Father of ‘Red Mask’ draws for collectors
Aslan Şükür, who changed the purple outfit of the American comic strip “Phantom” to red and changed its name to “Kızıl Maske” (Red Mask), has been drawing the covers of comics for 25 years and has now started drawing for collectors.
Şükür is the creator of the “Red Mask,” one of the first series that comes to mind when comic strips are mentioned in Turkey.
Hailed as the living legend of the world of comic strip, 76-year-old Şükür created the “Red Mask” by drawing a red costume for the “Phantom,” which was drawn by its creator Lee Falk in a purple costume.
“Sezen Yalçıner, the owner of Tay Publications, signed an agreement with the Americans on Phantom. He said, ‘We’re going to make a Lion Phantom; what should we do?’ I used to read about Phantom in the newspapers when I was a child. At that time, it was published as a comic strip. When the book was released, we saw that they had worked on the color purple in the U.S. But I thought that the purple color would not suit a hero. I said, ‘Purple color is not suitable for a hero. It was 1971. The purple color is not for men. I think we should do it red.’ Then I made both purple and red colors. The purple color does not stand out. I made it red and named it the Red Mask. I can say that I am the father of the Red Mask,” he said.
While drawing pictures on souvenirs, Şükür started making comic strips thanks to Yücel Köksal, one of the cover artists of the period, and he also made the covers of famous novels such as Tombraks, Zagor, Mandrake, Mister No and Bonanza.
Stating that he was very interested in reading comic strips when he was a child, Şükür said, “I started reading with Tommiks Texas. I used to get up early and read them before my breakfast. Back then, I had a passion for painting. I used to draw horses, cowboys, guns and swords in my mom’s cookbooks. When we were little, we used to look at the covers while reading comics and say, ‘how beautifully drawn.’ I never thought that one day I would draw them too. In my 25 years of life as a comics illustrator, many people grew up with my covers. They say, ‘we grew up with you. You are the painter who colored our youth.’ This is one of the greatest happiness to me in this life.”
[HH] 2,000 covers, 8,000 illustrations
Noting that he has been involved with paint and brush for 55 years, Şükür said, “I drew comic strip covers such as Tombraks, Zagor, Red Mask, Mandrake, Mister No, Bonanza, Jeriko, Captain Volkan and Karaoğlan. So far, I have created 2,000 comic book covers and 8,000 original works such as school books and world classics. I started drawing in 1971 and continued until the 90s. Comic strips were sold at that time. In 1972, 45,000 Tombraks and 45,000 Zagors were sold as fascicles. When Mister No was released, the circulation was 75,000.”
“In our time, there were no digital media, and we always worked by hand. As the times changed, there came a digital transition. But I like to do it by hand. Since I draw by hand, collectors prefer my works. I draw the cover of the comic books when they want. Still, I don’t work digitally because I want to see the paint on it. I want to smell the paint. If Van Gogh had made ‘Sunflowers’ digitally, would museums be this full of people?” he added.