Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) comics is one of the largest publishers of Indian comics. The comic series is based on stories from Indian mythology, legends, epics, history as well as biographies of historical people and folktales along with other cultural stories. The company is headquartered in Mumbai and its founder Anant Pai was an Indian educationalist as well as a pioneer in Indian comics. Besides Amar Chitra Katha, Pai is also responsible for the creation of Tinkle comics, a children’s anthology. 


Anant Pai was born in the Madras Presidency of British India in 1929. After being orphaned at a young age, he was brought up by his maternal grandfather. After his death, Pai moved to Bombay at the age of 15 where he studied in Orient School, Mahim. He pursued his higher education in chemistry, physics and chemical engineering at the Institute of Chemical Technology and held a dual degree from the University of Bombay. He quickly gave up his career and went into publishing. After a failed initial attempt at creating his own children’s comics, he joined the Times of India book division as a junior executive which let him witness the creation of Indrajal Comics which published western comics like The Phantom and Mandrake. It was from here that Pai gained valuable experience in the creation of comic books which furthered his passion for publishing and comics even though he was dissatisfied as they only published western imports.


Anant Pai has stated the inspiration behind Amar Chitra Katha was a quiz contest that aired on Doordarshan. In a quiz in February 1967, Pai noticed that participants could easily answer questions related to Greek mythology but was shocked when they failed to answer the question, “In the Ramayana, who was Rama’s mother?”. He despaired at this state of affairs where the youth knew more about the mythology of a foreign culture than the legends and stories of their own culture and religion. After witnessing this, he told his wife Lalita that he wished he could do something for the country and asked for her consent. Anant Pai has always proclaimed that this was the event that started him down the path to create Amar Chitra Katha, a comic book series dedicated to Indian culture and history in the hopes of educating the youth about the richness of Indian culture.

Anant Pai left his job at Indrajal comics in 1967 and started Amar Chitra Katha by buying the rights for 10 American fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Pinocchio. These were the first publications by the ACK brand and served as a basis for the creation of further comics and provided valuable experience in the independent running of a publishing house. The first Indian comic produced and released by Amar Chitra Katha was Krishna which became serial number #11. Amar Chitra Katha was founded by Pai with the help of G. L. Mirchandani of the Indian Book House and became a comic book series that retold stories from Indian culture at a time when most other creators rejected the concept as comics in this period was mostly in the form of fiction or political satire.


 At the very beginning, Amar Chitra Katha struggled to find a market as schools considered comics to be frivolous and would not buy them for their libraries while the stores would not stock them as they were not associated with an established brand. Their fortunes finally turned when they managed to persuade a school in Delhi to run an experiment where one group of students relied on ACK while the other used traditional methods for the study of history. Later both groups were given a history test and the group using Amar Chitra Katha comics did better than those who studied using traditional methods. As word of this experiment spread, people started buying ACK books more frequently. The beautifully illustrated stories about brave warriors, wise kings, scheming villains as well as about gods and demons attracted the interest of young readers and interest in the series continued rising. 


Anant Pai took on the role of writer, editor, and publisher at the beginning but soon expanded his team. The series went on to reach a major publishing milestone in the Indian comic book scene, selling over 85 million copies of 440 different titles. By the late 70s, it was selling 5 million copies a year and had a peak circulation of 700,000 a month. The series was a commercial success and has shaped the minds of children in regard to Indian culture and history for decades. To this day Anant Pai is recognised as a pioneer in Indian comics and has received many awards for his contribution to Indian culture and publishing. He passed away in February 2011 at the age of 82.



Over the years this company has grown into a behemoth of the Indian comic publishing scene even as it faced new challenges. The backlash due to the lack of stories on Muslims caused a massive increase in the diversity of books produced. The coming of the digital age caused the publisher to change some of its strategies. They opened their own animation studio which produced animated series and also animated movies. As the use of the Internet became widespread in India, it brought along new challenges which caused ACK to create its own mobile app in order to secure a place in the new digital market. Still, the internet age brought along the problems of piracy of comics which caused a fall in the sale of physical copies of the comics. However, Amar Chitra Katha has persevered and sustained in the modern age and remains, as per many, the most famous comic series published by Indians.

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