Thursday, September 4, 2014

DEBUT OF 'PRINCE VALIANT' IN TURKEY

I am not a big fan of Hal Foster's famous Sunday newspaper comics 'Prince Valiant', largely because I am not a fan of swashbuckling type of comics in general unless they feature a large dose of fantastic elements and partly because of its lack of speech balloons, but I, of course, admire its high quality art and acknowledge its sway over a large body of comics readers. In addition, 'Prince Valiant' was apparently very influential on young and aspiring Turkish comics artists in the 1940s. For all these reasons, I feel obliged to record its early publication history in Turkey.
'Prince Valiant' debuted in Turkey with a five-years delay in the last page (back cover) of the first issue, dated July 30th, 1942, of the 3rd series of the weekly children's magazine Afacan as 'Aslan Prens [Lion Prince]'. Afacan had largely skipped the first-ever three 'Prince Valiant' Sundays chronicling the arrival of Valiant's clan to Britain and started its run with the fourth Sunday from March 6th, 1937 in which Valiant's first adventure really kicks in. Three panels from this Sunday were also omitted and replaced with three panels from the earlier Sundays, including the first-ever panel where Valiant had made a solo appearance, to provide an introduction. The next installment in the subsequent issue however presented the next Sunday in its entirety:
Afacan would cease publication in 1943 due to war-time economic hardships, including shortage of paper. Prince Valiant's reappearance in a Turkish publication would come up next year, but re-titled as 'Aslan Tekin' and presented as a Turkish character, "son of the khan of the Seljuks", in the Turkish translation! Below is the scan of the first installment of this new edition in the back cover of the no.89, dated Sept. 9th, 1944, in the weekly children's magazine Çocuk Haftası

Saturday, June 14, 2014

THE LAST 'SKIT, SKAT AND THE CAPTAIN' HALF-PAGE (1940)

Above scan is of the last 'Skit, Skat and the Captain' half-page by British comics artist Basil Reynolds published in Britain's Mickey Mouse Weekly. Reynolds was writing and drawing 'Skit, Skat and the Captain' since the inception of MMW in 1936 (see this earlier post in this blog on the debut of SSC in MMW). Reynolds was drafted in Oct. 1940 and SSC continued into MMW no. 254 (Dec. 14th, 1940) with apparently material Reynolds had made before being drafted. 'Pinky Green', Reynolds' other half-page title which had started to be published in MMW earlier in 1940, would end in no. 255. Soon, both titles would be picked up by another artist.

Friday, June 6, 2014

JOHNNY HAZARD

'Johnny Hazard' was an aviation strip created by Frank Robbins for the King Features in 1944, that is during the 2nd World War. The title character was a pilot serving in the US military. However, after the 2nd WW ended, he became a freelance pilot and began having various adventures around the world as a civilian. The above image is of the cover of the no. 6 of the short-lived Johnny Hazard comics from the late 1940s. The strip itself continued well into the 1970s however, with Robbins at the helm till the end.
In Turkey, The 'Johnny Hazard' daily strip, as well as its Sunday counterpart, began to be ran in the daily Milliyet newspaper on Oct 1st, 1954, beginning with the 'On the Half Shell' continuity originally dated from about a year ago (*). 
All online sources I came across say the The 'Johnny Hazard' strip ended in 1977. In Turkey, it indeed ended on Dec. 7th, 1977, becoming the longest running adventure strip in Milliyet. At close inspection, that particular last daily published in Milliyet appears to be originally dated from Oct. 9th, 1976, which is actually in conformity with the one year lag the strip had initially started its Turkish run. However, this daily does indeed sound, at least in the Turkish translation, as the ultimate end of Johnny's adventures. After Johnny had got rid of the episode's baddie in the previous dailies, his female companion unexpectedly bumbs him off her car, saying "We had met suddenly and we are breaking up suddenly." When the surprised Johnny calls "Stop! You cannot leave me here like this!", she retorts that "Tough guys like you shouldn't say such sad things." In the last panel, Johnny thinks that "it is time to retire..."

If anybody out there knows if this is indeed the end of Johnny's adventures or if there were one more year of subsequent adventures, please let us know.

