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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Amar Chitra Katha in a Fresh Online Avatar

Amar Chitra  Katha LogoMe and so many like me learnt their history, mythology and biographies with quite an avidness, thanks to a publication called Amar Chitra Katha.

Now that venerable institution has relaunched the comic magazine in an online avatar. Though the people at ACK-Media are terming it as a 'launch', the domain existed for quite a while. It is only that the place has been refurbished.

Amar Chitra Katha used be be a property of India Book House but late last year ACK Media acquired it (alongwith another landmark publication - Tinkle). Anant Pai (better known as Uncle Pai) is the Editor Emeritus and Chief Story Teller in the new entity.

Amar Chita Katha - ParvatiThe website is being positioned as a "hub for everything related to Indian culture and story-telling."

The site allows users to create stories and art, lists cultural events (powered by Asklaila), and the ambitious ACK Pedia that seeks to be a combo of Wikipedia, Google Knol and Citizendium but limited to India and its culture.

But I am more interested in the comics. There's one story of the week that is available for free (but not for the readers of Cutting the Chai), to access the rest you need to pay $0.99 (Rs 40) per issue. I find the pricing a bit too high to be able generate widespread interest. In this digital age premium pricing often backfires.

It will indeed be a 'pleasure' to see characters (read nubile nymphets) that we grew up with in a digital avatar.

e-NymphThough the site highlights only one story a week and the others are supposedly inaccesible to the general readers, you can find them here (I just dug out the appropriate links):

* Who is the Greater Devotee?

* The Most Beautiful Child in Agra

* Bhagat Singh

* The Ascetic and His Loin-Cloth

* Gopal Measures the Earth

* Shiva the Fisherman

* Hira the Milkmaid

* The Tiger and the Traveller

* Gajendra

* Rama Earns a Title

* The Man Who Brought Ill Luck

* The Day the Earth Broke into Two

UrvashiACK Media might take off has taken off the content if they realise realised that I'm giving people a sneek free preview of Amar Chitra Katha comics here.

In this online world, you either show all or know how to hide it proper. There's always someone lurking around the corner.

By the logic that if it is viewable it is downloadable, you can download for free Amar Chitra Katha.

But then I wouldn't like to delve into that. Free online reading is fine for now.

But ACK Media should lower the prices, else people would do just that.

The music industry hasn't yet learnt its lesson, the comics industry should.

Related posts:
* The Tinkle of Silver
* The Umbilici in Amar Chitra Katha
* The Original Superhero - Supremo


Vaishnavi said...

Sorry to be cheeky, but how can I save the ACK stories you've listed? I don't know how to save flash files.


Indianblogger said...

Hey, I grew up devouring ACK comics. When visitors came to our house, at railway stations and libraries I read as many as possible. My reading speed and knowledge increased manifold because of ACK. Pity that children today, watch more TV and CN. Thanks for a lovely post. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, You guessed it. I read the books online sitting in my office ;)

Soumyadip said...

Vaishnavi: As I had mentioned in the post I didn't want to go into the details of downloading the Amar Chitra Katha images, because I thought nobody will bother (just a hunch). But now since you asked, here are the details:

In this case downloading the flash files wouldn't help. As the flash file is the common 'reader' that displays the images by calling them from the paths specified.

I hope you are using Firefox (or Google Chrome) as your browser, as I'm more comfortable with it (in case you are an Internet Explorer fan let me know, I'll post the details for IE users).

Step 1: Clear your browser's cache (It'll remove the unnecessary files and make life a little simpler for us. In Firefox press Ctrl+Shift+Delete and the clear private data window would open. Select the Cache check box - in case it already isn't - and click on the Clear Private Data Now button.

Step 2: Open the Amar Chitra Katha comic link and let it load in full.

Step 3: Type about:cache in Firefox's address bar. In the page that displays under the Disk cache device click on the List Cache Entries link. (or simply type about:cache?device=disk in the address bar)

Step 4: Press Ctrl+F and paste _file.php in the Find text box and press enter or click on the next link.

Step 5: The links would look something like this (the numerals would be different):

Step 6: Copy all the similar links that you find there on a Notepad or any other text editor.

Step 7: Now replace the _file.php part from the links and instead put .jpg. Therefore becomes

Step 8: Copy the edited links to the Firefox address bar and press enter. The jpg image would load. You can right click on the image and save the image where you want to.

