|Former editors||NM Mohan|
|Circulation||(Indian Readership Survey-Q4, 2010)|
|Publisher||V Sajeev George|
|Company||Malayala Manorama Publications Limited|
|Based in||Kottayam, Kerala|
Balarama (literally "Joy of Kids") is an Indian comic magazine published by MM Publications Ltd., of Malayala Manorama group from Kottayam, Kerala in Malayalam-language. It is one of the most largely read comic magazines in India. Starting as a monthly in 1972, it became a fortnightly periodical in November 1984, before finally settling as a weekly in 1999.
Balarama played a major role in the development of children's literature in Malayalam. The magazine also helped to promote reading habit among the Malayalee children. Along with the comics (original or syndicated), the content includes fables, rhymes, literally classics and various puzzles. Much like Disney, most of the artists in Balarama usually work under the restrictions of anonymity. Other members of the balarama family includes the Balarama Digest,a weekly that covers a different general topic in each issue this publication has won critical and public appreciation owing to its rich content and accuracy.
Early period (1972–1984)
Balarama was started in 1972 by the house of Malayala Manorama, one of the most widely read dailies in Kerala. From the beginning, the monthly magazine was noted for its high standard of content. The publishers were mainly focusing on more grown kids, rather than young in this early period. Over the years, it became a comic magazine, with more comic strips and less children's stories, fables and rhymes.
Some earlier attempts to publish children's periodicals in Malayalam were proved failures. Among them, a magazine known as Ambili Ammavan (the Malayalam version of Chandamama) survived for a long period. However, it was Pai and Pai Company's comic magazine Poompatta that established among the readers for the first time. NM Mohan, the editor of Poomatta of the time, is considered as the architect and designer of all typical children's magazines in Kerala.
Creation of Mayavi
In 1983, NM Mohan moved to Balarama and took charge as the editor-in-chief. He created the iconic Mayavi series, with Mumbai-based artist Pradeep Sathe. It debuted in the August 1984 issue of the Balarama and went on to become the flagship strip of the magazine.
Later Balarama created a record in the history of the circulation of Malayalam comics and replaced Poompatta as the market leader. The rise of Balarama soon inspired other Malayalam newspapers to follow the suit and produce a number of similar type comic magazines. The magazine became a fortnightly periodical in November 1984. In the early 1990s, the magazine was able print completely in multi-colour. From 17 April 1999, the fortnightly became a weekly. However, the demands on the artists increased twice by this move.
Foreign syndication era (2000–present)
A major breakthrough in the development of Balarama came in the 25 March 2000 issue. From this issue, it started syndicating American comic strip "Spider-Man". It was the first time an American super-hero appeared in a Malayalam comic magazine. The trend of syndicated super-heroes followed as Batman, the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician comics also appeared in the subsequent years. In the summer of 2000, the magazine started syndicating Disney comics and Henry strips. Pinocchio was the first Disney comics to syndicate, followed by classics such as Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.
In mid-2001, the magazine started a new series Soothran, which later became quite popular among the readers. More than 500 weekly strips of Soothran have been published so far, each one about 4 or 5 pages in length.
After the retirement of NM Mohan in 2012, AV Harisanker took over charge as the editor-in-chief. With the decreasing sales, connected to competition for the juvenile market from video and then computer games and the Internet, the new editor-in-chief faces a tough challenge to keep up with the demands of the market.
They are trying to bring new innovations into their comics to attract more children in this era of computer and social medias.They introduced 3D comics,moving stories in their comics.
Famous series appeared in Balarama
From its early period, cartoonist PJ Venugopal's series appears in every issue of the magazine. Series such as Thalamaratte, Pulivalu and Jambanum Thumbanum, discussing relevant social issues, were quite popular among the readers. Venugopal also draws the last page strip, known as Mrigathipathyam Vannal.
Balarama is known for its decades long partnership with Amar Chitra Katha. Until recently, MM Publications held the rights publish Amar Chitra Katha comics in Malayalam.
- Shikari Shambu
- Mandan Subru
- Dundu Mon
- Raja Thuglan
- Akku & Ikku
- Chotta Bheem
- Sam Green
- Mayaajaala kathakal
- Disney Fairies
- Pappus (Henry comic strip)
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