Monday, December 08, 2008

It is no secret that most of the Muthu/Lion issues were originally created in English or from issues translated to English. Steel Claw, Johnny Nero, Modesty, Mandrake are the examples of the first category. Tex Willer, Captain Tiger, Iznogoud are the examples of the later. There is a third category, where the originals are never published in English, but stratightaway moved to Tamil. Reporter Johnny, Bruno Brazil, Chick Bill are the examples of this category.

In many cases, though the originals are non-English, still we have managed to get only the stories that were published in English. Captain Tiger(Blueberry), Mathi Illa Manthiri(Iznogoud), and to a large extent the initial Tex Willer stories were the examples of these. Reason for this could be that, is it is easy to translate from English to Tamil, than taking the French --> English --> Tamil route. Or the editor likes to translate the stories he has read and liked in English language. This is just my analysis, rather guess.

Editor Vijayan has mentioned about the English originals many times in the Hot Line and in Singathin Siruvayadhil. And we had a long discussion about the English originals of Captain Tiger in the now defunct site as well. 

I have started collecting the English originals of Muthu/Lion from 2000 onwards. Almost a decade later, now I have a sizeable English collection (with a sizaeable whole in the bank balance). It started with Australian Frew Comics(for Phantom), followed by Quality Comics(Steel Claw), Fleetway Super Libraries (Steel Claw, Johnny Nero, Lawrence David and Spider), Iznogoud(Mathiilla manthiri), Blueberry(Captain Tiger). I never knew there was a English series of Tex Willer till I came across one book from a second hand shop(the famous Alwar Book Shop) in Mylapore in 2001. It was the first issue of Tex Willer in English pulished in 1970's in UK. Take a look at the cover of this issue.

This book is the part 1 of the story which appeared in one of the Lion issue, titled "Irumbu Kuthirayin Paathayil". Though the book was is very bad condition, it showed me that English version of Tex Willer is indeed available. I wanted to have the original of Thalai Vaangi Kurangu, first Tex Willer issue in Tamil(Lion Issue No 19), if it was published in this series. And my hunt has started. Take a look at the cover of this issue.

Then I came across a site which has listed out all the English issues of Tex Willer. Link below:

Now I know my target number, it is just 14 issues. It sounded quite small, but at that time I never expected that it would take around 7 years to complete this collection.  Ezharai(7 1/2) Naattu Sani?

Though I have managed to get the other English issues regularly from many sources, the English issues of Tex Willer have remained elusive. I used to get about one issue per year. In 5 years I have managed to get 7 issues(1,2,3,4,7,10 & 11). In one of these issues, was the ever popular Dragon Nagaram story(Lion issue 50). But I was always on the look out for the original story of Thalai Vaangi Kurangu. 

I was not even sure whether this was ever published in English in this series. The title of the stories mentioned in the above mentioned site did not help in this matter. In 2005/2006 Singathin Siruvayathil, Vijayan has mentioned (Singathin Siruvayathi part 4, see below) that the originals of some of the Tex Willer stories were from this series, but he has not mentioned clearly as to whether the Thalai Vaangi Kurangu was ever published in this series. And this story has not appeared in any of the issues I have managed to buy so far. So it was always a thrill for me to wait for the Tex Willer issue I buy on the internet(mostly from ebay). First thing I check will be, whether the Thalai Vaangi Kurangu is there or not. Normally in each issue one story will end and another will start. Still no luck with the original of this story. This wait went on and on. 

In 2006 there was an auction in EBay for all the 14 issues. Unfortunately the seller was very specific that he will post it his local addresses(UK) only. I tried to convince him that he will get a better deal, if he agrees for International delivery, but no luck. At that time I was in Singapore. Luckily for me, a friend if mine got posted in UK for a short assignment. I have reluctantly approached him whether I can use his address for payment and delivery. He has agreed. I thought I can get all the issues now. But unfortunately I was outbid at the very last moment. The bidding war took me to 75 pounds, but still couldn't win this lot. So the disappointment continued. 

