Are you one of those who first and foremost reads the day’s comic strip upon opening the newspaper or a magazine? Then this article is a must read for you.
Almost every newspaper has a page devoted to comic strips, crossword, sudoku, and television listings. This page is like an oasis is in a desert, a relief. It comes as a diversion from reality, from the loss, destruction, and the evils of the world.
The comic strips, be they Garfield, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, or our very own You Said It, all have a story behind them. Each of these has at least one character that is close to the creator’s heart, either inspired by a person or persons. So read on and find it for yourself.
- LITTLE RED HAIRED GIRL from Peanuts
Who can forget Charlie Brown’s love interest, the Little Red-Haired Girl? The girl that he dreams about and pines for, never actually seen by the readers.
Created by Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts first appeared in the newspaper in 1950 and concluded in 2000 upon Charles’ death. During his life, he dated a woman named Donna Johnson Wold who also had hair that was red and was the inspiration behind the Girl. Their relationship ended with her marrying someone else, and with him ever since trying to recapture their lost love in his comic strip. Many parallels can be found between Schulz’s personal upheavals and Peanuts comic strips, like Donna’s wedding day and the day the Girl is moving away.
- Chacha Chaudhary from Chacha Chaudhary
You all must remember the line “ Chacha Chaudhary’s brain works faster than a computer”, which has become a common household phrase, being used in different contexts.
Created by the “Walt Disney of India”, Pran Kumar Sharma, Chacha Chaudhary first came into print in 1971 as a comic strip in the Hindi Magazine Lotpot, becoming the first indigenous comic strip. The protagonist Chacha Chaudhary was an unconventional hero; he wasn’t a muscleman, he was a wise old man who used the power of his brain to solve problems involving tricksters, criminals, etc.
The inspiration behind the character as described by Pran was, “Each family has its own wise old man. He solves his problems with common sense, but with a touch of humour. Humour is the basis of my cartoon.” The character of Chacha Chaudhary came to be one of the most recognised cartoons among kids.
- GARFIELD from Garfield
I am sure many of us can relate to the lazy, cynical cat who loves to eat and sleep.
Created by Jim Davis, Garfield was first published in 1978, was cancelled in between, later resumed due to demands of angry readers, and is now one of the most widely read comic strips. In his days, Jim noticed that a lot of comic strips focused on dogs but none on cats, thus Garfield was born.
Garfield is named after Jim’s grandfather, James Garfield Davis who Jim describes as “a big, cantankerous, cynical man. The name seemed to fit the personality and shape of the character.”
Now Garfield has spread to the world of cinema and television.
- HOBBES from Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson, often described as “legendary”, is the man behind the witty, humorous, and at times philosophical comic strip Calvin and Hobbes that features the mischievous Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. The strip ran from 1985-1995 and till date appears in many newspapers.
Hobbes is inspired in looks and in characteristics by one of Bill’s own cat. Hobbes greeting Calvin at the door is similar to the way Bill’s cat greeted him when he returned home. The question that troubles readers are about Hobbes’ existence, Bill clarifies it, “Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way. I show two versions of reality, and each makes complete sense to the participant who sees it. I think that’s how life works”
- Suppandi from Suppandi
If you were one of those kids who looked forward to the monthly edition of Tinkle, then you definitely must remember the simple minded and goofy Suppandi, who never fails to make you laugh by getting into trouble with his employers.
Suppandi was first published in the Tinkle magazine in 1983 and he was brought to life by Ram Waeerkar. What made Suppandi an instant success and one of Tinkle’s most popular character was that he reminded everyone of the man in everyone’s locality who tried to do things his way, according to his interpretation, and ended up creating a havoc.
- THE COMMON MAN from You Said It
R.K. Laxman, India’s most renowned cartoonist, rose to fame with his highly political daily comic strip, You Said It, which first appeared in 1951 in The Times of India. The Common Man is a portrayal of the average Indian, bespectacled and clad in a dhoti. R.K. Laxman’s Common Man has never spoken a word, being a “silent spectator” to the hypocrisies and inequalities of the world.
- DENNIS from Dennis the Menace
Before being a comic book series, Dennis the Menace was a comic strip. Created by Hank Ketcham, it first appeared in newspapers as a daily comic strip in 1951. Dennis is the five and half-year-old mischievous trouble maker, based on Ketcham’s son named Dennis Ketcham. Ketcham’s wife once described their son as, “a menace.” and thus, the name was born.
- Shikari Shambu from Shikari Shambu
Shikari Shambu, the forest ranger who seems to be blessed with good luck, never fails to fascinate the readers with his tales of dumb luck. The comic strip was launched in order to compete with the rival magazine Target and their comic character Moochwala. Thus, Shikari Shambu was born in 1983, inspired by a hit Tv show I Love Lucy, which had a character who was a “boastful but cowardly” hunter.
The popularity of Shikari Shambu is accredited to Luis Fernandes and Vasant Halbe for Shambu’s comical illustration, hat pulled up to his eyes, and the irony that he never actually killed an animal!
Tell us about your favourite comic strip characters in the comments section below!