Being a ‘90s kid in India is possibly the best gift chance could bestow upon an infant. Globalisation has just peeked from behind the Iron Curtain but he doesn’t recognise the glitter yet; the slumber of post-independence seclusion is yet to be wiped from his eyes.
What does this kid dream of as he goes to sleep? There’s a dusty old room in his century-old house where he has found early editions of Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, Commando and some DC, courtesy the good folks at Indrajal Comics. He dreams he’s Phantom-The ghost who walks but he can’t possibly dream about Daabu by his beloved Pran because while early efforts in the Times of India had already launched some early characters, The Human Super-Computer – Chacha Chaudhary was yet to see the light of day. He could still dream he was Arjuna or even Rama because he has found a huge stack of Amar Chitra Katha, though he’ll learn about Anant Pai, its creator, perhaps later in life.
Nagaraj and Dhruva are the undisputed heroes of his preteen years though because Superman and Batman are as alien to him as figures of the Wild West might’ve been. Raj Comics and Diamond Comics carry the torch for episodic comics while comic magazines like Target and Tinkle still persist. Chandamama has made a comeback and together with Champak, Lot-pot etc., they are trying to combat the gigantic menace looming over all of Print and Publication media, threatening to subvert them all into oblivion – The Cable Television. Cable TV has now brought to him animated Series through TNT, Cartoon Network and Disney. Batman-The Animated Series is his new daydream destination. ACK is out of circulation and his comics gather dust on the shelves, but he doesn’t care; his dreams are in Technicolour now.
Fast Forward to late Teens; and Jeez, what a fast forward has it been for him, his country and the entire world ! Technology he had only ever read about in his Comic-Books is being crafted by his own countrymen night and day. The World has uploaded itself onto the Internet and those without passwords can’t sign-in. TV is passé(Good Riddance) and his main source of media consumption is now the Internet. Miraculously, comic books have made a comeback! He has just found Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: Reloaded and it has blown him away. Gritty storytelling with deep and rich graphics and design, set in the chawls of Mumbai in a manner that would make Mira Nair proud, have captivated him and he craves more. Virgin Comics have launched India Authentic somewhat along the lines of ACK but with modern graphics and storytelling. Gems such as Kashmir Pending, Kari, Corridor, Delhi Calm etc are now appearing very frequently. So, in a manner of glorious serendipity and poetic juxtaposition, his love of tech and the Internet has breathed life into the corpse of his childhood love of Comics and Graphic Storytelling. A Comic book episode if there ever was one.