Here is a list of comics and comic characters that I loved reading and meeting.
1) Dennis the menace: The Illustrated Weekly in the early seventies was instrumental in introducing us to Hank Ketcham's delightful characters Dennis, Joey, Margaret, Alice, Mr. Wilson, Mrs, Wilson.
2) Phantom, the ghost who walks: The Illustrated Weekly again, introduced the ghost who walks. The mysterious Mr. Walker created by Lee Falk, and the slew of characters that supported him, Hero the horse, Devil the wolf, Diana, his girlfriend, the golden Beach, the jade hut, the mark of the skull. Wonderful stuff that should have never been recreated on screen.
3) Mandrake the magician: Sometimes around that time entered Mandrake the greatest magician of all, with Lothar the Prince as his associate, Narda his girlfriend and Hojo, a Chinese martial arts expert who doubled as his cook. His legendary battles with his nemesis, I forget his name, kept it going on and on.
4) Bahadur: There was an Indian hero called Bahadur, a Bollywood hero kind of a guy with long locks, a horse and a pretty sexy girlfriend named Bina or something like that. He did normal human things like taking on dacoits etc which probably worked against him but he was an interesting character.
5) Asterix and Obelix: One must certainly read the entire series of this Goscinny and Uderzo creation. The little Gaul and his village full of eccentric Gauls who hold out against Julius Caesar and the might of Rome thanks to a magic potion. Hilarious, but with amazing detail, lessons in management to life, Asterix and Obelix are completely loveable.
6) Tintin: The little investigator of unknown age and background, his dog Snowy, and the most unforgettable character in all of Tintin, Captain Haddock who is so delightful that you want to take him home with you. With him there will never be a dull moment around. Can read the whole series all over again.
7) King Smurf: I have been searching for this one comic all my life, ever since I first read it during my tenth. It is unbelievably good, the bunch of smurfs who have an issue with their leadership and all that goes on behind. As brilliant as Animal Farm for its satire and close connection to reality, it is one of the funniest comics I have read.
8) Archie: One cannot think of comic strip characters without mentioning Archie and his loony friends Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie who inspire and tell a whole bunch of teenage readers that teenagers are the same across the world. delightful characters again, Mr. Weatherbee, Svenson, Miss. Gertrude and the awful cook I forget her name.
9) Amar Chitra Katha series: The single most important source for many children in India to know our history, mythology, heroes and Gods, Amar Chitra Katha gave us India in palatable, enjoyable doses. My heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Pai for this wonderful endeavour and his unbounded love for the children of India. I would be surprised if he has not been given lifetime contribution awards by the Government of India.
10) Lucky Luke: The slim hero from the wild west and his talking horse were a hilarious duo and gave me many hours mirth and amusement.
11) Beau Peep: The French soldier and his friends are among the top three in my book. He always makes me laugh, and his earnest but prone to disaster friend and the other characters in the comic strip are really funny.
12) Beetle Bailey: The lazy US soldier and his equally lazy friends, Zero for one, his sergeant, the amorous and rather light headed General (and his buxom secretary), sarge's dog who dresses up like little sarge, the officious and pedantic lieutenant made up hours of sheer fun.
13) Dilbert: It was brilliant when it started but then it lost its freshness. It made all office goers say 'hey, that's me'. Stuff that can be read anytime sepcially by management buffs.
14) Garfield: This completely out of the normal creation, the cynical, lazy and wicked cat Garfield, and its good hearted owner, the frilly good natured dog have a completely different take on life.
15) Richie Rich: One cannot forget this creation for the sheer novelty of the idea - the world's richest boy. His lady love, Dollar the dog, Cadbury the butler and his bunch of regular friends kept the comic strip interesting. However none of the characters except Cadbury was really interesting for me.
16) The Common Man: R.K. Laxman's ponderous common man who is always watching with an expression of incredulity while things are happening around him is a classic creation. One can browse through volumes and volumes of these cartoons, all stand alone and not told in story form because the single cartoon itself tells a story, forever.
17) Budigi or some name like that: A Telugu character, a naughty little girl, created by famous cartoonist Mallik was pretty interesting. A desi Dennis equivalent which was brilliant.
18) Baker Street: This was brilliant - Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson - in a comic strip. Must read.
Will add two more now as an afterthought:
19) Superman: The original comic was difficult to get. But Clark Kent and the Daily News, Lois Lane, of an ordinary man who turns into Superman was brilliant. No wonder Superman is such a huge hit. But somehow I never really identified with him.
20) Batman: Another dark and mysterious comic strip character who was too dark and mysterious for me. Mr. Bruce Wayne did not appeal to me too much either. But the movie Dark Knight was brilliant but it was entirely due to Heath Ledger's performance.
21) Tarzan, the King of Apes: How did I forget Tarzan? And Jane? And Korak? And Kreegah? And Bundolo? And that is as much I remember from Tarzan but that is enough. It was fun and really inspired us to climb trees, to swing by branches, sometimes causing injuries to us when we fell off. Thankfully we did not get inspired by Superman to fly.
22) Modesty Blaise: This was one comic strip that we had to watch more than understand. Modesty Blaise was probably the sexiest cartoon character we saw in our childhood and that knocked off all sense from the
actual content. I think she was probably a detective who could beat people up in some really sexy costumes and low cleavage revealing tops.
These and a host of other characters have kept the laughs coming through the years. Will add others as I rediscover them. Thanks guys!