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The Tıme Of The Comıc Book Artıst Has Come
Salih Memecan is one of the first names that springs to mind in connection with cartoons in Turkey. Memecan appeals to readers of all ages thanks to his Sizinkiler (You and Yours) and Bizimcity (Our City) cartoons, which he has been drawing for more than twenty years. We talked with him about children’s and young people’s attitudes to drawing.
How do you see the future of the new generation in terms of the cartoon and the comic strip given the new and improved access to drawing and visual production technologies?
I think those who develop their talent for drawing during this process are going to be more sought after, more in demand. Drawings, graphics and figures are the common language of mankind. They are used, for example, in creating the assembly manuals of a certain furniture brand that has stores almost all over the world. All the information required for assembling and using the products can be provided through graphics with no need for written text.
Throughout history, writing and speaking have taken precedence over drawing and graphics. The fact is however that everybody can draw the same as they can talk and write.
There is a preconception among some families that the life of the artist is difficult. So even if their kids have talent, the parents are often rather cool towards their taking an interest in art.
As I see it, now is the time of the designers, artists, poets and literary types.
If a child is interested in and has a talent for drawing, how should that aptitude be developed?
I’ve wrestled with that question myself. I go around from school to school explaining how one becomes a cartoonist, the kind of humor it takes. The only way to be able to draw is by drawing, and if you ask me, it’s got nothing to do with talent. The ability to draw is like the ability to talk. Children should be encouraged to draw just as they are to write.
But those who know from a young age that they want to make a career of drawing need to be channeled in the right direction. What would you recommend for that?
Anybody who wants to work as an illustrator and make money at it has to invent himself as a brand. For that, three things are necessary: One, you have to be an expert in some field. Two, you have to be able to explain the things you know. And, finally, medium. A person who produces by drawing things about which he’s an expert can make a name for himself through an internet blog, a personal website or a twitter account. If he can do something else, he is making himself known in any case.
Works shared on the internet have a tendency either to become anonymous or to be viewed as public property. What’s your view on that?
As President of the Media Association, I take an interest in efforts to protect copyrights and ownership of intellectual property. It’s an important issue. Just because a visual is on the internet doesn’t mean that it has no owner. Copyright laws are being continuously beefed up by individuals and companies that produce iconic characters like Mickey Mouse.
What do illustrators trained in Turkey have to do to make their voices heard? How can they take advantage of the opportunities that are out there?
As far as I can see at the moment, Turkey needs to produce more popular and more universal characters and then market them. Cartoons are being made of Turkish folk characters like Keloğlan and Dede Korkut, but they need to have more universal appeal. Keloğlan, for example, needs to be made in such a way that it’s marketable to the whole world. From the business standpoint, it’s in the country’s interest that the cartoon and comic strip business be planned. This sector of the country and its young people need to take this business seriously.