Welcome back to TCU. We are currently in the series post on Mekala Comics and this is the second post in this series. The previous post (Mekala Comics 01), we have reviewed the history behind the 1st issue and the storyline featuring Agent X-9 AKA Phil Corrigan. The 1st issue of Mekala Comics was launched in the month of May 1995 and as the month of may coincides with the summer holidays, the publishers planned for a special issue as well.
The summer of ‘95 was one of the very best for the summers for the ComiRades. The reason for that was the innovative special launched by Lion Comics titled as Lion Top 10 Special. Priced at INR 25, this was the most costliest ever comics book published at that time in Tamil comics history. The innovation with that special was, it was the readers who picked which story to be published and which one not to be. The Editor has given a choice of 16 stories and asked the readers to pick the top 10 stories amongst them and hence it was titled as so. More on that special can be read over here in TCU’s 50th Special Post. The response for the special was encouraging and the comics distributors felt a new wave emerging in the comics domain.
Seeing all this, Mekala Comics publishers also believed that they can also pull a coup by publishing their own summer special. The outcome was this. In the annals of Tamil comics history, there was no complementary issue (Not a free issue given along with the 1st issue) with the 1st issue of any book. However, Mekala comics changed all this and they have numbered this book as Issue No 1 only and the next issue was numbered as No 3. Moreover, this was published in the same month as well (albeit, a little bit later than May 1st, when the actual 1st issue was launched). Comirades were waiting for the Lion comics special, and they received both the books almost on the same week in the month of May 1995.
Yours truly was on a family tour and picked up the Lion comics special and this book. However, one of the relatives switched this book with the Suspense Novel’s summer special. As it was a long train journey, there was no way that this book to be bought in another shop for the next one week. Well, let us not get into the sad stories if how yours truly has missed the book and get on with the review of the summer special. The cover art work of the 1st issue was much appreciated by the ComiRades and the in the second issue, the cover art was radically different. The USP of the 1st issue’s cover was the local touch provided by the talented Artist Shyaam. Even the back cover of the summer special had that distinct local touch. Later on, from Dr 7’s post in Akotheeka (No Comments – 007 Special) we got to know the origin of the cover’s inspiration.
Unlike Rani comics, Mekala comics had the editorial page in the beginning issues where the editor used to voice out his thoughts on all possible things related to comics. Wherever possible, the distribution strength of the Filmalaya and group magazines were highlighted. The other thing to be noted is the serialisation of this particular issue. They have mentioned it as complementary issue No 1. Isn’t is strange to have 2 issues from the same brand in a single month? If you think so, then you are sold a googly as this phenomena has already been carried out by Lion comics editor S.Vijayan in the very first year of his arrival.
Mekala Comics Issue No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Editorial
Mekala Comics Issue No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Index
The stories were from the KFS group and it was great to see Buz sawyer appearing in another group’s comics apart from Muthu Comics & Indrajal comics, in Tamil. Though he made his odd appearance in Rani comics under a pseudonym, he wasn’t supposed to be a regular over there. The story is very much similar to what Roscoe Sweeny has to undergo in one of the earlier adventures which was published in the Muthu comics group publications. The elements of Love, revenge and humour are mixed in such a manner by Roy Crane that reading this story was like a soap opera.
Talking about Soap opera's, there wasn’t any better comic strips on opera like that of the “Heart of Juliet Jones”. Though we had the pleasure of Elliot Caplin’s Big Ben Bolt in Tamil (Again another odd appearances in Muthu Comics & Rani comics), ComiRades never had the opportunity to read his master piece – The Heart of Juliet Jones. Though Times of India published few in English in Spectrum comics, they were not available in Tamil Language. Along with one of my all time favourite artist Stan Drake, Caplin produced this long running opera elevated by Drake's exceptional artwork. The figure drawing was characterized by Drake's pioneering use of naturalistic movement and expression, a style he achieved partly through the use of Polaroid photographic reference. The storyline is very simple: A Talented singer (managed by Juliet) keeps the fact that he got married and has twins under the wraps from the public in order to keep his rising fame. How the circumstances force him to acknowledge his family is the rest of the story.
