The world has always needed an external source on which it could rely upon in the difficult times. A source that could feed their imagination. In the ancient times it was the natural-spirits, in the medieval times it were the gods and demi-gods and in today’s age they are the superheroes. It does not mean that the superheroes are the gods, but superheroes represent gods. This concept is explicitly evident in DC’s Superman, who is not from our planet, he can fly, he is almost invincible, and above all he saves humanity and gives hope to them. These qualities are almost in sync with the powers of a God worshipped in any culture. Probably, worshipping Superman (by the comic fans) does not seems to be a weird idea then! Superman was also one of the earliest Superheroes to get introduced in comics. Action Comics No. 1, 1938, featured him showing great strength and fighting ill deeds. In the coming years, DC comics turned into a sales generating machine when it introduced further line-ups of Superheroes. Marvel was not far from the ongoing superhero phenomenon and quickly introduced The Human Torch as its first Superhero. Due to fierce market competition and huge popularity of Superheroes, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created The Avengers inspired from DC’S Justice League of America. These Superheroes are often characterized by their superhuman strength, strong motivation to save humanity and their virtual invulnerability.
Fig 6. The Superhero league of Raj Comics.
The Indian comics market was lacking a community of Indian superheroes since the beginning of comics culture. After the introduction of few characters like Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruv, the readership started to heighten significantly. Soon enough, other characters were introduced and a league of superheroes were created (figure 6). Although the superheroes of Raj comics were not completely a novel creation, but still their stories and characteristics became popular among the Indian readers. Among some of the popular superheroes are: Nagraj, Dhruv, Doga, Parmanu, Shakti, Bhokal, Bheriya, Tiranga, Inspector Steel, Anthony, Super Indian and Shaktimaan.
The study of Superheroes have remained an interesting area of discussion around the world. Their personalities and their motives reflect the society and culture we live in. Just like Batman’s darkness and mystery tell us something about our own mysterious nature, similarly the split personality if Kobi and Bheriya signifies good and bad existing within us. Superheroes are also strongly related to the politics of society. The way they behave, their actions, dialogues and costumes, everything signifies a deeper meaning of the culture they exist in. In this context, there are certain traits that is common among all the superheroes, these are:
1. Extraordinary Power (Physical or Mental or Both).
2. A strong Moral Code.
3. A motivation.
4. A secret identity.
5. A distinctive costume
6. n underlying motif or theme.
7. A Rogue.
8. A back-story.
Fig 7. Popularity Analysis of Indian Comics Characters.
To find about the popularity of some of the superheroes of Indian comics, a survey was done. The results of the survey is shown in figure 7. It was found that the most popular character is Chacha Chowdhary (Diamond Comics) and the least popular character is Yoddha (Raj comics). The survey also revealed that Chacha Chowdhary’s character and stories are more relevant to the readers since he is not really a superhero but a simple, humble and intelligent old man having a life of a common man. His witty and intellect based approach towards problems is what attracted the readers most.
Similarly, another survey was done to find the relevant strong domains of each characters. The domains were divide into: Strength, Intellect, Relevance and Motive. Figure 8 shows the positioning of different characters according to their character traits. Chahcha Chowdhary and Dhruv were the only characters to find a place in the Intellect category. Whereas Bahadur was found as a strong motive driven and contextually relevant character.
Fig 8. Character Positioning according to the Character traits.
Some interesting inferences could be drawn from figure 8. Previously, from the popularity analysis it was found that Chacha Chowdhary is the most popular character. His popularity is (possibly) related to his intellect driven characteristic feature. Followed by Dhruv, he is also found to be among the most popular character and with a strong intellect driven personality. Thus, it could also be implied that a strong intellect driven character is more popular among the Indian readers. More than throwing cars and beating rogues, readers are more interested towards a character who solves the problems in a more tactical manner. Such kind of inferences and study could be helpful for making characters that are more appealing and effective.