RIP, ANANT PAI: 'Father of Indian comics' dies at 81
There long was such a poignant quality to Anant Pai's creative rise through the power of the cartoon. Orphaned by age 2, the multilingual scholar rose to become a parental teacher of sorts for millions of children and, in the process, the widely recognized "father of Indian comics."
It was not without affection that the avuncular comics writer and illustrator became known internationally as "Uncle Pai."
Dismayed by his nation's lack of knowledge about Indian mythology, culture and religion, Pai launched an educational comics series titled Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) in 1967. The series quickly became a hit with kids and adults alike, and Uncle Pai helped sire a nation's budding interest and industry in comics. Amar Chitra Katha released titles by the hundreds and sold books by the millions; ACK reportedly still sells 3-million copies annually and has sold more than 100-million books total.
Two years later, Pai launched Rang Rekha Features, the first comic and cartoon syndicate in India. And in 1980, he debuted the children's magazine Tinkle.
Given his vital legacy and continuing popularity, Uncle Pai, by all rights, should have been present last weekend at India's first-ever Comic-Con. He was, after all, receiving the lifetime achievement award. Pai, however, reportedly was kept away by a foot fracture (his longtime editor, Reena I. Pur, accepted the award on his behalf).
Late Thursday, Pai died from a heart attack at age 81, several days after undergoing surgery for the fracture, ACK executive Rushabh Sanghavi told the Associated Press. He is survived by his wife, Lalitha, according to the Hindu.
The father of Indian comics had no children -- other than the global millions of young readers who absorbed, and continue to revel in, the passionate embrace of his work.
| February 25, 2011; 4:17 PM ET
Categories: General, The Comic Book | Tags: .Rang Rekha Features, Amar Chitra Katha, Anant Pai, Indian Comic-Con
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