If you grew up in the late 80s, 90s or the early 2000s, you are certain to consider yourself much fortunate than today’s generation of children and you are sure to know why? Because you enjoyed your real childhood before smartphones, tablets, Facebook, selfies, and other technologies existed and took over your innocent childhood. There was a world before the internet for children and it was filled with books and comics that today’s generation needs to know about! And the sweetest memories about it all were travelling in trains with our set of comics as no journey would be complete without the much loved comics which kept us company throughout the journey.
The 90s in India was an amazing time. It was the golden age for many of us. There was no trace of social media which the children as young as 4-5 year olds can’t do without. It was an altogether different world. There was no pressure. Looking back, we realize that we were far luckier than the kids of this generation because we enjoyed our lives to the fullest! Waiting for the vacations to visit grandparents house that too via our favourite train ride was much awaited event every year. Train journeys with the precious stash of comics was a cherry on top. Here are some 90s comics we all definitely had read when we were kids and reading them onboard travelling in trains during summer vacation was a necessity and bliss in it’s own.
Who wasn’t in love with the character of Chacha Chaudhary? This was an iconic comic series which had a moral that a strong mind is the most powerful asset. “Chacha Chaudhary’s brain works faster than a computer.” We all knew this legendary line by heart. It taught us that if you have wit and will power you can solve any complication in life. Such was his fame that later he was personified on television too.
This character was deeply rooted in middle class values and appealed to hundreds and thousands of Indians. Chacha Chaudhary was supported by Sabu- the strongman who is an inhabitant of the planet Jupiter. ‘Sabu’ was every child’s dream as it was believed that he was a real resident of Jupiter and the most powerful man on planet earth. The children craved for their character to win over all other villains like ‘Raka’ and ‘Gabbar Singh’.
Tinkle was another legendary comic series that was very popular among the kids. These comics were read by every other kid during their childhood in the late 90’s and early years of 2000 and was loved immensely. Tinkle enjoys great popularity, and has been an integral part of growing up in India in the last two decades. The magazine whose readership includes both children and adults, contains comics, stories, puzzles, quizzes, contests and much more. The first issue was launched in April 1980, and a total of 620 issues have been printed so far.
With the tagline ‘Where learning meets fun’ Tinkle meets every child’s expectation by being a complete package. It has been an important part of developing India and its readership included many adults too. It had an intoxicating mix of stories and children columns and provided the perfect blend of education and entertainment. Characters like Suppandi and Shikari Shambhu, Tantri the mantri and Kalia came to fame riding Tinkle’s shoulders.
Champak was a fortnightly magazine which was very popular amongst all the children. It was published in both a magazine style and comic strips. Many of its stories just like Panchtantra took animals as their muse and taught children different things in simple ways. It also started a story writing competition for children below 12 years which was judged by novelist Chhaya Singh and Vinay Kumar. Annual writing and painting competition held by Champak has been named ‘Champak Creative Child Contest.’
It was a monthly magazine which was present in most households. It was best known for its artwork and published long running stories full of mythology and magic. It had a very different approach towards storytelling. It kept the suspense going taking cues from various Indian and foreign texts. It was famous for its style of narration – almost as if our grandmother narrated the stories to us.
It has published a very successful and never ending story of Vikram and Baital in which King Vikramaditya was given a task by Vamachari - a tantric disguised as a sage to bring Baital ( a pishach) for a religious practice. It was a difficult task which Vikramaditya vowed to fulfill. Every time Vikram captures Baital, he offers to tell a story with a promise that he will not speak or interfere in between. Baital always finishes a story with a question and asks Vikram to solve it for him threatening him every time that if he stayed quiet even after knowing the answer then he will face heavy consequences. Vikramaditya was known for his valor and for his truthfulness, each time he is shown solving the riddle and Baital leaving him to go back to his resting place. Next issue starts from the start with Vikramaditya recapturing Baital to take him along with.
Every household had a Panchatantra book and the stories in it were penned by a scholar named Vishnu Sharma. The stories in it had various animal characters which became famous amongst the children and these stories also taught moral values. Panchatantra was a series of interesting short stories which ended with a moral. Learning lessons was never this fun. From Brahmin And The Goat to Jackal And The War Drum, each story made the child in us a little bit wiser.
