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Death of the comic book
Most of the comic and cartoon legends in India and abroad are dead or retired and no new comic characters are being created that generates the same level of imagination. It is time perhaps to lay many of these beloved comic characters to rest as much as the ones who created these characters.

Artist Tom Moore, who animated the character of  Archie in the famous Archie comics set in small town America died a couple of days ago at the age of 86. Archie's comics, though set in the USA have been popular in urban India for decades. 

They along with comic characters like Tin Tin, Asterix, Phantom, Mandrake, Dennis the Menace and Tarzan have entertained generations of children and adults with simple and straight forward stories while at the emphasizing in the storyline, traditional moral and ethical norms.

Phantom and Mandrake comics were syndicated in many Indian languages in numerous Indian newspapers through a set up called Indrajal comics. Needless to say, there have been Indian comic characters too, the most famous among them being Chacha Choudhury, Bankelal and Shaktiman.

School teachers and parents typically did not approve of comics. They felt that students were being enticed away from reading classical literature in their original and would never cultivate good reading habits if they were to be reading comics all the time and this was not entirely untrue.

The only exception I can recall was in the case of Amar Chitra Katha series of comics which were illustrated biographies of historical and mythological characters. Parents would rather have their children know the Ramayana and Mahabharat stories this way through 32 or 64 page comics than remain completely ignorant given that nobody was going to read the original texts.

Nevertheless for a generation at least, both comics and books had an uneasy coexistence together. Comics made quick and easy reading and made history and mythology available as well as light reading with characters whose quirks and foibles one could identify with. But for long train journeys and curling up on a rainy day, books were still indispensable. Both survived or so it seemed for a while till the internet changed the rules of the game.

Books quickly reinvented themselves as e-books and e-book readers like the Kindle came around as vehicles but comics slowly died out. With smart phones becoming the order of the day where most reading would get done, comics with their high density of graphics did not adapt too well. Those who were alarmed at how comics were weaning people away from books, should now concern themselves that smart phones have made sure that the average reading material that one grasps does not consume more than one minute and a typical piece to read on a computer screen doesn't exceed 400 to 500 words.

Comics with their pictures and short dialogues still tickled the imagination - what could not be said in one bubble of dialogue still had to be imagined, but reading on a smart phone screen is bland and mechanical.

If trends are correct, books will remain and it seems that the fears of many have been unfounded. E-books notwithstanding, even the traditional paper book probably will be around. But not comics…. Most of the comic and cartoon legends in India and abroad are dead or retired and no new comic characters are being created that generates the same level of imagination.

It is time perhaps to lay many of these beloved comic characters to rest as much as the ones who created these characters.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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