Wednesday, July 01, 2009

58 1st July 1984 – The Birth Of Lion Comics: 25 and Still Going Strong

Dear ComiRades,

This Particular Post was Actually Planned for This Weekend and What changed yours truly’s Mind was the Communication Had with The Editor S.Vijayan Today. And The way he expressed His Happiness became the catalyst for this Post.

Well, July 1984 in Many ways is a Truly memorable Month with 3 Major Comics Series Getting launched simultaneously. Prior to that, The Only Comics of Some worth available in Shops was Indrajal Comics’ Tamil Edition, As Muthu Comics Had One of it’s Breaks and was not published for more than one year. And Some Other Regional Publications were also Publishing comics at this point of time and, we are talking about quality of international standards and hence they do not enter into the big picture.

The Time Period: Circa 1983. India Had Just Won the Prudential World Cup and Entire Nation was in a state of Surprise and their happiness was Not to be described in words. Those were the Days when India Didn’t Had the Best of the Tele-Communicational facilities and to talk from one state to another state within India Itself one need to book Trunk Calls and need to wait in queue for speaking.If that is the State for Calls within India, Then Imagine International Calls.Sounds Funny in the days of Mobile Phones and Video Conferencing and E-Mails? Well, that was True.

The Back Ground: Tamil Comics in those days was Limited to the Runs of Indrajal Comics (Tamil Edition), Falcon Comics, Malaimathi A.F.I Comics and The Legendary Muthu Comics. There were Some Comics which were Initiated with Local Content and Artwork (Mayavi Comics, Mathi Comics, Ponni Comics etc). However, By the Summer of 1983, The Only Comics which was available in Shops was the Tamil editions of Indrajal Comics as Falcon, AFI were Closed Long time Back and Muthu Comics also Had One of it’s Dark Period when it went into hibernation for years. Hence, There was a Clear Requirement for A Tamil Comics of International Quality.

The Entry: A Teenager (Yes, Teenager Only – No Typing Mistake) is about to enter into The Publishing Field and to look after His Family Business. He was Gifted In a Way as His Father was the Founder of the Legendary Muthu Comics which was Launched in a Memorable Day in Jan 1972. Well, I Just Imagined what I Was doing when i was a Teenager. Unlike a Typical Teenager of the 80’s, This Gentleman Had Great Exposure to International Comics and, British in Particular. His Name Was S.Vijayan and Later On his Name Has become Synonymous with Tamil  Comics. He Had Many Wonderful Ideas up in his sleeve and Was willing to Experiment, Which is The Hallmark of a Great Entrepreneur. Apart from all that, He was Hailing from a Small Town in South India Named SivaKasi and that further increased the Communication Gap as he was not in a Metro Such as Chennai, which is ideal for Publication.

The Initiative: Initially in 1983, The Idea was to Launch a Magazine for Children’s of All Age. In His Own Words, The Editor Says that what he had in mind was A High Tech Version of Chanda Mama. Something in the Lines of Poonthalir (Poompatta). Or Something Like Lion and Valiant in U.K. The Registration rules demand that for a Magazine, you need to register with the Registrar of News Papers in New Delhi. And in the Application form (TCU Know this, As We Had One Such Form when we were launching our Own) you need to mention the Proposed Name of the Magazine and, if that was already registered, then alternative Names. The Usual way of the Registration department is that, Once they receive an Application form, they check out if there is already

  • Any Magazine is getting published under the same Name or Resembles that Name

  • Any Magazine is under registration process by having applied before this applicant

  • Any Defunct Magazine with same Name, etc.

The Editor’s 1st Choice of the Name was “Appu” (Inspired By Adhimedhai Appu? அதிமேதை அப்பு) and the second choice was “Pudhaiyal” (புதையல் – Treasure). Having Applied for the Magazine registration, Our Teenage Editor Was Waiting for months for the Reply. When His Enthusiasm Level was on the Wax, He would Just Send some Telegrams to the Department.

Having Interacted with Many of The D.I.P.R’s Top Ranked Officials Both in Delhi and in Chennai in Person Many a Time, TCU Can emphathise with the Editor and their way of Working is Something different from how we function. Once His Enthusiasm Level Was On the Peak, He just thought that Instead of a Magazine (Which Requires Pre-Approval), why can’t we start a Comics Book itself, for which Pre-Approval of the Registrar is Not required.

The Process: Once the Magazine Idea Was Off Mind in the Early 1984, The Editor Started working on the Comics Book and the Title He chose was “Lion Comics’ with “Tiger Comics” Being the second alternative. After which, Other things (Size, Price, Number of Pages, Design, Number of Copies, etc) were decided in very short time frame. There was Only One thing that was to be decided: The Story Line.

The Hurdles: Once The Agent for the International Syndicate Has sent a Package to Our Editor and that Contained the Available storylines for Copyright to Publish in Tamil and one among such was the James Bond Story. Editor S.Vijayan was So happy about the Possibility of Bringing The International Spy who is already quite popular with His Movies across India. He Even translated the Sample Pages he Received and was waiting for the confirmation from the Agent.

Then Came the Real Shock. The Rights for James Bond were already allocated to Rani Syndicate of Thinathanthi Group and those samples were wrongly sent. This Situation is Similar to a Scene Like this: You are About to Produce a Tamil Film and your Manager says he Has got the Bulk Dates from None other than The Super Star Rajnikanth Himself and when you plan your next move in accordance with that, He Deflates all your enthusiasm by saying That, Rajnikanth Has Bulk Dates, But Only For Director Shankar Not for Us. All your dreams will be shattered and our Editor was in similar state.

Not the Man to be disturbed by such Hurdles, He Immediately started analysing Plan B. Muthu Comics has already Published One Story of Modesty Blaise in Way Back in Feb 1975 itself (Read Muthu Fan’s Comprehensive Post on this by Clicking HERE). So, Our Teenage Editor Finalaised The Storyline for his 1st Comics Book – Modesty Blaise.

Work In Progress: Once the Storyline was selected, the rest was easy and the Ordered Story arrived in the Ides of May and such was the Enthusiasm Level of the Editor, that He Translated the Story and Designed the rest of the Pages and when they were ready to Publish the 1st ever Issue of Lion Comics in the Month of June, Further Shocks were waiting. The Staff Artist, Lay Out designers, Circulation Executives all are Missing and the information was that They have Joined with Mr Mullai Thangarasan, who is about to start Metha Comics in the same period from the Town of Sivakasi itself.

Therein Started the “Delay-in-Publishing” syndrome for Lion Comics and The Book was Not ready for the Planned June Launch (One Month ahead of the other 2 so called rivals) and Had to Publish only in July 1984.The Cover Artwork was Done For a Cost of INR 60.00 And the amazing part of that was the cover and inner artwork was done in less than 5 Hours time. Hats off to the artist. This is How The Editor Explains the background Information in Singathin Siru Vayadhil. Read On:

Editor S.Vijayan Recollects those Wonderful Memories On The Launch Of Lion Comics Issue No 1 in 1984–Singathin Siru Vayadhil Part 1

Singaththin Siru Vayadhil Part 1 a
Singaththin Siru Vayadhil Part 1 b
Singaththin Siru Vayadhil Part 1 c
Singaththin Siru Vayadhil Part 1 d

Once The Design was Ready, Editor was in Full swing and He made sure that all the Promotional Buzz were in Sync by Advertising in Dina Malar (Quality Tamil Daily News Paper) and in Kal Kandu (One Of the Best Weekly Informative Magazines in those days with The Great Tamil Vaanan in Helm). He translated the 2nd issue well in advance and the Printing and distribution works of the 1st issue was done in such a break neck speed that they have shipped almost all the Books, Thus making it one of the Rarest books ever to get in Lion Comics History. Here are the Cover Scans and the first and last pages of the Book.

