No crescents or stars: Turkish superheroes and national identity

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


American superheroes entered into the Turkish imagination as early as the 1940s, with Turkish translations of comics like Superman and Batman appearing in periodicals, and serials being shown in cinemas. This inspired a generation of Turkish  filmmakers in the 1960s and 1970s to make their own versions of Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, often creating characters that are assemblages of various American superheroes. When it came to comics, though, Turkish artists did not prefer to endow their creator-owned heroes with superhuman traits until the late 1990s.

The distinct lack of national superheroes in Turkey, despite the interest in their American counterparts is worth examining. The popularity of American superhero parodies in periodical humour magazines suggest Turkish comics creators prefer to mock the concept of the superhero, rather than envisaging it as a symbol of a strong nation in the world arena. It is also significant that while superheroes represent the mainstream of American comics culture, in Turkey the few examples have remained in the underground. A major example of this is the Capa Comics group, who self-published their own superhero comics zines set in Turkey in the 1990s.

This paper aims to present an overview of Turkey’s relationship with superheroes, with particular focus on work created by Turkish artists. The paper explores the strategies Turkish creators employed to nationalise the American genre of superhero comics, with reference to settings, characters and the use of local symbolism and mythologies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventSuperhero Identities Symposium - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 8 Dec 20169 Dec 2016


ConferenceSuperhero Identities Symposium


  • Comics and categories, funny animal comics, romance, superhero
  • Turkish Cultural history
  • graphic novels
  • National identity
  • zines


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