ACK Media — the company named after household name Amar Chitra Katha — is doing what India’s comics pioneer and its creator, Anant “Uncle” Pai, tried and failed 15 years ago: It is extending his popular children’s anthology franchise, Tinkle, into the Hindi language.
For the past 32 years, Tinkle has been popular with children, with a monthly circulation of over 2,25,000 copies — but in English.
Now, the Tinkle Special Digest, in Hindi is set to hit the stands beginning March.
Manas Mohan, chief operating officer, ACK Media, said, “We are opting for the Tinkle Digest route in Hindi to start with. The digest will see the release of four titles every quarter. We will do an initial print run of 25,000 copies per title to begin with.”
Extensive research found that a large readership exists for comic products in Hindi. “We found that children are already familiar with our characters such as Suppandi, Shikari and Kaliya,” said Mohan. “There is enough scope for original stories in the Hindi language, and there is not enough quality content in the children’s space.”
The Hindi comic content will be fresh, and not translations of existing stories, as straight translations cannot do justice to the format that involves a lot of play on language, Mohan said.
The company expects 25% of Tinkle’s revenues to come from its Hindi editions in three years. Depending on its success, Tinkle may be extended to other Indian languages as well. The south, Mohan said, is the strongest for Tinkle in the English language. Hence the focus on Hindi for the northern markets, where “traction has not been as strong.”
Backed by Kishore Biyani’s Future Ventures that owns close to a 66% in it, and Elephant Capital, which owns 26.1% in ACK Media, the company recently launched the 3-D full length animation film, Sons of Ram, on which it worked with Cartoon Network channel.
ACK Media also owns Pai’s Amar Chitra Katha, a brand which sells close to 90 million copies a month in 20 languages, besides other children’s brands such as Karadi Tales and Brainwave. Amar Chitra Katha blazed a trail in India’s home-grown comic industry by bringing ancient myths and legends to children growing up in modern India. A publishing tie-up with National Geographic for the latter’s titles and short animation films are also in the works, say industry sources.