Today, 10th February, we are celebrating the birthday of one of the biggest Phantom artists in Turkey!
Aslan Şükür has drawn well over 200 covers for Kizilmaske publisher Tay Yayınları, who had the license for The Phantom from 1973 through to the early 1990's. All told, Tay Yayinlari produced nearly 400 Kızılmaske (Phantom) comics, including some original stories. In the 2018 Frew Phantom Cowboy themed Annual we saw one of these stories published in English for the first time.
The founder and owner of Tay Yayınları was Sezen Yalçıner, and was Turkey's leading comics publisher in the 1970's. Founded in 1969, it was in business until the early 1990's.
Today we celebrate their main cover artist in Aslan Şükür. We thank Aslan for his time and hope he has a great birthday!
ChronicleChamber: Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? How did you find out about your artistic talents? When did you decide to pursue to be an artist?
Aslan Şükür: I was born in in 1945 in Bafra, a town along Turkey's Black Sea coast. As a family we moved to Istanbul together.
When I was a student I used to draw caricatures on my notebooks. Some of them were published in local newspapers and magazines.Then I started drawing on souvenirs which were really liked and one day I met Yucel Koksal ,who was one of the greatest artists in Turkey, and he discovered my talent. So my career in Tay Yayinlari, began in Cagaloglu, the heart of publishing houses in Istanbul.
CC: How did you meet Yucel Kolsal and can you tell us a bit about him?
AŞ: When I was drawing on souvenirs, I met Yucel Koksal’s brother first. He told me that his brother had been drawing comics and covers and then he introduced me to Yucel Koksal. As I mentioned above, he discovered my talent in the following days. I can say that Yucel Koksal is one of the greatest artists of Turkey. We can say that he is the grand master on this field.
CC: Were you a Phantom fan? Did you know of the Phantom? Did you read comics? Did you read many Phantom stories during your reign as cover artist for Tay Yayınları, and did you have any favorites?
AŞ: When I was a student, Of course I used to read comics with pleasure and I used to know Phantom very well as well. However as I used to work hard, I didn’t have much time to read all the stories of Phantom during my cover artist days, but I used to analyze all the drawings technically to be able to draw the best cover for the stories.
CC: Any thoughts on the various colours of the Phantom costume over the world? Do you have a personal phavourite? Would it be red?
AŞ: Phantom was painted in different colors in Turkey and in the comics I saw. Some artists painted it in grey, some painted in blue, generally he was painted in purple, but I preferred drawing it in red, which was really liked in Turkey. I also personally think red is the best color for Phantom, it is my favourite one. In my opinion Phantom in red is more attractive.
CC: How did you get the job as the cover artist for Tay Yayınları (and Kızılmaske) in 1970?
AŞ: As I mentioned above, I met Yucel Kolsal in 1971 and he discovered my talent and he brought me to Tay Yayinlari and introduced me to the owner of the publishing house.
CC: What was it like working for the Turkish publisher? How did you get assignments and did you have any contact with other Turkish creators, like Ozcan Eralp?
AŞ: Nearly all the publishers knew me well so they all trusted me and never interfered in my work. That’s why I was able to work freely. I was always pleased working with them. As for Ozcan Eralp and the other artists of that time I used to know all of them .They were all our friends but my office was at home so we didn’t have much day-to-day contact.
CC: Can you tell us the process of working with the comic publisher and how you went about your covers?
AŞ: At first when I started with Tay Yayinlari the publishing houses would tell me the stories and what they wanted for each cover, then I designed the composition and started drawing. Each time they liked my paintings and as my career progressed I had more and more freedom. They ended up having complete trust in me with the composition and design of the covers.
CC: What size card did you paint your covers on?
AŞ: The smallest card size I ever painted on for of the covers was 14cm x 21cm. Other sizes of card for the cards have been on 20cm x 30cm card. Today I draw on 37cm x 40 cm card.
CC: Did you sketch first and then paint? What was your process of drawing a cover? How long did it take you to paint a cover?
AŞ: Yes, first I sketched and then paint. I used to finish a cover in around 2 days.
CC: You did around 200 covers for Kızılmaske but you also did other covers for other comics including Mandrake and Zagor. Which one was your favourite character to paint and why? Which character was the hardest to draw?
AŞ: My favourite ones were Zagor and Phantom, because I really liked their adventures. To be honest none of them was difficult for me to draw because I loved my job.
CC: Have you ever been asked to do covers for other publishers around the world?
AŞ: Yes, I have done Western covers that were sold to Germany, and I also did some James Bond covers for the Denmark audience.
CC: About 10 years ago your work started to sell online. Are you still selling now? And do you accept commissions?
AŞ: Actually the old original paintings that were used for the covers are all now sold so I don’t have those old paintings, but I still draw and get commissions from phans that I sell online.
CC: We thank you Aslan for your time to answer our questions. If anyone would like to contact you for a painting and or commission, how can they get in touch with you?