Akbar Birbal tales involved Akbar’s minister Birbal outsmarting most of the court men and sometimes even the Emperor, using only his intelligence and cunning, often by giving witty and humorous solutions to every problem. This impressed the Emperor and led to various people getting jealous of him. The stories encourage you to find simple solutions through your wit. The interesting stories were often mixed with other folk tales and loved by all!
Super Commando Dhruv
What sets apart Super Commando Dhruv from other comic heroes is that he neither has an alter ego nor does he possess any superpowers like the others but his intellect, detective skills, ability to talk to almost every kind of animals, scientific knowledge, martial art, and acrobatic skills and an unparalleled willpower helps him to eliminate evil from the world. Working with a crime-fighting organization called Commando Force, Dhruva is called upon numerous times to save the fictional town of Rajnagar from shady villains. Dhruv is yet another comic superhero created by Raj Comics which never failed to entertain us and take us to a whole new world. He carries few blades, signal flares, and some acid capsules. He beats the bad guys using these instruments. It is also worth noting that Dhruva, unlike most superheroes does not wear a mask and has no alter-ego. Commando Dhruv’s character was portrayed in such a way that it made us all idolize him.
Nagraj is a character inspired by the myth of icchadhari naag (shape-shifting snake). Instead of white blood cells, Nagraj was born with millions of tiny snakes in his bloodstream that he can use at will. He can even unleash a powerful venom that is believed to be the most poisonous of all snake species in the world. None of us thought snakes could be so cool before Nagraj, did we? Nagraj’s popularity has remained intact for more than 25 years. Created by Sanjay Gupta, Nagraj was originally a villain trained by Prof. Nagmani, to be auctioned out to the highest bidder. However, Nagraj has a transformation and resolves to fight crime, terrorism and all sorts of evil. In 25 years of the comic series, Nagraj has changed a lot in terms of looks and stories. Nagraj is made to end crime and finish terror from the world. Despite this, he leads a normal life and works in a news channel which is secretly owned by him. Deep down, all of us aspired to be a superhero like him.
Dacoit Halkan Singh finds an orphan boy named Suraj in a dumpster and raises the boy by treating him like a dog. But this poor treatment ends up becoming Suraj’s biggest power, as he gradually learns how to communicate with dogs and use them to his advantage. When he grew up, Doga put on a dog mask and went about fighting crime in the night. Doga’s friends were street dogs, who would inform and help him in his exploits. Doga’s stories were hard-hitting, ruthless and realistic. As an adult, he becomes a vigilante named Doga, who doesn’t think twice about breaking rules in order to wipe out criminal activities. Talk about a superhero with sass.
Time away from school books meant reading more books (for some kids!). Waiting for Sundays to watch our favourite Shaktimaan do heroic deeds in action while living a life of mediocre like Gangadhar. Fun, exciting, fictional books, through which we travelled around the world and back. We grew up on Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five, and dreamt of having picnics with mouth-watering jam sandwiches, and delicious cut fruit and clotted cream. We formed our own little clubs and groups, and made our own secret dens where we’d plan our next adventure. In a time when smartphones and playstation didn't exist, we read to our heart’s desire about Nancy Drew solving mysteries and the Hardy Boys’ adventures. Chacha Chaudhary was our favourite character and reading Champak Comics cover-to-cover the best way to pass time! Summer meant reading, lots and lots of it, and it was so exciting to let our imagination wander. While many of the above mentioned comics and books have evolved and been digitised, some have been sadly forgotten.
Even though we rarely get to see these gems of children’s comics in the stands, we are sure to find them online. And the train travelling part is still in the bucket list for most of the kids today. So grab your set of favourite comic, make bookings for that summer vacation trip, it’s never too late to live your childhood days and create new memories. Go right ahead and book Train Ticket as well as flight tickets from the Trainman app. Download Trainman App, to check PNR Status of your ticket, running status of your train, seat availability of any train and much more.