(*) A nice overview of Johnny Hazard's adventures from the early 1950s is here: http://ipcomics.wordpress.com/2006/09/17/around-in-europe-with-johnny-hazard/

Thursday, August 15, 2013

PRE-WAR LONE RANGER SUNDAYS (1938-39)

The world-wide release of Holywood's new The Lone Ranger movie, which I enjoyed a lot, by the way, earlier this summer rekindled my interest in this American pop icon. Years ago, I'd read some of the pre-war Lone Ranger strips in their Turkish editions available in my collection, but this time I went looking for beyond what's in my hand.
 
The Lone Ranger had not originated in comics, but in radio. 'The Lone Ranger' radio serial, chronicleing the adventures of a masked justice fighter and his native American side-kick, had began in 1933 and lasted for more than two decades was scripted by radio script-writer Fran Striker. In 1938, the characters were brought to the screen in the form of a serial. The Lone Ranger comics kicked off later in the same year, the color Sunday half-pages on Sept. 11 and the daily strip the next day.
Initially, the artist on both the Sundays and the dailies was Ed Kressy, an illustrator without much experience in comics art. Below is the earliest Lone Ranger Sunday I could find on the net (*), dated Oct. 2nd, that is the fourth Lone Ranger Sunday:
I don't think the art of Kressy, at least in the Sundays, is as bad as fans writing on the issue make of it, but it sure leans somewhat towards the caricaturish, esp. compared to his successors. The large eye-holes in the mask and the eye-pupils always visible therein are not welcomed by fans either and don't look very 'cool' indeed. However, his successors would not immediately get rid of those darn eye-pupils, either.
Kressy's stint on the Lone Ranger comics would not last long. The sparse writings on the issue note that he was initially replaced by John Blummer, at least in the Sundays. The last Sunday credited in the logo to Ed Kressy is from March 5th, 1939. Blummer is never credited in any way in the subsequent Sundays. However, the art had noticably changed (even though the eye-pupils remain) in the last Sundays still credited to Kressy, as can be seen in the final Sunday credited to Kressy:
Unless Kressy had changed his style radically, these last Sundays credited to him must actually be the work of someone else, presumably Blummer.
From March 12th onwards, the Sundays are credited on the logo to Fran Striker, the original writer of the radio serial and the first three such Sundays do not feature any signature inside the panels either. However, with the official elimination of the Kressy credit, the art has once again changed, for the better. From April 2nd onwards, the signature of the famed Charles Flanders begins to appear inside the panels. Why Flanders did not sign (or, perhaps, wasn't allowed to sign) the three Sundays before that is unknown to me. Note that even Flanders has kept those pupils visible on the eyes of the Lone Ranger in his early work, as in the below Sunday from April 9th:
 
The next post on this blog is planned to be on the earliest Lone Ranger dailies (drawing from my near-complete collection of their British editions), so check back here if you are interested.
(*) The images in this post are of vintage clippings put on sale on ebay.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

SPECULATION FOR A POSSIBLE PRE-WAR INSPIRATION FOR THE SMURFS?

The above is a (slightly cropped, due to the size of my scanner) scan of the cover illustration of the no. 34, dated July 11, 1935, of the Turkish weekly children's magazine Afacan. These tiny dwarfs appear in several covers of Afacan between 1934-36. Most of the graphic material in these early issues of the magazine appear to originate from French sources, so there is a good chance that these illustrations might also be of French origin. If indeed so, perhaps Peyo (born in 1928) might have seen them in his early childhood?.. Of course, dwarves are a part of the European mythology/folklore and Peyo does not need to see these particular renditions to conceive of the smurfs, but if he had indeed seen them?..
If anyone can identify the original publication where these characters had first appeared, PLEASE let us know...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Blog on The Smurfs

OK, I have neglected blogging for quite a while, sorry. Promise I will use this summer vacation to post again here asap. Meanwhile, I've already started a new blog on the Smurfs, begining with a post on their debut in 1958:
http://kayaozkaracalar4.blogspot.com/
It's not pre-war, but somewhat vintage anyway, so perhaps some of you might be interested in..

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

CLIP FROM TURKISH MANDRAKE MOVIE

Late this summer, I had posted on this blog about an obscure Turkish movie from the late 1960s featuring Mandrake. Recently, I had been alerted by an old friend, David White from the US, that a short clip of scenes from this movie had been uploaded to youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fGNdlixSs0
Enjoy..

