In Antiques, Comics

Yesterday was one of those amazing days that rarely happens.  It all started with a simple tweet I received from Rajendran Dandapani, the Head of iGarage – the Apple-focused development team at one of my favorite companies, Zoho Corp.

Kiruba,  Heard you are gunning for a comic-collection record? Didn’t know you were a Tarzan fan. Have a trunkful from old Indian Express..

Rajendran had obviously chanced upon my Comics Collection website . I was happy to find another comic fan in Chennai and replied to him with this tweet.

Yes, Raj. Great to hear you are a Tarzan and Comics fan. Please guard those strips with your life!

I nearly fell out of my chair when I read Rajendran’s reply.

Kiruba, I meant – I am planning to give them away…

We spoke on the phone and fixed up a time to meet together at his residence in the evening. When I was warmly welcomed into the home, I was shown the treasure box. A carton filled with comic strips.

All the comic strips were neatly segregated by stories and years and packed inside polythene covers. Each of them were numbered. I could immediately feel the passion and love with this hobby was pursued.

A bigger surprise was to await me. I was introduced to Rajendran’s Dad. A very amiable man with a radiating charm, walked out of his room. He couldn’t shake hands as he walked out mid-way from his dinner. It was then Rajendran told me that his Dad is a huge Tarzan fan and has been collecting Tarzan strips since when he as a young boy.

Rajendran’s Dad spoke pristine English and articulated how he was a big fan of Johnny Weismuller, the 5 time Olympics swimming gold medalist who acted in Tarzan movies. Since his younger days, he would carefully cut the Tarzan comic strips that appeared in Indian Express and save them. This was a bed time story tool for his young son.

Its obvious where Rajendran’s passion for Tarzan came from. Raj says that the Tarzan comics helped build a close strong bond between him and his Dad.

As me and Rajendran continued to talk, I asked him the difficult question. It was clearly the elephant in the room and had to get it out of the way. How can he afford to give away the collection? After all, not only was there an humongous effort that was spent in diligently collecting the strips, there were extremely strong and deep memories attached.

I expected Raj to give a pained reply. Surprisingly he didn’t. Either that or he is very good at masking his feelings. He told me that they had made digital scans of the strips and now its easier for his kid to read them on an iPad. More importantly, there is a copy of each of those strips available online. Besides, the cartons were occupying space at his home and they were doing some serious spring cleaning.

As a comics collector, I have total respect for Rajendran and his Dad for what they have accomplished. When I picked the carton and walked towards the car, I had a heavy feeling in my heart. A feeling of deep responsibility. The carton not only contains years of comic strips but tons of memories and nostalgia. It carries an inexplicably bonding between father and son. I have to be a good custodian and pass it onto the next generation. That’s the best form of gratitude I can show to Rajendran and his Dad.