|Mekala Comics No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Buz Sawyer Story 1st Page||Mekala Comics Summer Special June 1995 Heart of Juliet Jones Story 1st Page|
The 3rd story in this special is from the uber talented Mr Bujjai. Well, it will be gross injustice to summarise a great career in a single paragraph and hence TCU will post a detailed lengthy post on the creator who is touted to be the one behind the introduction of comics in South India in the 50’s itself. A Wonderful story with great narration is what awaits the reader in the mysterious bungalow. If this particular book is considered a collector’s delight, partial reason is the complete story of Bujjai appearing in Tamil language. His talent was well recognised by Mr Vasudevan and wherever he moved as a Editor, Bujjai used to produce his creative works. Be it Dina Mani or Rathnabala, the trend continued. More on him will be spoiler to the post TCU is planning.
The fourth and final full length adventure features none other than Johnny Hazard, the wonderful strip from the famed Frank Robbins. He was a popular character in South India with his appearances in various publications such as MalaiMathi AFI Comics, Muthu Comics, Rani Comics etc. Even the next issue of Muthu comics is an adventure of Johnny Hazard only titled as Vinnil oru Kullanari. This particular story, Deadly date, was serialised in Daily strip No 99 starting from 30th June 1969 spanning over 2 months to be completed on 30th 30th Aug 1969. The story line is very much in line with the series - Staying in New York for a well-deserved holiday after completing his latest assignment, Johnny runs into an old friend with a two-fold problem: his valuable stamp collection has just been stolen and his new fiancée has been brutally murdered in her flat minutes after he left. Is there a connection? Agreeing to help an old friend in deep trouble, Johnny follows the clues to the dating agency responsible for the matchup that encouraged the assignation, only to find that ‘dating’ is not the only risky game on offer from that agency. Very interesting? read on.
|Mekala Comics Issue No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Bujjai Story 1st Page||Mekala Comics No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Johnny Hazard 1st Page|
Mekala continues it’s trend of having lots of fillers in the book, making it more interesting to read. This was the one thing which was missing from Rani comics for a long, long time. Initially rani comics also had some very nice fillers when Mr Rama Jayam was at the helm. With him moving away from Rani comics, so were the interesting fillers as well.
Mekala Comics Issue No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Filler
Bujjai continued to showcase his amazing repertoire with his strips like Mr Tommy (a re-boot of his old Bhairava strips), Idea Appu adoring the pages of Mekala for the 2nd consecutive issue. Though they may look very simple, Bujjai proves his customary point to the viewers. A Pet lover like yours truly doesn’t need secondary reasons to like him than his strip Mr Tommy.
Mekala Comics No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Inner Cover Bujjai Story
Mekala Comics No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Inner Cover Bujjai Story 2
One more short story from Bujjai was part of the summer special, thus making it a grand issue to remember for the fans of Bujjai. Apart from that short story, there was another reader review contest in the book. Just like the previous issue of Mekala, this one also reiterated the concept of advocating the best panel of the story and reasoning it. The best reviews will fetch the prize and instead of the usual INR 500/- prize money, it was the double of INR 1,000/- as this is a special edition.
Mekala Comics Issue No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Bujjai Story 3
Mekala Comics Issue No 01-A Summer Special June 1995 Review Competition
As a whole, the summer special was a grand success and this was mirrored in the readers letters in the next issue. Most of the readers were the group’s loyal readers and they liked the idea of a new comics in the market. There was even odd fan followings for Bujjai’s works in the book. The cover was much appreciated and the credit goes to the editor and the Artist Shyaam.
Mekala Comics Issue No 3 Readers Response for Summer Special 1
Mekala Comics Issue No 3 Readers Response for Summer Special 2
The best review was reserved for the story – The twins, from the series of Heart of Juliet Jones by Stan Drake. Here are the prize winning reviews from the readers. Kindly note down the 3rd consolation prize winners village name. You wouldn’t be surprised.
|Mekala Comics Issue No 4 Summer Special Readers review – Award winning Reviews for the best panel / part of the story – Juliet Jones Story Segment |
Well, that's all for the time being & TCU will be back with the next issue of this series in the next post. 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 in the Blog.
Thanks & Regards,