Then I have moved to middle east, and bought two more issues(8 & 12) in the 1.5 years I was there. Even these issues did not have the Thalai Vaangi Kurangu story. The collected issue numbers at this point of time(2007) was 1,2,3,4,7,8,10,11 & 12. So if the Thalai Vaangi Kurangu was ever published in this series, it has to be either in 5 & 6 or in 13 & 14. Remember a story starts in one issue and ends in the next issue. My frustrations continued.

And last month(Oct 2008) one more auction took place in EBay for all the 14 issues. This time I was determined to get these issues, though I needed only 5 from this lot. Once again a bidding war has ensured that I did not get them cheaply. But I did win the lot. Last week I have received this lot by post. I heaved a big sigh of relief when I have opened the issue number 5.My wait of almost 7 years is now over. The story(Thalai Vaangi Kurangu) has started in this issue and ended in issue no 6. Cover scan of these issues are below.

First page of this story.

I will go through all the 14 issues now and cross check the stories with the Lion issues and post about them soon. This series is as important as the Fleetway Super Library issues. If Fleetway Super Library series is important to know the history of Muthu, then this series is important from Lion's point of view.

Trivia : In every issue, the third page will always have this picture.

The same was used in few issues in Tamil as well.

And interestingly something similar was drawn in color by Prakash Publishers. This picture was taken from their archives. I remember seeing this in one of the Tex Willer issue as back cover, not sure which one though. 

By the way, the only other English Tex Willer was published in 2004. Do you know that we(Tamil readers) are the first to read the story in full. Because the four part original English story(by Joe Kubert) was never completed. It stopped with the publication of first issue in 2004(by Dark Horse publishing). Only after Prakash Publishers released it (Saitha Vettai), it got published in Italian and in English in full. This book can be purchased directly from Joe Kubert(URL given below).

My next write-up will be cross referencing the English Tex Will er issues with Tamil issues.

Whenever the gap is long between my posts, I used to feel very bad for letting down the fellow comic fans. No longer. With the tamil comics blogosphere in full steam ahead, I feel relieved and happy. Viswa, Dr Seven, Rafiq, Ayyampalayam, Kakokaku, Muthalaipattalam, Sharehunter etc are all doing an excellant job. Keep it up guys.
As usual post your comments below my signature.

Happy reading!!!


Friday, September 26, 2008

This posting is for Saleem in response to his request.

Panitheevin Dhevathikal was relased on 01 May 1978. Issue number was 74. Art looks like Al Williamson's work.

Story line : A handwritten copy of a story written by Ambrose Glyde(who died in 1912) from a Museum in USA. The writer claims that he met a race of people ruled by gods(Dhevadhaikal) when his ships sinks near an uninhibited island in Antarctic sea. The suspect is Prof Jonathan who has actually opposed for the book to be displayed in the exhibition. Though he opposed that the story is untrue not worhty of featuring in the exhition, he knows that the story is true. He was mote interested in knowing about the maching which featured in the story. This maching generates electricity using the rocks and sand quarried in the cold Antarctic climate. Prof Jonathan is interested in mastering the technology for his commercial gains. With the help of the book he searches and finds the island in the book. Philip Corrigan who was entruested with the job of finding the book is closely on his heels with the grand daughter(Theresa Glyde) of Ambrose Glyde. They all manage to reach the island but Prof Jonathan does not live to get the secret of the machine as the whole island sinks beneath sea when he activates machine as the earth becomes too weak because of years of excavation. Corrigan and Theresa managed to escape from the island before it is destroyed. Typical science fiction like Jules Verne etc, but made interesting with the elements of theft, murder and conspiracy all thrown in good measures.

Here is the front and back cover of this issue.

This story was published in Mekala comics in Jul 95 under the title Maaya Vimanam. Here is the cover of this issue.
But there is a huge variation in the presentation of this story, apart from the quality of translation.

