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November 6, 2012

T. Samuval, 1925-2012

imageThe cartoonist T. Samuval passed away in Delhi on November 3, according to English-language wire stories from India. He was best known for his pocket cartoons, contributed under the nom de plume "Samuel." Pocket cartoons were a development of British newspapers in the 1930s: single-column cartoons on a current news story designed in many cases to lighten the severity of bad or unpleasant news. Many, like Samuval's, became recurring features with a specific character at their forefront.

Samuval was born in the coastal city of Kollam in the state of Kerala. He attended Madras School of Arts -- India's oldest art school. Samuval saw military action in the Army during the latter stages of World War 2. His first employment as a cartoonist came in Lahore for what looks like might have been a British publication; it's described as a military gazette. This must have been as a young man, because his obituaries say that he wound up in Delhi as a refugee in the late 1940s.

In Delhi, Samuval joined the infamous, Punch-like Shankar's Weekly with work including a silent strip called Kalu and Meena. He eventually joined the Times Of India with the Delhi edition as their staff cartoonist. He primary contribution there was the pocket cartoon called Babuji. According to a later biographical profile, Babuji was called the most popular feature in the Indian press by an article in the New York Times. Samuval would later take Babuji to Indian Express, where he started a strip Garib, all the while making stand-alone political cartoons for the publication.

After a long stint at the Express, Samuval rejoined the Times and stayed until his retirement in 1985.

In addition to his work for newspapers, Samuval provided cartoons and characters to government initiatives and to Indian companies, mostly in the realm of public awareness and outreach. He also worked with the World Health Organization on material for their rural health programs targeted at Asia.

Samuval published three books in his lifetime, taken from his two recurring features. He also published a memoir, Never A Dull Moment.

There is a public photo on Sudheer Nath's facebook page of his visit to Samuval's bedside last week.

Samuval is survived by a wife, a son and two daughters. He was buried at Nicholson Cemetery.

posted 5:20 pm PST | Permalink

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