Established in 1976, Regal Publishers started off with publication of fiction and non-fiction titles. In 1980s, the Regal Publishers started publishing the ‘Phantom’ novels and Phantom and Mandrake comics and embarked on its licensing journey. Recently, the brand has again inked a pact for publishing ‘Phantom’ and ‘Mandrake’ comics as well as ‘Phantom’ novels in India. In a candid conversation with License India, the firm’s Managing Partner Mr. Jacob Varghese shared insights about the deal and how licensing makes the business cost-effective.  

Could you brief us about the inception and journey of Regal Publishers?

Regal Publishers was established in the year 1976. At first, we published fiction and non-fiction titles. It was in 1980s that our relationship with King Features Syndicate Inc. began. We started with publishing the Phantom novels and the same was followed by Phantom and Mandrake comics. Advertising Films of India (P) Ltd., Bombay was the supplier of these products in India at that time. However, once, they ceased to be the suppliers, we could not continue with the publishing of Phantom and Mandrake. Again, in 2012, we signed an arrangement with King Features Syndicate Inc., to publish the novels and comics again. Now, with this arrangement renewed in 2018, we hope to have a fruitful and long-standing business relationship with King Features Syndicate Inc. In additional to this, we have published various other fiction and non-fiction titles such as English grammar books, dictionaries, nurses’ dictionary, and comics of Steel Claw, James Bond, Modesty Blaze, etc., under arrangements with Asia Features. We also have an arrangement with Edgar Rice Burroughs for publishing of Tarzan novels. Thus, the journey has been amazing.

How has consumer behaviour changed over the years in your segment?

During the 1980s and 1990s there was a huge demand for comics and novels. Subsequently, with the increasing popularity of TV channels, YouTube, Facebook, etc., the demand for comics and novels has been reduced to a considerable extent. However, we believe that Phantom and Mandrake are evergreen heroes and we want to introduce them to the new generation. We are confident of getting a warm welcome.

What made you think about licensing as an effective retail strategy?

This would help in expanding the business to new geographical areas, make it cost-effective, etc. This will also help in covering a vast area for the product and also reduce the capital outlay involved in it.

Could you elaborate about the recent deal with King Features?

We have an arrangement for publishing Phantom and Mandrake comics and also Phantom novels. The comics will be in multi-colour, as against black and white and two-colour which we had published earlier, to attract the new generation. We are glad that we have been able to continue our relationship with King Features and their evergreen characters of Phantom and Mandrake.

What is your strategy to market this licensed range?

We are planning to spread awareness among people, especially young readers, about the fact that Phantom and Mandrake stories are very good entertainment sources. We also want to create this awareness among parents and drive home the message that these thrilling stories will help the children to improve their reading habits, which, unfortunately, is on the wane. Also, by reading the stories of heroes who fight against injustice in society, we can encourage the new generation to fight against injustice in their real life. Our marketing planning will be structured taking into account all these factors. For this purpose, we will be releasing advertisements by way of notices, flex boards, pamphlets, stickers, labels, etc.

What are the price points and retail touch points?

We are selling the Phantom and Mandrake comics for Rs. 50 per copy. The price of Phantom novels is Rs 250 per copy. We sell directly, through bookstalls, online sellers, etc. We have realised that educational and fiction books as well as comics perform well for our brand.      

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