This is no comic affair

This is no comic affair

Think of childhood and most of us will remember how our favourite comic brought a smile to our face. Once it is read, from beginning to end, it would be happily tucked away in a corner of the room or exchanged for another one. But taking comics to another level is Subin Jameel’s not-so-humble collection of around 6,000 Indian comics, varying from the first Tinkle to many selected series, which date back to 1960s.

An architect by profession, Subin’s passion for comics started as a child, when he started collecting them. But every time his family would shift to another place, this hobby got affected and it wasn’t until almost seven years back that he seriously started collecting. “It was only after we settled in Bengaluru that my collection became stable and grew. There are a lot of second hand bookstores here and this has helped vastly in the collection. I was at Blossoms Book Store one day and I remember seeing a huge bunch of comics that I had as a child. I picked them up and this triggered the want to collect comics seriously,” he narrates.

Subin started visiting different bookstores in Malleswaram, Avenue Road and Brigade Road, and kept an eye out for interesting comics. “My collection is restricted to Indian comics, which consists of Indian labels and titles and reprints of foreign comics that were printed here.” He says that even lending libraries which sell books is favourite haunts.

Though he reads all sorts of comics that include foreign titles, he was always more charmed by the Indian versions. “The idea was to collect all available information about the comics and update them online, so that other interested people could also access this information. This would lead to a reference point for comic lovers,” he says.

One will not be able to just breeze through his collection, as every series or neatly packed comic will grab one’s attention. “Comics were never a collectable in India. They were made of thin paper, which becomes brittle over the years and thus had to carefully maintained. This is why, I have wrapped them up.”

Subin’s collection includes Classic Illustrated reprints in India, which showcased Batman and Superman and other superheroes. Other interesting ones were the Indrajal comics, which “is most popular in the comic collectors’ circle”. Of the 800 plus books that Indrajal printed from 1960s, Subin owns around 70 percent of them. “My collection starts from the Issue No 2. I still don’t have No 1 and have been looking for them.”

When it comes to Tinkle comics, he owns the very first issue and says that they are also much sought after. “This is because the first issues were hand drawn, unlike the computerised images of now. The book stuck to a format; it had folk tales, illustrated science and animal kingdom in it. Nowadays, it’s very loose and includes social media and many unnecessary elements. The old comics always had a charm to them.” In the Amar Chitra Katha series, Subin also owns the fairytale collection that the bookhouse started off with. “I own many of the first ten fairytale comics they came out with, like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ and ‘Pinocchio’.

” These tales were printed in regional languages and Subin owns the Hindi and Bengali versions. “It’s after these European fairytales that the bookhouse came out with Indian mythological stories.”

Subin is also the proud owner of the first ever Walt Disney issue printed in India from the early 80s, which showcased Mickey and Donald. “I also have the first 3D comic book, ‘Devil and the wonder glass’, printed in India, which had to be read with special glasses.” His collection also consists of comics on World War 2.

Some of the other fascinating comics are a comic on ‘Chemeen’, a classic Malayalam movie by Chaturanga Katha. “My collection also has some oddball characters and series like the ones by Star Comics with Amitabh Bachchan playing the protagonist and wearing pink tights and scarf, which was called ‘Supremo’. There was a three-comic series called ‘Sunny The Supersleuth’ with Sunil Gavaskar, who fights crime while being a cricketer. He owns a flying car in the comic,” he explains and laughs. There was also a comic issue with Kapil Dev, associated with Action Shoes, which has the cricketer playing the main character.

Ask him which is one comic he has been looking out for, and he quickly adds, “The first issue of Indrajal comics is something I want badly. I wonder when I will get my hands on it.”


(Subin can be contacted at subin.jameel@gmail.com)

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