Om Arora has a secret wish. As the owner of Delhi-based Variety Book Depot, he’s been the exclusive distributor for Archie Comics in ndia and other countries in this region ever since 1974 when, as a 30-year old army drop-out, he persuaded the conservative, family-run American company to switch from India Book House to his family’s small magazine distribution business.
Since then he’s made India, and other countries in this region, into one of the largest markets for Archie Comics in the world. The American teenager has become a local cultural icon, influencing film-makers like Karan Johar in films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai . Archie’s Indian popularity influenced the company to launch an Indian character, Raj, in the series. But that’s not enough for Mr Arora. “I would very much like to see a Sikh character fitted into the series somewhere,” he said hopefully.
He may get his wish. Because this most American of companies is about to open its very first international office in New Delhi. To start with, Archie will be producing its regular comics in Hindi and Malayalam versions, with other Indian languages to be added on later. “We‘ll just be translating the text in the speech bubbles,” said Mr Arora. But, the company may introduce more Indian characters, and may even be open to giving their American characters some Indian touches.
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