Illustrations: Bimal Das

Shubho / July 18th, 2012

In the 1980s, the children’s magazine Anandamela briefly transformed into a diminutive digest-sized publication. The new outfit also flaunted a brilliant new arching masthead, drawn by Satyajit Ray, and the whole publication became a more colorful affair. The contents of the magazine too became more diverse, with more puzzles & games included within the folds along with several serialized comic adventures – both global syndicated franchises and originals. A homemade original series, Sadashib, illustrated by Bimal Das, was the most remarkable of these. Filmmaker Tarun Majumdar had adapted the story for the graphic format (from a novel by Saradindu Bandhyopadhyay), while Bimal Das meticulously drew & colored frame after frame: on an average, eight painstakingly painted frames per issue.

Frames from Sadashib; illustrated by Bimal Das

One of the major attractions of Anandamela in the 1980s and 1990’s was the high standard of its illustrations. The house of ABP boasted of a bevy of brilliant draftsmen: Bimal Das, Samir Sarkar, Subrato Choudhury, Debasish Deb, Krishnendu Chaki, Subrato Gangopadhyay, Anup Roy & Prabir Sen, to name those who immediately spring to mind.

Bimal Das, because of his inimitable style & technique, stood out. In fact, in the history of Bengali illustration, Bimal Das turns a unique figure whose style & vision bore no clear precedence in Bengal, and the relentless reach of his skill is unlikely to be emulated.

As a ‘commercial artist’ in Bengal, he had to function simultaneously as an illustrator, a cartoonist, a portraitist, a designer, and even as a lettering & layout artist: his works ranged from naturalistic watercolors to highly stylized, even decorative, artwork for various publications.

My favorites are his intricate pen & ink drawings for some of the children’s books, where the richness of little details creates a mood that is often reminiscent of the scribbled denseness of a John Tenniel’s, but with the graphic clarity of Winsor McCay:

Illustrations by Bimal Das.

As we turn a decade since Bimal Das passed away in 27th July, 2002, there is still a generation who fondly remember his work, especially his Sadashib. To those who wonder why such a singular work isn’t being collected & published as a comic book: rumor has it that a fire in the ABP office destroyed the original artworks, making it unlikely that they will ever be able to publish it again. The surviving prints are of inferior quality; that they were all small & digest-sized doesn’t help either.

Links & Acknowledgments:

1. I thank Sri Sougata Purkayastha for the images of Sadashib.
2. Boi Ar Comics: an excellent resource of old Bengali comics & children’s magazines.
3. For more works by Bimal Das, do visit the artist’s Facebook Page.


11 Responses to “Illustrations: Bimal Das” more

Tamal_C / 21 Jul 2012

Sadasib pure geche shune khubi dukkho holo ! chi chi. Bimal babu ekti asamanyo protibha jar tulona nei.

Tobe apnar bikhyato Anandar illustratorder list aro boro hobar kotha noi ki= kothay Subhaprasanna, Ahirbhusan, Alok Dhar? Eder naam shunechhen? Shottorer doshoke eari chilo Anandamelar rupokarer dol.

Shubho / 21 Jul 2012

Tamal Babu: I grew up in the 80s/90s myself, if that explains my bias. My list featured those designers/illustrators in the house of Ananda whom I grew up admiring (in the -80s & -90s, and even later in 2000s), though some of them actually started out in the -70s, or earlier. Among those mainly working in the -70s, I like Sudhir Maitro & Purnendu Patrea more. Both were fine draftsmen, and technically very sound.

If you want an extended list, here's a roster of about 30 odd illustrators I have so far noted who worked for Ananda (either regularly, or occasionally):

Ahibhushan Mallik / Alok Dhar / Anup Roy / Babul Ghosh / Bijan Karmakar / Bimal Das / Debasish Deb / Goutam Roy / Jayanto Ghosh / Kamalkumar Majumdar / Krishnendu Chaki / Madan Sarkar / Narayan Debnath* / Prabir Sen / Prithvish Gangopadhyay / Purnendu Patrea / Pranabesh Maity / Saibal Ghosh / Samir Sarkar / Satyajit Ray* / Shankar Basu / Shekhar Roy / Sudhir Maitro / Subodh Dasgupta / Subrato Choudhury / Subrato Gangopadhyay / Subrato Tripathi / Sunil Sheel / Suvaprasanna Bhattacharya...

Would love it if you knew of a few more to add to the roll: I am sure the original register is longer...
* Both Satyajit & Narayan Debnath of course weren't on the Ananda payroll. In the case of Debnath: he did work for Anandamela on a couple of projects before it became a separate magazine, and was still barely a color spread for children in the ABP broadsheet. He illustrated two serialized comic-format biographies of Rabindranath & Vivekananda.

meme-sahib / 23 Jul 2012

brings back a flood of happy dreamy childhood memories, picklesoaked afternoons with frnds!!! sandesh, kishorebharati, anandamela, shuktara, indrajal, amarchitrakatha!!! was 2 small when shadashib pub'ed. but i still read them the school lib that had n entire shelfful of old issues. post more!!!!

tanu / 18 Aug 2012

darun laglo

Shubho / 23 Aug 2012

Just been tipped off that a publishing house (other than Ananda) is planning to collect & publish Sadashib. I don't know how, though...

@meme: yes, we too had those leather-bound volumes of back issues in our school library :)

@tanu: thanks a lot!

chandrabindu / 01 Sep 2012

Shubho-da, thanks for the blog. I think you are right about sadashiv. i dont want to name the publication but sadly it has been publishing these classics but they have zero respect for quality. They will scan old issues and print them without standard digital restoration or editing. different pages look different from each other,. plus pixellation, lowres, bad retouching. sadly I am going to say same is going to happen with sadashiv. that is why ABP is not printing this.

Shubho / 11 Sep 2012

@sandipan: Thanks for your comment. You are probably right. What you said is also true of many publishing houses in Bengal, and it has always been the case: I think the idea of making perfect books, if you know what I mean, was something most of them either were never aware of, or simply couldn't afford. The digital technologies have only made it look worse. But while we wait for a publishing house to start printing flawless & perfectly curated collections, I don't mind flipping through these. Even in their haste, as they rushed to put these books together, they still did better than those who did nothing.

Nilanjan das / 09 Sep 2012

Thanks a lot for the lovely write up.

Shubho / 11 Sep 2012

Nilanjan da: Thank you, I am glad you found this :)

... / 10 Sep 2012

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animesh / 30 Jul 2014

Dear sir/Madam,
I was going through Anandamela golpo sankalan, edited by poulomi Das, containing selected short stories published between 1975-2000
The illustrations by Bimal Das stand out, as children when I used to read these stories, these illustrations had left a lasting impression, and when I got the chance to look upon them, through this compilation by anandamela, it took me back in time and I wanted to know about Bimal Das.
Today in the time of Google everything is a fingertip away.
I chanced upon this wonderful blog. Thanks a lot for sharing details of Mr.Das, sad to know he is no more.
I hope ananda publishers preserve his wonderful illustrations, they are just amazing.