Looks like Mekala has done some heavy editing. The first page of Mekala was infact page number 7 in Muthu. Take a look at both these pages below(First one is Mekala's first page and the second one is page 7 from Muthu).

The first few pages of Muthu were compressed by Mekala in this first page.

Take a look at the first two pages of Muthu.

End, however is same in both the issues. As usual muthu has printed almost the entire story in two colors except the last page. Take a look at the last page of this issue and the equivalent in Mekala.

This issue was followed by Mugamoodi Kalvarkal(Phantom). Ad featured for this issue is here.

All the sample scans in this posting were provided by Dr Sathish, Kovai. A big thanks Doctor!!!

Before signing off, I would like to welcome the new kid on the block. Mr Viswa has started his blog about Tamil comics. Link is given below.

Welcome Viswa. It is encouraging to see many bloggers writing about Tamil comics. Sadly the same enthu is not shown by the publishers :-(

You can expect a write-up about Mekala comics from him soon. I understand he is already working on this.

Well, thats all for now dear readers. As usual post your comments below my signature or send mail to muthufan"at"

Happy reading.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kolaikaara Kalaigan!!!!

This first ever Johnny Nero issue from Muthu, has got nothing to do with any of the political leader of Tamil Nadu, past or present.

Someone mentioned in one of the comments section of this blog, about the discussion he (over)heard, when this issue was released in 70s. Current CM was the CM at that time as well. So I guess you can make out the contents of their discussion. But I guess nothing much(of controversy) was made of this topic then (even now, as there was a Comics Classics issue as late as 2003/04) with the same title. Good for us and good for the publishers. :-)

I think the story line will give a better idea, as to why this has got nothing to do with political figures.

Accidental deaths take place one after other in France. In Oorleans, it was Pierre the postman, then it was Hans clipper the newspaper reporter and then in Naples, it was father Roger. There was no connection between these "accidental" deaths, except they all worked for Britain against the nazis in the second world war and the timing of the deaths coincide with the visit of Kohli circus to the city where they lived & died. British intelligence agency gets interested in this and they suspect Sir George, who has access to the secret info about the agents. He vanishes mysteriously with those files. Johnny Nero was asked to follow Sir George, but Sir George himself is only a black mailed pawn in this deadly game. The trial leads to the manager of a wax museum who tries to kill Sir George and Johnny Nero by lighting fire to the wax exhibits. However the manager leaves a trail by way of a cloth worn by circus clowns. Johnny immediately closes on the next target who happens to be the mayor of Leons where the circus is currently performing. Though he couldn't stop the killing of the mayor, he manages to nab the Kolaikaara Circus Kalaigan, Jospeh Krannen who was a ex-nazi, who wants to take revence on all the agents who worked against the nazi Germany. Typical war time story, but with the twists and turns at every stage, it is really gripping. No wonder this got published in Muthu thrice.

This was issue number 9 released in 1972/73. I do not have the original with me, so I'm not sure about the exact date. Most probably Dec 1972.

Take a look at the cover.

Cover courtesy and other Tamil scans below, by Dr Sathish, Kovai. Thank you Doctor.

This was later reprinted during 80s. Take a look at the cover of the reprint.

And it was re-reprinted in 2003/04 in the Comics Classics series. Issue number 15. Take a look at the CC cover. The second story in this issue was Vinnil Maraintha Vimanagal. The cover for this CC is different from other covers. This one was slightly hard cover(like the ones used for Muthu/Lion now). I like this kind of covers very much, as it would help to preserve the comics for a long time. Unfortunately the editor did not use this kind of cover after this issue. Thos who want to buy this CC issues, please get in touch with the Muthu Comics office, as they may still have this issue for sale.

This story was originally published in the Secret Agent series in Mar 1967, issue number 5. Take a look at the cover, sample scans and the corresponding pages from the Muthu issue.

