Chitrakatha 2011 – From Uncle Pai’s Cabin

Recently held Chitrakatha 2011 had a series of interesting sessions and screenings and one of them was dedicated to ‘Father of Indian Comics’ Uncle Pai. The session conducted by Margie Shastri who has worked with Uncle Pai and ACK as a writer mentioned things that we don’t know about Uncle Pai. Uncle Pai, a Chemical Engineer by profession, has edited more than 400 ACK comics. Interestingly, the first 10 titles of Amar Chitra Katha were not Indian Tales but Fairy Tales from the west. This was done to check the feasibility of the comic format in India. The first ACK Comic was published in 1969 at the price of INR 1.25. ‘Mahabharata consisting of 42 volumes of 32 pages each may be the longest comic ever’, Margie said. Uncle Pai knew many languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit and Pali which helped him in editing various comic books. Krishna was the first comic of ACK to be published in English language. For years there was no marketing or advertising person in the ACK stable nor did ACK ever advertise in any medium! Uncle Pai organized contests, quizzes, painting competition and fancy dress competitions to promote ACK. Uncle Pai created comic strips like Ramu Shamu, Little Raji and Majnu for regional newspapers. Uncle Pai came up with different ideas to promote ACK and comics in India. ACK also made a deal with Universal Music to have record books and they sold recorded books and toys as a combo. In 30 years ACK has come up with around 600 titles and has sold millions of copies. Uncle Pai gave India the gift of Comic books. connect@animationxpress.com

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