If you are an 80s or 90s kid, you have surely read the Tinkle comics. But do you know anything the founding editor of the comic, Anant Pai? He also received the nickname, ‘Uncle Pai’.
We belong to the generation that grew up reading ‘Tinkle’ and ‘Amar Chitra Katha’. His thought-provoking stories and surreal characters affected us. And we continue to remember and relate with them. The way he connected with his young audience through letters was simply amazing. This is what earned him the name Uncle Pai.
Who was Uncle Pai?
Fondly remembered as the Indian Comics’ pioneer, he was born in Karnataka in the Sept of 1929. After primary schooling in Karnataka, he went to Mumbai. Uncle Pai had 2 science graduate degrees and spoke eight languages. Additionally, he was always passionate about writing. However, after an unsuccessful career in writing and publishing, he started working with the Times of India as a Junior Executive in their Books division.
What inspired him to start Tinkle?
One day, Uncle Pai was watching a children’s quiz contest on Doordarshan. He noticed that the participants confidently answered questions about Greek and Roman mythology. But, were unaware of things like the name of Lord Ram’s mother. He realized that the children didn’t know much about India’s rich heritage, folklore and mythology.
That year he left the job, joining India Book House with the aim to bring back stories of Indian folklore and Indian mythology to the children in a very simple and interesting manner. With the support of the late GL Mirchandani, Uncle Pai launched Amar Chitra Katha, a comic book series for children. It became a landmark in Indian comic book scene. Amar Chitra Katha is the largest selling comic book series with more than 100 million copies sold in 20 languages.
Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle
Inspired by the huge success of Amar Chitra Katha Uncle Pai started Tinkle, a monthly magazine for children, under Rang Rekha Features in 1981. Tinkle is a collection of jokes, educational articles and short stories in comic format. Tinkle also enjoyed huge success and is widely successful even today. Especially, its evergreen stars Suppandi and Shikari Shambhu, who are famous even among today’s generation.
Apart from comics, Uncle Pai has also authored a number of books on personality development for children and teenagers. He passed away peacefully on 24 Feb 2011 at the age of 81. Yes it’s been 8 years today.