Friday, February 25, 2011

For Those Who Came In Late

Morning read of HT over my cuppa... and a familiar face of a forgotten friend pops out of a  weekend story.
It's the Phantom. Ghost who walks.

Took me down memory lane when we were young and comics were the biggest source of entertainment.

My collection consisted of Amar Chitra Kathas, Phantom, a couple of Mandrakes, some war comics ( dunno why I liked them though) and Tarzan.

Comics would make an entry when I stood first in class, on my birthday and when my uncles and aunts used to visit us. I would run  through the pages like an express train and then go back and read and reread. Would carefully script out- This comic belongs to Babita Baruah. And the date.

Because comics were borrowed and lent with ease. And sometimes never returned.

Mum would take a bunch of old comics and have them bound up into a thick volume. These were my prized possessions and I would write in big and bold," Please do not borrow". Seems a little selfish now- but those were the days.

What I earned for were the more expensive Archies,  Little Archies and of course, Tintins.  Managed to coax Mum into buying me an Archie digest once a bluemoon. Never owned a Tintin. But read all of them at Rikhi uncle's place. He was an avid Tintin fan.

What made comics tick?

The stories.
The colours.
The art.
They fuelled imagination, made us lead make believe lives when we played, transported us to a different world of rakshasas, heroes, man in the wild.

Phantom was my hero. I followed every strip I could lay my hands on.
Was sad when he married Diana. Celebrated the birth of the twins- Kit and Heloise.
I marvelled at all Phantoms being called Kit.

And wondered and wondered what Phantom looks like.
For as the old Jungle saying goes- "He who sees the Phantom's face, dies a horrible death".

These were the childhood and adolescent years.
When comics helped us lead the life of fun, adventure, friendship and camaraderie.

Today comics have lost their exalted place to newer means of reading, entertainment.
But to me and maybe a whole lot of people out there, comics will always have a special place in our bookshelves. And hearts.