This research is a qualitative research involving the analysis of narrative, characters and culture in the comic book magazine, Tinkle Digest. About 10 recurring stories and their characters will be chosen. These characters will be thoroughly studied and analyzed. Depiction of the culture will be studied with the help of Semiotics.
Why have I selected Tinkle?
This one year’s worth (12 Tinkles) are from the year 1996, all reprinted in 2012. The sample contains Tinkle Digest Comic’s from Digest number 50 to 61. All these 12 Tinkle Digests are of the time when Anant Pai was the editor the magazine. This was a random choice based on the availability of the oldest Tinkle Digests. The issues of the year 1996 were of the second issue and readily available on the India Book House website.
Recurring stories in Tinkle
Some of the regular recurring stories of Tinkle are:
Shikari Shambu: Shikari Shambu is a character who, in the eyes of the world is a brave, fearless and courageous hunter but in reality he is quite the opposite. This comic character is illustrated by Vasant Halbe . Shambu is always approached by the villagers asking for help. Be it catching an escaped leopard or a tiger, or catching dacoits or poachers; Shambhu is the man. Although he is scared out of his wits and tries to flee the situation, he emerges as a hero due to sheer stroke of luck. His features are, a hunter’s hat pulled so low that his eyes are covered, and a gun in hand and lives with a bossy wife, Shanti.
Kapish: In the beautiful jungle of Kadu lives Kapish the monkey with his friends the bear Baboocha, elephant Bundila, a beautiful fawn, Pintu , a rabbit, Motu and an eagle, Panja. His enemies are a jackal and a tiger (Sigal and Peelu). Since Kapish has a magical tail which shrinks and extends at will, it helps him save a lot of his friends and punish the evil enemies. Regardless of having a superpower, Kapish is a clever, helpful and a quick witted monkey who always protects his friends from danger.
Tantri the Mantri: Tantri is a Mantri (minister) who is always trying to overthrow or kill the King, Raja Hooja with his devious and deadly plans. His intensions are to get rid of the king and assume the throne himself. But sadly for Tantri, his plan always backfires and makes him the victim instead of Raja Hooja. Other than Tantri, there are also other arch rivals to Raja Hooja like Dooja, and Tantri’s henchmen, Dushtabuddhi and Vichitrabuddhi. The outcome of every scheme is a similar one; where Tantri falls into his own trap and the king, unaware of his intensions, ends up praising Tantri for being his savior.
Pyarelal: Pyarelal is a kind-hearted farmer who leads a happy and content life. He lives in a village with his wife Lajwanti or Lajo as he calls her. He is a very broadminded farmer who finds adventures in his day to day life and lives his life to the fullest. He likes to do innovative things out of which he derives simple solutions to his problems.
Janoo and Wooly Woo: Janoo is a good witch who lives in the forest of Jadu with her shy dragon Wooly Woo. She is a courageous witch who helps the people in need and punishes the evil doers. Her magic mostly rests in her wand, Hexa and they have wonderful averntures together. Evil wizard Wikdo, Wikidi and Dustbad are her greatest enemies.
Kalia the Crow: It is not often that people think of a crow as an intelligent and friendly being. Kalia is a crow who is both of the above, who has a quick wit that gets his friends out of danger always. A jackal named Chamataka and a crocodile named Doob Doob always try to eat the two rabbits Keechu and Meechu. These two rabbits along with a bear, Babloo an elephant, Danti and a stag, Shonar are Kalia’s friends. Chamataka being very wily comes up with different schemes to kill and eat the rabbits with his dim witted accomplice, Doob Doob. But Kalia always manages to foil their plans.
Supandi: Suppandi is by far the best and most popular character in the comic Tinkle. He is a simpleton who serves under different masters in different stories. Supandi is a very faithful servant who means well and follows every command of his master, to the very last word. But because of his stupidity, he always ends up in a comic situation which gets him kicked out of his jobs.
Ramu and Shamu: two cute little identical twins, Ramu and Shamu live with their parents in a city. They have a routine and simple childhood with a little adventure and a little fun.
Chaman Charlie: Chaman Charlie is an old man who resembles Charlie Chaplin in an Indian context. He is clad in a dhoti, a jacket, a scarf, a hat and carries an umbrella. He generally gets into trouble because of his clumsy nature but at the end helps out people out of coincidence.
Anu Club: Anu club is a science club mentored by uncle Anu. He gives scientific information and explanations through experiments, projects, short tours etc., to a group of kids comprising of Anant, the ever hungry kid siblings Chitra and Bharat and a few others.
Two levels of methods
A narrative is the most central part of a story, be it a fictional one or a historical one. It is an integral part of a story. These narratives, when thoroughly analyzed, reveal the “fundamental cultural specific options about reality and humankind” states the book, ‘Handbook of Narrative Analysis’ (Vervaeck & Herman, 2001). A narrative is a very powerful tool because it can manipulate its readers to think in certain ways. And this manipulation is done through interpretations of the narrative which giudes their thinking process, unconcsiously. Narrative is not something that is specified to one perticular fields. It can be seen in the day to day laves of people. The best way to understand a situation is by adding it in a narrative style. Only when people recite the narrative does it form to be a story. Narrative analysis is the study of such stories. The narrator or the author who writes the narrative, creates a world of immagination od takes the reader o the past to remind the readers that these is something to learn in every narrative, most often a moral lesson (Riessman, 1993). The main reason for choosing narrative analysis in this thesis is to understand the stories and study their interpretations and what they represent.
When compared to Amar Chitra Katha, there is very little similarity with Tinkles. Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) was mainly created to spread the awareness of Indian history and culture to the younger generation. Tinkle comics contain more of entertainment with due respect to ethics and morals. While ACK was about mythical and historical stories, Tinkle contains stories of the current society and its day to day lives with a tinge of fiction too. All the criticisms that ACK encountered was overcome to an extent in Tinkle.
Analysis of a character is to study the intricate structures of a character and figure the reason of its creation as well as its contribution to the reader’s intellect. When a character is explained in a book or a novel, the readers mind imagines a visual depiction of the character based on the features explained and the behavioral patterns. Character analysis will provide an interpretation of this formation and behavior of the characters. By studying these characters the basic framework under which the character is designed can be analyzed. Characters are one the best ways to put through social messages or any kinds of messages very subtly. Since the major target audience of comics comprises of children, these subtle messages and ideologies embed themselves very strongly in their young minds. This thesis will pick around ten characters from the stories mentioned above and analyze them thoroughly.
Every nation has its own culture and customs. India being a multi-lingual and multi-cultural country has abundance of opportunity to depict its various cultural aspects in its books and literatures. In the Tinkle comics, many such cultures are depicted with the use of different narratives and characters. By using the analysis of narrative and characters in the Tinkle Digest comics, portrayal of culture and the current society as well its effects on the readers can be observed.
Tools for Analysis
Many semiotic tools will be used in this thesis as a method for analysis. Drawing on the connection of Connotation, Denotation, icon, index and symbols the analysis of the stories in the comics will be thoroughly studied.