I was thrilled this morning when I discovered that my hero Abdülcanbaz still lives. I used to cut Abdülcanbaz comic strips out of Cumhuriyet newspaper; I have stacks of them. Decades ago in a used bookstore in Istanbul I discovered a large cache of his original comic books and bought all of them. I still leaf through them on occasion, thrilled by the artwork of the famous Turkish artist Turhan Selcuk (1922-2010), by the sensual and imaginative stories and characters, both male and female. Begun in 1957, the early stories were written in collaboration with the famous writer and humorist Aziz Nesin. What a collection of talent!
Abdülcanbaz and his odd, eclectic friends go back in time to the Ottoman period, but also into outer space and on many other unthinkable adventures. He is a gentleman, a ladies’ man; he has physical prowess, sometimes superhuman powers, but prefers to use his wits. There is an unabashed sensuality and appreciation of the male and female body in these cartoons. They are completely captivating at every level.
And it seems as though Abdülcanbaz has continued to travel. Before his death Selcuk transferred the rights to Group Biz Art Collection and they have stewarded his work and made it available in new media: Facebook, an iPad app. There is a lovely website (www.abdulcanbaz.biz) and apparently Abdülcanbaz has now been translated into ten languages. I know what everyone in my circle is getting for their birthday! Well, if I can figure out where to buy them. The website doesn’t link to the foreign translations and, indeed, one can purchase the new Turkish editions only if one orders from Turkey. This does Abdülcanbaz’s international fans a great disservice.
“We want Abdülcanbaz!”