Monday, September 12, 2011

EARLY WAR-TIME FRENCH WAR COMICS


Above scan is of a panel from the 8th installement of 'Vatan İçin [For the Homeland]' from the back cover o no. 36 (dated Mar. 11th, 1940) of Turkey's 1001 Roman weekly comics magazine. 'Vatan İçin', serialized between no.'s 29-54 of 1001 Roman, is the Turkish edition of 'Jean-Jacques Ardent à la Guerre ['Jean-Jacques Ardent at the War]' serialized in the French magazine Junior in 1939-40. Ardent was originally an athlete character created by René Pellos in 1938; Pellos (1900-1998) is better known for his 'Futuropolis', the first non-juvenile French sci-fi comics saga. 'Vatan İçin' was the only comics series published in 1001 Roman credited to its original source, with the tag "Fransızca Junior gazetesinden alınmıştır [taken from the French Junior gazette]" in its title caption. This was probably due to an intent to show sympathy for France in the newly erupted 2nd World War (Turkey had officially signed an alliance with Britain and France soon after the war had erupted, even though this alliance would in effect remain only on paper). Ironically, the German invasion of France would be initiated a few months after 'Vatan İçin' began to serialized in 1001 Roman and France would surrender before the serialization ended. The Turkish edition ends with Ardent being shot and falling down from a bridge which he had planted explosives, and sinking down into the waters below, with his last words as "Oh.! I am happy!.. I am dying for the sake of the independence of my homeland":
UPDATE: I've updated my below posts on Sept. 5th, Sept. 9th and Sept. 10th with the identifications of the original sources of the covered comics. However, comics covered in the posts on Sept. 8th and Sept. 11th still remain unidentified.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ATTACK OF THE GIANT INSECTS


Above scan of a panel from 'Dünya Düşmanı [Enemy of the World]', an obscure science fiction comics serialized in the back covers of the first 28 issues of Turkey's 1001 Roman is from the no. 3 (dated July 24th, 1939) of this weekly comics magazine. The plot of 'Dünya Düşmanı' kicks off with an attack of giant insects on colonial Africa accompanied with a wireless ultimatum coming from a mysterious voice calling for total submission of world nations. Lieutenant Nelson volunteers on a rescue mission to a camp on the outskirts of Mount Kilimanjaro which has been raided by the giant insects. The camp is also being threatened by over-size lions, as seen in the below scan from no. 4:

Upon arriving at the camp, Nelson and his compatriots detain a suspicious young woman who is soon set free by over-size natives which then empower Nelson and co. (scan from no. 17):
Nelson and co. are taken to the hideout of the main villain (scan from no. 20):
They learn that the culprit is a scientist named Bravona who has developed a serum which he calls "serum B.K." that causes abnormal growth in the size of living beings. Meanwhile, airforce attacks the hideout of the mad scientist, but meets devastating defence by the giant insects (scan from no. 23):

The comics ends with Nelson shutting down an electric shield, allowing for missiles to hit the hideout.
I think this is a very interesting comics because it is probably the earliest manifestation of giant insects in the comics medium, predating the giant insect boom of the 1950s by more than a decade. The idea of a scientifically developed chemical substance causing abormal size growth of living beings might have been inspired by H.G. Wells' novel Food of the Gods (1905), but utilizing that idea within the context of a mad scientist bent on conquering the world is pretty original for the pre-war era as far as I am aware. If anyone knows any similar examples from the pre-war era and/or knows the original source of 'Dünya Düşmanı', p-l-e-a-s-e let us all know as well...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

SHARK SCENE IN PRE-WAR COMICS


Above scan is from the no.1 (dated July 10th, 1939) of Turkey's 1001 Roman, featuring a shark scene from the first installement of 'Korkusuz Adam [The Fearless Man]', serialized in the first 22 issues of this weekly comics magazine. 'Korkusuz Adam' is the Turkish edition of 'Metropoli Distrutta' by the Italian artist Ferdinando Vichi (1901-1944), originally serialized in the Italian comics weekly L'Avventuroso in 1938. The original Italian version is said to be anti-communisy and fascistic (*), but these sentiments are not as evident in the Turkish edition. During the course of the Turkish translation, the protagonist has been given a Turkish name and nationality. He is an "engineer" (=inventor?) who has made a valuable invention and hence is being sought after by a band of "international spies", seen in the below scan from no. 3:
In order to evade capture by the spies, the hero seeks shelter in an exotic island inhabited by "savages". Towards the finale, an elderly white man who commands apes appears, as seen in this scan from no. 18:

(*) Claudio Carabba, Il fasciso a fumetti, p. 273.

