The comics are light enough, but the subject of a new Dainik Bhaskar initiative is serious - responsible use of water, electricity and food.
DB Group associate vice president of brand marketing Vikas Singh quotes Mahatma Gandhi, an apt basis for the ever-growing focus on sustainable development and inclusive growth: "The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers, but on loan from our children. So we have to hand over to them at least as it was handed over to us."
Singh says DB's Comics for Change initiative is in line with this vision of enabling socio-economic change, aiming to promote responsible consumption of water, electricity, and food through a series of original comics.
"Just as comics vividly illustrate the feats of superheroes in fighting crime and other social ills, the initiative leverages the power of visual storytelling to amplify awareness about responsible consumption based on the following data," he says.
Every day, 190 million people in India go to bed hungry, while privileged Indians waste one-third of their daily food;
Each day, 50 million people in India do not get access to water, yet privileged Indians overuse water by 1.5 times;
There are 18,000 villages in India without electricity, yet privileged Indians waste an average of 5-10 per cent of their electricity on daily basis;
With just 2.4 per cent of world's total land area supporting 17.5 per cent of world's total population, it is essential in India that limited resources are not wasted.
"The challenge lies in bringing about an attitudinal shift in behaviour towards responsible consumption patterns," says Singh. "Since youth and children are the future, it is even more important that good values are instilled in them from an early age."
Dainik Bhaskar's comics target young readers to promote responsible consumption.
India has a rich tradition of comic culture, dating back to 1956 when Aabid Surti drew the first three panel strips of the comic Dabbuji. Then, Indrajal Comics made its debut in the mid-1960s.
Over the last four decades, Diamond Comics, Raj Comics, Tinkle, Green Gold Animation, and Amar Chitra have provided a treasure trove of storytelling. This phenomenon is in tune with universally popular comic characters: Batman, Superman, Captain America, the Archies, Phantom, and Mickey Mouse.
Following this long-standing tradition, Dainik Bhaskar published these comics as part of its sustainability campaign:
Sundarvan Adventures: "Mystery of the Missing Water" tells the story of a fun-loving, energetic, school-going rabbit, Adi, along with his adventurous set of friends: a jovial little parrot, Cheenu; a pretty little doe, Roli; and an intelligent tortoise, Golu. These characters save the day for the villagers of Sundarvan from the villainous acts of Paplu Bhai, a notorious jackal.
Sundarvan Adventures: "The Big Blackout" tells the tale of how Adi and his friends fix a problem created by Professor Bijligul, a nasty gorilla who wants to steal away all the electricity by installing electricity-absorbing machines.
"Abhijeet Kini, celebrated creator of other popular comic characters, created the art and layout for our comic series," says Singh. "One more will be published on the theme of food waste."
And while comics continue to be popular, formats have evolved, so the comics are available in both print and digital versions - those on water and electricity available in downloadable Kindle editions.
Dainik Bhaskar has distributed one million copies for free with two magazines: Young Bhaskar and Bal Bhaskar. The comics have been distributed in more than 1,400 libraries in 34 cities. The digital version has had more than 85,000 downloads so far.
Being signatory to United Nation's Global Compact Network, Dainik Bhaskar Group's corporate responsibility initiatives contribute to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals of quality education, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities, and communities and climate action.
DB Group is one of 9,146 companies in 168 countries which have signed up to the network initiative.