Last few pages of this Fleetway issue which featured Sporty(Vichu Kichu in Tamil) is below. Enjoy!

And here is something linked to the CC issue :-)

As usual post your comments below my signature using the "Comments" link or by mail to

Happy reading!!!


Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm sure you are surprised to see another posting immediately (by my standards) after the last one :-)

This January(2008), when I was in India Mr Haja Ismail(Saudi Arabia), a long time comics enthusiast, visited me. I'm meeting him after fours years. Our last meeting was in Saudi Arabia in 2004. Though we talk regularly over phone, meeting in person is something special. We had a long discussion about, you guessed right, Comics.

He has shown me many interesting comics memorablia, which he has collected over the years, first as a distributor and then as a collector. Some of the things are really rare, like the posters, sample covers etc, meant only for the book shops and distributors. Lucky fellow!!!

Whatever he has in his collection is scanned to the extent possible, and they will feature in the forthcoming blog posts here. A big thanks to him!!!.

First to come is the ads for the Muthu and other comic issues, that have appeared in old Kalkandu, Gokulam issues.

I'm sure many of you feel very nostalgic about the issues advertised.

One has the cover scan of Malaimathi Comics(in Black & White though). I have few covers of Malaimathi Comics, collected from many sources. I'll post them soon. Couple of the covers are posted below, as a teaser preview :-)

Happy reading!!!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

I have been collecting the English originals of the Muthu and Lion group for some time now. Though the condition of the books I have managed to buy so far is far better than their Tamil counterparts, there is somthing missing in them. Yes, it is the language. Though the fluency and originality is there in the English versions, nothing comes near to the thrill of reading them in Tamil. I'm sure many of you out there wil feel the same way.

Recently I have come across a book in an old book shop, which attracted my attention. It is the first English issue of Steel Claw(Irumbukkai Maayavi) by Muthu comics. We have seen about this issue elsewhere in this blog. Take a look at the original cover of this English issue and the Tamil issue(first Muthu issue).

Note, the English comics is named "Moti Comics".

Coming back to the story, this book definitely looked much bigger than the English or Tamil issue. I have opened the pages and to my amusement I have found that the entire book has been translated, literally. Somebody has pasted the Tamil dialogues over the original English texts. Not on one or two pages, but in each and every page of the book. I was amazed by this guy's patience and interest. I do not know the reason why he has done it, but it is very interesting to see this issue.

Take a look at some of the pages, in Tamil(first issue), same page in English and the Tamil/English version.

Page Number 7

Page Numbers 32 and 33

Page Numbers 56 and 57

Page Number 100 and 101

Last Page 122

Few years back I have bought a French Lucky Luke for a friend of Mr RT Murugan. The issue is Billy the Kid(much before the current English version was released). At that time I have asked him, who is the guy living in Karur who is capable of reading a French comic. He said the person wants the book not to read in French, but to read in Tamil. He mentioned that the person will do a laser printing of the Tamil text from the Bayangara Podiyan issue(Lion issue 42 - Lion Super Special) and paste them over the French texts. I thought he was just pulling my leg. After seeing this Steel claw issue, I realise that it may be true. I have seen many comics fans so far, but this guy takes the cake. As the writings in Tamil follows the old style Tamil writing, I guess this was done end 70s before the Tamil Nadu government has changed the writing styles. Specifically look for the letters 'lai/nai'(page 32 bottom panel)

By the way friends, few months back I have moved to the land of our former rulers. I will be here for few more months, if not years. I hope to complete the originals buying during this period, specifically originals of the golden age issues of Muthu/Lion. My shopping is going on at full swing. So far I have found few issues of Steel Claw and Spider, which are not yet published in Tamil. I'll post about these stories soon. I may be wrong, as I do not remember about all the issues in Tamil. I need to verify this first(that they are not yet printed in Tamil), than cutting a sorry figure later on :-)

Stay tuned for more postings soon.