Friday, September 9, 2011

FANTASTIC GIANT OCTOPUS ATTACK SCENE IN PRE-WAR COLONIALIST COMICS


Above scans are from the no. 19 (dated Nov. 13th, 1939) of Turkey's 1001 Roman, featuring an installement of 'Gizli Ülke [Secret Country]' serialized in the first 22 issues of this comics weekly magazine on a two half pages per issue basis. This marvelous episode turns out to be part of a series of nightmarish hallucinations induced on a pair of adventurous American millionaires who were kidnapped and drugged by independence-seeking rebels of India.
'Gizli Ülke' is the Turkish edition of 'La Regina d'Atalanta', originally serialized in the Italian weekly comics magazine L'Avventuroso in 1936. While the art by Giove Toppi is highly imaginative, the underbelly of the script by Paolo Lorenzini, the director of L'Avventuroso, is shamelessly colonialist; for instance, the Indian rebels are aided by a Chinese villain!.. Below panel depicts the resistance of the rebels against the colonial troops who raid the temple where the Americans are being kept, the ringleader exclaiming "We shall not be captives."

You can view some sample pages from the original color edition of 'La Regina d'Atalanta' here (scroll down a little bit to reach 'La Regina d'Atalanta' scans): http://annitrenta.blogspot.com/2011/02/lavventuroso-11-1936-quarta-parte.html

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ANOTHER OCTOPUS ATTACK SCENE


Above scan is from the no. 100 (dated June 2nd, 1941) of Turkey's comics weekly 1001 Roman, featuring the 13th installement of an obscure comics titled 'Denizlerin Dibinde [At the Depths of the Seas]' serialized between no.'s 88-119. The plot is about the search in a sunken ship for some lost documents involving a military invention. I believe it is an early war-time Italian product as the protagonists are Italian (the hero is named "Kolombo") and the antagonists are French (the illain is named "Jan"). Below is a scan of the signature of the artist that I spotted in one of the panels:

As always, any help in identifying the artist's name, the original title and source would be much welcome.

Monday, September 5, 2011

GIANT OCTOPUS ATTACK SCENE IN PRE-WAR COMICS

Above scans are from the 13th and 14th installements of 'Denizaltı Tüneli [Undersea Tunnel]', an pre-war comics serialized in the Turkish comics weekly 1001 Roman, beginning with no. 23 (dated Dec. 11th, 1939) and lasting for 27 issues. 'Denizaltı Tüneli' is the Turkish edition of 'Il tunnel sottomariono', adapted from Luigi Motta's 1912 novel with the same title by comics artist Ferdinando Vichi and originally serialized in the Italian comics weekly Giungla in 1938 and published as an album in 1939. The plot concerns the building of an undersea tunnel across the atlantic from America to Ireland. Admittedly, it is a rather dull comics with the only exciting episode being this encounter with the giant octopus.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TURKISH MANDRAKE MOVIE


