'Tombul Teyze' from Mizah #56 (1947).

Ramiz Gökçe was an early 20th-century Turkish cartoonist, caricaturist and art teacher. He contributed to most of the leading newspapers and humor magazines of his time, most notably Karikatür and his own magazine Mizah. Together with Cemal Nadir Güler, he stands as a pioneer of Turkish comics. Gökçe's main creations were the corpulent Tombul Teyze and her tiny husband Sıska Dayı, whose adventures were also published in book format.

Early life
Gökçe was born in Istanbul in 1900 and, after finishing high school, studied to become a teacher. Starting in 1919 he was a teacher in painting at the Şişli Terakki Lisesi high school for many years. In the meantime, he was also active as a cartoonist. His first published drawing appeared in the humor magazine Şeytan in 1918.

Cartooning career
He subsequently contributed cartoons and caricatures to a wide range of newspapers and magazines. Diken, Büyük Mecmua, Yeni Eğlence, Tasvir-i Efkâr, Terbiye ve Tedris, Birinci Kitap, İkinci Kitap, Âyine (1921), Aydede, Akbaba (1922), Zümrüdüanka (1923), Kelebek, Yeni Dünya, Karikatür (1935), Yedigün, Karagöz, Cumhuriyet gazetesi, Tasvir and Yeni Sabah are among the many publications that carried his work. He was furthermore editor and founder of humor magazines like Mizah ("Satire", 1946-1951), Peri ("The Fairy", 1949) and Salon (1949). Gökçe's humor mostly spoofed Turkish society and everyday life. He also tackled major foreign events, but he seldomly aimed at internal politics.


Covers for Mizah issues #56 and #57 from respectively 1 and 8 August 1947.

Cartoon and comics history in Turkey
In Turkey, comics and cartoon art were introduced during the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the first years of the newly established Republic of Turkey (1923). Caricatures had appeared in papers and magazines ever since the second half of the 19th century. Pantomime or text comic strips came on with the launch of children's magazines like Çocuk Dünyası in 1913-1914. Some were very rudimental local productions, others simply traced from foreign papers. No authors are known. First of all because these early strips were made anonymously, but also because this period in Turkish comics history has not been fully explored. This is mainly due to the fact that most modern Turks can no longer read the Arabic script of these magazines. Cemal Nadir Güler is the first Turkish cartoonist whose legacy has not dissolved in history.

Comics
'Efruz Bey' (Zümrüdüanka, 1924) by Cemal Nadir Güler is one of the first known and identified Turkish comic strips. Gökçe comes in second with his picture story 'Bobi'nin Marifetleri' (literally, "Bobi's Ingenuities"), which appeared in the famous humor magazine Akbaba on 19 December 1924. It took until the early 1940s before Gökçe returned to the medium. His most notable creations were the classy and corpulent Tombul Teyze ("Chubby Aunt") and her much shorter husband Sıska Dayı ("Uncle Skinny"), who debuted in the newspaper Cumhuriyet gazetesi. Tombul Teyze is an advocate of good manners, and doesn't hesitate to "correct" people with less approrpiate behavior. Gökçe used his characters to give his view on social events or social contradictions, much like R.F. Outcault in the States had used the 'Yellow Kid' to express his. After their appearances in magazines and newspapers, Gökçe published the adventures of Tombul Teyze and her husband in four comic books in 1946. Among the cartoonist's other comics creations are 'Çömez' ("The Disciple") and 'Yeni Zengin' ("The Nouveau Riche"). The latter was also collected in book format.


Cartoon from Mizah #57.

Death and legacy
Both Ramiz Gökçe and Cemal Nadir Güler count as the two foremost Turkish cartoonists of their generation. Their popularity brought forth a "friendly rivalry" which lasted during the 1930s and 1940s, as Güler was the house cartoonist and Akbaba and Gökçe of Karikatür. Their early forays into the comics medium were an inspiration to many other cartoonists. Following their example, Ratip Tahir Burak, Münif Fehim Özarman, İhap Hulusi Görey, Nehar Tüblek and Muhittin Etingü laid the further groundworks for Turkish comics culture. As a promotor of his profession, Ramiz Gökçe furthermore hosted cartoon-related conferences and organized collective caricature exhibitions throughout his career. He saw his work featured in individual cartoon exibitions as well. He passed away on 5 January 1953 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 52 years old.

Homonym confusion
Ramiz Gökçe (1900-1953) should not be confused with the cartoonist and dental surgeon from Cyprus Ramiz Gökçe (1937-2001), who founded satirical magazines like Cizgi and Karga.


'Tombul Teyze'.

Series and books by Ramiz Gökçe in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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