Immortal Illustrated Stories
November 5, 2006 5:42 PM   Subscribe

Amar Chitra Katha were the comics of my youth. Illustrated painstakingly with loving details, the immortal epics and stories of India going back over 5000 years were crystallized in these thin graphic novels. I will always remember Mirabai, for the romance between her and the god of love and war, Krishna. And Chanakya, aka Kautilya, author of the Arthashastra but better known to me for his Nitishastra - niti means political ethics. But other nitishastras include the famous Panchantra [pdf], the equivalent of Aesop's Fables for India, a textbook of 'niti' or the wise conduct of life.
posted by infini (20 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
aargh that's Panchatantra
posted by infini at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2006

Lovely post! I've only seen tantalizing bits and pieces of these, never knew what they were called or where to look them up. I'll be digging through the links all night-- thanks!
posted by trichomaniac at 7:11 PM on November 5, 2006

Wow, what a coincidence... Just a few weeks ago I went to an Indian Festival for the first time in my city and was browsing through some of these at a booth. I was really fascinated to see the kinds of tales children in other cultures read growing up. Thanks for your post!
posted by PigAlien at 7:17 PM on November 5, 2006

Wow! I didn't know you could order these! I picked up piles of them when visiting India in the 70s -- my children grew up on those stories. I think they still have some of the originals somewhere.

I think I will get some for my grandchildren; my grandson is especially intrigued by the stories around Ganesha.

Bahut Dhanyavad! Shukriya!
posted by Surfurrus at 7:27 PM on November 5, 2006

That's awesome! I had a couple of these as a kid and they were a fascinating counterpoint to the Bible comics that played more-or-less the same role for Christian-heritage Europeans. Sadly, I can't find a link to the series. I think the illustrator was Italian.

Amusingly, the Google results for 'bible comics' return the Perry Bible Fellowship as link numero uno.

I also had some Chinese comics in English - a beautifully illustrated Maoist children's narrative of the revolution in which the brave Communist son returned from the Long March to chase the running dog landlord out of town with much smacking of the bamboo quarterstaff, and a pretty cool, graphically modern adaptation of "The Journey to the West," the tale of how the Monkey King brought Buddhism to China.
posted by mwhybark at 7:43 PM on November 5, 2006

thank you :) I'm glad they made you as happy as I have been digging through all the links and reminiscing :)
posted by infini at 8:17 PM on November 5, 2006

Sita Sings the Blues
posted by homunculus at 8:23 PM on November 5, 2006

awesome. i remember reading these as a kid too.
posted by Doorstop at 8:48 PM on November 5, 2006

Yay! I have a small collection of these, which are freely available in Indian spice shops in Sydney.

Also, cheers for homunculus, for taking another opportunity to spread Nina Paley's magnificent Sitayana, in case anybody has been unfortunate enough to miss it to date.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:09 PM on November 5, 2006

Excellent stuff, I really love these comics, great to see that they're now available online.
posted by Duug at 1:16 AM on November 6, 2006

I was an exchange student in India, and Amar Chhitra Katha comics helped me get up to speed on Indian history and culture. One of the things I loved most about them is that they covered all the religions.

I ordered a bunch a year ago, and have been trying to get some of the local public libraries to carry them. I'd go broke buying them all, otherwise.
posted by QIbHom at 6:09 AM on November 6, 2006

Fantastic, my Gran brought back a load of these from India when I was a kid and I loved them. I remember being frustrated at not being able to follow the bigger storyline - I only had two or three of them.
posted by Mocata at 6:20 AM on November 6, 2006

Also wanted to add my thanks for posting this. I remember flipping through comics like these (or it may have actually been these comics, my memory's fuzzy) at my friend's house years ago and being disappointed when I had to go home because I wanted to read more. I'd forgotten all about them until now. I might look into ordering some.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:51 AM on November 6, 2006

my lifelong sorrow is that my original collection going back to 1973 was given away by mom to someone's kid when i went away to school.
posted by infini at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2006

Nifty. Rich post.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2006

I used to read these back when I was here and looked like this:
posted by jfrancis at 4:09 PM on November 6, 2006

This post owns. Thanks for bringing back memories.
posted by 31d1 at 4:47 PM on November 6, 2006

posted by infini at 6:58 PM on November 6, 2006

posted by dansdata at 10:20 PM on November 6, 2006

ha ! that's a good one
posted by infini at 10:32 AM on November 7, 2006

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