The first adaptation of Mandrake the Magician to cinema was in the form of a serial in 1940. The first -and so far, only- Mandrake feature film would come from the low-budget exploitation cinema of Turkey in the late 1960s: Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde (Mandrake the King of the Magicians After Kiling). Made in 1967 or 1968, this very obscure movie pits Mandrake and Lothar against Killing, a photo-comics anti-hero of Italian origin which was very popular in Turkey at the time. The craze for the skeleton-costumed Killing was so high that Turkish filmmakers had made 10 movies featuring Killing (with variant spellings of the name) in 1967-68 and Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde was one of them, so this movie owes its existence as much to Killing as to Mandrake. On the above poster, Killing is depicted in the upper left, over Lothar's shoulders.
Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde was scripted and directed by Oksal Pekmezoğlu (b. 1938), an illustrator by training and by early profession who had picked up a career as movie director after entering the Turkish film industry initially as a credits sequence artist. His prolific post-Mandrake filmography includes movies from a variety of genres from mainstream musical melodramas to adult-oriented sex-comedies. Top-billed Güven Erte, who presumably plays Mandrake, is a little-known actor credited in supporting roles in several Turkish movies from the second half of the the 1960s, the Mandrake vs Killing movie being his only starring role.
Several sources name this movie as "Mandrake Killing'e Karşı [Mandrake vs Killing]", but that may only have been an unofficial promotional reference during the production or pre-production phases; both the official censorship documents and the movie's own release poster give the title as Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde. There is also an uncertainity as to dating the movie. Türk Filmleri Sözlüğü 1914-1973 compiled by Agah Özgüç and published by Turkish Filmmakers Union include this title, listed shortly as "Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde", under the year 1967 and hence all subsequent sources date it from that year. However, the censorship document of the movie, kindly made available to me by my friend Dilek Kaya, is dated August 28th, 1968. Perhaps the project for this production was announced in 1967, but the movie appears to have been made or at least completed in 1968. As for its release, I can not find any listing for it in Istanbul. The movie appeared as part of a double-bill in the Çelik cinema of the south-eastern city of Adana on May 24th, 1969. Of course, the fact that I couldn't find any Istanbul release info does not necessarily rule out the possibility of an unreported release in Istanbul, but I had been told earlier by another researcher friend of mine, Metin Demirhan, that Turkish Z-grade masked/super/anti-hero movies of the late 1960s were said to be especially popular among audiences in Adana and some of these movies were rumoured to have been made primarily or even exclusively for this market; Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde was perhaps one such movie.
The censorship document list the original running time as 75 minutes and the the censorhip commission has ordered the cutting of two "sex scenes" and one flogging scene! The brief synopsis on TFS 1914-1973 refers to the plot as "the adventure of an Indian princess who has come to İzmir on vacation," so the movie appears to be set in the Turkish western coastal city of İzmir, probably also shot there, at least partially. The second-billed name in the cast credits list on the poster is actress Mine Mutlu who might have played the "Indian princess".
Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde has never been shown in Turkish televisions nor had been available during the video boom of the 1980s, so it was believed to have been a lost movie. However, Demirhan had once told me, about ten years ago, that he had heard that a 16 mm copy was present in the private collection of a collector. Indeed, a Turkish blog reported in 2009 that a battered 16 mm copy of Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde was leased from a private collector in Ankara, repaired as best as possible in Istanbul and a transfer was made onto Betacam tape which was then sent to Greece-based Onar Film, a fan-driven label which had been releasing obscure Turkish Z-movies on dvd. Unfortunately, the owner&manager of Onar would become critically ill in 2010 before he could release on dvd the recently-discovered Killing movie he had hinted in his blog. Onar has sadly been inactive since then.
I conclude this post with the below mega-rare photo still from Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling'in Peşinde:

Monday, August 29, 2011

MANDRAKE'S RETURN TO X


Mandrake the Magician had a few science-fiction adventures in the pre-war era, but, if I am not mistaken, none in the 1940s until 'The Amazing Ray' daily strip adventure, which involves a ray that shrinks people to miniscule size, from 1949 (probably inspired by the movie Dr. Cyclops from 1940). When science-fiction adventures became prolific in the 1950s, Mandrake's first-ever foray into the genre, 'The Chamber into the X Dimension' from 1936-37 (see below post), would serve as a model for more than one Mandrake adventure. 'The Doorway to Z', a Sunday continuity from 1952, is a watered-down remake, with another scientist inventing a doorway to an unknown world where human beings have been enslaved for hard labor by living balloon-like entities. While the gist of the plot is similar, the comical-looking rulers of Z are nowhere as menacing as the metal men and the crystal men of X. 'The Place Called X', a Sunday continuity from 1957, is very loosely related despite the designation X. Here, inhabitants of an American town and investigating Mandrake are sucked into a distant planet where peaceful (and fat and short) inhabitatants are threatened by fire people. However, Mandrake and Lothar would actually revisit the X of metal men and crystal men decades later in a direct sequel to 'The Chamber into the X Dimension' appropriately titled as 'Return to X'. Serialized as a Sunday continuity in 1974, 'Return to X' starts with Fran, who had chosen to remain in X at the end of 'The Chamber into the X Dimension', sending a distress message to Mandrake who then pays a visit to her father who had invented the chamber to travel to X. Mandrake, together with Lothar, use the chamber once again to be transferred to X where they re-encounter practically all the figures from their first visit, the metal men, the tree-men, the fire-bird and the crystal men, except the lake-monster. Actually, one panel in particular involves an exact rendition of a pose of a metal man...

from that of a panel from 1936!:

