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Legendary cartoonist and illustrator Narayan Debnath passes away

Narayan Debnath. File

Narayan Debnath. File

Legendary cartoonist, noted illustrator and litterateur Narayan Debnath passed away in Kolkata on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. He was 96 and was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in the city for the past few weeks.

Debnath was the creator of some of immortal cartoon characters for Bengali readers such as Bantul the Great, Handa Bhonda, Nonte Fonte that have inspired not only children but generations of Bengalis. His comic strips have attained a cult following for nearly six decades.

The cartoonist was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi award in 2013 and the Padma Shri in 2021.

Immeasurable loss: Mamata

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed condolence at the demise of the cartoonist. “We were proud to bestow upon him Bengal’s highest award Banga Bibhusan in 2013. His passing away is certainly an immeasurable loss to the world of literary creativity and comics. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, readers and countless fans and followers,” Ms. Banerjee tweeted.

Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari also expressed condolence on social media: “His legacy will always be cherished by children and grown-ups alike. Condolences to family and countless admirers. Om Shanti.”

Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Firhad Hakim said that the mortal remains of the cartoonist would be taken to his residence at Shibpur in Howrah district, where final rites will be performed.

Debnath was born in 1925 in Shibpur and was trained at the Government Art College. He was drawn towards visual arts and initially drew jewellery design at his father’s shop before he created the immortal cartoon characters.

The journey of the cartoonist and illustrator began with Handa Bhonda (1962) — antics of two friends constantly trying to pull a fast one on each other. This comic strip continued for over five decades and is considered as the longest-running one by an individual artist.

Among his other immortal creations are Batul the Great (1965) — a vest-and shorts clad superhero and the antics of boarding school mates Nonte Fonte (1969).

“ He gave joy and inspiration to generations of children from Bengal through his cartoon characters. His death is a loss to Bengali literature and particularly children literature,” noted painter Shuvaprasanna said. Artists and painters have also called for preserving the comic strips of Debnath.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 12:28:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cartoonist-narayan-debnath-creator-of-bantul-the-great-dies-at-97/article38285760.ece