Comics tickle the child in you

No matter what may be your age, you cannot deny being addicted to reading, at least at some point of your growing-up years, Chacha Chaudhary, Pinki, Billoo, Naagraaj, Super Commando Dhruv and other desi comic books.

These characters remain firmly etched in our memories. They are still popular as they used to be years ago, but there has been a slight change in the readership trend, as visible at the ongoing 20th Delhi Book Fair.

When Metrolife visited the stalls of Diamond Comics, which publishes adventures of characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Pinki, Billoo, Raman, Motu-Patlu, Channi Chachi, Shrimatiji, Soni Sampat, Shaktiman to name a few, as well as Raj Comics famous for popularising desi heroes like Naagraaj and Super Commando Dhruv, it found that there were hardly any takers for them.

The Diamond Comics, surprisingly, had no new series. “We are selling the old collection which is no longer available in the market today,” Gulshan Rai Verma, publisher of the comics said, adding, “We are also selling them on special discounted rates.”

So, a comic which costs around Rs 30-50 is being sold for Rs 15-20 at the book fair.
“We are selling the old collection on the basis of demand we have received from the people,” Verma said.

On the other hand, the Raj Comics store also wore a des­erted look. But one item that grabbed attention at the stall was ‘Graphic Novels’ like Zombie Rising, Dr Ajax, Pandavas 5 and Aghori. 

While Raj Comics restricted themselves to fictional graphic novels, Campfire Publication had biographies of Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi and others.
 
Some stalls even had books related to designing of Manga comic characters. Apparently, in children’s category, the content of the book or any short story came up as the prime concern of the parents, as well as publication houses.

Delhi Press in the wake of promoting new content despite their popular children’s magazine Nandan made two magazines – Highlights Champs (for age group 6-12) and Highlights Genies (for two to six), which is America’s leading children’s magazine, as the highlight of their kids section. Both the magazines have interesting stories and poems by international authors, including some interesting facts related to science, arts and culture. Keeping the interest alive, illustrations are also by international artists except in a few where the work is by Indian artists.

Somewhere the magazine raises the literary content in children’s magazine section and that too in affordable range. Marketing experts believe it is due to the changing trends in the reading habit of young children which is largely influenced by parents.


Dinesh Kumar, marketing head, National Book Trust, says, “Parents want their kids to read those magazines and books which have interesting stories especially on real incidents and people. This year we have come up with two new short stories – Frederick Chopin and Jallianwala Bagh with beautiful illustrations.” Notably, Chopin was a Polish composer and a pianist.


“We also have interesting short stories like Uncle Moon Forgets Counting, A Real Giraffe, Bullock Cart and Satellite and many more, which is widely appreciated,” said Kumar.


Proving Kumar right, Shalini Aggarwal, who came along with her son Kushagr, says, “We have always bought some random books for Kushagr, giving him the option to find what he likes the most. Now, we know he likes reading about science rather than regular short stories or comics.”

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