It turns out that Fran and her mate have been captured by the crystal men and Mandrake leads their rescue. She opts to stay in X once again.
'Return to X' was serialized in Turkey in 1977 in the no.'s 145-146 of the Mandrake weekly published by Tay Yayınları. Later, this story provided the basis of two cover illustrations, no. 222 (dated Sept. 29, 1978) and no. 242 (dated Feb. 16th, 1979)
The illustration on no. 222 is signed by Aslan Şükür, the most prolific cover artist for Tay, and while I can not spot any signature on no. 242, I think it is also by the same illustrator. Note that one of the metal men in no. 222 has actually been redrawn from a panel in 'Return to X':

Sunday, August 28, 2011

MANDRAKE'S FIRST SCI-FI ADVENTURE (1936-37)


Mandrake the Magician's first foray into science-fiction was with his 5th Sunday newspaper comics continuity, 'Chamber into the X-Dimension' from 1936-37. This adventure was one of the few Mandrake adventures reprinted in comics book format in the post-war era. Retitled as In the Land of X, it was published as no. 52 of David McKay Co.'s Feature Book series in 1948. I recently bought a copy of this issue from ebay and today read it, my first exposure to this truely marvelous adventure properly in its original form in color and in English.
Mandrake and Lothar meet scientist Prof. Theobold who had, "by means of molecular disintegration and atomic bombardment", invented a chamber through which one can be transferred into the "X Dimension." Professor is very distressed because his daughter Fran had volunteered to discover this new dimension, but hasn't returned from it. So, Mandrake and Lothar volunteer to search for her: "Lothar and I have been everyhere else. The 'X' Dimension sounds interesting. Lead the way, professor." In the X Dimension, our heroes are captured by metal men who use the human population as slaves for hard labor. Fran, who has also been captured, explains to Mandrake (p.9):

Our protagonists manage to flee during an attack of a "fire-bird" on the metal men (p.11):
Outside in the wilderness, they meet peaceful plant men, which provide an opportunity for laughs as Lothar (who, by the way, speaks in pigeon English and refers to Mandrake as "master" in this era of white supremacy) vainly tries to feed himself off the plants. Next, they are captured by crystal men who are even more vicious than the metal men as they skin humans alive!, note how perceptive Mandrake is in the fourth panel below (p.19):
Just when they thought it was safer to jump into the waters of a lake by the city of the crystal men than to face them again, our heroes face one more and an unexpected peril (p.22):
No worries, Mandrake will be saved in the nick of time by Lothar who quicky jumps with a spear in hand. For this, he gets the praise "He thought fast!". So, afterall, Lothar is acknowled as having a brain as well as muscles. The remaining pages are devoted to Mandrake inciting the humans of the X Dimension to rise up against their oppressors, the metal men and the crystal men. In the happy end, Fran, who has fallen in love with the leader of the human population of X, decides to stay in the X Dimension (just like Jane of Tarzan).
I think 'Chamber into the X-Dimension' is a minor classic of early 20th century science-fiction that, as entertainment presents highly imaginative mise-ancences in a fast-paced action-filled narrative, which at the same time embody the nightmare fantasy of a reversal of humanity's domination and exploitation of all non-human, organic as well as non-organic elements of the world.
Mandrake and Lothar would re-visit the X Dimension decades later, but that will be covered in the next post in this blog, so stay tuned in.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

TRACED REPRINT MANDRAKE COMICS IN TURKEY - PART 2 (1960S)


