The Insignificant Girl

    • Lucca November 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Manasee Jog, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, India


    Heroes form an important part of narratives in Indian comic periodicals such as Baitul the Great, Bahadur, Nagaraj, Shikari Shambhu, and in publications such as ACK and Chandamama. This paper examines Indian comics from the postindependence era (circa1947 onwards), focusing on the journey of the oft seen, yet not so vocal, female characters from these periodicals. Batul’s aunt, Shambhu’s wife, Bahadur’s girlfriend Bela, Chacha Chaudhary’s wife Bini Chachi, Phantom’s wife Diana Palmer and Mandrake’s girlfriend Narda (among others), were seldom the protagonists yet were omni-present in the storylines. This paper proposes that these characters helped shape a generation, not just through their actions but also through the larger discussions and perceptions surrounding these female characters. This paper highlights the gender polarity and the disparity in story proportion given to the female character vis-à-vis the male. In doing so it addresses how comics were in support of all things patriarchal, and helped propagate a way of thinking that we now understand to be not just dangerous, but destructive. Finally, it considers contemporary female characters from Indian comics now and contemplates the winds of change over generations as India moves from being a ‘third world country’ to a ‘superpower’.