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Wednesday, March 03, 2021 

India's biggest comics collector

The Hindu interviewed Arun Prasad, one of the biggest comic collectors over in India, who's working on projects for researching and archiving history of the country's comics:
Collector of comic books Arun Prasad was referred to as an ‘extreme collector’, on a History Channel show, for his collection of 18,000-odd comic books — the result of more than 20 years of travelling, collecting and, most importantly, preserving.

Collecting these India-published comic books — like Phantom, Bahadur, and Mandrake — was initially a way of going back in time, through the pages of his favourite Indrajal comics. “These connect me to my past, I get a bit of my childhood back, through this,” says the Bengaluru-based pannapictagraphist, who is one of the largest collectors of Indian comics in the country. Arun’s search for vintage comics, which started in 1998, today comprises a network that spans across the country — Lucknow, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
One of his influences was the famous cartoonist Will Eisner:
American cartoonist Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art, which studied comics and their roles seriously, contributed to Prasad’s changed outlook on comics as artefacts. He says, “If we consider comics as sequential art, as Eisner suggests, then we have a history dating back 10,000 years in the rock drawings of Bhimbetka caves. You look at one picture, you’d have no idea what it means unless you see them in a sequence — like you would a comic book. It shows a well-defined story of human beings and their cultural evolution. If there is narrative with illustrations placed sequentially then it is a comic.”
He certainly knew where to look for one of the best veterans of the medium who could give him inspiration to build his collection and expand it to museum exhibits. I wish the guy good luck continuing with his history project for comics from India's industry, many of which surely have plenty of value in that regard.

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