Friday, January 28, 2011


Raj Comics, was started in 1986, right around the same time that Indrajal Comics was going out of business. While the Indrajal Comics line had dominated the market with reprints of western culture heroes like The Phantom and Mandrake The Magician, Raj comics had from the start decided to create original characters specifically designed for the Indian market. Despite this being a risky move, it paid off in the long run, as Raj is now the dominating publisher of comics in India.

Yet, the journey is not over quite yet. The original goal of the early writers and artists has yet to be achieved:

"When I created Nagraj in 1986, I was sure it would become a global comic superhero like Superman or Batman. That hasn't happened." - Sanjay Gupta

Making their most popular characters (Nagraj, Dhruva, and Doga) famous worldwide may be only a few steps away: the publisher has licensed the heroes to Bollywood producers for film adaptations. They might not get widespread release here in the west, but if a devoted cult following arises from DVD sales and rentals, Nagaj and Dhruva may yet become as familiar to the world as Superman and Batman. Stranger things have definitely happened in the entertainment industry: I can remember when a virtually unknown musician named Haim Saban used a bunch of stock footage and old costumes to create a show you probly have heard of: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.

If you guys happen to see collections of Raj Comics in your local comic store in a few years, just remember you heard of them here first.


There are no comics code regulations in India, so acts of shocking and extreme violence are common in Raj Comics.
Things like burned eyeballs:


...heads exploding:


...and cold blooded murder:


Use of religious imagery that might be considered blasphemous (and subsequently banned and/or protested) is also fairly common:


Copyright infringement and plagiarism apparently(?) are acceptable as well. These guys are the Fighter Toads. The only thing that makes them different than our own Ninja Turtles is that they don't eat pizza (and, I guess, the fact that they're not turtles or ninjas):


But don't get the wrong idea, Raj has plenty of original characters. On this page (in order) are:
1. Nagraj, who can generate deadly snakes from his body. His body can heal itself when he gets seriously injured.
2. Dhruva, a hero with no powers who uses martial arts and hi-tech weapons to fight criminals.
3. Shakti, who harnesses the power of the goddess Kali to seek vengeance for the oppressed.
4. Parmanu, his powers are derived from the suit he wears.
5. Doga, a vigilante who has a very large arsenal. He also understands the language of dogs.
6. Tiranga (literally: The Flag Of India), a patriotic hero like Captain America.


Of course, heroes need villains, and they have quite a motley crew of rogues that they face on a regular basis. I don't know all of their names, but just look at these guys; they all look pretty shady to me:


Unlike American comics, women have much larger roles. Very rarely do you see the cliché of the 'damsel in distress'. This female hero saves Nagraj:


This is Shakti rescuing survivors of an earthquake:


Finally, here's "Liza" (Lizard Woman) who almost always fights against male villains with stronger powers. And she always wins.

I'll be the first to admit that some of these characters and stories aren't worth the time or trouble of importing to English speaking markets (Bhokal and Bheriya seem uninteresting to me anyway). But I can definitely see a market for the top three: Nagraj, Dhruva, and Doga. From all I've seen of them, they seriously have a potential here.
Good luck, Raj Comics.


1 comment:

  1. Actually Bheriya and Bhokal are not bad either. Thing is that in Bhokal's comics one will find heavy use of Hindu Mythology. And Ok the earliest issues of Bheriya were not that good, but if in future these are translated into English, I would recommend to read the recently published three part origin series of Bheriya and issues from the year 1998, because then Bheriya was further split into two characters Kobi (The Animal) and Bheriya (The Human).