I recently read about demise of Anant Pai who was the creator of “Amar Chitra Katha” comic book series and I was immediately reminded of my early school days when these comic books were craze amongst kids. We used to get these comic books as gifts for various contests in school and then we used to read them and exchange them with other kids to read as many stories as possible.
These were short comic books about Indian religion, mythology, history, folk-tales and culture. That was the era when TV was still not popular and TV-series like Ramayana and Mahabharata were still some years away. These books were a great source of learning, entertainment and education for kids in that age. We had read many of those stories before but they came alive through pictures in these books and since the content was kept short and to the point, it was more entertaining.
Of course the series became so popular that it started attracting criticism as well. Many people termed them as too simplistic or idealistic. Some people accused them of racialism and some kind of color discrimination. Some people also said that they were not authentic since their research was not broad-based. But I think a lot of this criticism was unjustified. There was a need to reach out to children through a simple medium that they could understand and make them learn about India’s past. Even if it painted an idealistic picture, it was much better than complete ignorance.
With the changing times, they have also changed. Now there is an online store for these stories.