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Printed comics industry: facing extinction in this digital age
The comics industry has been witness to many ups ad downs since its advent till today. There is the danger lurking over its heads threatening its very existence Will the printed comics be thrown into oblivion? This article concludes the old times of printed comics can’t be brought back to its former glory.
Ishika of Delhi is an engineering student. When he has some time out to himself from his busy schedules, she watches cartoon channels on TV. But he had always comic books in her hands during his school days. Her book shelves adorned both Indian and foreign comic books. The craze for comics still has its deeper imprints on her mind. This was the reason when the comic conference was held in Delhi, she participated in it wearing the costume of her favourite comic character but it is her opinion that the print comics is lost somewhere. She gleefully said whenever she was presented with some comic books; she felt she had gotten her cherished wish granted.
During the last few years, times have changed in a very faster pace. Now that old restlessness among the children today is nowhere to be found anywhere. They will start blabbering no sooner than you would mention the name of a cartoon character non stop without faulting or halting. But when you would ask them about phantom or Bahadur or Chacha Chaudhary, they will draw a total blank.
On account of this sad plight of print comics, this doubt is not tormenting Ishika only but every such individual who goes back to their childhood period by remembering those comics’ books. The comics industry itself admits to this gloomy fact that those comics days could be returned back in the present period. The print industry has the only challenge left now and i.e. to keep the comic industry live and kicking.
Period of printed comics-that was
Once, the comic used to be the only means of traversing into the world of imagination. Famous film producer Anurag Kashyap agrees to the point that it was through the medium of comics that he could understand things of the likes of fantasy. Anurag belongs to the period when the magic of twisted and curled up lines and imaginative stories spoke at the heads of the children. Summer vacations were dedicated at the name of reading comics books. This was the period when the urbanization of society was shaping up. Joint families were gradually shifting into nuclear families. The fashion of stories told by the grand fathers and grand mothers were at the brink of extinction and this emptied up space in the house was being stuffed with the comics books. This began occupying spaces in the school books and libraries.
Comics characters became pat and parcel of life
‘Nagraj’, ‘Dhruv’, ‘Parmanu’, ‘Bhokal’, ‘Tausi’, ‘Hawaldar Bahadur’, ‘Bankeylal’, ‘Chacha Chaudhary’, ‘Billu’, ‘Pinki’, ‘Bablu’, ‘Sabu’ and many more became the characters of imagination of the life of the tiny tots. When late Anant Pai launched ‘Amar Citra Katha’ in 1967, his idea of imparting knowledge through comic books was a total hit. In the decades of 70’s and 80’s, ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ had registered record breaking sales. According to one estimate, over 10 crores of comic books got sold during these decades. It is notable here that credit goes to ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ for introducing the children of this generation with the ancient-historical personalities in a playing way through the cartoon books.
Clouds of troubles
Coming till the decades of 90’s, the thread of comic books became weakening up. During this time round, the cost of papers soared up high enormously and comics became costlier. It was during this period that video games arrived along with other mediums of entertainments for the children. Soon came the era of the Internet. Now there was no need to go to the library taking 50 paisa surreptitiously in pocket. Because things were made easily available on the internet, that also for free. Old comic stories were available for free to read. Those who couldn’t read these online on the internet could download these stories from the cybercafé.
Boom of cartoon films on TV
These were the periods when TV cartoons began ruling the roast. The photos of comic characters and their dialogues were lagging behind far off compared to the live action and drama of the TV serials. The popular becoming computer games and video game parlours played an important role in the waning of the magic of comic books. All these factors thumped nails into the coffin of comic books bazaar. Publications were closed down. This was the global trend then. After the arrivals of video games and internet, there were several medium of entertainments available. The memory, therefore, of comic books started waning rapidly. Cloud of troubles started hovering over the industry. Forecasting was made that the era of comics was bygone.
There used to be a library of our own
Children were mad after comics then. They collected comic books from friends to make a library for all to b used. Children took comic books from such libraries at a price of 50 paisa per books. The fund thus collected was used to buy newer books on comics. Children were permitted to keep books for 24 hours failing which penalties charges were levied on them. Children were punished for reading comics in the class room. They were made to stand in sun light for hours.
Internet, mobile and networking sites- re-energised comics
People are now downloading their favourite comics from the internet. Face book has given a new lease of life to withering comic promotion. There are dozens of pages connected to comics on the face book alone which are being loved by lacs of people. Social networking sites are proving to be a boon today for the comics industry. Had there been no social websites, the comics industry would’ve sunk into darkness already.
Mobile games on comic characters through android phone applications
Now ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ is available on mobile through the androids phone apps. Mobile games are being produced on the basis of comic characters. The comics are being read on the mobiles i.e. ‘Momics’ are doglapped with great love. Along with the newer players of comics industry, the older ones are also launching their websites on the internet as this is the best tool of advertisements too. Every one has made a face book created of their own. Yashraj banner has already released one in the form of ‘ Ek tha Tiger’. Thus comics have been tagged with all th popular symbols. But the question is’ will these developments revitalise this sinking industry?” Experts say this is difficult to answer. The print industry will have to make strategy afresh.
The economics of comics
Only those products remain holding up in the market behind which, there is the strategy of excellent quality. Same goes ditto with the comic industry also. The Green Gold Animation Pvt Ltd created the character of ‘Chhota Bhim’ and created a bang of sort in the cartoon world within a very short period. The comics based on this character are also getting enormous response. Some people live in emotional nostalgia of comics. Such people shouldn’t forget old times can’t be recalled again. Changes have to be welcomes- willingly or willingly. And in it lays the prudence.
The future of digitals
The sale of comics has diminished drastically. But when the books of Harry Potter arrive, people make a queue to buy it. Why? Because the contents of these books are so powerful that people love them. And don’t bargain for buying them. Films even to these days are being produced on ‘Batman and’ Spiderman’ simply because their contents are stronger and the newer style of their presentation.
No doubt the content is a strong point but we shouldn’t forget the digital medium is posing a great threat to the comic industry also. The print comics should have 3 below mentioned factors considered foremost which are:
- Current contents,
- Newness and,
- The infinite capacity of vying for the competition with the electronic media.
Then what must be done? Attention will have to be paid on ‘research adopting a works’. Understanding of the mindsets of readers is equally important as is adopting the excellent marketing strategies. A better marketing strategy could lift the comics industry to greater heights once again. Experts in this field suggest that if opposite strategy is adopted i.e., the popular comic characters of the electronic media are presented in the print formats and presented, its readership will soar high up in the skies. We will have to abandon the conventional style
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