Kickstarting Comics: ‘Octobriana With Love’ Brings Back The Hero Of The Russian People

by Richard Bruton

Hero of the Russian people, the legendary Octobriana, returns in the Octobriana With Love Kickstarter.

Cover art from Marguerite Sauvage

Octobriana, a name long spoken by comic fans, beloved by the likes of Bryan Talbot, David Bowie, and Billy Idol. And now, she’s being brought back to comics in Octobriana With Love, a new Kickstarter that launched this week.

You might have seen Octobriana before, you might have heard the story of her creation, but Octobriana With Love is going to do it all over again… and in some style.

We’ll get into the fascinating origins of Octobriana in a moment, but first some information on Octobriana With Love, the graphic novel – the hero of Russian by the stars of comics today!

This really is something that you want to be backing, a superhero saga decades in the making, a hero of Mother Russia made real on the printed page. This is Octobriana With Love.

Like they say…

David Bowie was going to make a superhero movie about her. Billy Idol has a tattoo of her.

And now, 50 years since her debut, celebrate the return of one of the most enigmatic comic book characters that you’ve never heard of…

Octobriana With Love is a 64-page, full-colour softcover graphic novel with many different takes on this cult underground Russian superhero by an exciting mix of creative talent.

Every physical book pledge will get a random retro, 1970s style trading card by Flops Comics, a temporary tattoo designed by Montreal artist Angus Byers, and a 50th Anniversary bookplate printed on parchment paper and signed by Octobriana With Love editor and curator Stu Taylor.

The tale told will include “Vikings, World War II, dinosaurs, 1980s TV evangelists, time travel, Billy Idol, a near-future Britain and Baba Yaga,” yes, this has it all!

The graphic novel has seven stories of Octobriana with work by Stephanie Phillips (Harley Quinn), Marc Laming (Star Wars Age of Rebellion: Boba Fett), N. Steven Harris (X-Force), Nicole Goux (Shadow of the Batgirl), Juni Ba (TMNT), Andrea Towers (Geek Girls Don’t Cry), Stephen Byrne (Wonder Twins), Andy Belanger (Mother Trucker)Simon Fraser (Hershey, Nikolai Dante, Doctor Who), Vincenzo Riccardi (BRZRKR), plus covers from Marguerite SauvageJoyce Chin and, for the Kickstarter only, Michael Cho.

In Octobriana With Love, you’ll get to see this champion of the oppressed leading a rag-tag group of freedom fighters and traveling the dimensional highways in her Wonder Machine, disrupting authoritarian regimes, overturning tyrants… and gate-crashing the best parties – igniting the spirit of revolution and having a wild time while doing it! 

In the graphic novel Octobriana and her underground take on a daring rescue mission above the skies of a near-future Britain to rescue Lucretia Hussain, a young vlogger destined to be a figurehead for a future revolution. To correct the course of history Octobriana clashes with her ancient nemesis Baba Yaga, leading Octobriana to relive her past and setting the stage for a whole new universe of adventures.

You’ll find plenty of extras, plenty of tiers to be reached, go back them!

Right then… some preview pages for you…

Octobriana and the Underground rescue Lucretia Hussain in ‘Baba Yaga’s Cruel Britannia’ by Simon Fraser, from a script by Stu Taylor.
Page from ‘Night Witches of the Eastern Front’ by Marc Laming, colours by Sofie Dodgson, from a script by Stephanie Phillips.
Octobriana meets Billy Idol in a page from ‘The La Brea Tar Beast of Sunset Strip’ by Stephen Byrne, with lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Pages 45 & 46 – ‘Octobriana’s Song’ by Nicole Goux

So, head over to the Kickstarter and pledge, pledge, pledge. This one’s going to be a great book of a truly fabulous hero for the ages!

And now, a little of that promised Octobriana history, a hero of the Russian people, too busy freeing Russia to bother with a proper top for those nippy Russian winters.

She first came to prominence in the book Octobriana and the Russian Underground by Petr Sadecky, where he told the tale of Octobriana’s creation in the ’60s by a group of Russian artists who called themselves Progressive Political Pornography (PPP). They created her to be a spirit of the times, both battling for the motherland and, by virtue of her overt sexuality and heroic status, questioning the politics of the time…

Except that’s just not true, it was nothing more than an elaborate and romanticised hoax on the part of Sedecky, who’d already created a hero called Amazona and hired a couple of Czech artists, Bohumil Konečný and Zdeněk Burian, to illustrate her adventures. When Sedecky left for England in 1967, he took the work with him, copied it, stuck a Russian star on the heroine’s forehead and renamed her Octobriana. Armed with the pages, photos of his supposed PPP group, and a great story, he turned up at a publisher and the rest is history.

But the story persisted, and countless creators believed she was a true creation of the people, for the people. And, since no-one owned Octobriana, anyone could write and draw her as they wished. That this isn’t true hasn’t stopped her use far and wide.

Perhaps the most famous comic version is by Bryan Talbot, when he included Octobriana in his brilliant Adventures Of Luther Arkwright series.

Bryan Talbot Octobriana artwork

Since then, there have been plenty of comic versions, both here in the UK, over in the USA, and worldwide. It’s a heroine with history, albeit an invented one, a fascinating story, all explored here in Octobriana With Love.

For more information on all things Octobriana, Stuart Taylor also set up the Octobriana Online website, an essential visit for any and all interested in this most unusual tale.

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