Arun Prasad, an established pannapictagraphist — comic book collector of repute will be in town for the much-awaited Comic Con with the best and the rarest from his elaborate collection of about 15,000 comic books.
“As I grew up witnessing the fast vanishing things around me, I developed a sense of value of preservation. Today I am fond of anything that connects me with the past,” says the professional history researcher.
And like any other kid, his love for comic book characters was great. The only difference was that he knew how precious they were. This led him to collect some gems ranging from the first appearance comics of superheroes like Mandrake, Flash, Bahadur, Lt. Drake, Mike Nomad, Garth, Phill Corrigan, Bruce Lee and Aditya to some special issues of Robin Hood, Mickey Mouse, Zorro, Tulsidas’s Ramcharit Manas, Bahubali, Mahabharata etc.
The highlight of his planned show at Hyderabad Comic con will include Amar Chitra Katha’s rare first original edition issues (1967) including Krishna as well as comics featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Gavaskar as superheroes.
My introduction to comics was with the Mayavi, a comic strip that appeared in Balarama, a children’s magazine published by Manorama. When I was nine, after a fight for two months, my mother finally gave her nod for subscribing Balarama.”
Arun adds that as a child, he had to be disciplined by his school teachers at times for his obsession. “I was once sent out of class for drawing the ‘evolution of Phantom’ over the pictures of ‘Evolution of Man’ in the science text book,” he says while talking about his favourite comic book character.
“I keep looking for comics right from the junk of raddi walas to collectors who are willing to sell some of their extras. I am a regular at the Sunday street book selling markets in Bengaluru and other major cities of India. If someone calls me from Kashmir and says that he’s got a comic of my interest, I will travel all the way to pick it up,” he adds.
After putting together a sizeable collection comes another challenge, that of preservation. “Protecting comics is as important as collecting them. To keep the comics fresh and crisp, one must keep them dust and moisture free,” adds Arun who wants to be known more as an archivist than a comic book collector.