Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Comic books in India

The comic book market in India is synonymous with Amar Chitra Katha. Sure there were Indrajal comics, cheap Archie comics, but I cant think of any better comic book better than ACK.

A few have tried to take on ACK, but not sure if anybody has made a dent in their market. I remember that many years back, there was atleast one, Adarsh Chitra Katha which tried to make an entry, but apart from that the segment of comic books on mythology, history has been an ACK fiefdom. I also discovered recently that inflation has had its effect on these comics too. What used to be 5 rupees a piece is now, 30 rupees a piece.

But coming to the point, there is a gap in the storybook market waiting to be exploited, especially by ACK. Especially in the childrens story book section. Children do not start reading comic books until they are 7 or so. Till then there is a vast market for read aloud stories based on Indian legends etc. Navneet (they of the famous 21 question set and guides) has made a foray into the market. Their "original stories" are pretty sad, but their capsule versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata are quite good. Karadi tales, in the meanwhile, has defined a whole category of audio CDs and books for itself. There are a few other players in the market, but the moment you open them, the fact that their artwork and illustrations are no match to ACK is evident. (Now, I am not saying that ACKs artwork is good - check out Virgin comics work on Ramayana - and I am sure Disney could do some amazing stuff there) But even ACK as a benchmark means that most of the books in the market are quite sub standard - Karadi tales is perhaps in exception in that respect. Having said that, the market is quite ripe for the entry of a big organized player. For those who are looking for good kiddie books on Indian mythology, legends what they find is surprisingly low quality.

But, in any case, I think ACK could have done more. Considering that buyers will be adults who have read and grown with ACK, it would be feeding a market that wants ACK to be there! Not sure how they missed this huge market.


Anand Ramachandran said...

Yeah - Virgin's artwork on Ramayana is pretty good. But the writing is very community-college-workshop quality. "Last beacon of hope in the dark void of oblivion" That sort of stuff. Ugh.

As for ACK - watch out for some BIG surprises this year.

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