He founded India's iconic comicbook series

LONDON — Anant Pai, founder of India’s long-running Amar Chitra Katha or Immortal Illustrated Stories, died of a heart attack Feb. 24 in Mumbai. He was 81.

Amar Chitra Katha was created by Pai in 1967 to teach Indian children their cultural heritage and is widely credited for popularizing Hindu mythology, Indian history and fables through comicbooks. The idea was born from watching a quiz show where he saw contestants easily able to answer questions on Greek mythology but stumble over basic questions on the Hindu epic “Ramayana.”

It is an iconic imprint in the country, having sold about 100 million copies of its more than 400 titles in English and 20 Indian languages. ACK now sells 3 million comics a year.

As a junior exec at Times of India media group Pai was instrumental in launching Indrajal Comics before he branched out on his own with ACK. In 1980 he also bowed Tinkle, a mag geared toward kids.

Last week Pai was presented the lifetime achievement award at India’s inaugural Comic-Con in New Delhi.

ACK and Animagic Studios teamed with Turner Intl. India in 2010 to produce two toon features and 26 half-hour episodes based on stories from the ACK canon. Programs based on ACK comics air on Cartoon Network India and Disney Channel India.

Survivors include his wife, Lalita.

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