On 30 April, Animation Xpress conducted CBAM Awards to recognise and honour the talents of the comic industry. Many publications, individuals and artists participated in the event which attracted over 300 plus entries across 33 categories and was judged by esteemed 12 Jurors members.
CBAM Awards honoured the Indian comic book maestro Gulshan Rai, the founder of Diamond Comics with a Lifetime Achievement award.
Founded by Rai in 1978, Diamond Comics is one of the largest comic-book distributor and publisher in India. Its original comic characters are popular and loved in the country.
On receiving the award, Gulshan Rai told AnimationXpress founder, chairman and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, “I am very grateful and happy; it is an immense pleasure to receive this honour. For the past 50 years I have been working on Comics and fortunate to make Diamond Comics a big success.”
Rai’s comics brought high-quality entertainment to Indian readers in three languages – Hindi, English, Bengali. He created many original Indian comic characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki, Motu Patlu, Chotu Lambu etc. The publisher also published foreign comic books such as Phantom, Mandrake, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, He-Man, and James Bond in Hindi.
“We created 40 characters, and our characters are designed in such a way that readers connect with them personally as though they are like family members. Characters such as Nanaji, Billoo, Pinki are evergreen till now,” Rai added.
Talking about digitalisation of comics, Rai said, “We are working towards shaping our comics into digital comics, customized comics, which enables us to reach smaller to unreachable areas where comics were never present before. Digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have their own set of reach which made us reach more readers digitally.”
On asking what kept Diamond Comics run ahead, Rai explained, “The All-India network made them keep going. They had a great distribution of networks all over the country from railway stalls, bus stands, newsstands. Their comics were available everywhere which was the best reach among the public during that time. Another key factor is periodicity; we published about eight to 10 comics every month in three languages. Our comics are still a single bestseller comic in Bengal with huge demand. Today we own 5,000 comics and still, they are on-demand in re-prints and we can sell about three to four lakhs copies.”
Commenting on his father’s experience, the Diamond Comics director Aanshul Verma Said, “My dad’s never die attitude kept him going till this date. He is 73 years old, and battling cancer for more than 13 years. He believes that this is not the right time to die, death can wait. This belief had kept him going. He is not the father of just two of us, but he is the father of all the 73 people and artists working for comics whose prayers, love, and wishes made him reach heights.”
Indusverse CCO Alok Sharma mentioned, “When I met Gulshanji back in 2009, he used to go straight to his office after chemotherapy. He has never complained about his condition. He was so warm and welcoming even while he was in pain.”
Rai proudly shared that for the past 50 years, Diamond Comics worked in shaping the reader’s mind, their characters educated children with a positive lesson which took them to a greater position, and today they are instigating their children to read Diamond Comics which is added benefit for them and they are a comic with zero negativity.
The famous cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma who sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine Lotpot which had a great reach among the readers, also created cartoon characters like Shrimantji, Pinki, Biloo, Channi Chachi, and so on. He is known for his long association with Diamond Comics.
While remembering Sharma, Rai said, “I have introduced Pran to the world of Comics. He used to sketch the characters and write small feature stories in Hindi book magazines like Lotpot etc. I am the one who gave his feature stories the shape of comics, which gave Pran a large platform to perform. We produced characters like Chacha Choudhary, Pinki, Billoo, which are the evergreen characters of Indian comic industry.”
Diamond Comics made its way in all fields including educational comics, health comics and social responsibility comics. It has grown in all aspects. Rai added, “Now we are into digital, customized, educational fields and have also produced government awareness comics like Swachh Abhiyan. Our comics are growing and covering all fields. We have also moved into the animation spectrum and soon you will get to see our characters premiering on television/OTT platforms. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic it is being delayed.”
Gulshan Rai, the man himself is full of energy with a promising attitude to make Diamond Comics reach new heights.