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Indian Comic Books

This entry was posted in Comics and Graphic Novels, Kate Matheny. Bookmark the permalink.

Comic books have become a popular form of entertainment in India. While at first they had to content themselves with our western characters and publishers, more and more India has produced its own heroes and superheroes, such as Super Commando Dhruva, Parmanu, and Shaktimaan.

It has also seen the rise of comics featuring legendary Indian figures and stories. The Alan R. Maxwell Asian Book Fund, endowed by a former anthropology professor, has provided the resources for Hoole Library to acquire over 300 of these comics, most published by Amar Chitra Katha.

Many states or regions of India are represented, including Assam, Arunchal Pradesh, Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Tripura.

Here’s an overview of what you’ll find.

Religion

Cover of four Indian comic books: Banda Bahadur, The Adventures of Agad Datta, The Churning of the Ocean, and The Cowherd of Alawi

(left to right) Stories of Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism

Hindu and Buddhist figures predominate, although there are a few stories of Jain or Sikh origin. (Islam, a significant religious minority in India, is not represented because of its discomfort with or outright prohibition of the depiction of humans in art.)

Most Buddhist stories are Jataka tales, fables featuring the Buddha in animal (or sometimes human) form. Many of Hindu stories are about Krishna or other incarnations of Vishnu.

Folklore

Covers from Indian comic books: The Golden Sand, Gopal and the Cowherd, The Secret of the Talking Bird

(left to right) Folktales of Nepal, Bengal, Karnataka

Folk tales from various regions and ethnic groups of India are represented, as well as stories from neighboring countries.

Two common types are animal fables and Birbal tales.

Indian comic book covers: The Tiger and the Woodpecker, Birbal the Clever

Animal fables and Birbal tales

Animal fables are often drawn from the Panchatantra, a collection of tales designed to communicate wisdom and lessons to three young princes.

Birbal was a historical figure, an advisor to 16th century Mogul emperor Akbar. He’s passed into oral folklore as a man who is constantly tested by his enemies or his emperor, but manages to use his wit and cleverness to prevail.

Adaptations

Much of the collection features adaptations from other sources. Most come from literature, from ancient epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana to collections of tales like the Bhavishya and Bhagavata Puranas. Others come from scripture and philosophy like the Upanishads and Vedas.

Covers of Indian comic books: The Gita, Vikramaditya, Prince Jivaka, Raj Singh

(left to right) Adaptations of Bhagavad Gita, Bhavishya Purana, a Tamil epic, and a historical romance

History

Many historical figures have their stories told in these comics. They are often rulers or spiritual leaders, people whose lives are to be emulated or who had a great influence on Indian history.

Covers of Indian comic books: Soordas, Sambhaji, Adi Shankara

(left to right) A 15th c. poet and Hindu saint, a 17th c. ruler, an 8th c. Hindu philosopher

To find these comics in our catalog, select the Advanced Search tab. Enter Maxwell Asian and select all of these from the dropdown beside it. Below the search boxes, from the Location dropdown select Hoole Library.

This entry was posted in Comics and Graphic Novels, Kate Matheny. Bookmark the permalink.

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