There was a time when comic books were perceived as children's entertainment only. With the passage of time, the old notion has started changing.
Through the combination of words and pictures, comics serve as an artistic medium to engage the readers. Now comic books are considered a form of art that is enjoyed by people of all ages -- not limited to children any longer.
With that in mind, several publishers have been publishing comic books and those books have been attracting bookworms at their stalls in the Amar Ekushey Granthamela this year.
Children, teenagers and adults alike were buying those books with much enthusiasm, as they consider this form of literature no less entertaining than the mainstream literature.
Though there are stalls selling comic books with an exclusive focus on the juvenile age group, some others have come up with comics targeted for people of all ages.
Dhaka Comics is one of the few publishers that are selling comic books catering to the need of people of different ages.
Founded in 2013 by Mehedi Haque, the publisher aims to give preference to local culture in their works.
Their popular comics include Zoom, Durjoy, Rishad, Rohan Rohan, Mrittu Pathar and Dinyed.
“People used to think that comics are for children only. But comics have a universal appeal. For instance, a graphic novel can tell the story of a novel through cartoons, making it comprehensible for all,” said Tanjim-Ul-Isalm, the writer of “Ibrahim” and “Solemani Angti” comics of Dhaka Comics.
Last year, the publication brought out "Pancha Romancha" by Qazi Anwar Hossain. It was a great success, said Tanjim, adding, “Even adults bought the graphic novel from our stall then…”
The publication rates their comic books using the letters “T”, “M” and “E”. Books rated “T” are for teenage audience while “M” for matured and “E” for everyone.
“Their comics are attractive. And stories are adventurous,” said Prodorshee, an eighth grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College. She was visiting the stall with her mother.
Prodorshee's mother, Dr Taniya, also could not restrain herself from joining the discussion. She said, “During my teenage years, we could only find Unmad to read."
"Things have changed. My daughter has many options now," said Dr Taniya, indicating the variety of comic books available at the book fair.
However, comic fans said the number of comic books in the fair is not sufficient. They however appreciated the fact that at least a few publication houses were bringing out new comics and graphic novels.
“When I was in school, I used to read comics, which were mostly from abroad. Now a few [local] publishers are trying to publish comics incorporating our own culture,” said Tahmid Hossain, a student of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
Popular cartoonist Ahsan Habib, editor of “Unmad” magazine, a pioneer in the genre, said, “Comics are not always for children. Anyone can read those if those are created considering their age. Now the scenario is changing with initiatives of different young graphic novelists who are explaining a story through cartoons for everyone.”
Mentioning that a wind of change has started to blow, he said, “Different publications now demand graphic novels from me.”
Progoti Publishers has brought out a celluloid graphic novel titled “Kasahara” by Ahsan Habib this year. The cartoonist said the book is for everyone.
Another publisher, Panjeri, is selling graphic novels on Charles Dickens and popular comedy series “Basic Ali” by Sharier Khan.
Unmad stall on Bangla Academy premises was seen drawing a large crowd of comic fans yesterday. Apart from that, the fourth edition of a graphic novel series on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman titled “Mujib-4”, was available at the fair along with its previous editions.
A comic series named "Chhoto Kaka Babu" by Faridur Reza Sagar is available at the stall of Sapta Dinga. The series is also rated for all ages.
DAILY STAR BOOKS
Yesterday, popular Bangladeshi stand-up comedian and columnist Naveed Mahbub visited Daily Star Books stall.
People were seen buying his book "Humorously Yours and Counting", published by Daily Star Books.
The book is a compilation of his columns, which he wrote for The Daily Star newspaper.