevertheless, I'm not an official historian about Comics, but just an avid fan who wants to share his knowledge and joy with fellow fans, that's all. So please forgive me for the no-balls and wide balls. As my middle aged friends will surely agree, age really blunts one's memory :-).

Sorry Viswa. Couldn't post earlier than this. Belated Birthday Wishes(Apr 13).

Well, that's all for now guys. As usual, feel free to post your comments and suggestions in this blog using the Comments link below my sign or send mail to muthufan@yahoo.com.

Enjoy reading!!!