Kolkata: Legendary artist-illustrator Narayan Debnath, whose comicstrips in Bengali children’s magazines have attained a cult following for close to 60 years,passed away at a private hospital here on Tuesday following old age complications.
Debnath, 96, breathed his last at 10-15 AM in Belle Vue Clinic, where he was admitted on December 24 following acute weakness, low haemoglobin count as also lungs and kidney problems.
He was conferred the Padmashree – India’s fourth highest civilian award – at the hospital last Thursday.
Debnath was an icon for the Bengali readers, particularly the pre-teens and teenagers, who have for ages enjoyed hearty laughs provided by his evergreen cartoon characters.
Slapstick comedy, subtle pun, and a simple style of storytelling resembling the Bengalis’ love for their quntessential adda (gossip sessions) were the hallmarks of his comic strips –a genre he revolutionised in bengal.
The journey began with the funny stories of two friends Handa Bhoda (1962), which continuedfor over half a century – considered a record of sorts as the longest running comic strip by anindividual artist.
The vest-and-shorts clad superhero Batul the Great (1965), and the antics of boarding schoolmates Nonte Fonte (1969), and their plump superintendent are his other immortal creations.
Black Diamond Indrajit Roy, Patolchand the Magician, Bahadur Beral (The Talented Cat) and Shutki-Mutki were among his other popular comic strips.
Many of his comic strips have been turned into short animation films serialised by various Bengali television channels, and caught the fancy of the millennials.
Debnath received the Sahitya Akademi award in 2013, the same year he was conferred the Banga Bibhushan by the West Bengal government.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee paid glowing tributes to Debnath.
Taking to tweeter, Dhankhar said, “Huge loss to the world of literary creativity and comics. My thoughts are with his family, friends and fans.”
Banerjee said, “Extremely sad that the noted litterateur, illustrator, cartoonist, and creator ofsome immortal characters for children’s world, Narayan Debnath is no more.”
“His passing away is certainly an immeasurable loss to the world of literary creativity and comics,” she said