Sunday, June 20, 2010

Growing culture of collecting comics in India

Recently I was checking a certain blog’s comment section and was amazed to find the increasing public interest in collecting comic books, mainly Indrajal comics. Doing some research on the matter I learned that some old issues of the mentioned comics is sold at a price quite high for the Indian comics culture. Sometimes the price is as high as thousand Rupees each but mostly sold between Rs 10 and Rs 100. Some people are really concerned with it.

This doesn’t seem rite and only reminds us of the fall of the speculators market in the US during ‘90s. Why would people be interested to buy cheap quality translated comics against that price? I still don’t understand what makes Indrajal comics this much hit. Compared to that Amar Chitra Katha is much better and I won’t be astonished if people starts collecting them against higher price. This is the high time for Indian comics as there are lots of new initiatives being taken everyday to produce quality material. Then why this childish craze? Why this going backward?
When asked if he collects comics, Scott McCloud answered in a certain interview that, he is not a collector and has a very strong antipathy toward collector culture. 
“They nearly destroyed the industry in the ’90s. It’s so beside the point. It’s fetishist stuff. We hope people will read what we write and draw, not just shove it in a bag. Comics are for reading. It’s demeaning to have them sitting with baseball cards.”
The foolish publicity stunts and marketing schemes of the American comics Giants (you know what I mean) did much harm to the industry and the medium. I’m sure the situation here isn’t going that way. But still the culture of collecting comics is not something desirable. Well, I have a knack of collecting piece of works (other than single panel like ads) that uses images and text side by side to narrate a story or establish an idea (but is not what we call comics or even sequential art) but that is simply for academic purpose. I would like to burn my entire collection of the Bengali translation of Tintin before ‘collecting’ Indrajal comics or any other comics.
You can cherish your leather-bound volumes of Sandman or the first Tintin comics your parent bought you but you would never like to stack hundreds of comic books and never reading them. That reminds me of a character from Corridor who never even looks at his Phantom collection just because his friend borrowed the fourth volume and never returned it. Comics is an art form and a communicative medium and should be treated that way and not as some artifacts or collectibles. This is the art-form that gives the creator most freedom, more than any other. Please don’t bring it to the same standard as Baiji dance. Read a comics, re-read it, read it over and over but don’t fall in the habit of just collecting them.

4 comments:

  1. Eddie...in reply to your post I wud very much agree to wat u have said...take an example...some Indian comics such as the Diamond Comics(makers of chacha chaudhuri, pinky) & amar chitra katha, tinkle were hot cakes in the 90's & ppl wud firstly read it rather than collecting them...bt one thing that i wud like 2 say is these comics r being made into animation nowadays....which i dnt support much, but then we cn c dat these r made because still they r favourites in some groups even in these times...coming to the readability issues(not the collection one), the sale of local comics say 'Nonte Fonte' & stuff is also decreasing because of animation...in connection with this comes the fact of costings....take an eg. a boy is going in Starmark to buy a comics or graphic novel of say 82 pages worth rs400, now think after completing it on a day..wat will he do? we dnt have so much ppl arnd here to whom we cn sell them...hp nw u hv understood wat I'm tryin 2 tell u
    Abhrapratim

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  2. Point taken Abhra.
    I was talking to an old friend from a theater group last evening and said something that I actually liked saying -'A comics reader is a person who collects comics also. He buys a comic book reads it and collects it but a collector is the one who never reads.' That's the difference. We want our works to be read not collected because we have something to say and something to share. What's the point of making a comics that actually doesn't communicate and rests in some goof's shelf?

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  3. Well...dont know much about comics, but what made u thnk tht ppl who collect comics dont read them...i mean why wud sum1 collect stuff tht has no interedoesnt interest him? and if it does interest the person, thn tht person might very well read it too....amrita

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  4. Ok, here's something you probably won't understand because, as I know, you are a person who reads a lot. You buy only those books you intend to read. But comics readers are something different. They have a strong sense of possession, I believe. They are mostly more inclined to fancy artwork or colored pictures. I even know a person who buys comics books in order to obtain action scenes of the Marvel super-villains.
    Let me say it this way - You are a food lover. You appreciate good quality food. You enjoy a nice dish, critique that and if you like that give complements to the cook. But fanboys of mainstream comics are people who takes picture of the dish from different angle and save them. They are even more interested to collect the utensils in which the dish was made than eating the food in first place.

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