When Bilge Şakrak took over the publication of Red Kit, the traced Turkish editions of Lucky Luke, from Bilgi Yayınları (owned by apparently a relative, Adnan Şakrak) and began a new weekly series under the same title but with new enumeration in 1965, s/he initiated the practice of devoting 24 pages of each issue of 32 pages to secondary, filler comics. This was apparently a necessity to prolong the publication as new original adventures of Lucky Luke were not arriving fast enough to supply the weekly. The material s/he utilized for this end were mostly traced editions of pre-war comics earlier published in 1001 Roman, Mandrake the Magician included. Once, Mandrake was also co-featured on the cover as well, see the above scan of the cover of no. 4 (dated Aug. 31st, 1965). Mandrake adventures serialized in the 1965 series of Red Kit are 'Dar Geçit [The Narrow Pass]', the 3rd Mandrake daily strip adventure in terms of the sequence of the strip's original run in the US newspapers, in no.'s 1-6, 'Prensesin Sırrı [The Mystery of the Princess]', the 2nd daily strip adventure, in no.'s 7-12, 'Ölüm Şatosu [The Castle of Death], the 15th daily strip adventure, in no.'s 12-17, and 'Perili Çiflik [The Haunted Farm]', a post-war daily strip adventure. All but the last were traced from the war-time issues of 1001 Roman while the last and relatively more recent one from Haftalık Albüm, the 1950s successor of 1001Roman.
Early in 1968, Şakrak would reprint these traced reprints in a comics weekly under the Güneş heading , somewhat in the format of special issues of Güneş, a former comics weekly earlier published by Şakrak. I don't know the contents of the first three issues of this series, but no'.s 4-6 were Mandrake issues and their contents are as such: 'Prensesin Sırrı' in no.'s 4-5, 'Ölüm Şatosu' in no.'s 5-6 and 'Canlı Mumya [The Walking Mummy]' in no. 6, the last one being a post-war daily strip adventure traced from Haftalık Albüm. Later, the Mandrake issues were collected together in a volume 2 of Güneş whose cover scan is below:
The cover of weekly no. 5 is missing from the copy I have, but the cover of volume no. 2 (above)utilizes the illustration of the cover of weekly no. 6 and the cover of weekly no. 7 is below:
The cover illustrations are by Ferdi Sayışman (1926- ), a chemical engineer by training who made a successful career in comics lettering for several decades till mid-2000s. Earlier in this career, he had also done tracing jobs for low-budget publishers such as, but not limited to, Şakrak. During his employment for Şakrak, he would actually sign the last panels of comics he had traced/lettered, as he has done for 'Canlı Mumya' in Güneş no. 6. It should be added Sayışman had also made an indigeous 8 pages-long Phantom comics titled 'Arizona Soyguncuları [The Robbers of Arizona]' published in no. 134 (dated March, 1955) of 1001 Özel weekly comics magazine. His son Şevki Sayışman has also taken up his father's craft and is currently working as a letterer in Turkish satire/humor magazines.
Back to Güneş, the contents of no.'s 7-9 feature traced reprints of pre-war Phantom adventures. Some years later, the Phantom and Mandrake issues of Güneş were collected together without their individual covers and re-ordered with the later Phantom issues taking precedence over the earlier Mandrake issues and published as one single album under the title Kızıl Maske [Red Mask, the Turkish name for Phantom]. This odd album carries no official publisher info, but it may be the work of Nil Yayınevi as some books from that publishing house are advertised on the back cover.

POST-SCRIPT: POST-WAR MANDRAKE COMICS IN TURKEY
The second, and regular-sized, series of 1001 Roman (1946-47) had carried minimal amount of comics and Mandrake was not one of them. However, the third series, this time whose title was spelled as Binbir Roman, which kicked off in 1948 was back in the format of large-size European comics weeklies and Mandrake was back in its repertoire as well. The first Mandrake adventure serialized in this new series was actually a pre-war adventure, the first subplot of the 10th daily strip continuity where Mandrake is on the US (the second subplot of this continuity had earlier been published in 1001 Roman). Unfortunately, the untitled Turkish edition in Binbir Roman misses the beginning and the true end of the first subplot, ending prematurely. The following two Mandrake adventures serialized in Binbir Roman were post-war daily strip continuities and the subsequent ones post-war Sunday continuities. Binbir Roman continued till 1952. As replacement, Türkiye Yayınevi began to publish the weekly Haftalık Albüm in the format of former 1001 Roman's special issues. Mandrake was featured in several issues of this series in Turkish editions of post-war daily strip adventures. The covers of Haftalık Albüm, which lasted for about a year, were illustrated by Tan Oral. In 1956, Mandrake appeared in the short-lived comics weekly Arkadaş from Nebioğlu Yayınevi and in 1962, Ceylan Yayınları, Turkey's largest comics publisher of those years, published a weekly Mandrake comics which lasted only two issues.
The high time of Mandrake comics in Turkey would be the 1970s when Tay Yayınları,Turkey's leading comics publisher of the decade, would pick them up with license from Opera Mundi. Tay's Mandrake would begin its weekly run in 1974. The magazine began with strips from a few years back, but as it naturally caught up with the American run of the strip quickly, the backlog of daily and Sunday continuities stretching back to the previous decades were also used. Part of the credit for the success enjoyed by Tay's publications must be given to covers by Turkish illustrators, most notably Aslan Şükür who illustrated some of Mandrake covers as well. In the 1970s, when the Turkish market was flooded with comics of Italian origin (such as Zagor, Tex, Mister No and the like), Mandrake, together with Kızılmaske, also from Tay, were arguably the only American-origin comics that managed to take a foothold in Turkey. Mandrake lasted until 1979 in the weekly format. Tay repackaged back issues in fours or threes as 'albums'. After the weekly run of the magazine ceased, the albums continued their run with reprints and occasional brand new adventures (including a few short adventures of Italian origin) for several additional years. The weekly format would be revived briefly in the mid-1980s, which would again give way to an 'album' series, this time called as 'super albums'.
Tay would close its shop in the 1990s and Mandrake would not be seen in Turkey until 2009 when five daily strip adventures from 1999-2000, including the last one written by creator Lee Falk, were published in one album titled Sihirbaz Mandrake ve Abdullah as no. 2 of 'Çizgi Roman Arşiv Dizisi [Comics Archive Series]' from the Horoz Şekeri label, with license from King Features. In 2011, Demirbaş Yayıncılık, a venture set up by an owner of a second-hand comics shop in Istanbul, began a twin album series, one titled as Yeni Mandrake and the other as Yeni Mandrake - Süper Maceralar, which despite the word "yeni [new]" in the titles, actually reprint, without an apparent license, adventures previously published by Tay.

