BENGALURU: Amar Chitra Katha Pvt Ltd, one of India’s leading publishers of brands like Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Karadi Tales and more has launched Tinkle’s 34th anniversary issue this month. City Express spoke to Manas Mohan, CEO Publishing, Amar Chitra Katha Pvt Ltd on the anniversary edition, their digital adventures, and future plans.
The 34th anniversary special edition was based on the theme ‘Wish upon a Tinkle star’, which basically let kids choose from hundreds of different adventures for their favourite characters and based on pools, these stories were made for the edition. The cover features a little girl leaping into the sky to catch a star. “The edition features stories and contests, all created to make our readers’ wishes come true. So we have the Tinkle selfie contest going on simultaneously through the month, winners of which will get feature don our website. We also have a story writing contest, the winners of which will have Tinkle comics based on these stories in our next edition,” says Manas.
“Created more than three decades ago in 1980, we have still managed to stick to the spirit of what Mohandas Pai envisioned all those years ago. We still stay away from the darker stuff of life because we feel that children see that anyway. So you’ll never see any blood or death in Tinkle,” says Manas.
What has changed is that the stories and characters have evolved to reflect modern times. “So we have two major changes that have happened over the years. Supandi is no longer the helper. He is still the simpleton, but over the years he has had many occupational changes. Secondly, Shikari Shambhu now does not carry his trademark hunting gun, but instead uses a tranquiliser. Instead of hunting animals, he is now a conservationist, protecting animals,” he says. They also have new characters like Butterfingers, Super Weirdos, Pyarelal and more.
While Tinkle continues to top best-selling lists for kids in India, selling them has not become easier over the years. “Perhaps our biggest challenge has been that newer bookstores are not coming up in this country, so there is no scope to extend our distribution chain. We still sell about 300,000 Tinkle books a month,” says Manas.
Keeping with the times, Tinkle has also spilled on to the digital space. Anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 children visit www.tinkleonline.com. “Our data tells us that on an average, kids spend over 10 minutes on the website, which is great when you look at how Internet works,” he says.
Children can also subscribe to digital versions of the comic books from Magzter. “The numbers are still not that great but we’re hopeful because of how well the Amar Chitra Katha app is doing, They have had over 100,000 downloads since the release of the app,” he says.
According to Manas, his primary concern as a publisher is not to worry about whether books may be dying or not. “I just need to ensure that my stories are being read by children. Surface or medium, no bar,” he says. In an effort to push the boundaries of what Tinkle has been doing over the years, they have also experimented with the formats of the comics. One, they have now released consolidated comics titled Adventures of Supandi, Adventures of Shikari Shambhu, etc, which put together some of the best comics of each of these characters, to give a view of how they’ve developed over the years.
Another new format they’ve rolled out over the last few months are the Tall Tales. “Usually, the longest Tinkle stories run to about eight pages. Tall Tales features stories that run upto 44 pages. These are larger books compared to the regular digests,” says Manas.