Sunday, October 25, 2009
THE LEGENDARY 1001 ROMAN
Türkiye Yayınevi's (Türkiye Publishing House) 1001 Roman weekly is a legendary title in the history of comics publications in Turkey. It was highly popular, very influential and is still fondly remembered by older generations. For instance, in a recent poll on living Turkish authors, many cited it among the top of their childhood favorites. And for the new generation of comics fans, it radiates a magnetism so powerful as to make them nostalgic for an era they have missed.
Türkiye Yayınevi's founder and owner Tahsin Demiray was actually a quite shadowy figure. Self-confessed to working for the secret intelligence service spying on Communists in Turkey in the early 1920s, he would be involved with right-wing politics in his later life (*). He is said to have built his fortunes by receiving the monopoly of publishing alphabet material from the government in the late 1920s, quite a big business in Turkey in those years as the Arabic script was banned and the Latin script made obligatory as part of westernization reforms.
In 1936, Demiray's Türkiye Yayınevi (whose locomotive publication would be the popular cinema magazine Yıldız) began publishing two children's magazines, Yavrutürk and Ateş, both of which featured some comics among their pages alongside stories, etc. While Yavrutürk, which appealed to a more juvenile readership, ran 'Kara Kedi' (Felix the Cat) continuities as well as 'Vakvak Kardeş' (Donald Duck) gags, Ateş's 1st series (1936-37) serialized Mandrake's first-ever adventure as well as some obscure comics; its 2nd series (1937-38) only featured Mandrake as comics material. On the other hand, 1001 Roman which began on 10.7.1939, less than two months prior to the outbreak of the 2nd World War!, devoted the majority of its pages, even including its front page, to comics. The stable of comics featured in 1001 Roman over the years includes 'Brik Bradford', 'Alptekin' (Buck Rogers), 'Sevim Gazeteci' (Connie), Mandrake, 'Kartal İzciler' (Eagle Scout Roy Powers), 'Maskeli Süvari' (Lone Ranger), 'Gizli Polis X-9', 'Yıldırım Polis' (King of the Royal Mounted), 'İki İzci' (Tim Tyler's Luck), 'Kızılmaske' (Phantom) and Tarzan. Beginning with 1940, Türkiye Yayınevi also began to publish monthly 'special issues' of 1001 Roman, each issue of which was devoted to a single character.
1001 Roman survived throughout the war years thanks to high sales, which was said to be in "tens of thousands", even though paper scarcity eventually necessitated a cutback in the number of pages. However, continuing economic hardships even after the war caused a cessation of 1001 Roman's publication in its original format after no. 350 in 1946, as well as the cancellation of the special issues after no.75 at the same time, with the promise of going back to more comics when possible. 1001 Roman's 2nd series included only neglible amount of comics. As promised, the 3rd series (1948-52) emerged in the original format. A novelty of the 3rd series was the introduction of romance comics, but another highlight was 'Nat Pinkerton' (Rip Kirby). The production techniques in 1001 Roman were various. It is not known if any of the comics were licensed or not; the magazine carried no copyright claims, so it can assumed that they were unlicensed. However, unlike the unlicensed comics of the 1950s and onwards, most were printed from originals, and not from traced copies even though some were, and increasingly more so over the years.The 3rd series ended in 1952 after no. 213. That year, Türkiye Yayınevi began to publish Haftalık Albüm (Weekly Album) similar to the format of 1001 Roman's monthly special issues from the war years. It lasted for about a year, after which Türkiye Yayınevi pulled back from comics publishing for several years.
(*) In 1952, Demiray took part in the foundation of Türkiye Köylü Partisi (Peasants' Party of Turkey) and became its secretary general. Upon the death of the party's chairman in a plane crash in 1954, Demiray became the party leader. However, the Peasants' Party couldn't gain a significant foothold in the Turkish politics and Demiray led the party into merger with another small party in 1958. In 1961, he took part in the foundation of Adalet Partisi (Justice Party) and was elected to the parliament on the party's ticket where he served a full term till 1965; he seems to have withdraw from politics after his term ended.