Wednesday, August 10, 2011
OBSCURE MANDRAKE PUBLICATIONS FROM TURKEY (1940-51)
In 1939, a fad of publishing "sinema romanları [cinema novels]", novelizations of movies, emerged among low-budget publishers of Turkey. It should be noted that the name 'novel' might be misleading, these were usually 16 pages-long booklets issued often in weekly periods. One of the leading figures of this fad was Güven Basımevi [Güven Printinghouse] which put out close to 50 such titles in a few years. One of the titles in Güven Basımevi's list is Mandrake - Sihirbazlar Kralı (1940), which is probably a novelization of the film serial Mandrake the Magician (1939) which was released in Turkey in 1940. The book reportedly carries the credit "recounted by" Selami Münir Yurdatap, one of the most prolific authors of cheap popular fiction in Turkey. Yurdatap is also the author of the indigenous Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake İstanbulda [Mandrake the King of the Magicans in Istanbul] from 1943. Unfortunately, I have never come across any of these two early Mandrake books by Yurdatap myself, but I was lucky to get a fair-condition copy of his bizarre Tarzan ve Mandrake Mücadelesi [The Struggle Between Tarzan and Mandrake] from 1951. This 16 pages long booklet actually features four different stories by different authors, with the top-billed Tarzan vs Mandrake story by Yurdatap being the longest at six pages. Here is the plot summary: Mandrake and Lothar are visiting Africa, Dakar to be more precise. Lothar tells his master about a plant called Katopi which makes those who eat it invincible. This plant is to be found only in the 'jungle of the lions' where Tarzan happens to reside. Off to this jungle, Mandrake uses his powers to have a lion and a snake to attack Tarzan, but the lord of the jungle manages to kill the beasts. Impressed by this display of bravery and strength, Mandrake gives up his intention to fetch the magic plant which Tarzan guards. The two heros befriend and Mandrake leaves the jungle empty-handed, assured that the friendship of Tarzan is more valueable than any magic plant. Tarzan ve Mandrake Mücadelesi is from a series called 'Bizim Hikayeler [Our Stories]', but oddly there is no publisher info printed anywhere, only an adress of a distributor. The cover illustration is by Turkish artist Mehmet Tekdal.
In addition to Yurdatap's Mandrake books, the records of the Turkish National Library in Ankara lists two Mandrake titles from 1001 Macera series of circa 1944: 'İki Mandrake Karşı Karşıya [Two Mandrakes Against Each Other]' and 'Deli Kral [The Crazy King]'. These are probably comics (see this post on a Phantom comics from 1001 Macera), but I can not say whether they are by Turkish comics artists or Turkish editions of American strips.
Finally, I should add that Hakan Alpin's Çizgi Roman Ansiklopedisi (İnkilap Kitabevi, 2006:Istanbul) notes that the weekly comics Baytekin ile Bayçetin published by Mustafa Kızıltan featured (perhaps as secondary, filler material?, it's not clear from Alpin's wording) the strip 'Bay Tekin ve Mandraki Ankaraya Gidiyor [Mr Tekin and Mandraki Goes to Ankara]' by the then-young Turkish comics artist Şahap Ayhan; Baytekin was the name usually given to Flash Gordon in pre-war and war-time Turkish editions. Alpin fails to give a precise date for Baytekin ile Bayçetin, but records of the National Library clearly list it as being from 1944.