Cartoonist Narayan Debnath, creator of ‘Bantul The Great’, ‘Handa Bhonda’, passes away at 97

Cartoonist Narayan Debnath, the creator of famous Bengali comic characters ‘Nonte Phonte’, ‘Bantul The Great’, ‘Handa Bhonda’, passed away in Kolkata on January 18, 2022, at the age of 97.

Cartoonist Narayan Debnath passes away
Cartoonist Narayan Debnath passes away

Narayan Debnath news: Cartoonist Narayan Debnath, the creator of popular Bengali comic characters ‘Nonte Phonte’, ‘Bantul The Great’, ‘Handa Bhonda’, passed away in Kolkata on January 18, 2022, at the age of 97. The hospital where he undergoing treatment informed that he died after a prolonged illness. Debnath was admitted to the private hospital On December 24, 2021, and was on ventilator support.

Narayan Debnath was awarded Padma Shree in 2021. West Bengal Government had handed over him the country’s fourth-highest civilian award while he was undergoing treatment. Earlier, the beloved cartoonist was also awarded Bangabibhsuan in 2013 as well as the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Narayan Debnath: Record of longest-running comics by an individual artiste

Narayan Debnath was an Indian comics artist, illustrator, and writer. Debnath was the creator of the popular Bengali comic strips of ‘Bantul The Great’ (1965), Handa Bhonda (1962), and Nonte Phonte (1969).

Cartoonist Narayan Debnath holds the record of the longest-running comics by an individual artist for his Honda Bhonda comics series which completed its continuous 53 years of running.

Debnath was also the first and the only Comics-Artist in the country to receive a D. Litt. Degree.

Narayan Debnath: Early life and introduction to comics

1. Narayan Debnath's family hailed from Bikrampur in what is now in Bangladesh but migrated to Shibpur before his birth.

2. Debnath was interested in the visual arts from a very early age. During the time of World War 2, he studied fine arts at the Indian Art College for 5 years, however, he did not continue to get his degree and instead discontinued in his final year. 

3. Narayan Debnath freelanced for the next few years for the advertising agencies creating the movie logo and slides. 

4. From 1950 to 1961, Debnath illustrated a number of children's books including adventure novels and the Western classics in translation. His journey in comics began in 1962 with Handa-Bhonda in Shuktara.

5. The suggestion of working in comics in Bengali came from the editors at Dev Sahitya Kutir. Narayan Debnath had been familiar with foreign comics but comics in Bengal, had yet to take off.

6. Handa-Bhonda in 1962 became an instant hit and continues to be printed in Shuktara every month. Initially, Handa Bhonda was penciled and inked by Debnath and had no colored frames. 

7. Debnath's first comic characters in colors were for the comic strip and book 'Bantul The Great'. The comics made its first appearance in comic strips in the May-June  1965 issue of the monthly children's periodical called 'Shuktara'. 

Other comic illustrations by Narayan Debnath

Narayan Debnath, apart from Bantul The Great, also illustrated Rabi Chobi (1961). It was written by Bimal Ghosh about the childhood days of Rabindranath Tagore. 

Debnath's Rajar Raja/Chobite Vivekananda in 1962 recreated the life and the times of Swami Vivekananda, while his Chitre Durgeshnandini in 1962 re-imagined Dugeshnandini novel by Bankim Chattopadhyay in graphic novel techniques. 

However, it was Narayan Debnath's Handa Bhonda, Shootki or Mootki, Nonte Phonte that revolutionized the comic genre in Bengal. 

Narayan Debnath Selected Creations

S. No. Narayan Debnath's creations
1. Handa Bhonda
2. Batul The Great
3. Nonte Phonte
4. Black Diamond Indrajit Roy
5. Patolchand The Magician
6. Detective Koushik Roy
7. Bahadur Beral
8. Daanpite Khandu Aar TarChemical Dadu
9. Petuk Master Batuklal
10. Sutki-Mutki
11.  Hasir Atom Bomb


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