Lion Comics 1-July 1984-Kathi Munaiyil Modesty-Front Wrapper

Lion Comics Issue 1- July 1984- Back Wrapper With Story Synopsis
Lion Comics Issue No 1 Dated July 1984 Kathi Munaiyil Modesty Strip 36 The Vanishing Dollybirds Front Cover Lion Comics Issue No 1 Dated July 1984 Kathi Munaiyil Modesty Strip 36 The Vanishing Dollybirds Back Wrapper

Lion Comics Issue1-Dated July 1984-Kathi Munaiyil Modesty-Strip 36-The Vanishing Dollybirds-Art By Romero-Character Intro-Page 1

Lion Comics Issue No 1 Dated July 1984 Kathi Munaiyil Modesty Strip 36 The Vanishing Dollybirds Art By Romero Page 1
Lion Comics Issue 1-Dated July 1984-Kathi Munaiyil Modesty-Strip 36-The Vanishing Dollybirds-Art By Romero-2nd Page & Story 1st Page
Lion Comics Issue No 1 Dated July 1984 Kathi Munaiyil Modesty Strip 36 The Vanishing Dollybirds Art By Romero 2nd Page
Lion Comics Issue 1-July 1984-Kathi Munaiyil Modesty-Strip 36-The Vanishing Dollybirds-Art By Romero-Last Page With Extended Panels
Lion Comics Issue No 1 Dated July 1984 Kathi Munaiyil Modesty Strip 36 The Vanishing Dollybirds Art By Romero Last Page

This Particular Story was One Of the Average Stories In Modesty’s Series and Had Our Editor Had a Choice Now, Definitely He would Have Gone With a Story Line “The Gabriel Set Up / La Machine” or something like that. However, We are Speaking about a Teenage Editor with Lots and Lots of Passion and Lacking in Experience. The Editors that He was Facing at that point of time had Years of Solid Experience in Comics as well as Related Publishing.

This Particular Story was Series No 36 (The Vanishing Dollybirds) in Modesty Stories with the Artwork of Enric Baldia Romero Assisting the Great narration of Peter O Donnell this strip was running in The Evening Standard between 21st Oct 1976 to 28th Mar 1977. As Usual, TCU Has those for you.

Modesty Blaise By Peter O Donnell & Art By Enric Baldia Romero – Strip 36 – First 4 Day Strips – London Evening Standard

Modesty Blaise By Peter O Donnell & Romero – Strip 36 – Last 4 Day Strips – Extended Strip (4141a) Marked with Alphabet to Differentiate

Here is the Advertisement for the 2nd Issue of Lion Comics and it was also another one of Modesty Blaise Adventures and it seems that “Modesty is the Best Policy” was the Editor Policy at that time. The Next issue was also the next story in Modesty Series (No 37 – The Junk Men) and He Had the 3rd Story of Modesty also got translated in the meantime.

Lion Comics Issue No 1 - Dated July 1984 - Kathi Munaiyil Modesty - Next Issue Ad – Strip No 37 – The Junk Men – Art By Romero

Lion Comics Issue No 1 Dated July 1984 Kathi Munaiyil Modesty Next Issue Ad

However, The 3rd Issue of Lion Comics Did Not feature Modesty and that will be discussed in our Next Post. As this is a Special Post, The Regular review and Creator details are Not Attached and they will be done very shortly in Our Comprehensive coverage of Modesty Blaise.

Last, But Not The Least: I Dedicate This Silver Jubilee Celebration Special Post On the occasion of the Launch of Editor S.Vijayan’s Lion Comics to The One and Only Muthu Fan, who Happens to be the Biggest Ever Modesty Blaise Fan.

As usual, post your comments in the comments section. For those who want to Pen their thoughts in Tamil, Kindly Use the Option Provided in the Widget section or Click Here.

Thanks & Regards, 
King Viswa.

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