Monday, May 22, 2006

Mere paas Supremo hai!

The other day we unearthed a huge pile of old Indrajal Comics at a raddiwala and hidden among them was an Amitabh Bachchan comic! I had seen some of them when we were kids and didn’t think much of them then, but laying our hands on one of them now – in our crazed-collectors avatar – has been thrilling!

For those who came in late, some bright soul came up with an idea of developing a comic book series about Amitabh as a superhero called 'Supremo' back in the ’80s, wanting to cash on his popularity and perhaps his illness. Unlike AB himself, the series (published by IBH and written by one Pammi Bakshi) didn’t have a very long innings. Poor Gulzar (yes, the Gulzar) was the ‘Script Consultant’!

Now about the comic itself: the issue I have is called Supremo and the Dacoit Queen. The story is a sort of Balaji-meets-Chambal-saga. Amitabh just happens to be shooting with Manmohan Desai in the vicinity of the Chambal and saves the day by donning his Supremo avatar! The comic is quite sexist, with a Dacoit Queen who has a ‘fixation’ for kidnapping little kids and is ‘demented’. Her husband and child were killed by the Zamindar, which is when the poor woman lost it. So she now drugs kids and imprisons them in a cave. Till one solid whack on the head from falling on a rock – thanks to Supremo – makes her sane again! Pointedly, she is called Malan Devi.

The illustrations are not very great (the standard Bahadur kind of drawings). But what takes the cake is Supremo’s costume. Conventional superhero couture of undies-over-tights has been avoided, and Supremo has a piece of brown cloth draped coyly around his waist, held there by a hip-holster. What is thrilling though is the fact that everywhere Amitabh’s face is drawn in these frozen, movie-poster kind of expressions, as if it was copied from various photos and stills. Very sweetly, the issue also has a letter from Amitabh to the kids thanking them for their support during his illness.

Bad stories and execution, perhaps, but such quaint old-times sort of fun! And we are not complaining, after all it is a collector’s item! (Read the update on this one!!!)

18 comments:

balihai said...

cool blog. all the entries were a trip down a lane i had almost forgotten

Batul said...

I'm sure you'll get a lot of money from some AB fan for this one.

Aishu said...

I don't think they should have put a skirt over the tights either.

Soumyadip said...

I remember reading them in my childhood. What a wonderful find.

sapphire said...

I own 3 of them :)

vijay said...

Someone told me they were better books than the average comics of the day. Wish I had some.

The Comic Project said...

i lost mine...but I run a comic blog..and as a one-off, would love to post a supremo..if I could have the scan :-( I wish I was in Bombay now.

samit said...

hey, lovely blog. was looking for information on supremo for an essay, and found everything i needed. thanks!

suniti said...

WoW! I must have a look at this gem! Will you please please lead me to your secret vaults, skull cave, what ever where you hide your treasures ? I never knew about this venture. The costume is comic enough !
Loved your blog :)

ME said...

hey wow!!!
this one was really cool:D

ME said...

nice blog. me too kind of interested in children's books especially comics:)

anjalirego said...

I am a journalist and I am working on a story. Do you know about groups that like to read and exchange Phantom and Mandrake comics. These comics were a rage in the 80s and are published even today. currently, vendors tell me that these comics disappear as soon as they land at their shops. There are collectors in Mumbai who have trunkful of these comics and who refuse to let anyone know that they have it. Im trying to locate these loyal fans. Btw, they call themselves Phans. Pls reply asap with contacts of such people on anjalirego@gmail.com

Beth said...

Wow, I had no idea! I'm delighted to learn about this. And thanks for your kind note on Beth Loves Bollywood!

Qaseem Abbasi said...

Can you please share, SUPREMO?

Steve said...

I'm Steve from Goa.
I have a lot of indrajals,DC comics, tinkles and many more.
I wnt to fill my 40 odd gaps from vol.20 onwards of indrajals and the bigger gap of 315 below of indrajal comics please get in touch .stevepxs@hotmail.cpm and 9822131399. Thanks.

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Arun Prasad said...

Hello Anjali,

I am both a reader and a collector of Indian comics, particularly a Phantom fan. Fortunate to have got the entire collection of Indrajal comics published in India.
As any other rare comics, Indrajal comics too have become rare and collectible. since it had a great fan following it is in demand aswell. and people are ready to buy those at a huge price. For a reader, there are very many reprints coming in the market like.. diamond phantom comics, egmont phantom etc...
Anyways i have some extras (without cover but with complete story) which i have been lending out to hard core comic buffs for reading. Most of the times i havn't got them back. If you are really looking to read some i can send you few comic books.. my mail id is arunbangalore@rediffmail.com

Thanx and regards
arun prasad