A tribute to Chandamama artist KC Sivasankar

With the passing of legendary artist KC Sivasankar, the last of the original Chandamama team, an important era in the history of children’s writing in India, comes to an end.

07 Oct 2020 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

For a generation of Indian children, irrespective of the language, Chandamama was their source of entertainment, which features stories of adventure and fantasy coupled with colour illustrations. One of the regular features of the magazine was the Vikram Vetal series, with its distinct illustrations. Those were done by KC Sivasankar, who passed away at his residence in Chennai on 29 September.

Chandamama was started in Telugu by B Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani in 1947 and was in circulation until 2013, with issues available in 13 Indian languages — Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Sanskrit, Assamese, Hindi, Odia, English, Marathi, Malayalam and Bengali.

Sivasankar was born in 1927 in Erode. In 1934, he moved to Chennai along with his mother and siblings where he would be discovered for his talents by his drawing teacher at school. He was hired by Nagi Reddi in 1952 and he created the legendary sword wielding King Vikram carrying the Vetala corpse slung across his shoulder around the sixties.

Sivasankar, who continued illustrating well into his 80s, has shared in interviews that Nagi Reddy used to remark that “Chithra (another artist) and Sankar are the two bullocks of Chandamama”.

In 2007, 60 years after it was first published, the magazine was acquired by Geodesic, a Mumbai-based software services provider company, to digitise its content. In 2013, Chandamama stopped publishing when the parent company ran into financial troubles following which in 2017, a volunteer driven effort began to revive and preserve the magazine for future generations.