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Narayan Debnath

Narayan Debnath was born and spent most of his life living in Shibpur, Howrah, India. His family hailed from Bikrampur in what is now Bangladesh but had migrated to Shibpur before his birth. In an interview with the Bangla magazine Parabaas, published online in 2001, Debnath confessed to being interested in the visual arts from a very early age. The family business was retailing gold and he had ample scope to design patterns for jewelry. Around the time of World War II, Debnath would study fine arts at the Indian Art College for five years. He did not continue to get his degree but instead discontinued in his final year. For the next few years he freelanced for advertising agencies creating movie slides and logos.

He was introduced to Deb Sahitya Kuthir, a major publishing house through a friend. People such as Pratul Chandra Banerjee, Shailo Chakraborty, Balaibandhu Roy, and Purnachandra Chakraborti were associated with the press at the time. Initially he illustrated a number of children’s books including adventure novels and Western classics in translation.

Introduction to comics :
The suggestion to work in comics in Bengali came from the editors at Deb Sahitya Kutir. Also the name Handa-Bhonda was their suggestion. Debnath had been familiar with foreign made comics but comics in Bengali had, to his admission, yet to take off. Sheyal Pandit, a comic strip created by Pratulchandra Lahiri for the Jugantar newspaper was one of the earliest ones. Handa-Bhonda became an instant success and continues to be printed in Shuktara every month . Handa-Bhonda was initially penciled and inked by Debnath and had no colored frames. Later it would be printed in grayscale.

Narayan Debnath’s first comic characters in color were for the comic strip and book Batul The Great. By Debnath’s admission, he thought up the idea of the superhero while returning from College Street, Calcutta. The name came to him instantly and he thought up the figure of the protagonist rapidly. Initially, he did not know what he foresaw as a future for Batul and did not give him any superpower.

Development of the genre :
When the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, closely associated with the Bangladesh War of Liberation flared up, he was asked by the editors and publishers to add an aura of invincibility. Debnath was reluctant at first because he was worried about legal implications. On assurance, he made Batul a superhero able to take on tanks, airplanes, and missiles. Bullets began to bounce off of him as in the case of Superman. Batul is still drawn by Debnath for Shuktara.

Later, Debnath was approached by Kishore Bharati for a Durga Puja special issue. The noted writer Premendra Mitra was editor at the time. Later, when Dinesh Chandra Chatterjee became editor, Debnath was asked to convert to strip form a detective thriller that he was writing. This metamorphosed into Black Diamond Indrajit Ray. The first serial strip that Debnath began to create for the Kishore Bharati monthly issues was Potolchand The Magician, which ran for about three issues. It seemed as if Dinesh Chatterjee was looking for something along the lines of Handa-Bhonda. Although not in the same mould, Nonte Phonte was born deriving inspiration from Handa Bhonda. Quickly, it developed into a separate storyline and also became published in comic book form.

His other creations include detective Koushik Ray for the ‘’Shuktara’’ cover and ‘’Bahadur Beral’’ (The Daring Cat). Neither of these are regularly published.

Works of Narayan Debnath :

  • Handa Bhonda
  • Batul The Great.
  • Nonte Phonte
  • Daanpite Khadu Ar Chemical Dadu


Narayan Debnath and his creations




Narayan Debnath
How Bantul was born ?