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Late 80s and the decade of 90s are widely regarded as the Golden Era in the journey of traditional Indian Comics. The Indian Comic scene has seen a vast variety of great characterization and storylines readily identifiable by masses.
I still remember those days when any journey with family in Indian railways was considered incomplete if one wasn't able to lay hand on a latest edition of Chacha Chaudhary or Nagraj or Tinkle!! Among friends at school and home, anyone with a latest edition of a comic book would be the cynosure of all the eyes. Perhaps after early civilizations barter system was best implemented by Indian Comic book readers!
Unlike the satellite television and internet watching kids of 21st century, we did not have PSP or 24x7 running Cartoon Channels. Outdoor sports and reading comic books formed the bulk of after-school activities. Those were the days after spending hours at school, one would return home for a quick lunch before attending classes for annual exams a few weeks away and still, always find time to read their favorite comic book series. The stories were nice, easy to understand and colorful. Who could forget the rib tickling antics of Bankelal or Doga - a fearsome revenge seeking antihero character from the stable of Raj Comics or even a lesser known one like Shikari Shambu - a bumbling, faint-hearted jungle explorer who ends up trapping animals on the loose and saving people's lives by accident.
Ask any 5-10 years old kid and there are every chance he would not able to answer who is Chacha Chaudhary or Super Commando Dhruv, but they will definitely identify Ben10 or Doremon or even our very own Chotta Bheem.
Sadly, the arrival of satellite television and internet technologies in late 90s and early 2000s, have brought about a sharp decline in popularity of the comic brands. Consumer has shifted from reading physical copies to watching cartoons on TV or Mobile instead. It has hit the industry both in terms of sales and as well as existence in market and some brands like Manoj Comics have been practically brought down to alarming levels of oblivion. Lack of funding and mainstream appeal forced publishing houses like Tulsi Comics to shut operations.
While Disney's or Marvel's of the world were quick to identify the paradigm shift in the consumption habits of comic/cartoon lovers; our own Indian brands were badly found wanting in accepting the change. Another factor that led to the detriment of these comic houses was that they did not take their marketing efforts online, and therefore could not attract a wider user base. The fact that Indian Animation industry was still at a very nascent stage did not help the cause either. There is evident reluctance on part of investors to try and sail through these waters.
On the other hand there has been a surge in the animated movies from the stable of Marvel, Disney and other notable Hollywood production houses over last decade.
Perhaps no one else is better entitled to put across the verdict on the subject as the Walt Disney of India, the legendary Mr. Pran Kumar Sharma (Diamond Comics fame and creator of cult characters like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo, Pinki and many more). Mr. Pran says that the only way to save the Dying Indian Comics breed is to animate the popular characters and preserve their cult.
The critical aspect is reaching out to the illusive consumer via mediums they prefer. Content discovery is the key and with Mobile phones ruling the roost, every channel - Web, WAP & App has to be explored to reach masses.
Pocket Toons is one such endeavor in this direction, envisioned at bringing back the forgotten Indian Comic Characters to the forefront in a format best identified by today's generation. Pocket Toons tries to catch the pulse of consumers and serve their basic needs. Animation of popular comic series is done and served to masses through different media. The best part is the availability of high quality content cutting across geographical boundaries and in multiple languages. So, now expect Chacha Chaudhary not only to be read but heard in your own preferred language.
To identify with the global audience, Pocket Toons brings to its audience popular international characters like Superman, Betty Boop and Popeye etc along with Indian superheroes.
Now there is no need to browse separate channels in search of your favorite comics. Pocket Toons brings all the classic toons of different brands on a single platform and on a device that fits into your pockets!!
After its launch just a year and half ago, more than 1000+ hours of content has been browsed world over via different channels of Pocket Toons. In India alone there are more than 4 million users with approx 0.3 million new users being added on monthly basis.
One of my friends, in USA for last 15 years, gets nostalgic when he heard that he can watch all his favorite Indian comic characters right on his mobile phone and relive his childhood memories. He says now he can proudly tell tales to his daughter about his rendezvous with his lost childhood pals!
That to me is an indicator enough that with the adaptation of technology and right intentions we can still save our superheroes and perhaps then our Bankelal can truly say.."woh maara papad wale ko".
Expect some real High quality content from the stable of different brands, just a click away, to take you down memory lane. Truly and amazingly..carToons in your Pocket!!
Watch out this space for more on Pocket Toons..unitll then Happy Tooning!!