‘Editor Vithit’-Vithit Utsahajit of ‘Kay Hua Row’ or ‘Laugh for Sale’, the legend of national comic books.
Going back 30 years ago, the comic books called “Kay Hua Row” and “Ma Ha Sa Nook” were very much well-known among both young and adult fans around the country who got inveterately addicted. The different idea was from “Vithit Utsahajit”, the editor and the founder of “Kay Hua Row” who is also known as ‘Editor Vithit’-the elder son of “Banlue Utsahajit”, the owner of Banluesarn group which is 1 of 5 the biggest publisher in Thailand.
“I firstly started Kay Hua Row books in 1973. I did everything on my own; drawing and writing the jokes. The first book on sale’s size was as big as A4 paper and cost 5 Baht. Then, it turned out to be sold like hot cakes. So, the next 2 years, Ma Ha Sa Nook books were then published to respond to the good market and to expand the group of readers. At the 8th year anniversary for Kay Hua Row books, the size was reduced to become as it is now and the price was increased to 12 Baht. However, the price has just been recently gone up to 15 Baht a few months ago”.
Vithit took over his father’s business after graduating Bachelor degree in Film from England. He took over the position of the leader who moved forward his printing business and comic books from Banluesarn group in 1977. Then in 1978, he moved on to filming field and directed his first movie called “Pee Hua Kad” for Banluesarn group. He also co-directed other 20 movies. Nevertheless, he chose printing work was his main job as filming was at high cost. He continuously created new books for laughs to fulfill the gab of different readers.
It started from the original “Kay Hua Row” which is suitable for all ages or “Ma Ha Sa Nook” which focuses on fun related more to family followed by “Sao Dok Mai Ga Nai Klua Kai” or “Nu Hin Inter” which targets at young and working people or “Pang Pond” which attracts young fans who like a little boy character’s cheek. Pang Pond has come in both book and animation forms which can be as good as cheeky Japanese comic like “Chin Jung”. Now, its market finally reaches China.
“Today, Pang Pond is really popular in China. It was obvious once when we had booth in animation fair by CCTV. There were fans, especially really young elementary fans at the booth and made a purchase a whole bunch of products like shirts, notebooks and bags with Pang Pond character on them. Now, Chinese government has chosen Pang Pong as their cultural ambassador”.
Moreover, today “Nu Hin Inter” which is the charming Thai-life story of a funny house keeper and a beautiful young boss has become popular among house wives, working women and others who like to keep themselves amused. Its content was also adjusted to a movie called “Nu Hin the Movie” and earned over 80 Million Baht last June.
Vithit appeared in a pink shirt, black slacks pants, red necktie and polished black shoes. He was heavyset white man at the age of 50 with two-colored hair and wide forehead wearing big-sized glasses. He kindly welcomed us, the POSITIONING, as a guest with his friendly smile creating different feeling from editor Vithit we have seen in Ma Ha Sa Nook books who was built exaggeratedly to be fierce by all his writers.
“This could be the first magazine I have time for the interview” Vithit said with his good-tempered smile and started the conversation about printing market situation with POSITIONING like a professional. He had businessman look with hidden spirit of books maker. It was before he could happily went back to talk about his role and the focus on Banluesarn family’s business”.
“I started “Kay Hua Row” when I was 18 during my study at Pranakorn Commercial College. I saw the opportunity in the market where there were only a few of comic books available like “Tuan Toon”. I believed that Tuan Toon was not the right one and Kay Hua Row could actually hit at the right spot better”.
Since he was young; comic, drawing and family’s printing business were his favorite things to do. Even though there were 9 children in his family, as the oldest one, he tried to help his family out. He started the school at Chulanak Girl School until secondary education, then move to vocational study at Pranakorn Commercial College. Here created film learning opportunity for him as an intern in a movie unit before he could decide to take a next step of his study about the actual film at London College, UK.
“During summer I came back to work in a movie unit and co-direct some Thai movies. It was fun as I put all my effort into it. I used to be asked to join Hollywood in America but I said no as I had to come back to take over my family’s business. Today, I never regret to throw away that opportunity because I am happy as I am today”.
Vithit said that his purpose in life is for Banluesarn group to produce comic works that can cover all forms like Walt Disney does.
“I want to become Walt Disney of Thailand” he said happily.
It was because of the strong points of jokes from different characters in “Kay Hua Row” or “Ma Ha Sa Nook” and “Nu Hin” written by 30 existing and new writers. It was to build the unique drawing and funny crazy jokes.
“I am lucky that I have various kind of writers with different talents, for example, Khun Tai is good at joke ideas, Khun Nick is good at drawing, Khun Moo is good at short story and sarcastic jokes, Khun Eaa focuses on teenage and Esan wisdom story, Khun Fen enjoys parody and Khun Kuad’s talent is cartoon design. My editor is trying to support and encourage each one to discover themselves and be able to develop their works better”.
He is at the same time talking about working “at present, I am not digging into it that much but still handing over my ideas to new writers so, they can develop on their own and be able to sell such ideas. I have no time to do it myself. The old generation writers with more experiences can be responsible and I am sure they will be successful selling their ideas. I give them freedom to think but still look after the concept”.
Today, this chubby glassy editor has still always been parodied in Ma Ha Sa Nook books and known among fans as “Editor Vithit”. Moreover, his 5 children have also been placed in his new comic stories.
His children names are also used to name 5 departments in Banluesarn Company, for example New Media Love Story department which focuses on books with fun and romantic stories or Natty Media Cute Story department which is in charge of edutainment books for children etc. All his children of course are drawn as characters in new comic books.
“Now my oldest 16 years old daughter is good at language and translation work and her younger brother is good at graphic design. Both of her twin brothers are focusing on technology and another 12 years old daughter who is 1 of the triplets is practicing PR as she likes to talk and meet people”, said with a little laugh.
This is because he wants to lay the foundation for his 5 companies in Banluesarn group and 5 years-old new company in Vithita Animation group in order to make them the spearheads in new media and animation fields including coordinate in current film market and get his heirs ready to take over family’s business as the 3 generation in the future.
Today, Vithit wants to present new Banluesarn group business to be more international with the investment of new technology such as editing room, recording room, voice studio in order to reduce cost and create new channels to produce new contents for both domestic and international markets.
“Pang Pond” is also getting ready to be broadcasted as a new series on Chanel 3 at the end of this coming August. “Sam Kok” is also on the way to on air with Chanel 7 after its copyright was sold to be translated in Korean. He also signed the contract with CCTV, Chinese television station for Pang Pond to be on air in China.
Vivith is still doing his job well as the head of “Ma Ha Sa Nook family” who is in charge of content production to create great laughs in people.
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