Veteran cartoonist Narayan Debnath dies at 97
Kolkata: Legendary cartoonist, illustrator and children's litterateur Narayan Debnath died at a private nursing home in south Kolkata on Tuesday morning at the age of 97.
He was admitted to the nursing home with age-related ailments on December 24, 2021. His condition deteriorated on Sunday and was put on a ventilator. He breathed his last on Tuesday morning.
Condoling his death, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: "Extremely sad that the noted litterateur, illustrator, cartoonist and creator of some immoral characters for children's world, Narayan Debnath is no more. He had created Bantul the Great, Handa-Bhonda, Nonte-Phonte, figures that have been etched in our hearts for decades.
"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."
Ministers Firhad Hakim and Arup Roy went to the private nursing home and accompanied the hearse to his ancestral house in Shibpur, Howrah. He was cremated at the Shibpur crematorium.
Debnath was conferred Padma Shri in 2021 and Arup Roy and state Home Secretary BP Gopalika went to the nursing home to present him the memento. Debnath was a Sahitya Akademi awardee while the Rabindra Bharati University gave him honorary D.Litt in 2015.
Handa Bhonda, the first comic strip came out in 1962 in Sukhtara, a children's magazine published by Deb Sahitya Kutir.
Seeing its immense popularity, Debnath introduced two more comic strips, namely, Bantul the Great (1965) and Nonte-Phonte (1969).
Bahadur Biral was written in the early 1970s. Debnath's detective story Black Diamond with Indrajit Roy as the detective came out in Kishore Bharati.
Handa Bhonda, Batul and Nonte-Phonte because of their popularity had become household names and in every International Kolkata Book Fair, these comic strips used to be sold like hot cakes.
The residents of Shibpur have urged the state government to take an initiative to preserve the works of Debnath.