Saturday, August 13, 2011


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.

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.

No comments: