Created by Mickey Spillane
Re-created by F. M. İkinci (pseudonym of Kemal Tahir), Muzaffer Ulukaya (pseudonym of Afif Yesari) and others.
We all know that MIKE HAMMER, arguably the world’s most famous hard-boiled private eye and star of pretty much all media, was created by Mickey Spillane.
But then Jay Dobis dropped a big one on me:
You might find the following interesting (though you might already know): Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer character was so popular in Turkey, that the Turks wrote and published Mayk Hammer (their name for the character) novels of their own.
I thought Jay was pulling my leg.
But he wasn’t.
MAYK HAMMER appeared in translated versions of the original novels, as well as the expected films, comic books and even a board game (pictured above), which looks to be a cheapo Clue knock-off.
Nothing surprising so far, that the series proved extremely popular in Turkey. But it didn’t stop there. Mayk Hammer went on to appear in at least 250 and possibly as many as 450 more pseudotranslations—“translated” versions of Mike Hammer novels that never actually existed. They were written by original translator Kemal Tahir (under the pen name of F. M. İkinci) and others, and were all published from the fifties well into the eighties.
Tahir, a colourful character in his own right (he’d recently been released from prison for his political views), translated five and the six first Spillane’s books (the exception was One Lonely Night, which had Hammer slugging it out with Commies, which wouldn’t have gone over well in Turkey). Tahir went on to write several more books for the publisher Çağlayan, presented as “The New Adventures of Mike Hammer,” and more or less maintained the American settings and Spillane’s style, although his Mayk Hammer wasn’t a complete clone of Spillane’s character—he was kinder and arguably less brutal, more empathetic and even philosophical, musing on how “World War II irreplaceably changed the American society” (Alomen, 2022), and offering criticisms on American-style capitalism and racism—not your father’s Hammer, that’s for sure.
And more changes were to come. When the prolific Afif Yesari took over writing the new books (he claims to have written 114 of them in a span of ten years) at one point his doctors advised him to lay off the booze, and so he had Hammer stop drinking as well. Lord knows what hoops subsequent Turkish writers put Mayk through over the years.
Not that the publishers were trying to fool anyone (of course not!) with these pseudotranslations. Mention of Spillane on the covers was not to be found, although “Mayk Hammer” was always present, and the cover art—all booze, broads and violence—strikingly familiar, if rather crude by American standards. The publishers presented their books not as rip-offs, but as a form of public service, boasting “There is nothing Çağlayan will not do for its readers!” Occasionally, on the interior pages, Spillane was mentioned and the novels were presented under the guise of being translations of an original text.
I wonder if Spillane knew how prolific he was?
- Kanun Benim (1954, aka “I, the Jury;” translated by F. M. İkinci)
- Kahreden Kurşun (1954; aka “My Gun is Quick;” translated by F. M. İkinci)
- İntikam Pençesi (1954; aka “One Lonely Night;” translated by F. M. İkinci)
- Kanlı Takip (1954, aka “The Big Kill;” translated by F. M. İkinci)
- Son Çığlık (1954, aka “Kiss Me Deadly” translated by F. M. İkinci)
- Ecel Saati (1954; by F. M. İkinci)
- Derini Yüzeceğim (1954; by F. M. İkinci)
- Kara Nara (1955; by F. M. İkinci)
- Kıran Kırana (1955; by F. M. İkinci)
- Yosmam, Seni Kim Öldürdü? (1955; by Muzaffer Ulukaya)
- Ölüm Anahtarı (1957; by Muzaffer Ulukaya)
- Gangster Kanı (1957; by Muzaffer Ulukaya)
- Kara Şeytan (1958; by Muzaffer Ulukaya)
- 200-450 more titles to come…
- Translational Adventure of Mike Hammer Series in Turkish: A Historical Analysis
Nilüfer Alomen’s brave attempt to analyze the “pseudotranslation” of Mike Hammer.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And thanks to Jay for the lead!