Alternatively you can skip Steps 6 to 8 for another option, that will save you the time of redownloading the images.

Step 6: Instead of copying the link, click on it.

Step 7: The resulting page would have a path mentioned on it next to the text file on disk. It would read something like this C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR USER NAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\6q3dkcu8.default\Cache\E4AC7758d01

Step 8: Copy the path and paste it on to Firefox's address bar. The image would open immediately. Save the images as you would otherwise do.

Step 9: Press the back button to go back to about:cache?device=disk page. And repeat the same steps for the next image.

Remember to delete your browser cache before downloading a fresh set of images.

A bit tedious, but it works.

Indianblogger: Hope this endeavour by ACK incites some interest in the kids.

UP said...

Woow, has really taken the comics in india to the next level. I am a great fan of ACK, and not only me but my kids too love them. Website that ack has is a really great tool for keeping in touch with the old stories and the comic inteface is really nice. I love Uncle Pai and his comics. I wish them great luck.

Soumya, thanks for the steps which may allow a user to download these images, but really speaking, why would one do that at all ? Vaishnavi dont you think that these sories are free any ways.

Why would one not read them online on the website itself.

Moreover Soumay, these steps are too technical. I tried first few but finally got bored to understand and execute them. Hey and these were 10 steps only for one image. The time that would take me to do these 10 steps for each page would easily be 30 mins in which I would have already ready the story online clicking simple Next. Moreover dont you think taking simple screenshot is easier way to do it. :)) J

Finally, ACK Team, chears for putting such a good website. Indian comics and books companies should really take some clue. You are Far above them now.

Vaishnavi said...

Thanks Sowmya, I tried the alternative way you suggested and it works. I want to know how to store the file as a whole like you've done - instead of individual pages, how do I store it like a booklet? Thanks again!

Soumyadip said...

UP: Some people like to download stuff and keep them stored for future use. I like to do so. Especially when a slow internet connection makes it a painful experience to view it online. But if the process of downloading is as painful as our example here, I would rather stick to the online version unless I needed the images for other purposes.

And yes, the credit goes to ACK. But I hope that they take some serious steps in bettering the site.

Vaishnavi: Sorry, I don't know of a simple trick that would so that.

shreevidya said...

I clicked on a newsletter that i got from ACK and went to and pleasantly surprised. Woow Great website!!
I had visited this url back after long time when earlier had bought some comics online from the same website. earlier it was very shabby and with very less functionalities.

This looks like a great new EXCITING AVATAR. Kudoos to ACK web team. I specially like E-Comics. Yes, UP, this is a great way to keep in touch with old comic stories we grew up with.
UP, just like you, both me and my daughter are great fan of ACK and my best wishes to ACK and Uncle Pai for a good success.

What i really liked was that story of week, which shows the comic story in nice comic reader. I then searched, to save those comics for offline viewing...

Soumyadip: woow, you have really worked hard to get these steps out. Great work! but I dono, it looks like, it does NOT WORK for me AT ALL.

When i tried to click on the links you gave like:

. The most beautiful child in Agra
. Who is the greater devotee?

It does not show the comic at all. Can you tell me what should i do now ? I really like ACK comics and think it would be good to read them offline..

Thanks for your help (in advance).

Vinayak said...

Guess the folks at wised up. All the links now redirect to the main page.
Here is an interesting post on Amar Chitra Katha
ACK really had influence beyond Indian borders!

Soumyadip said...

Shreevidya: It seems that the guys at ACK having taken the cue and removed the links. I expected them to. Though they still might be somewhere on their servers, but it'll be quite a pain to look for them. Not worth the effort, I say. Meanwhile, if you want to you can purchase the comics online at their website.

Vinayak: Yes, I had expected it.

Thanks for the link. I remember reading a number of titles pictured there.

Vaishnavi said...

I have ordered some books from the ACK website, overcome by guilt for asking about storing their files :-)

Pallavi said...

Awesome.. this is a unique find.. thanks.. will post it in my blog as well.. Wow !!!

Milind said...

Hi,when I tried to click on the comics link you have given, it went to the ACK website, but with a blank screen.Any reason, why I cannot see anything on the link?

for ex:

Nothing comes up on the browser, IE and Firefox both same results.

Please help.

Soumyadip said...

@Milind: ACK Media has taken off the content as realised that I'm giving people a sneek free preview of Amar Chitra Katha comics.

To view the current and the archived comics go here.