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An old joke

Comic-book and cartoon lovers are a happier lot these days. The reason: most of the iconic characters in comic history,like Tintin,Archie and Scooby Doo have attained milestones and hence climbed greater heights on the popularity charts.

Written by PriyankaPereira |
January 21, 2009 1:40:23 am

Tintin turns 80,Archie is 70 and Scooby Doo turns 40—why these characters are still adored in 2009

Comic-book and cartoon lovers are a happier lot these days. The reason: most of the iconic characters in comic history,like Tintin,Archie and Scooby Doo have attained milestones and hence climbed greater heights on the popularity charts.

The year began with Tintin turning 80. With sales of two to three million comic books a year and a Steven Spielberg 3D film in the making,Tintin who first appeared in January 1929,continues to rack up profits,more than 30 years after creator Herge drew his final adventure. Tintin,a young Belgian reporter who is aided in his adventures by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy,is also a favourite with graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee.

“Growing up in a Nehruvian kind of setting,Tintin took us to lands we had never visited earlier. We enjoyed the joys of travelling without actually moving out,” Banerjee says,adding,“It continues to sell today because of its deep narrative that spoke about scientific explorations,politics,South American nations,gadgetry and laboratories. For Tintin,this is just the beginning. He still has a long way to go.”

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Characters who’ve also come a long way are Archie,Jughead,Betty and Veronica who started out in 1939 as MLJ comics,named after its creators— Maurice Coyne,Louis Silberkleit and John L Goldwater. These characters remain a staple of entertainment for readers the world over with timeless tales of the trials,tribulations and triumphs of teenagers. Role models to millions,the four main characters have come to represent the fads,fashions and attitudes of contemporary youth. Cartoonist Abhijeet Kini says,“It’s a brand that transcends all generations because of the treatment given to its characters. Most youngsters relate to it because the situations are similar to real life—love triangles,campus bullies and fist fights.” To keep the fun of reading alive,they are now entering the digital age,as well as beginning their first serious,chronological archiving project,with Archie: Bronze Age Series,Jughead: Bronze Age Series,and Betty & Veronica: Bronze Age Series,a series of DVD-ROMs.

Also in the race is Scooby Doo,one of the most-loved animated dogs,who turns 40 this year. Although the format of the show and the cast of characters have varied significantly over the years,the most familiar versions of the show feature a talking dog named Scooby-Doo and four 25-year-olds: Fred Jones,Daphne Blake,Velma Dinkley and Shaggy Rogers,out on their mystery machine. “It is the predictability of the series that makes it such a hit. Moreover,a talking dog will always attract young kids,” says Fabian Mascarenhas,an ardent fan.

But with many comics and cartoons now being made into films,looks like the fan-base will shift loyalty to cinema. Spencer Douglass,business development manager,Fluid Friction Comics disagrees,“No matter how much you love a film,it’s going to be at the very minimum another year before the next one in the series comes out. A comic on the other hand comes out every month. So if you see your favourite character in the film,it is only likely to encourage you to keep buying comics or watching cartoons till the next film is out.”

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First published on: 21-01-2009 at 01:40:23 am

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