Friday, August 12, 2011

MANDRAKE IN AFACAN (1942-43)


While Mandrake the Magician was already being serialized in Türkiye Yayınevi's 1001 Roman during the war-time era, it also appeared simultanously for about a year in another comics weekly from a different publisher. The weekly in question was Afacan published by Ömer Lütfi Tarhan in 1942-43. The fact that two different publishers carried Mandrake simultanously indicates that neither of them had officially licensed it. Mandrake, billed here as "Büyücüler Kralı [King of the Wizards]", a slight variation on 1001 Roman's "Sihirbazlar Kralı [King of the Magicians]" tagline, began to be featured on the cover pages of Afacan from its first issue (dated July 30th, 1942) onwards. The adventures reprinted in color in the covers originated from adventures originally serialized in the color Sunday newspapers in the US: 'Altın Şehirde [In the Golden City]', a Sunday adventure originally from 1939, in no.'s 1-21, 'Fuarda', a Sunday gag-continuity from 1938, in no.'s 22-25, and an untitled (whose origin I couldn't yet identify) gag in no. 26.
Beginning with no. 27, Mandrake was shifted onto the b&w interior pages of Afacan. The first adventure to be serialized there was titled as 'Hırsızlar Peşinde [Following the Thieves]', which was the Turkish edition of Mandrake's fourth daily strip adventure in terms of the sequence of the strip's original run in the US newspapers. Ateş, 1001 Roman's precessor from 1937-38, had curiously skipped this adventure from 1935, where Mandrake meets the soon-to-be-recurrent villain Clay Camel for the first time, when it had serialized the earliest strips. Unfortunately, the Turkish edition in Afacan is incomplete as well as censored. Afacan began to serialize it half way through the original continuity (from strip originally dated 9-16 onwards) and left out the final four daily strips as well, hence actually leaving Narda with Clay Camel disguised as Mandrake! In addition, two kissing sequences are completely deleted from the Turkish edition. See below the second instance from an Italian reprint (from 1991) and its Turkish counterpart from Afacan:
Also note that the scantily-clad Narda's bare belly has been painted over to make her appear dressed more modestly..
After 'Hırsızlar Peşinde' ended rather prematurely, an untitled Mandrake adventure began on no. 33. This was the 'werewolf' adventure, the 5th daily strip continuity which had previously been serialized in Ateş in 1938. By this time, the dire economic situation of the war-time era was apparently taking its toll on Afacan as paper and printing quality began to detoriate. Mandrake would be missing in no. 37 and when it resumed in the next issue, the image quality was at an all-time low. With no. 39, Afacan began to print Mandrake in a traced form. And that would not last long either as the werewolf adventure was left incomplete on no. 40 (*). Afacan, without Mandrake, survived for two more issues only.
(*) Actually, I am not sure if the werewolf adventure had been carried to its conclusion in Ateş either as the last few issues of that publication are missing in my collection.