Saturday, October 31, 2009


Britain's Mickey Mouse Weekly is notable for many reasons. As frequently cited, it is Britain's first comics magazine to be published with photogravure printing which allowed high-quality color reproductions, a factor which undoubtedly contributed to its circulation of more than half a million. It featured, naturally, Disney comics and stories, some of them reprints of US newspaper comics and some of them original British products, but its contents also included non-Disneyic material as well. The non-Disney comics ran in MMW can be grouped into two categories: the humourous, gag-a-week comics and serious, adventure comics with narratives continuing into subsequent weeks. This post will cover the gag comics ran in the early issues of the magazine.
The first issue of MMW, which came out on Feb. 8th, 1936, featured four non-Disneyic gag comics. The most prominent of them was the full-page 'Adventures of Skit and Skat'. However, since it frequently experimented with continous narratives, it needs to be covered separately. The longest running of the strictly gag-a-week comics from the first issue would be 'Bobby & Chip' (see the image at the top of this post for its debut in no.1). It lasted for 27 issues only to be replaced by another gag comics, 'Heavenly Twins'. However, early in 1937, it would re-emerge in a new format as a single-row strip covering the bottom portions of the central color pages and would continue there for several years. Another gag-a-week comics of no.1 was 'Troubles of Father', but it would last for only the first 16 issues.

Rounding up the gag-a-week comics of the first issue of MMW was 'The Adventures of Bobby Bear'. This last comics was also being run in the British newspaper Daily Mail since 1919.

The second issue of MMW saw the debut of 'Percy Go-Bang' ...

... which would be replaced from no. 18 onwards with 'Little Lulu':

'Percy Go-Bang' would briefly be revived in some issues later in 1936, but would't survive into 1937. A similar fate befell 'Bob the Bugler' which had debutted in no.7:

'Sea Shanties', which had debutted on no.12, differed from the other gag comics of MMW with its elaborate, if not labourous, artwork:

From no. 19 onwards, it would be reformatted in a more creative layout:

From no.33 onwards, 'Sea Shanties' would be replaced by 'Circus Capers' which would contiue till no. 44.
The writers/artists behind these gag comics (other than 'Skit and Skat', which is known to be the work of Basil Reynolds) are unknown to me and any help in that regard would be welcome.
UPDATE: From, I've recently learned that the artist of 'Troubles of Father', 'Bob the Bugler', 'Sea Shanties' and 'Circus Capers' was Reg Carter; see post dated July 30, 2008 from that blog for info on Carter.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


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.


Above: The first panels, announcing impending disaster of a star approaching the Earth. Right: Introduction of Baytekin & Miss Yıldız (Later they embark on a mission to an alien planet which is the source of the threat against the Earth). Below: First vision of the planet.

Below: First perils on the planet

Above: They are taken to the ruler of the planet. Below: The emperor's daughter objects to his father's death ruling on Baytekin and both flee.

Above: The emperor's warcrafts go on a rampage. Below: Difficult times for Yıldız who had remained at the hands of the emperor.


While it has been reported that 'Bringing Up Father' was published in a Turkish magazine before the 1930s, it can safely be said that the potential of the comics medium was first realized by Mehmet Gürtunca in 1935. Two children's magazines published by Gürtunca, Çocuk Sesi and Afacan, were giving place to comics among its pages alonside stories, etc. Afacan's 1st series, which started in 1932, capitalized on Mickey Mouse strip continuities. Both Afacan and Çocuk Sesi, which had started in 1930, also published humorous juvenile comics continuities by Orhan Tolon, regarded as the first Turkish comics artist. Afacan's 2nd series, which started in 1934, began running 'Avcı Baytekin' (Jungle Jim) and Tarzan. Then, 'Baytekin' (Flash Gordon) began in color in the center pages of Çocuk Sesi with no. 281 (13.5.1935) and caused a big sensation.
Above: cover of Çocuk Sesi no. 381, announcing the start of the amazing adventures of Baytekin. Below: two further covers of Çocuk Sesi from 1935.

On July 6th, Gürtunca's Ülkü Yayınevi (Ülkü Publishing House) published an Avcı Baytekin album, which is apparently the first comics book ever published in Turkey. It was followed in August with six Secret Agent X-9 albums, confusingly titled Baytekin (it should be noted that the Turkish publishers presented all three characters by Alex Raymond as if they were the same character, venturing into the jungles, into the space and working as a secret police from time to time!). In September, seven Mickey Mouse albums and at least three more Baytekin (X-9) albums were published. It was claimed that some of these albums, for instance the Baytekin / X-9 ones, reached a circulation of 50,000.


Well, I've had a turbulent and recently very rough period of my life this year; and couldn't get back on any of my blogs. Now, I am trying to pull together again.
I did have an extensive web site on comics publishers of Turkey over at geocities which is closing down. So, I will take that as an opportunity to re-flame this blog by moving pre-war related material over there to here.